Cherrapunjee also called Cherrapunji, is best known as the wettest place on earth, and so we studied in our geography lessons. The image that we have is of a place where it is constantly raining and all you would be able to see is rains and rains. We soon discovered it is not so and Cherrapunji gets rains during rainy season mostly like the rest of the country, and it is only during that time that the rains here are more than any other place on the earth. In fact we were surprised to learn that the place is actually dry during winter months and faces a major water crisis. Now can life get more ironical: Wettest place on earth goes dry for months every year. I wonder if they ever tried any water conservation methods, did they face any challenge in doing so or they just accepted this as a part of nature their hills give them. Both ways life is tough – when it rains and when it does not.
Cherrapunji – India’s No. 1 waterfalls Noh Ka Likhai
Clouds will be you constant companions as you roam around Cherrapunji. You can walk in the clouds literally, feel them on your skin and smell them. Clouds not just flirt with you, they also keep creating the scenery around for you. Sometimes they will camouflage the waterfall and you will only hear it, then they will show you a bit of it and raise your curiosity and then they will suddenly move away and let you admire the gorgeous waterfall falling into a deep blue lake. Another constant feature is colorful flowers. You would see bright pink flowers flanking both sides of the road throughout your drive, all along the valleys and in front of every house – big or small. They do not look planted or force fitted but they seem very much a part of the place along with hills, clouds and humans. We spotted many varieties of flowers that we usually do not see in other parts of the country. Amongst the Blue sky, white or grey clouds, green hills, flowers add their own brightness to the scenery with their vibrant colors.
The hills around Cherrapunji are dotted with various waterfalls. You can stop around any valley and you would be able to hear or see a waterfall. Some of the waterfalls are a part of standard itinerary that you are taken around and have interesting stories about them. Steep straight falls, fall into the narrow gorges between the hills and culminate to become a river in the deepest part of the valley. From the top the rivers look like a tickle of water flowing between green slopes. Sometimes you will wonder at the might of this delicate little river that cuts through the rocky mountains and makes it way, you will envy it for its independence to be able to go anywhere on its will, to be able to cross borders as most of this water goes to the neighboring Bangladesh.
Video of India’s Best Waterfalls – NohKaLikhai waterfalls at Cherrapunji
Legends and myths can never be too far. One of the falls called Noh Ka Likhai falls have a tragic story behind its name that comes from a women named Ka Likhai who committed suicide here after having eaten her own daughter mistakenly. A huge 200 ft stand alone rock formation that looks like an inverted Khasi basket is said to be a basket that belonged to an evil giant who used to trouble the people. Once they served him a meal full of nails and killed him, and legend is that his basket was left here upturned and even today stands as a rock. The way the rock is standing between the hills and the plains with its perfect conical top, you almost want to believe the story.
Meghalaya is home to as many as 788 caves, most of which are unmapped and unexplored, and some of them the longest one in the country. Mawsmai caves are probably the most visited ones as they are close to Cherrapunji. There is a concrete staircase that leads you to the mouth of the cave. You see a huge hall kind of formation that leads to a very narrow pathway, where at most one person can pass through and then again a cave comes and you come out on the other side of the cave. These natural formations make you marvel at the nature’s diversity but the way they are maintained you do the same at man’s ignorance. Around the cave you can walk through a jungle with wild plants. We saw Mawsmai caves towards the end of the day and it is then it started raining after a long dry day. It felt as if the trip to Cherrapunji is now complete, as you have soaked yourself in its identity – its rains.
Cherrapunji is now officially called Sohra, which was its original name. Cherrapunji apparently was a British contribution. There are parts of Bangladesh that you can see from some places here and you would be amazed to see that hills suddenly become absolute plains where agriculture is being done like other plains. Ramakrishna Mission has ashram here, where they have a temple and a museum on Northeast. The museum shows pictures of all the falls in the region and tells you a bit of history about them. There is a small weaving center where some young man and women were weaving their traditional weaves. There is a temple behind the main building and walls of the building showcase some pictures associated with the region. Women in traditional Khasi dresses can be seen selling cinnamon and tea.
Despite being such a huge tourist place, tourism infrastructure is almost not there. You cannot even find a decent lunch unless you are staying in a rare resort here. Since most people come here for a day trip from Shillong, a couple of good restaurants that serve the basic meals is a huge need. As of now you only have small stalls that sell you small snacks only. Even getting the quintessential tea is not that easy in a land not too far from the land of tea.
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