Update: Cherrapunjee is now renamed as Sohra, the name it used to have before the time of the British.
Cherrapunjee is well known to everyone as the place where it rains the most in the world. But what is not well known is that it is a very beautiful place with green hills and many waterfalls. I would personally put it as one of the most beautiful places in the lower regions of the north east. But today Cherrapunjee is no longer the place where the precipitation is the highest – as the credit has now gone to a near by place called Mawsynram.
One of the days I was Shillong, I decided to take the daily sightseeing tour of Cherrapunjee offered by Meghalaya tourism. I would have preferred to explore it myself, but there are many places to see around Cherrapunjee and there is hardly any public transport available.
The guide on the tour bus looked young and not really well prepared for his work. After introducing himself, he asked if everyone understood English. But he hardly waited for answers and concluded with the next sentence – “English is the official language of Meghalaya, so I will speak in English”. And he had a funny English. He would describe every place saying ‘one place is there’, and little else. So mostly we got to know from him that “one valley is there”, “one falls is there”, etc.. I posed him a few questions I had about some places, and he did not seem to know, and did not show much enthusiasm in having a conversation either.
A valley on the way to Cherrapunjee
But in any case, the tour was good and we went through beautiful places. We first stopped at a beautiful valley of which the name I can’t recall. Most of the places had names difficult to pronounce, so I had difficulty remembering them or noting them down. We were still in a dry place but could see clouds in a distance faraway in the valley indicating of things to come.
Now you see it.. now you don’t.. The fog kept playing with us as long as we were there
Up close and a rainbow
As we moved further, we were driving on a plateau with grasslands and occasional fragments of forest. This is the plateau where Cherrapunjee stands on, and we started seeing clouds and wet weather. The ground was damp indicating that it has been raining. The guide said the rains begin in April and continue to increase in the coming months. It was getting foggy around us and as we drove, we kept moving in and out of fog every now and then!
grasslands and strips of forests on the plateau on which Cherra stands
The town of Cherrapunjee is a small place which has nothing much of interest except for its precipitation. Beyond the town of Cherrapunjee, Nohkalikai falls was our first stop. It is said to be the second highest waterfall in India after Jog Falls, and is named after a lady who is said to have died there. It was indeed very tall, and clouds kept hiding it from us. In the 30 minutes or so we were there, we could see it sometimes and then it would be blocked by fog, only to reveal itself again in a few minutes.
Inside Mawsmai Cave
The next stop was Mawsmai Cave. It is a large cave with openings on both ends, and was big enough for people to walk through it. The region around Cherrapunjee is known to have several caves of this kind.
Panorama Seven Sister Falls as seen from the hills opposing the valley
One of the Seven Sister Falls, up close
We stopped at the top of a cliff overlooking the famous seven-sister falls for lunch. It was like a restaurant in the sky from where we could look down at the vast expanses of Bangaladesh below, and at a series of waterfalls at the opposing cliff, called seven-sister falls. After lunch, we drove to the other side from where the water was falling down.
We moved on from here to see a garden which seemed to have been created for the tourists arriving to Cherrapunjee, and then to a few more waterfalls of which I can’t recall the names. Each place we went to was green and beautiful, and I wished I could spend much more time here. Cherra deserves spending a few days around its beautiful vistas, but my day trip had to end much quicker.
one of the stream that falls off the cliff and into Bangladesh
A lady near Cherra
I spent another day in Shillong walking around Shillong Peak and within the city. I then moved on to Guwahati, and eventually back to Bangalore, ending my almost a month long journey in the North East.
Cherrapunjee is a less than 2 hour drive from Shillong. It is advisable to cover the region with your own transport, since there is plenty to see which can’t be done by public transport. It is a beautiful region and deserves a few days of your attention. The well known places to see are the Nohkalikai falls, seves sister falls, Mawsmai caves and the vistas of the planes of Bangladesh from a height. One of the local attractions include root bridges, which are naturally formed bridges that are actually roots of trees that grow across streams.
Cherra is a small town and it did not look like the town had any kind of accommodation available, but being close to Shillong, it should not be a problem. Cherra resorts is a family run resort near Cherrapunjee.
(End of the Series)