A beautiful sub divisional town lying in the laps of East Khasi hills in Meghalaya is Cherrapunji. Cherapunji is known as the second wettest place on earth. It receives the world’s second maximum rainfall in a calendar month and in a year. The highest rainfall received in Cherapunji was 9,300 mm (366 in) in July 1861 and 26,461 mm (1,041.75 in) between 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861.Cherapunji is the capital of a Hima- Khasi tribal chieftainship constituting a petty state known as Sohra.Originally Sohra was pronounced by the British as Chura.Eventually this came to be known as Cherrapunji- meaning the land of oranges. Despite heavy rainfall throughout the year, the city faces acute water shortage problem and the occupants have to walk a long mile to search for proper drinking water. Cherrapunji is the beautiful town with heavy rainfall. It is covered by huge mountains with natural waterfalls to add to the scenic beauty.
Due to excessive rain in Cherrapunji, the top soil is washed away. The Meghalaya govt has again renamed Cherrapunji back to its original name, Sohra. The history of the Khasis – the inhabitants of Cherrapunjee – may be traced from the early part of the 16th century. The Khasi hills came under British authority from the year 1833 with the submission of the last of the important stymies, Tirot Singh.The khasi state rests on the matriarchal system.
Events / Festivals in Cherrapunji
The Khasis in Cherapunji have two important festivals - Nongkrem Dance held in Oct. / Nov. and Shad-Suk Mynsiem, held in April.
Nongkrem Dance: It is held annually for five straight days. It is thanksgiving festival in Cherapungi for good harvest and to pray for peace and prosperity in the community and is celebrated in the month of November. An important part of this festival is 'pomblang' or decapitation of the goats, offered by the subjects to the Syiem of Khyrim who is the tribal administrative head of the area. Offerings are made to him and to the ancestors of the ruling clan.
The Shad Suk Mynsiem (Dance of Happy Hearts): It is a dance festival of the Khasis and has been being held at Lympung Weiking since 1911 Shad Suk Mynsiem is a thanksgiving dance of the Khasis to God to seek blessings for the year that had gone by and for the year to come.
Attractions in Cherrapunji
Dainthlen Waterfall In Meghalaya, Cherrapunji
It is one of the finest and most magnificent waterfalls of Meghalaya which has close resemblance to the great Niagara Falls. It is a soft waterfall as it does not make a roaring noise. It is about 5 Km from Cherapunji and is approachable by road and attracts a large number of tourists.
Nohkalikai Waterfalls Near Cherrapunji
It is the tallest waterfall in India situated at the majestic height of 1100 feet (335 meters). This fall is fed by the rainwater which cascades down to a gorge forming a splendid turquoise green pool. It is considered to be the pride of Meghalaya. The fall decreases substantially during the relatively drier months’, i.e., between December to January. It is located at a distance of about 1.5 Km from the Sohra-Shella road and further 3 km down the Nohkalikai road.
Nohsngithiang Waterfalls In Meghalaya
Cloistered in the misty Khasi hills of Meghalaya at a lofty height of 1033 feet(315meters) it is the 4th largest fall of India and is located at a distance of 1 km to the south of Mawsmi village. Nohsngithiang fall is also known as the seven sisters waterfall as it is seven segmented. Due to its height and a south western position the fall is illuminated by sunlight from dawn to dusk. The rays of setting sun when scattered by mist thrown by falling water creates a magical effect on the onlookers.
Kynrem Falls Near Cherrapunji
It is located in the East Khasi Hills District, 12 km (7.5miles) from Sohra, cascading down in three stages it picturesquely overlooks the Thangkharang Park.
Khoh Ramhah, Cherrapunji
It is located in the East Khasi Hills District, Sohra and is also known as also known as Motrop, is a massive single rock formation in the shape of a giant pillar which presents an impressive sight. Two other very similar rocks formations stand in close proximity to it and during the heavy monsoons, flowing water between the two rocks and the cascading waterfall presents a breathtaking view. The place attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year.
Elephant Falls In Meghalaya
It is located in the East Khasi Hills District in Upper Shilong and is an example of horsetail waterfall. It is rather a cluster 2 succeeding waterfalls which cascades down the hill ultimately terminating into a lake. The name Elephant falls was given to it by the British due to the presence of a rock near the falls which resembled an elephant.
Living Root Bridges And The Double Decker Root Bridge In Cherrapunji
The living root bridges of Cherapunji are made from the ficus elastia tree which grows a series of secondary roots which extend to large distances. Since root bridges are alive they keep on growing stronger with time. Some of them extend to the distance of 100 meters. The khasi tribes of Meghalaya channelize the roots of this tree through the hollowed out beetelnut trunks over the obstacles and across the rivers where they are allowed to take roots in the soil forming natural bridges. It might take 10 to 15 years for these bridges to become functional and are strong enough to carry the weight of 50 people at a time and some of the bridges in that area may be well over 500 years old one such bridge is the Umishiang Double-Decker Root Bridge which is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world. This bridge is actually two bridges staked one over the other.
Best Time to Visit
With annual rainfall exceeding 400 inches, Cherrapunjee is best visited during the drier seasons starting from November till March. The temperatures during these months range between 11 – 5 degrees Celsius with a cool dry montane weather.
How To Reach
Tourists can travel by bus which is reasonably cheap. The bus service for Cherapunji leaves from the Sohra bus stand in the Bura Bazaar area of Shillong.
The nearest rail station from Cherrapunji is the Guwahati Station. It is at a distance of 181 kms Tourists can either take bus or hire a taxi from the paltan bazaar stand in Guwahati.