Cherrapunji needs no introduction. We all learnt the name of this small hill town in the North East as the answer to ‘the wettest place on earth’ in school. The description somehow conveyed an impression of a warm, wet and swampy forested area to me, but seeing pictures on the internet changed that perception. Ever since, Cherrapunji, also known as Sohra, had been on my bucket list and I had the chance to tick it off recently.
Cherrapunji, or Sohra as it was originally called when it served as the traditional capital of the Khasi tribe before the British moved it to Shillong, can be visited throughout the year. However, it is ideal to plan your visit around the monsoon when the seasonal waterfalls, which are the main attraction of this destination, cascade in their full might.
Our trip began with a hearty breakfast at the Jiva Resort we were staying at. A property offering breathtaking views of Cherrapunji’s landscape, tastefully done up spacious rooms, courteous staff and delicious food, Jiva is an ideal choice for a stay during your visit to Cherrapunji.
Ram Krishna Mission Ashram
Our first stop was the Ram Krishna Mission Ashram comprising a school and a museum showcasing the lifestyle of different tribes of the North East. Built in 1955, the foundation stone of the building was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru. It has a weaving unit, two libraries and a shop where you can buy books on the life of Swami Ram Krishna Paramhans. This quiet, serene place is just right for kick-starting your holiday.
From there, we headed to the Nohkalikai Falls – the tallest plunge fall in the country, flowing down from a height of 1,115 feet. The green and scenic landscape along the road leading up to the falls and all around it is what has earned this place the title of Scotland of the East.
By the time we reached the falls, the clouds were beginning to gather and we rushed to the viewpoint to catch a glimpse before the view was obstructed and I was awestruck by the cascade flowing magnificently from a great height. The spectacle of nature holds you spell-bound and you stand there, gazing, lost in the moment till someone shakes you out of your reverie. The famous song from the movie Ram Teri Ganga Maili, where Mandakini is seen bathing, was shot here and you can see a rock bearing the initials R.K just at the base of the falls.
On our way back, I stopped by at the shops nearby to shop for some locally-grown Cinnamon that is a speciality here and more fresh and fragrant than the varieties grown elsewhere.
Seven Sister Falls
Our next destination was the Seven Sister Falls, and on our way, we discovered two more lesser-known falls – the Wakaba Falls and the Latara Falls. Since these falls are not on the mainstream tourist radar, the viewpoints around here were far less crowded, giving us the opportunity to take in the spectacular view of frothy streams of water plunging down the valley at our own pace.
The Seven Sister Falls, also known as Nohsngithiang Falls, is a spectacle to behold. The array of seven streams flowing down a hill at once is an unusual scenic delight. Today, it stands as the symbol of the seven sister states of the North East. The view of the stunning plains and marshes of Bangladesh visible in the distance definitely adds to the charm of the place.
After a scrumptious lunch back at Jiva Resort, we headed for Maswmai Caves, one of the many accessible caves of Meghalaya.
These are limestone caves, where we were greeted with a spacious entry but soon had to navigate our way around uneven rocks and puddles of water as we moved forward. At places, the passage gets so narrow that we literally had to squeeze ourselves through to move ahead. It’s like nature’s own maze. Thankfully, the caves are well-lit, so you don’t get that claustrophobic feeling of being trapped.
Maswmai Caves were discovered around 1922. With a growing interest in adventure activities, the caves now witness a huge footfall of tourists, including children.
The Eco Park, maintained by the Meghalaya Government, is like nature’s haven within nature’s haven. The place is extremely popular among tourists and almost always a bit crowded. But the lovely view of this ‘green canyon’ of Cherrapunji, along with the waterfalls, was a mesmerising sight and worth jostling our way through the crowd.
I made some wonderful memories visiting those places and yearn to go back to relive those memories all over again.
Best time to visit: This marvel of nature is accessible throughout the year but monsoon is the time to view the majestic waterfalls in their full glory and enjoy the famous Cherrapunji rains.
How to reach: Guwahati, which is 155 km away, has good rail and air connectivity to the rest of the country. You can take a bus or taxi from here to Cherrapunji.
Ideal for: Nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts with myriad hiking and trekking trails.