Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya has several reasons to claim. It is the second wettest place on the planet and the only place in India to receive rain throughout the year. The town of Cherrapunjee is nestled in the East Khasi Hills about 50 km southwest of state capital Shillong. The town is also known as Sohra and Churra. Cherrapunjee held the record for the wettest place on earth. However, Mawsynram, also in Meghalaya, holds the distinction of being the wettest place. Cherrapunji has a mild subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), with monsoonal influences typical of India. The city’s yearly rainfall average stands at 11,777 millimetres (463.7 in) Cherrapunji receives rains from the Bay of Bengal arm of the Indian summer monsoon. The monsoon clouds fly unhindered over the plains of Bangladesh for about 400 km. Thereafter, they hit the Khasi Hills which rise abruptly from the plains to a height of about 1370 m above mean sea level within 2 to 5 km. The geography of the hills with many deep valleys channels the low-flying (150–300 m) moisture-laden clouds from a wide area to converge over Cherrapunji. The winds push the rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes. The rapid ascent of the clouds into the upper atmosphere hastens the cooling and helps vapours to condense. Most of Cherrapunji’s rain is the result of air being lifted as a large body of water vapour. The extreme amount of rainfall at Cherrapunji is perhaps the best-known feature of orographic rain in northeast India.
- NOHKALIKAI WATERFALLS
- MAWSMAI FALLS
- KHASI MONOLITHS
- MAWSMAI CAVES
- Mowlynnong Village
Nohkalikai Waterfalls, located at a distance of 5 km from Cherrapunjee, is the fourth highest waterfall in the world. Falling from a height of 1,100 ft., the legend associated with these falls is as popular as the attraction itself.
A local woman, Kalikai, who remarried discovered that her new husband did not like her daughter and was not in favour of the child living with them. His discomfort turned to jealousy when he realised that his wife’s affection towards the little girl was more than what he felt he deserved. Driven to despair, he decides to kill his step daughter.
Upon reaching back and not finding her daughter at home, Kalikai plans to search for her outside. Her husband asks her to first have her lunch before going out. After completing her meal, she is shocked to find her daughter’s fingers in the basket. Realising the gory act committed by her husband and her own unintentional part in the death of her beloved daughter, she rushes out and, in her profound grief, leaps off a tall cliff. It is this “fall of Kalikai” that has lent to Cherrapunji one of its prime attractions.
Mawsmai Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in India, is located at a distance of few kilometres from Cherrapunjee. Located at a distance of 2 km from the monument of David Scott at Sohra, the height of this waterfall is 1,035 ft. This waterfall is also famous by the name of Nohsngithiang Falls.
Khasi monoliths, located in proximity to Mawsmai Falls Tourists visiting the destination can see several Khasi monoliths, which are stones standing in the memories of the ancestors, scattered all around. In addition, the place is ideal for amateur and experienced explorers.
Situated around 6 Kms from Cherrapunjee, the Mawsmai Caves are a major crowd puller that leaves tourists spellbound. These limestone caves have the distinction of being the only caves in Meghalaya that are lit enough to enable tourists to enjoy the natural formations in awe.
Though the caves are long, only a distance of 150 meters is open for tourists, while the other section is closed. The stalactites and stalagmites caves have innumerable forms, shapes and sizes inside leaving one to imagine as many life forms as possible. This magnificent natural wonder is the handiwork of years of natural abrasion and underground water.
Mawlynnong Village has earned the distinction of being the cleanest village in India. It is situated 90 kms. from Shillong and besides the picturesque village, offers many interesting sights such as the living root bridge and another strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock.
Mawlynnong nestled in the pristine hill state of Meghalaya, is along the Indo-Bangla border. This cute and colourful little village is known for its cleanliness. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. They mostly grow betel nut. About 82 households live in Mawlynnong. Keeping the surrounding environment clean is an age old tradition. Discover India magazine declared the village as the cleanest in Asia in 2003.
A dustbin made out of bamboo is found all along the village. Every one makes it a point that dirt and waste are not thrown everywhere. All the waste from the dustbin is collected and kept in a pit, which the villagers use as manure. The villagers are now on a mission to ban plastic. The village with cent per cent literacy is conscious and they are spreading the message of conservation and protection of the forest. Locals plant trees to ensure that the virgin forest is kept intact and also replenished.
Meghalaya’s double-decker and single-decker root bridges are unique in the world and are a sight to behold. The bridges are tangles of massive thick roots, which have been intermingled to form a bridge that can hold several people at a time. Khasi people have been trained to grow these bridges across the raised banks of streams to form a solid bridge, made from roots. The living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree, which produces a series of secondary roots that are perched atop huge boulders along the streams or the riverbanks to form bridges.
The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily strong – strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time. The bridges are alive and still growing and gain strength over time.
The village also offers a sight of natural balancing rock, a strange natural phenomenon of a boulder balancing on another rock.
Sky View is a bamboo and cane structure that offer a bird’s view to the Mawlynnong village and Indo-Bangladesh Border. The structure is 80 feet tall and magnificently architectured by Rishop Khongthongreh, a local school teacher.