|District||West Jaintia Hills|
|• MLA||Wailadmiki Shylla (NPP)|
|• MP||Mr.Vincent Pala (INC)|
|Elevation||1,380 m (4,530 ft)|
|• Density||77/km2 (200/sq mi)|
|• Official||Pnar , Khasi language English|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Telephone code||91 03652|
Jowai (IPA: ʤəʊˈwaɪ) is the headquarters of West Jaintia Hills district of the state of Meghalaya, India and is home to the Pnar , a sub-tribe of Hynniewtrep people. It is a scenic place located on a plateau surrounded on three sides by the Myntdu river bordering Bangladesh to the south (about 50 km from the Indo-Bangladesh border). Due to its high altitude of 1380 m above sea level, Jowai experiences warm and pleasant summers with cool to chilly winters.
Jowai is an important business and education hub of the entire district catering to students from all over the district as well as the adjacent parts of Assam and Bangladesh. It is well equipped with amenities such as schools, colleges, hospitals, post office etc. Like Khynriams, Pnars have a matriarchal society where the daughters inherit the family property.
Jowai is well connected by roadways to Shillong which is 60 km away. The town of Jowai lies on the National Highway 44(NH 44) which connects Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and parts of Manipur, specifically Lamka (Churachandpur), where the Highway NH 44 is sole link to it.
There are a few buses that ply through this route but are overcrowded with people and goods. The most popular and convenient mode of transport in the district is the Tata Sumo and the Tata Indica that function on a shared passenger basis. The cost for travelling from Shillong to Jowai by either a Tata Sumo or Tata Indica is र100 with a fairly good frequency all through the day.
There is no rail or air link in the district. The nearest and convenient rail head serving most destination is in Guwahati, Assam, about 160 km away. Umroi Airport(E.K Mawlong Airport), is the only nearest airport , has a service with limited flights to Kolkata.
The town does not have much to offer as most of the tourist spots lie a few distances away from town, except for the buzzing market area "Iaw Musiang", one of the oldest in the district. Other attractions include:
- Syntu Ksiar - A must see destination - A valley well irrigated by the Myntdu River. "Madan Madiah" or "Uncle's Ground" situated in the valley, is of historical value as it was the site for the rise of the freedom struggle. Today, the ground holds A monument of Kiang Nangbah, a fearless fighter of the hill people.
- Tyrchi Falls - A waterfall located at approximately 8 km from the heart of Jowai.
- Jowai Presbyterian Church - The oldest church in Jaintia Hills built by the Welsh Presbyterian Mission around 150 years ago, is located within the precincts of town. It is one of the few structures that still retain the British form of architecture.
- Thadlaskein lake - A popular tourist spot which was dug by Sajar Nangli a follower of the erstwhile Jaintia King.
- Ialong Park - Although lesser known, the ecological park has much to offer nature lovers. A picturesque view of the pynthor wah valley of the Myntdu river can be seen from this park.
Festivals and food
Behdeinkhlam, a major festival of the Jaintia takes place during the wet and rainy months of July. It is a festival that lasts 4 days. 'Behdienkhlam' literally means 'to drive away evils and plague'. It is a colourful festival that is celebrated in all parts of Jaintia Hills.Today, the Christians usually do not participate in it, but is celebrated with pomp and show amongst the followers of the traditional religion 'Niamtre'. This Festival is connected with a series of religious rites. People dance on the street to the accompaniment of drum beating and pipe playing. The women do not participate in the dancing but have an important role to play at home by offering sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors.
Each locality prepares a decorative tower-like pillar structure called a 'rath'. These are carried by 30 to 40 strong people to a small lake at 'Aitnar' for immersion. The festival climaxes when the khnong (the most sacred tree) is brought to the centre of each locality.
In the afternoon 'Datlawakor' is played between two teams from the upper and lower valleys of the Myntdu River. It is a kind of soccer with a wooden ball. Those who win are believed to be blessed with a good harvest.
Other festivals include 'Laho Dance' and 'Chad Sukra'.
Meat and fish particularly pork is a delicacy. A variety of pork items like Jadoh, Doh Khleh, Doh jem, Doh Snam are prepared in a traditional way to savor your taste buds . Chicken, fresh fish and beef too are on the list of mouth watering dishes, prepared in a unique style different from usual curries . A strong smelling 'Tungtoh' made from fermented beans and 'Tungtap', a variant of dry fish, are two of the most popular forms of local chutney.
The major inhabitants are the Pnar people. Other inhabitant include Khynriams, War, Biates, Bhois, Marwaris, Bengalis, Nepalis.
As of the 2001 India census, Jowai had a population of 28,430. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Jowai has an average literacy rate of 76%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 77%, and female literacy is 75%. In Jowai, 17% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Governance in Ancient Jaintia kingdom was in the form of a Jaintia king[Syiem] from Bangladesh town in Jaintiapur Minister (Doloi) ruling over a specific "Elaka" (Geographical region) had been handed over under the absence of the Syiem. The Dollois held high positions in society as well as Syiem's court. With the advent of the British rule, the Syiem was ripped off his position, with the Dollois left with some limited powers.As of today Jaintia Hills is divided into twelve Elakas, each under a Doloi (nominal ruler).
Apart from the ancient form, people of Jaintia Hills have their representatives in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly seated at the capital, Shillong.The present Member of the Legislative Assembly from 2-Jowai Constituency is Mr. Wailadmiki Shylla, National Peoples' Party (NPP).
Jaintia Hills District also has its own Autonomous Council as per the provisions given in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, known as Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council separated from the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, which is seated at Jowai town itself. Jowai town has 4 Member of District Council (MDC)Constituencies. They are:
- Mr. Madonbai Rymbai (25-Amwi Khliehtyrshi MDC Constituency)
- Mr. Marki Mulieh (27-Jowai North MDC Constituency)
- Mr. Moonlight Pariat (28-Jowai Central MDC Constituency)
- Mr. A.Shullai (29-Jowai South MDC Constituency)
One member is elected from Shillong Parliamentary Seat as a Member of Parliament (seated at New Delhi). The incumbent MP is Mr. Vincent Pala, INC, a domicile of East-Jaintia Hills.
The upcoming MLA Election is scheduled to be held in 2018 followed by the MDC and MP Elections in 2019.
Institutions in Jowai
- Dr. Norman Tunnell Hospital School Of Nursing
- Kiang Nangbah government college
- Khad-ar Daloi Law College
- Thomas Jones Synod College
- Northeast Adventist College
- KJP Synod Mihngi Higher Secondary School
- Seinraij higher Sec School
- Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School
- Govt. Girls Higher Secondary School
- Tome Memorial Secondary School
Localities in Jowai
- "Census of India 2011: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2012-06-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)