The long weekend is coming up. If you haven't yet made your travel plans, consider going to Cherrapunjee. Read on.
The delta and mangrove swamp is formed by the merging of three rivers: East of Calcutta, in the North East Khasi hills of Meghalaya, just on the Indo-Bangaladesh border, lies Cherrapunjee (also referred to as Sohra). This is considered as the wettest place on the earth. The area receives almost 450 inches of rain through the year.
Places to see
Cherrapunjee is famous for its limestone caves and the culture and literature of Khasi. Look around, and you will notice that Cherrapunjee is filled with waterfalls and greenery everywhere making it an extremely scenic place. The entire town comes to life during the monsoon season and this is one place the clouds are sure to bring joy. The drive to Cherrapunjee takes you through winding paths that overlook the valleys adding beauty to the surroundings.
The Nohkalikai Waterfalls starts off as a clear bubbling stream and turns into a majestic waterfall gushing down the rocky precipice into a deep gorge. Situated a few kilometers from Cherrapunjee, the Nohkalikai Waterfalls can be viewed only during the monsoon season. But when it is alive, it comes down in full force almost creating a deafening sound with a huge swirling mist.
Thangkharang Park and Kynrem Waterfalls
The scenic Thangkharang Park is around 12 kilometers from Cherrapunjee. This is a must see spot as it overlooks the vast plains of Bangladesh. The views from the hilltop are beautiful and criss-crossed plains with wide rivers on their final leg to their journey to the sea are visible from here. The Thangkharang Park is managed by the state Forest Department. The Kynrem Falls can be viewed from across the park. The falls are about 1000 feet in height and qualify for being the highest falls in the state. While at the park, also check out the giant 200 feet Koh-ramhah, a natural single rock formation, shaped like an upside down basket.
The Dainthlen Waterfalls are on the way to Cherrapunjee. The drive to Dainthlen itself is a treat to the eyes as it has vast grasslands and stretches of rock formations. Popular as a picnic spot, tourists can also get a peek into village life at the Rangjyrthei village that is on the other side of the falls.
Double Decker Root Bridge
Considered as a feat of bio-engineering, the Double Decker Root Bridge is located at the Tyrna village. This is a two-tier living root bridge that can carry 50 or more people at a time and is over 100 feet long. While these bridges take 10 to 15 years to become fully functional, they get stronger every day. The life span of the bridges is estimated to be about 500 to 600 years after they are well formed. The Umshiang River flows beneath the living root bridges.
The Kshaid Dain Thlen Falls has a special significance for the Khasis (and is popular for its legends). The thundering Nohsngithiang falls are also very impressive. The Cherrapunjee Meteorological Observatory, Ramakrishna Mission Museum, First Presbyterian Church, David Scott Memorial, etc. are the other places you could include in your list.
How to reach
Cherrapunjee is located about two hours away from Shillong (about 56 kilometers). Shillong does not have a railway station or a commercial airport and visitors have to reach Cherrapunjee by road. Regular bus services are operated by the Meghalaya Tourism between Shillong and Cherrapunjee. Tourists can use shared taxis to commute between the two towns.
Tourists can also reach Guwahati that is three hours away from Shillong and is accessible by air and train. Visitors who come to Guwahati have to travel to Shillong by road and then proceed to Cherrapunjee.
Shillong has many accommodation options ranging from star hotels to budget hotels. It is advisable to stay in Shillong and travel back and forth, as Cherrapunjee has limited accommodation options.
The main Cherra bazaar in Cherrapunjee is famous for its colorful variety of goods including unusual tribal jewellery and orange-flavored honey. Visitors can also shop for cane, bamboo and wooden handicraft items, shawls and fabrics in Shillong.
When to visit
The best time to visit Cherrapunjee is during late September or October after the monsoon. Summer is also a good time to visit. In winter the weather is very cold because of the hills and during monsoons there is a heavy downpour.
Fast facts 98% of the annual rainfall at Cherrapunjee is received in just eight months from March to October. November, December, January and February get nominal or no rainfall. The Living Root Bridge and Double Decker Root Bridge treks are open throughout the year. There are no night buses from Guwahati to Shillong. So, plan to travel during the day.