David Scott Trail, Shillong Overview

Named after David Scott, a British officer, the David Scott Trail is an old and one of the most popular trekking routes in Meghalaya. It is a 16 kilometres long trek that stretches from Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang, both villages known for their history, culture and folklore. A centerstage of Khasi culture, Mawphlang is one of the settlements in the Khasi hills named after monoliths and having sacred groves. The trail was laid down to connect Assam and Bangladesh during the 19th century. The trek can be done from either side, but it is commonly attempted from the Mawphlang side since it makes it a less ascending trail.

The trail is not well marked and one can take the help of locals for directions. David Scott Trekking trails is a storehouse of wonderful landscapes that one experiences as they go through. Rivers, woods, massive rock formations, cascading waters, streams gushing down from mountains, expansive meadows, forest groves and bridges connecting villages - the trek has it all. It is a beautiful day hike and one can begin the trek from any point in the quaint Mawphlang village, go through the winding route across the hills and valleys, rest at the popular resting spot called Ka Kor Ka Shonmai, admire the tomb of Camilla, click photographs of the hanging bridge over the River Umain and stop by the few Khasi villages enroute to hear from their folk tales. Seasoned trekkers never miss out on this old trail, when in Meghalaya.

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The Trek

Altitude: 4892 feet
Time taken: 4-5 hours
Trek distance: 16 kilometers
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, involving ascent and descent. There is a gradual descent for an hour, a flat walk of 2-3 hours and gradual ascent for the last 1 hour. 
Water sources nearby: Umiam river, about 1.5 hours away from the starting point is the only water source where you can fill your bottles from. It is recommended that you carry your own bottles. 

Route: Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang (It can be taken from Lad Mawphlang to Mawphlang as well but that would require more ascent and increase the difficulty level.) The exit of the trek that is Lad Mawphlang is near Sohra or Cherrapunji. 

Directions: Since the starting point is not marked and there are some confusing turns along the way, one may consider taking a local guide. However, one can also ask the local people for directions and hear from them some wonderful Khasi stories. 

The trail: The trek requires one to walk north of the village where after walking for some time, one can locate the primary trail identification point or the popular resting spot that is Ka Kor Ka Shonmai, named after the daughter of Dorsing Lyongdoh, the first Lyongdoh with the British. From here, follow the mud path for about 1-1.5 kilometers which is a gradual descent and reach Mawsahep, which is known for the tomb of a child fondly known Camilia, erected in 1843. There one can find a water tap to refill bottles. The path from there is a muddy, winding path overlooking the Umiam River, Simpanghang falls and parts of Mawphlang dam. There is a stream enroute which needs to be crossed and then there is again a mud trail that must be followed for about 3 kilometres until one reaches the hanging military bridge that acts as the gateway to the woods.

After crossing this, the trail widens and one has to hop on the rocks to cross the river to reach the other side, where one can find fields and then walk till Wahtham, a lowland. The trail winds through a 3 kilometers stretch, passes through the villages of Step Lakrai and Laitsohma and then gets narrower with unexpected diversions. The trail finally reaches a hilltop where one can mark the end to Mawphlang forests and beginning of Lad Mawphlang forests. The trail from this point goes eastwards, with thinner streams and requires one to walk for 45-60 minutes on that one single path without any diversion till one reaches Lad Mawphlang, which is situated at the edge of a valley.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to take up this trail is winters. However, it can be done throughout the year but is not recommended during the rainy season because the trail becomes slippery and the river flows at a high force. Crossing the river can be difficult during this time. Also, during the monsoon, David Scott Trail remains infested with leeches and one must take adequate precautions and equipment with them if they are attempting this after the onset of rains.

How To Reach David Scott Trail

The trek starts from Mawphlang, which is 25 kilometers from Shillong and can be reached by taking a shared vehicle from Bada Bazar in Shillong or booking a private cab from your preferred location. The trail ends at Lad Mawphlang near Cherrapunji where the transportation is not that effective and one has to wait for some time to find a shared vehicle to Cherrapunji.

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