There is a subtle charm about Cherrapunjee (also spelt as Cherrapunji) that makes me feel peaceful and at home there. Like many of us, my first introduction to Cherrapunjee was through my textbooks where we learnt that Cherrapunjee is the place to receive the highest rainfall in the world. I was clearly proud of the fact that such a place existed in India. And it is from that time, I longed to visit the “wettest place in the world”. While there are so many places to visit in Cherrapunjee, I was always fascinated by the waterfalls of Cherrapunjee, also known as Sohra locally. Cherrapunjee later gave up the title of “Wettest Place on Earth” to nearby Mawsynram. It is now the “Second most Wettest place in the world“.
Our first visit to Cherrapunjee was in October 2012 when we had gone for a long trip to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Meghalaya. It was just a day trip as we had time constraints and had to only rush around the place. Quite naturally, we were not satisfied with the visit. Then again, we visited Sohra after completing the David Scott Trail. That was in January 2017. Even after 2 visits, I longed to visit Cherrapunjee during the monsoon to experience the beauty of rains. Finally, in August 2019, my dream of visiting Cherrapunjee in monsoon was realized.
- 1 Cherrapunjee – A Complete Dreamland
- 2 Our Experience at Cherrapunjee
- 2.1 Nohkalikai Falls – the Jump of Likai
- 2.2 Nongriat Trek – the 3500 steps trek
- 2.3 Umtynhiang Falls – A paradise in the middle of nowhere
- 2.4 Wei Sawdong Waterfall – the one that took my breath away
- 2.5 Dainthlen Waterfall – The story of Thlen
- 2.6 Arwah Cave – Of Fossils and more
- 2.7 An awesome sunset to end the day
- 3 What are the other places to visit in Cherrapunjee?
- 4 Cherrapunjee Travel Guide
- 5 A few more pictures of Cherrapunjee
Cherrapunjee – A Complete Dreamland
Cherrapunjee had been a complete dreamland for us. We love everything about the place – the waterfalls, the caves, markets, Khasi food and the people. Nature is at her pristine best. It is green and green wherever the eyes go and the sky is blue with white clouds interspersed here and there. It is this color of the sky I absolutely love. And the monsoons are definitely magical in Cherrapunjee. Clouds literally play hide and seek there. At one time, the sky is overcast with cloud and then it suddenly starts raining. Within minutes, it can so happen that the sky turns to a perfect blue again. What is there not to love about Cherrapunjee?
The first time we were in Cherrapunjee, there were fewer tourists, only a few hotels and definitely fewer cars on the road. Cherrapunjee was visited by those who wanted to go off-the-beaten-track. In 2019, the scene is a bit different. The effects of mass tourism can be seen in Cherrapunjee as well. The number of hotels and homestays has increased exponentially; there are more cars and much more tourists. But even with more and more people coming in, the beauty of Cherrapunjee has remained unchanged to us. We still loved its empty near roads and enjoyed exploring the place with a scooty. We enjoyed eating pork dishes at the local Khasi joints and felt totally awestruck seeing the sunset at the Nohkalika Waterfalls. So let me just delve into our experience at our latest visit to Cherrapunjee and then I would go on to write about the different places that you can visit in Cherrapunjee and also give all the useful information about the place.
Our Experience at Cherrapunjee
We arrived at Cherrapunjee after our trip to an equally exciting place, Kongthong, also known as the whistling village of Meghalaya.
At Kongthong, the people don’t call each other by name. They whistle a tune to call each other. Excited to know more about it? Read about Kongthong, the Whistling village of Meghalaya in our article.
We reached Cherrapunjee in the afternoon. Batista, our host was ready for us and he took us to visit the Nohkalikai Falls.
Nohkalikai Falls – the Jump of Likai
Nohkalikai Falls is a grand waterfall. Falling from a height of 1100 feet, the waterfall looks nothing sort of spectacular. The sky was golden yellow when we reached the Nohkalikai Falls. We just looked at the waterfall in awe as the sky changed its colors dramatically. There is a viewpoint a little away from the Nohkalikai viewpoint. The sunset is very beautiful from there. I love sunsets, so I rushed towards the sunset point while Agni remained back to take some pictures of the waterfall. We both got what we wanted. Agni got his waterfall pictures and I got a beautiful sunset. After that, we returned to Cherrapunjee.
There is a heartbreaking Khasi legend behind the Nohkalikai Falls. Nohkalika literally translates into “Jump of Likai”. Likai was a young widow living with her little daughter in Rangjyrteh village near the waterfall. She used to work all the day to make ends meet. So whenever she was home, she spent that time with her daughter. On insistence of family and friends, she remarried. Now that husband turned to be a shallow fellow. He was jealous of the baby girl as Likai used to spend a lot of time with her daughter.
So one day, in a fit of jealousy, the husband killed the baby, cut her into pieces and cooked a meal with her flesh. Likai was out to work during this time. When Likai returned home she was surprised to see that her husband had cooked for her. She had the meal with joy little realizing what she was eating. Later when she went to have betel and nut, she found a tiny finger in her betel box. She soon realized what had happened. Likai was devastated. She was so overcome with rage and sorrow that she ran away from her home and jumped off the cliff. Since then the waterfall was named after her. I wish she had killed her husband before that!
Nongriat Trek – the 3500 steps trek
The next day we went to Tyrna for the Nongriat Trek. The Double Decker Living Root Bridge was another attraction of Meghalaya that we really wanted to see. So we decided to take those 3500+ stairs and go down to Nongriat village, as expected, we were totally in awe after reaching the Double Decker Root Bridge. You can read about our experience about Nongriat Trek in our article.
The next morning we came back to our homestay in Cherrapunjee. Our host Batista had some surprise in store for us. Since we had already done a few of the places to visit in Cherrapunjee in our earlier visits, Batista advised us to visit a few other places. He became our guide for the day and we went to explore Cherrapunjee with him. Believe me, he was the best guide that we could have. His knowledge about the place is profound and he was so patient to show us around.
Umtynhiang Falls – A paradise in the middle of nowhere
The first place we visited was totally offbeat. Not many tourists visit the place. We were the only few people in the entire expanse of the valley and waterfall when we visited in the morning. And to think that it was the peak season in Cherrapunjee! While Nohkalikai Falls had a number of tourists and Kharmih Varieties Spot had none. The place is known as Varieties spot as there are a number of viewpoints, waterfalls and picnic spot in the region. Our final destination in this spot was the Umtynhiang Falls. On the way, there were a number of viewpoints and another waterfall. Umtynhiang Falls was totally unexpected. The waterfall is extremely pleasing to the eyes and the entire region has huge stones and boulders within which the river was flowing. I do not know the name of the river, but the place completely stole my heart. It was that place where one could sit for long and poets can write pages of words describing its beauty.
I wanted to stay here forever, but the next place was waiting for us. So we took the endless long black road and reached Wei Sawdong falls.
Wei Sawdong Waterfall – the one that took my breath away
This three-tiered waterfall is another beauty of Cherrapunjee. Here also, we had to hike down a steep rocky path to come to the viewpoint. From the waterfall we could see the waterfall clearly. The water had a strange shade of green and with all the trees and vegetation around, the place simply looked like a green paradise. You can actually go all the way down to the base of the waterfall. There is a sort of wooden ladder to navigate your way to the bottom of the waterfall. The trail is a bit slippery, so think twice before traversing the path with your flipflops. Infact, I would suggest you to wear proper shoes when you are out for the places to visit in Cherrapunjee.
Wei Sawdong is not like any other waterfall. The sheer beauty of the place is mind-blowing. I love waterfalls in general. But in all my 12 years of travelling in India, there are only a few waterfalls that simply took my breath away. Wei Sawdong is definitely one of them; Tuirihiau Fall in Mizoram and Chitrakoot Waterfall in Chhattisgarh are the others.
Our next stop was the Dainthlen Waterfall. Did anyone tell you that Meghalaya is the land of waterfalls?
Dainthlen Waterfall – The story of Thlen
Dainthlen Waterfall is about 5 minutes drive from Wei Sawdong Falls. This one is another natural wonder of Cherrapunjee. Here, you are on top of the waterfall. From the vantage point, you can get a good view of Dainthlen Waterfall. But the best part is that you have to jump across the top of the waterfall and go to the other side. There are a few stones and a wobbly plank to help you cross the waterfall head. Once you are on the other side, walk to the meadows. There is a small hillock, go on top of that and get the most amazing view of the Dainthlen Waterfall.
Once we were on the rock, Batista told us the legend behind Dainthlen Falls. The waterfall derives its name from the word Thlen which means Python in Khasi. It is believed that a huge snake reigned in the area and used to disturb the local people and the travellers on the way. To end the terror of the snake, the people decided to kill it. They were successful in their endeavor and killed the snake at the wide flat rock overlooking the waterfall. Adjacent to the spot where Thlen was killed is the Dainthlen Waterfall.
After our visit to Dainthlen Falls, we had our lunch and then headed towards the Arwah Cave.
Arwah Cave – Of Fossils and more
Just before entering Sohra or Cherrapunjee town, there is a small dusty road that shows the way to Arwah Lumshynna Caves. A muddy path took us to the parking lot of the Arwah cave. From the parking lot, you get a splendid view of Cherrapunjee town. Don’t miss that! We got our tickets and entered into the well-maintained path that led to the entrance of the Arwah Caves. On the way, there are a couple of distractions – a few viewpoints from where you can get the view of Cherrapunjee.
We resisted our urge to visit those viewpoints and went towards the cave first. The entrance of the Arwah Cave takes you inside the underground world. In our last visit to Cherrapunjee, we had visited the legendary Mawsmai caves, but Arwah Caves seemed even more fascinating. There is no light inside the cave, only our smartphone lights were there to show us the way.
The cave has some of the most beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The caves were dripping with water, so very different from the Baratang Caves in Andaman. There are a few impressions of fossils in the cave that can be spotted on the walls. We could identify the molluscs and the fish skeletons. Arwah Cave is a treasure trove for those who love caving. Our experience at Arwah Cave was better than in Mawsmai Cave, for this cave was more raw compared to the other.
After Arwah cave, Batista did not reveal where we were heading next. “It’s a surprise”, was all that he said. I only understood that we were going to see an awesome sunset somewhere.
An awesome sunset to end the day
True to his words, we drove down the black roads of Cherrapunjee and stopped near a wide green grassland. And then we started walking along the narrow trail amidst the tall grasses. After a hike of about 15 minutes, we reached the edge of the cliff. From the cliff, you can see Bangladesh valley on a clear day.
We sat down at the edge of the rock waiting for the sunset. The place was so serene and calm. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the place was shrouded by clouds. At one moment we saw the green mountain in front of us and in the next moment it disappeared behind the clouds. The clouds made it impossible for viewing a perfect sunset. Nevertheless what we saw was simply gorgeous. I do not want to spend words describing the sky, the colors and our feelings. Some feelings cannot be described in words.
After the sunset, we were back at our homestay. The evening was spent in the company of Batista and his family. The next day, Batista had another surprise planned for us – two very offbeat places in Meghalaya. We went for the Mawrynkhang Trek or the Bamboo Trail and then to Langkawet. This Meghalaya trip turned out to be much better than expected!
What are the other places to visit in Cherrapunjee?
This time, we went to visit unusual places in Cherrapunjee. But there are many other interesting places to visit in Cherrapunjee. Here is a list of the other tourist attractions in Cherrapunjee.
- Seven Sister Falls or Nohsngithiang Falls
- Cherrapunjee Eco-Park
- Mawsmai Cave
- Thangkharang Park
- Khoh Ramhah
- Mawkdok Valley
- Kynrem Falls
- Mawmluh Caves
Cherrapunjee Travel Guide
How to reach Cherrapunjee?
Cherrapunjee is about 54 km from Shillong. You will get shared jeep from (usually a Sumo) from the Sumo stand at Barabazar in Shillong. The charge is about INR 100 per seat. Shared jeeps to Cherrapunjee are available all through the day.
You can also hire a local taxi from Shillong to Cherrapunjee. If you reserve a taxi or car, then you can stop at the several attractions that fall on the way to Cherrapunjee.
Buses from Shillong to Cherrapunjee are also available regularly. You can get the buses from the Bus Stand in Police Bazar.
Daily conducted tours to Cherrapunjee are arranged by Meghalaya Tourism. This is a one-day tour that will take you to the main attractions of Cherrapunjee. You can get information about the daily tours from the Meghalaya Tourism Office at Police Bazar, Shillong.
What is the best time to visit Cherrapunjee?
Cherrapunjee is a place best visited during the monsoons. If you want to witness the rains in the second most wettest place in the world, then the monsoon season is definitely the best time.
Summer (March to May)
Summers in Cherrapunjee begin in around March and continue till May. The rainfall is moderate during this time and so is the temperature. But nowadays, Cherrapunjee is witnessing warm and hot weather as well. Be prepared for the humidity if you are planning to visit in summer.
Monsoon (June to September)
Monsoons in Cherrapunjee can be quite heavy. The average rainfall that Cherrapunjee receives annually is about 11,750 mm and 95% of the rainfall is received between April to September. During monsoon, Cherrapunjee has a separate charm. The clouds and mist play hide and seek at this time. The waterfalls are in their full strength and you get a lovely view of the cascading waterfalls. The only problem that you might face is the rains. Also, the caves might remain closed during the monsoon because they might get flooded with water.
However, if you do not find the rains, then monsoon is a great time to visit Cherrapunjee. You can avoid the months of June till mid-July. It receives maximum rainfall during this time. However, the weather is changing nowadays. We had visited in August 2019, and received very less rainfall during that time. We did the Nongriat Trek and the Bamboo Trail without any difficulty. However, one of our friends had visited in late August and complained of heavy rains. Weather, these days have become a bit unpredictable.
Autumn (October – November)
October is one of the best times to visit Cherrapunjee. The rain would be less and the waterfalls will be in their full flow. There will also be greenery all around. The weather will remain warm in the morning and cool in the evening.
Winter (December to February)
Winters in Cherrapunjee are pleasantly cold and this can be a good time to visit the place. The morning will be sunny and bright and the nights cold. The time will be good for doing sightseeing. Winters are a good time to do caving in Cherrapunjee.
Where to stay at Cherrapunjee?
Cherrapunjee has a number of hotels, homestays and resort catering to all type of budget and requirement. I heard that recently a hostel is also going to be opened there.
Where to eat in Cherrapunjee?
Cherrapunjee does not have any fancy restaurants, but the local eateries serve good food. Mostly, you will be having your breakfast and dinner in your homestay or hotels. Those who want to taste the local cuisine can try them at the local restaurants. Pork dishes are found in almost every eatery and they taste really delicious.
Any books to read about Cherrapunjee?
- Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater
- Through the Green Door by Nigel Jenkins
A few more pictures of Cherrapunjee
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