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Wishing for rain…

North East Chronicles: On March 18, we visit the town of Cherrapunjee, about a two hour drive from Shillong, through curvy roads and some beautiful scenery. Cherrapunjee, until recently, held the record of being one of the wettest regions on earth.

Cherrapunjee, which is known by the local name of Sohra, is located in the East Khasi Hills at an altitude of 1484 metres. The average rainfall between the years 1973-2006 has been 39.14 feet, and that’s a lot of rain!

Unfortunately, due to below average rainfall in 2006, it had to forgo its title of the wettest place to its neighbour Mawsynrem, but still holds stubbornly to its reputation.

Viewpoint
A viewpoint in Cherrapunjee


I come across some incredible statistics: “The rainfall in 1974 at Cherrapunjee was the highest recorded annual rainfall in any one place in any one year in the whole world. On 16th June 1995, it rained 1,563 mm in 24 hours (i.e. 5.12 feet : i.e. 61.53 inches).” Compare this with London, which has about 600 mm of average rain in a year and you’ll get an idea! (info from Cherrapunjee.com)

Bangalore would drown if it rained that much, I’m thinking!

We’re on the road from Shillong to this small town. Having woken up late, after a huge buffet breakfast, we take along a guide with us and head towards Cherrapunjee. The villages on the way are situated right on the road. And most houses have flower pots and cute little gardens in the front, giving them a bright and cheery look.

Red!
Pretty red blossom in someone’s garden!

We stop at one such village and meet a bunch of excited kids. They’re not only incredibly cute, but they’re also very friendly!

Take my picture! Kid in the blue hat!
Cute kids on the way to Cherrapunjee

Unfortunately for us, it’s a hot day. We reach around 11 am and with the sun continuing to get stronger, Venkatesh exclaims, “Where are the rains?”

It isn’t the rainy season of course. For the best time to witness and experience the rains, visit Cherrapunjee between May and October. So it’s more a case of bad timing in our case. We spend some time on the rocky viewpoint looking at the Nohkalikai falls : this is a majestic waterfalls – but a seasonal one. It depends on the monsoons to create its magic, so we can only imagine what it might be like in full flow. I’ve been to Cherrapunjee a few times in my childhood, but I don’t have any clear recollections of my earlier visits either

From the falls, go across to the Mawsmai limestone caves. The rather eerie interiors have these interesting lime formations everywhere. And in some parts you have to actually bend double to pass from one cave to another : the openings are rather small and narrow.

While emerging from one such opening, Deepsan walks directly into one of the overhanging rocks. While we hold our breath. Thankfully, he didn’t sustain any serious injury (though I thought I heard something crack!) except a really nasty looking mark, which soon turned deep red in colour.

After that, we were all a little more careful.

Excreation! Cavemen!
The Mawsmai Caves in Cherrapunjee

My school friend Christy had told me about Cherra Resort, so I give her a call to find out if we could have lunch there. She gets it organized and we drive about 11 kms from Cherrapunjee towards the resort.

Cherra Resort turns out to be a pretty little homely place (and really more like a homestay than a resort), perched on a hilltop, with a nice view of the surrounding hills. The owner, we find out is a South Indian who’s settled there since a long time having married a local.

Red Umbrella
Under the red umbrella, Cherra Resort, Cherrapunjee

The meal is large and satisfying, besides the fact that we are all really hungry. After a round of dessert, we laze around in the bench in the lawn and then around 4.30 pm, when the light starts going out in the east, it’s time to bid goodbye to Cherra Resort.

I look up at the skies : hoping one last time that maybe there’s a chance of a downpour! But it’s still very clear.

Sigh! We’ll have to come back to Cherrapunjee in the rains…

Links:
Wikipedia
Meghalaya Tourism
Cherra Resort
Ramakrishna Mission

The Cherrapunjee Album on Flickr.com

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22 Comments

  1. Going to cherrapunji during July, when the two arms of the monsoon meet is some experience. NE inspite of its problems during the monsoon is at its beautiful best. (like kerela)

    btw, I have been reading your blog inconspicuously for sometime. love the pictures and writeups. claude renault would have been proud of taking some pictures himself 🙂

  2. Hi,
    Absolutely adore your blog…
    Your photography is awesome…

    Also one thing, just figured out…we work in d same company… 🙂

  3. Hey, is the first image that of a valley halfway from Shillong to Cherrapunjee? I think they had some name for that place.. can’t recall..

    Where are the photos of the falls? And did you visit those famed natural bridges?

  4. Mehak: Glad to hear that!

    vinod: thanks!

    Gaurav: thanks 🙂

    angshuman: best time to go! hope to enjoy yourself. and thanks for that lovely compliment! 🙂

    Nandish: thank you! it seems we do 🙂

    Arun: The first image is from Nohkalikai falls in Cherra. There was no water in the falls! We didn’t go to the bridges in Cherra but in Mawlynnong, I’ve written about it in my next post!

  5. Jeff says

    Great travelouge Anita!!Keep it up.I can travel all around India sitting in my room because of people like you.
    If you want to feel the beauty of mosoon,welcome to Kerala.It rains the best there..

  6. thanks jeff! glad you’re travelling along too 🙂

    kerala is definitely on my list this monsoon!

  7. The foto is really nice would like to know more abt that place….im planning a trip there can u please refer me is there any tribal peoples i’m just making notes and documentry film regarding that place….would like ur assistance

  8. wow!! I love your spirit..
    Next birth I am relieving myself from earning a livelihood and playing wife and mom games.. You sounds so much fun
    Keep posting..
    Zeya

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    • @swati: after the rainy season is better. not sure if it starts raining in may. also, depends on where you want to go. places like cherrapunjee are definitely better right after the rains if you want to enjoy the beautiful waterfalls.

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