IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


29th September, 2023 Geography

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  • Kongthong — the whistling village of Meghalaya — bagged the Best Tourism Village (Bronze) Award at the National Tourism Awards 2023 which was presented by the Ministry of Tourism at an event at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.


About Kongthong Village

  • Kongthong, also known as the Singing community, is a community and tourist destination in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district, in India's Northeast mountainous area.
  • Kongthong, India's application for the United Nations World Tourism Organization's World's Best Village Contest, is simultaneously vying for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation.
  • Kongthong is a renowned tourist destination recognized for its scenic vistas and the distinct culture of its inhabitants, who speak in the whistled language "Jingrwai Iawbei" and construct extraordinary living root bridges.
  • Tourists and language researchers from all over the world, including the United States, Germany, and Japan, gather here.
  • Each villager has a unique name, which is a whistling lullaby, and the villagers communicate by whistling the lullaby.

Jingrwai Iawbei whistling language

  • People of Kongthong belong to the Khasi tribe who speak the Khasi language - a spoken language. However, Kongthong also has a remarkable tradition of assigning unique whistling tunes as the name of each member of the village.
  • Kongthong is known for its unique language, developed as a consequence of its geographical isolation, in which Jingrwai Iawbei (lit. "melody sung in respect of the root ancestress" in Khasi language) is assigned as the unique name to each newborn by the mother which becomes the permanent identity of the person.
  • This name is not a word, instead, a unique call name or caller tune in the form of a whistle, i.e. "the caller hums a tune, which is a unique "name" that can only be understood by the villagers."
  • This naming of babies is a matriarchal tradition in which the mother repeatedly hums the specific musical tune in the form of the whistle, which the growing babies gradually become accustomed to, and this unique whistling tune or jingrwai Iawbei lullaby becomes the unique name and permanent identity of the person.
  • Every child is assigned a unique lullaby or tune as their name which is transmitted among children and adults as the unique name of the person.
  • All villagers call each other using the unique caller tune assigned to them as the name.
  • Each jingrwai Iawbei or unique name of a person has 2 versions, shorter and longer.


  • Inhabitants practice a traditional religion called the Seng Khasi.


  • The economy of the village is based on agriculture.
  • Villagers climb down the hill for long trips to markets to sell their crops where they also buy a week's worth of supplies for the whole village.

UNESCO Heritage and UNWTO's World's Best Village

  • Kongthong was India's one of 3 entries for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World's Best Village award in 2021.
  • The government of India is also trying to obtain the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status for the village.
  • UNWTO's The Best Tourism Village award is given to those villages that demonstrate innovative and transformational approaches in leveraging tourism as an opportunity to conserve their heritage and develop their rural community towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), diminish economic and social disparity, reduce the population flight, and conserve and enhance the bio-cultural diversity.

Living root bridges

  • The area is known for the Living Root bridges including those at Kongthong, Nongriat and other nearby places, all of which are tourist attractions.
  • Sohra (Cherrapunji) and Elephant Falls are other popular tourist destinations nearby.


  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is an international organization responsible for the promotion, of sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
  3. It is an international organization of intergovernmental character with 193 member states.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. A) 1 only
  2. B) 2 only
  3. C) Both 1 and 2
  4. D) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A