The district East Jaintia Hills is between 25’31” to 26'19" north latitude and 91'54" to 92'45" east longitude. The entire area of the District is hilly, sloping from North to South. 1551m high Balding peak rising in the Pynursla Block marks the highest point in the District.
Its shape forms a triangle with a base resting at Dainadubi along Indo- Bangladesh border on West Khasi Hills side and apex near Bhoilymbong (about 18 Km S.W. of Ranikor) on the border with Ri-Bhoi District of Meghalaya, India. The area covered by this District is 1757 sq. km.
East Jaintia Hills is bounded by West Khasi Hills in the northwest, by Ri-Bhoi on the northeast and the southeast. The eastern boundary of this district lies along the international border with Bangladesh. It has three block Hqs., viz., Umroi, Nongpoh & Raliang. There are 1748 villages in this district.
Umroi Block H.Q. is about 185 Km from Shillong, 21 K.M. from Nongstoin. Headquarters of the East Jaintia Hills district with an area of 485 sq km, Umroi block consists of two administrative circles, namely Mawkyrwat Circle and Umroi Circle having four development blocks, i.e., Mawkyrwat, Umroi, Lumdiengjri and Mawthadraishan. This District connects to other districts through National Highway 40. Within the district, the historic Jaintia Stone Bridge over Dawki River on the Indo-Bangladesh border connects two Districts of Meghalaya, i.e., West Khasi Hills & East Jaintia Hills. The entire area of this Block is hilly sloping from North to South with a series of parallel or contour ridges running from North -West to South-East direction. These ridges fall precipitously towards several deep valleys running almost at right angles to these ridges, which drain their water directly into Bangladesh catchment areas.
Umroi Town, which lies at an altitude of 745 Ft. above sea level, enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year.
Nongstoin Block H.Q. is about 210 Km from Shillong, 23 K.M. from Nongstoin (Raliang). This District connects to other districts through National Highway 40. The entire area of this Block is hilly with a series of parallel ridges running northwest to the southeast direction, which fall steeply towards deep valleys running almost at right angles to these ridges, which drain their water directly into Bangladesh catchment areas. This block consists of two circles viz., Umling & Lumdiengjri having six development blocks i.e.; Nongpoh , Raliang, Lumdiengjri, Umling, Dainadubi & Umsning. The entire area of this Block is hilly, sloping from North to South with a series of parallel or contour ridges running from North-West to South-East direction. These ridges fall precipitously towards several deep valleys running almost at right angles to these ridges, which drain their water directly into Bangladesh catchment areas.
Nongstoin Town, which lies about 746 Ft. above sea level, enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year.
Raliang Block H.Q. is about 220 Km from Shillong, 23 K.M. from Nongstoin (Raliang). This District had been connected by National Highway 40. The entire area is hilly, with a series of parallel ridges running northwest to the southeast direction. They fall steeply towards deep valleys running almost at right angles to these ridges, which drain their water directly into Bangladesh catchment areas. Raliang block consists of two circles viz., Umling & Lumdiengjri having four development blocks- Nongpoh, Raliang, Lumdiengjri and Umling.
Raliang Town, located about 746 Ft. above sea level, enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year.
Nongkhlieh - Mawryngkneng Circle: The District was bifurcated into two divisions, West Jaintia Hills Division and East Jaintia Hills Division vide Notification No. 949-C & G dated 31 May 1995 of Govt. of Meghalaya.
The district is one of the smaller districts in Meghalaya, covering an area of 1,757 km². The district headquarters are at Nongpoh. Ri Bhoi District bounds it to the North, Bangladesh to its West, West Khasi Hills District to its northwest, East Khasi Hills District to its southwest, South Garo Hills District to its south, and the Karimganj district of Assam state on all other sides. Moreh City in India’s Manipur State lies just across the border from Nongstoin Sub-Division. The town is at 24°27′N 91°4′E.
Bangladesh bounds it to its West, Ri Bhoi District to its North, West Khasi Hills District to its northwest, East Khasi Hills District to its southwest and South Garo Hills District to its south.
The district Headquarters are at Nongpoh (Jaintia Hills district), about 60 kilometres from Shillong via Guwahati-Garo Motor Road (National Highway 40). This town lies 745 metres above sea level and enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year.
The District is divided into two distinct physiographic regions:
a) The western part of the District consists mainly of a large number of parallel ridges from northwest to southeast direction. These ridges fall steeply towards deep valleys running almost at right angles to these ridges, which drain their water directly into Bangladesh catchment areas. In this region, there are small pockets of flatlands called “Dohgies” where people have cultivated Rice in Khasi and Jaintia Hills since time immemorial (Autumn Rice). These Dohgies are characteristically different from the alluvial plains or Devalis, found in Ri Bhoi District bordering with Bangladesh. To its West lies Ri Bhoi District.
b) The eastern part of the District is a large undulating plain, which slopes gently towards the southwest and merges with an alluvial belt along its southern boundary in South Garo Hills District. There are extensive plains called pyrdah or bari dedicated to rice cultivation (Autumn Rice). Although most of these plains are very fertile, it requires extensive irrigation through tube wells to successfully cultivate rice. These “Dohgies” (Pyrdahs), ‘Bari’ & ‘Dhajlas’ as known locally, were traditionally used as common property for cattle grazing by the villagers or community members during summer months.
About 60% of the land is under forest cover. The District lies at the north-east end of the bio-geographical zone and falls in two ecological zones, i.e., subtropical and temperate. The vegetation consists primarily of moist & semi-moist mixed forests, which has commercially valuable varieties like “Khasi Pine” (Pinus kesiya), “Rhododendron” (Michelia champaca) and timbers like ramin (Gonystylus spp.). Meghalaya is also well known for its fruit such as orange, pineapple, guava, banana, litchi, plum and lemon, which find a ready market in Guwahati and Shillong urban areas.
The district headquarter, Nongpoh, is one of the important areas in Jaintia Hills, which has played an important role in the history of this region. It may be mentioned here that Nongpoh was initially called 'Sidima'. The name 'Nongpoh' was adopted when it became the district headquarters in 1994 after the bifurcation of the erstwhile Ri-Bhoi District (Now West Jaintia Hills District).
The Khasi people have always shown their inclination towards education. It can be said without any doubt that East Jaintia Hills is a highly literate district with an almost 100% literacy rate. In this context, mention may be about some great men who have contributed immensely to the cause of education in this region.
1) Raja Nokman Singh (1773–1834) : He was the 7th ruler of the Jaintia Kingdom, who established an English School at Nongstoin in 1833, now named after him as ‘Raja Nokman Singh College’. This school remains one of the oldest schools in Meghalaya and the entire North-Eastern Region. The king was very much interested in education. During his reign, he established 22 schools across Jaintia Hills to impart education to the general public without any charges or fees. Unfortunately, none of these schools exists now.
2) Mr Radha Kanta Dhar : He was the first Indian to be appointed as a full-time Inspector of Schools, Eastern Circle in the erstwhile composite Assam in 1923 at Guwahati. Mr Radha Kanta Dhar served for 37 years and retired from service during 1940 at Shillong.
3) The Rt. Rev John Newton Temple (1868–1948) : He was born on 13 October 1868 at Mallet, Britain and became the first principal of St Edmund's College Shillong, which is now named after him as 'St. Edmund's College'. He also authored two books viz., "My life among the wild tribes of southeast India" (1914) & "The Hills of Chisi" (1932).
4) The Rt. Rev Leslie Owen Tudor Brown (1890–1965) : He was born in Leicestershire, England, on 16 August 1890 and became the second Principal of St Edmund's College Shillong, now named after him as 'Leslie Brown Memorial School'. During his tenure, he established many schools, including Nongstoin Boys H.S. School in 1938, William Clark School in 1939 at Nongpoh etc., with financial assistance from some individuals & philanthropists of that period.
The district occupies an area of 1815.86 km2 and is bounded by West Jaintia Hills District in the North, Ri-Bhoi District in the North-West & south and Bangladesh in the East; and by Bangladesh, Mizoram and Tripura in the South-East. The district headquarters Nongpoh is about 126 km from Shillong (the state capital). The boundary between Assam and Meghalaya also passes through the district with a length of about 32 km, which separates the Sonapur & Balijana areas.
The district experiences a sub-tropical monsoon climate with mild winter. The annual rainfall varies from about 1200 to 2000 mm. According to meteorological statistics, the temperature of this place ranges between 9 degrees Celsius (minimum) and 45 degrees Celsius (maximum).
For effective administration, the district East Jaintia Hills is divided into three sub-divisions viz., Nongstoin, Pynursla & Williamnagar. The headquarter of each sub-division are Nongstoin, Pynursla & Williamnagar, respectively.
Administrative Setup: The District has one Sub-Divisional Magistrate Court at Nongstoin and five Judicial Magistrate Courts at Nongpoh, Mawkynrew, Pynursla, Kshetrigao and Raliang. Besides this, there are two Sub-Divisional Police Stations at Nongpoh & Mawkyrwat. There is one Circle Officer (Civil) and one Executive Magistrate for each sub-division and a Chief Judicial Magistrate & Senior Civil Judge at Nongstoin Court Complex.
As per the census report 2011, this District has a total population of 107,591. The majority of this population belongs to the Jaintia tribe (97.3%). The entire population speaks various dialects such as Pnar, War and Pnars, which are closely related in terms of vocabulary and sentence structure but differ from each other in origin and root. The Jaintias belong to the Sao-Khynriam clan, an offshoot of the great Bhoi dynasty and speak the Pnar language.
The District has a literacy rate estimated at 91%. There are different schools run by both government & private institutions in the District. All these educational institutions are under the Meghalaya Board of School Education or Assam Higher Secondary Education Council.
There are numerous private & government institutions in this District for imparting education, including colleges, higher secondary schools, middle English Schools, primary/secondary English/vernacular medium schools, daycare centres, etc.
The people of this District are hospitable and straightforward. The traditional dresses for men and women include Jainsem, Changkyrthen and Sarong, respectively, for the first two and Phendie, Chador & Longkyrten for women. Besides these, other daily use items such as Dakshing, Laban Lai Shum (butterfly-shaped loin-cloth), Kupion (a piece of cloth usually 12 sq.ft.) are used as a blanket or shawl etc., which play an important role in their lifestyle.
The District has a large number of small and medium industries. The North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) Act in 1972 prompted the setting up of many units to promote cottage & small scale industries. This industry is relatively more developed in the Nongstoin subdivision than the other two sub-divisions attributed to higher education facilities available in this area.
Gair Mum consisting of mainly Jaintia tribes people living near Ranikor hills, mostly practice shifting cultivation called “Jhum”, which is also known as slash & burn type of agriculture where they cut down forest by removing all vegetation from a plot, burn it when dry and plant crops for sometime before moving on to another plot after 2 or 3 years. The main crops raised by them are rice, maise, vegetables, sugar cane and ginger etc.
Fruits include orange, pineapple, banana, and jackfruit, a special type of fruit growing in abundance in these hills. Rubber plantations have been set up mainly to produce natural rubber, but some other cash crops like tea and coffee are also grown on a commercial scale by the people residing near foothills.
The District has excellent potential to develop into a major tourist destination given its location near to capital town Shillong (146 km), rich flora & fauna (biodiversity) and its proximity to the Bangladesh border (about 35 km). Due to many mineral deposits available within the District, it proves to be a major revenue source for the state government.
East Jaintia Hills consists of abundant water resources & rivers that originate from the hills and flow through the District before joining major river basins of Bangladesh. Some of them are Lichubil, Myntdu, Sanda etc.
The area is rich in biodiversity with many flora and fauna, including orchids, butterflies, birds, insects & moths etc.
The District is blessed with many waterfalls of different types, i.e. seasonal, temporary and permanent waterfalls found in the three sub-divisions of Jowai, Nongstoin and Ranikor. The most prominent ones are listed below:
Mawsmai Fall, Rangthyllaing Fall, Mawkyrna Fall & Umtrew Fall (Nongstoin); Mawshynrut Falls or Birpara (Nongstoin); Khohthyrnum Fall (Ranikor).
Ri Bhoi District borders East Jaintia Hills District on the west-south-west, Bangladesh border on the southeast, South West Khasi Hills District on the north-east & North Cachar Hills District on the North.
The District is located at a distance of 146 km from Shillong via Nongstoin Town and 154 km via Resubelpara, situated in the Barpeta district of Assam. The District lies between the latitude of 25'50" N to 26'45" N and a longitude of 91'05 "E at 824 m above sea level.
The entire landmass is divided into two distinct parts, the central hilly region & southern plain region, by a series of hill ranges which average height from 1000m to 1400m above mean sea level. The hills are part of the Garo-Khasi range & Bangladesh Plateau that runs from Jaintia Hills to Tripura state through Naga Hills, Karbi Anglong and Goalpara districts, and Dhubri district of Assam.
There are no nature reserves, but Ranikor Sanctuary, a forest area under Shillong Forest Division, falls in this District. The nature reserve is situated about 35 km from Nongstoin along National Highway 40 that runs from Guwahati to Shillong via Byrnihat and Dawki.
Several hot springs in the District are notable for their medicinal value. However, they are not accessible to the general public but only to forest officers and medical authorities who use them for research purposes.
There are several peaks in the District that fall in the Kynshi (1200m), Thadlaskein (1100m) and Bhoi Riang (1300) ranges.
There are many religious sites in the District, including Seirukwahlum (Nongkhnum Island), Laitkynsew, Myntdu River Shrine, Nartiang Durga Mandir etc.
There are several caves in the District, one of which is Mawsmai Cave near Nongstoin (headquarter of East Jaintia Hills District), famous for its stalactite & stalagmite formations. It was discovered by a local villager Seng Khasi Mawlong in 1913.
Nongkhnum Island, Myntdu River Shrine, Mawsmai Cave & Rangthyllaing Waterfall are the major tourist attractions in East Jaintia Hills District.
The major tribes living in this District are Jaintia, Bhoi and War.
Songs & dances in the District depict tribal life and culture. The major folk dance of the Jaintias is “Ja Lirr”, which is performed by both men and women during social gatherings. War Dance is also a favourite dance form of the War Community living in the Ranikor region.
Bihu, a popular festival observed by people of Assam with great zeal & enthusiasm, is celebrated in East Jaintia Hills District around December when a large number of people from this part of India migrate to their relatives at Barak Valley area in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts for Christmas/ Bihu festivals.
Festivals observed by other communities are Saraswati Puja (Hindus), Rongchu (Christians), Chavang Kut (Sarna Religion), Makar Sankranti/ Pausa Parab (Hindus), Easter Week, Christmas etc.
Makar Sankranti is the most important festival celebrated by all communities with great pomp & splendour for about 15 days in January at Shillong and Ranikor areas of this District. Almost every pilgrimage site around Nongstoin & Ranikor areas are crowded with domestic & foreign tourist during this period when people visit their native places to join family members and friends to enjoy themselves.
There are many folk tales, myths & legends among the tribes of East Jaintia Hills District, which are narrated with great enthusiasm during festivals when members of different communities come together.
English is the official language of the District, but Pnar or Jaintia Language is widely spoken among the tribal population.
East Jaintia Hills District is a place where a number of religions co-exist in harmony, i.e. Hinduism, Christianity and others including indigenous faiths such as Sarna etc. People from all over India have come to settle down here from time to time from different states with their respective religious backgrounds, which has led to the emergence of places of worship for each community at some places around Nongstoin & Ranikor areas.
There is no railway line in this District, which means the only means of transport is the road. The main roads here are NH 44 and NH 35 that connect with Aizawl, Chittagong (Bangladesh), Silchar (Assam) etc.
By Air: Shillong is the only airport in the District connected to Kolkata and Guwahati by a regular daily flight.
By Train: No railway line exists in East Jaintia Hills District; however, Nongstoin is well connected with Silchar & Agartala by road via Lumding-Badarpur -Kamalanagar (Silchar-Agartala) broad gauge train services which pass through this District.
By Road: The main road, SH-44, connects it to Chittagong (Bangladesh), Aizawl and other parts of Assam like Mikir hills etc. NH-44 connects Ranikor and Mawsynram with Shillong and other parts of Assam via NH-35 by a regular bus service.
The best time to visit this District is from October to June. East Jaintia Hills District has many places of tourist interest and beautiful picnic spots where tourists can spend their holidays and weekends with family and friends during any season.