Ri-Bhoi District is one of the districts in the northeast state of Meghalaya in India. The name "Ri Bhoi" comes from the previous name of the region, Bhoi country. It consists of three subdivisions of Nongpoh, Nongstoin and Mawkyrwat. The district was created in 1976 and became a district on 2 February 1992.
The district consists of two sub-divisions namely Nongpoh and Nongstoin, each sub-division is further divided into 9 administrative blocks/areas namely East Ri Bhoi, West Ri Bhoi, South Ri Bhoi, Langpih, Nonglwai, Thingdawl Tanhril North, Mawkyrwat Tanhril South, Mawshynrut and Mawryngkneng under the charge of SDO(Civil) in the Sub Divisional Office.
The Ri-Bhoi District has a population of 375,869 as per census 2011 as per the report disclosed by Census Directorate Meghalaya as of 09/03/2012. The sex ratio is 1039 females to 1000 males with a growth rate of 30.98 per cent from 2001–11. There are three assembly constituencies in this district namely Nongpoh, Mawryngkneng and Nongstoin where two members represent each constituency in the state Legislative Assembly. According to religion majority of people here are Hindus followed by Christians and some other religions like Bamon, Khasi etc exists too.
Ri-Bhoi District was first known as 'Bhoi Country' and it is believed that the name Bhoi is derived from a small tribe called 'Bhuiya'. The area was then divided into eight "Dwyers" or administrative units namely, Umniuh-Umdok, Umsning-Nonglang, Umjyrwar-Mynriew, Umdala–Pynthor (Umling), Mylliem-Laitkroh, Mawkyrwat-Saipung, Nongstoin and Nongpoh. At that time the population of the Bhois were estimated at about forty thousand.
The Bhois were the only inhabitants of the area until 1833 when Khasis began to arrive from Sylhet (in present-day Bangladesh) and some parts of Assam. The land was sparsely populated with no roads, few rivers, no churches, schools or hospitals; there was no industry and almost all its produce went to Sylhet. It was difficult to reach the district. The only means of communication then was by footpaths through the jungles.
When East India Company's forces began their attack on Jaintia Hills, they faced stiff resistance from Bhois who were hostile to foreigners and refused them passage through their territory but had to eventually sign a treaty with them after a lot of difficulties.
In 1841, the Bhois resisted an attempt by the British to extend their control over their territory. In 1847–48, another expedition was undertaken against them which resulted in the submission of most of them. Those who continued hostilities were later defeated and the last Chief Nokma Dwara Singh was taken prisoner and sent to Sylhet Jail where he died.
After the Bhoi War (1847–48), the British Government allowed Khasis to settle down permanently in Ri-Bhoi and by 1850, they were all brought under British protection. In 1866, a new district was formed with its headquarters at Jowai comprising most of the Jaintia Hills. It was named Jaintia Hills and its boundary extended up to Umniuh in Ri-Bhoi subdivision.
The Bhois continued to maintain their old customs and traditions and even after the British took over the administration, they remained hostile to them. They did not build any roads or bridges and did not allow others to use their land without payment.
In 1964, a system of subdivisional administration was introduced and the Bhoi area was divided into two parts, i.e. West Bhoi and East Bhoi with their headquarters at Nongpoh and Mawkyrwat respectively. In 1972, another subdivision named South-West Ri-Bhoi was formed by taking the Nongstoin subdivision from West Jaintia Hills. The new district came into existence on 2 February 1992, and it took its name as Ri-Bhoi District after the biggest town in this area.
Ri-Bhoi District is a part of the Khasi Hills, and it lies between Latitude N 25 40' to 26 10' and Longitude E 91 15' to 92 30'. Its boundaries are the West Jaintia Hills district in the south, Ri-Khriang in the North with Bangladesh creating a boundary on its eastern side. The land area covered by this district is 2899 sq km, which constitutes only 0.61 per cent of the total geographical area of Meghalaya with respect to other districts. However, with respect to the density of population Ri-Bhoi is second highest after East Khasi Hills district.
The Ri-Bhoi district experiences three distinct seasons, i.e., Summer, Monsoon and Winter. Summer is the longest season in Ri-Bhoi lasting for about five months from February to June. It is during this period that temperature may rise up to 28 degrees Celsius on some days with humidity ranging between 90 per cent and 100 per cent. The summer rains are often accompanied by thunderstorms and squalls which bring relief to the people of Ri-Bhoi, but sometimes they also cause damage to property and sometimes even loss of lives.
The monsoon lasts for about four months from July to October with an average rainfall of 150 cm (60 inches). During the rainy season, most parts of the area are covered by clouds. The rain is very heavy and accompanied by hails sometimes. Winter sets in towards the end of October or early November, with December being the coldest month of Ri-Bhoi. During this period temperature may drop down to as low as 3 degrees Celsius on some nights.
The Ri-Bhoi district is divided into three blocks, with each block having a different name.:
As per the 2001 census, RI Bhoi district's population is about 137,956 with 65,964 males and 71,992 females. Among them 54.67% are male and 45.33% are female.
The people of Ri-Bhoi district call themselves as Bhoi. They have their own dialect which is a mixture of English and Sohra, the Sawri language.
Many festivals are celebrated in Ri-Bhoi District by its people. On January 1 every year, the New Year festival is celebrated with great joy and gaiety by all people in this area. This festival is called 'Ka Pomblang Nongkrem'.
On February 14 every year, Valentine's Day was recently introduced to youth across Ri-Bhoi district under public/private initiative for celebration on February 14 with pomp and show. A week-long programme was organized by various Schools/Colleges/Associations at different places under the Ri-Bhoi district from 09 Feb to 15 Feb 2018 with the objective of bringing youth together and strengthen the bond of friendship through this occasion.
In the Ri-Bhoi district, there are five major religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Others (which include Donyi-Polo and Sanamahism).
The people in the Ri-Bhoi district celebrate Christmas on 25 December every year. A seven-day long festival called Ka Shad Suk Mynngan is celebrated every year during this period by different clans in Sawrkarin. The festival's most significant feature is a Khasi traditional bamboo dance known as "Ka Shad Gen". This dance continues from one pateh (Sub Division) to another along the War-Kadait (communication route) where people generally walk from one place to another along the road. The festival reaches its climax on New Year's Eve with a grand dinner and sumptuous lunch specially cooked by women of each clan.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the Ri-Bhoi District. Some parts of the Ri-Bhoi District fall under flat and undulating terrain with several small hills and mountain ranges and are hence good for cultivation. The main food crop is rice, but maize, pulses, oranges, pineapple, coconut are also being produced in this area. Maize is cultivated during winter while other crops are sown from February to June and harvested from September to December. In the hill areas chilly is a major cash crop that grows well at an altitude of about 1,500 MSL.
Since mining activities have been started in Ri-Bhoi District by Meghalaya Government Mining Corporation Ltd, there has been a tremendous change in the economy of this district. Many people are earning their living by working as daily-wage labourers or middlemen at different mines. The company is now reaping good profits every year and also providing employment to many unemployed youths of this district.
In the district of Ri-Bhoi, there are several rivers. The main ones are Umlaton River, Umkyrdar River and Nongstoin River collectively known as River Ganol. These rivers originate from the hills in Ri-Bhoi District and flow towards Bangladesh through North Cachar Hills (Assam). During the monsoon, these rivers rage with tremendous force leaving nothing in their wake.
The important rivers in this district are the Umlaton River, Nongstoin River, Umkyrdar River, Myntdu River, Byrnihat River, Langrin Creek River, Betling Rivulet, and Rynjah Creek River.
Several waterfalls can be found in Ri-Bhoi District. Some of the popular ones are Ryndiang Fall (10 metres high and 50 metres wide), and Langdoh Falls (75 metres high and 100 metres wide). There are also Shnongpdeng, Rangthylliang, Nohsynshnong, Umshyrpi etc beautiful waterfalls across the Ri-Bhoi district. The good thing about these beautiful landscapes is that they have not been polluted by modern civilization so far.
The Ri-Bhoi District is one of the best examples of biodiversity. There are more than 2600 species of plants that have been recorded in the district so far. Some of them are pitcher plants, orchids, ferns etc. The different species of animals found in this region include mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds which consists of some unique varieties like Blyth’s tragopan, Mishmi takin, hoolock gibbon etc.
The Ri-Bhoi District is a bird watchers’ paradise. The different species of birds that can be found in this district are the great Indian hornbill, Satyr tragopan, Mishmi takin etc.
Ri-Bhoi District also has some interesting hot springs. Nokrek Hot Spring (25 metres deep and 20 metres wide), Shnongpdeng Hot Spring (20 metres deep and 30 metres wide) are popularly known hot springs across the district.
The Ri-Bhoi District is home to some serene peaks that are about 5,000 metres in height. These beautiful hills, which are also worshipped by locals, include Mawphu Kham (5,418 feet), Thangkharang (4,784 feet), Laitprah (5,056 feet) etc.
Ri-Bhoi District is home to many ancient pilgrim sites that are of significance for local tribes. They believe that these ancient shrines have spiritual energy which can be used for different purposes like fulfilling desires, gaining prosperity etc.
As the mining activity increases in this region, people are earning their living by working as daily wage labourers or middlemen at different mines. The company is now reaping good profits every year and also providing employment to many unemployed youths of this district.
The district of Ri-Bhoi also has some interesting cave features. There are Bawm Cave, Mawsmai Cave, Umkyrubi Cave etc caves across the district that is popular among tourists around the area.
There are tourist attractions in Ri Bhoi. Some of the popular ones are Laitkynsew (Where India’s first underground nuclear test was conducted), Umiam Lake (The biggest artificial lake in India), Nongpoh (A beautiful hill station) etc.
Ri-Bhoi District has some beautiful landscapes which if fully explored can give you a lifetime experience. It is one of the best preseved places where nature can be seen in its purest form and which is why it attracts a number of tourists from across India every year.
The main language in Ri-Bhoi is Hindi. English, Khasi and Bengali are also spoken by the people of this area.
The people of the Ri-Bhoi District are simple and hardworking. They primarily depend on farming for their livelihood. Women work as housewives while men earn an income by working as daily labourers at the mines.
The people of this area are very artistic and creative. They have different kinds of dances that they perform on different occasions. The most common dance among the Ri-Bhoi tribe is "Mohlon," which is performed in a group and involves music and dance to express happiness and cheerfulness. The women dancers, who stand in a straight line, wear traditional dresses and move their feet in the synchronised movement to the tunes of music.
The Ri-Bhoi District is well connected to the rest of Meghalaya via roads. Automobiles are a popular form of transport within this district.
The Ri-Bhoi District is well connected by road with the rest of the state. The National Highway 44 is passing through this district.
Ri Bhoi district has different types of transportation options, which are mainly the roadways and railways. It is connected to Guwahati via Shillong, also connected to Silchar & Agartala via the Badarpur border in Mizoram. From Monday to Friday bus service starts from 5 am to 10 pm in Ri-Bhoi District. There are many available modes of transport for travelling locally in the Ri-Bhoi District.
The nearest railway station in Umniuh-Tmarphat, Mawprem which is 6 km away from the district headquarter. The nearest Airport in Shillong (SJLE) is at a distance of 40 km.
The best time to visit Ri-Bhoi District is during the months of October to March. During this period one can enjoy pleasant weather and also see a number of colourful festivals being celebrated in the district.
Khasi Hills Division
Garo Hills Division
Jaintia Hills Division