Untouched, unperturbed, and unblemished. Yes, that’s Cherrapunji, or as locals call it ‘Sohra’ in a nutshell. Cherrapunji is a pristine beauty located at the heart of Meghalaya in the vast North East India. Earlier, considered as the wettest region in the country, Cherrapunji is still the place with the highest recorded rainfall in a calendar year. However, the charms of Cherrapunji is beyond some statistical data. The misty mountains, the spellbinding waterfalls, and yes the cool unique climate all makes it a must-visit place in Meghalaya.
North East in general stands for the rustic beauty it offers. But Cherrapunji stands out. The lush greens down the hilly roads, the gentle breeze playing with your hair are all the little things that will make you happy. Ever struck a dew-drenched leaf to see the tiny water droplet split into a thousand more? It’s almost humbling how something so simple could make your day. Incidentally, that’s what Cherrapunji is all about- How the little things can be a mesmerizing miracle. Here are the 12 reasons that could convince you to visit the magical Cherrapunji if you ever make it to the great Meghalaya.
The Double Decker Wonder
The double Decker living root bridges are probably one of the many reasons why plenty of tourists visit this iconic location. I guess the best things in life come with a price, and yes, that holds for the bridge too. It’s quite a mission to get here. The 4.5-kilometer walk can be a little exhausting for the novices. But the trip is worth it. The bridge is at a height of 2400 ft. Walking along the bridge you truly sense the exhilaration. Looking below, the thought of a fall would send a rush of adrenaline but a sight of the snowy skies above will inject a sense of liberation. The irony seems to be the aptest way of describing this architectural wonder.
The Umshiang river flowing below the bridge almost plays a concert for the trip ahead. The mellifluous burbles soothe you in ways you can’t even imagine. You could see quite a several fish and other creatures in the river. There are quite a several humongous rocks. Maybe sit on one of them and relax, and simply soak in the splendor of the surroundings. You could have the best cameras but I guarantee you, they wouldn’t do any justice in capturing the grandeur of this quaint spot.
There are towering rubber trees in the area with countless branches reminding you of the scenes from old Indian horror movies. However, these trees are the stars of the trip. The protruding roots of these trees forms a bridge naturally- a process that takes decades for completion. It’s almost humbling to realize that the old Khasi tribes had a great engineering brain to harness this knowledge to make an architectural masterpiece. Maybe mother nature was the best teacher after all. I left the Double Decker bridge with a newfound respect for nature and the people who lived in absolute harmony with it.
The Amazing Waterfalls
Cherrapunji is home to the most amazing waterfalls. But if I had to pick just one waterfall that you simply must visit, it will be the Nohkalikai falls. The jaded blue of the waters and the enthralling view surrounding it is mesmerizing. The splashes as the water hit the rocks are a thing of beauty to watch. As the sun streaks down the sprays of the waterfall, you observe a beautiful rainbow. As the sunlight split into seven beautiful colors you couldn’t help wonder that mother nature might just be the best physics teacher. From a distance, the waterfalls almost look like the gown of a queen.
Like most of the things in Meghalaya, even the Nohkalikai waterfalls also has a story behind it. Legend says that thousands of years ago, a lady named Ka Likai married another man after her first husband passed away. Although her second husband loved Ki, he detested his stepdaughter. Once as Ki returned from work she was surprised to see that her husband had already prepared dinner.
An unsuspected Ki Likai ate the dinner after which, her husband revealed that he had killed her and cooked her. A heartbroken Ki Likai threw herself over the cliff where the Nohkalikai falls originate. Nohkalikai in Khasi means ” the leap of Ki Likai”. As you splash the cool water to your faces, you couldn’t help but wonder if the water were Ki Likai’s tears after all.
The Mysterious Caves
Cherrapunji is also famous for its countless number of caves and the underground tunnels within it. For the adventure seekers out there, it’s a safe space to get in the vibe of a treasure hunt. While there are many caves to explore, the Krem Phyllut is one of the most popular in the area. Walking down the cave you get an eerie feeling. Shout anything at the top of your lungs and the echo is deafening. It sends a shiver down your spine. There’s flowing water beneath the ground, so yes even if you’re alone, you have company. Plenty of tourists visit the cave for this unique experience and trust me the caves alone in Cherrapunji is a good enough reason to visit the place if you ever come to Meghalaya.
A Hike in Paradise
Cherrapunji offers the best trekking trails in the country. The trek in a scenic picturesque North East setting is an experience to cherish. It’s almost a crime to visit Meghalaya and not to engage in a trek at Cherrapunji. The double-decker root bridge trek is the most in-demand trekking destination for the tourists. The trek which starts from Guwahati ends at the double-decker root bridge in only two days. The trail offers a variety of captivating sights. The feet under your clouds, the alluring lush greens almost reminding you of nature’s very own green carpet, and of course the milky waterfalls are all part of enthralling experience. The treks are not too long or too difficult and even the first-timers can enjoy the experience.
Blue For the Blues
Now, if the cacophony of the urban life tires you, I assure you Cherrapunji is the place for you. Head to Dawki, a town between India and Bangladesh. Now Dawki’s most treasured gem is the Umngot river. Sitting on its banks staring at its depth for a moment, you realize the peace and tranquillity seeping in. Staring at its depth makes you weigh the depth of your soul. The pure pristine blue waters with its calmness are something that people from the city squalors and squabbles would crave for. While you’re at it, grab a bite, the local fish delicacies will water your mouth.
A Blast From The Past
Many structures in Cherrapunji will transport back to the time almost forgotten in history. The Nongsawlia Presbyterian church is one such place. Welsh missionaries built the church in 1841AD. However, the first church built in Meghalaya became a symbol to strengthen British rule as time passed by. The Khasi tribes were barred from using their language and the churches became the center to teach the people English-a move by the British to hold their territory and wipe the local culture. Even to this day, Khasi stories and legends are known by word of mouth and very few written documents exist.
‘Heavenly’ is the word I would use if I was asked to describe the cuisines of Meghalaya in one word. There are plenty of dishes that are a feast to your palette. However, Jadoh is one dish that I could never stop craving even after I reached back home. My mom, one of the best cooks I have seen in my entire life couldn’t do full justice to this dish and that should tell you why you definitely shouldn’t miss it for the world if you ever visit Meghalaya and precisely Cherrapunji. Jadot is red rice cooked with a generous amount of pork meat. I’m no food critic, but the generous use of many spices that I’m sure, I can’t even name elevated the dish to another level. If you love pork, boy you are in luck.
Now before you become skeptical, here me out. Sure, the insane amount of rain can put you off, especially during a vacation. But this is the Cherrapunji rains. Once the wettest region on earth, it is still in second place by only by an inch of rainfall. The rains trickling down your hair and the gentle drizzles sprinkled at your face and of course, the consequent alluring lush greens are all therapeutic experiences. You could carry an umbrella but what’s the point in visiting the wettest point on earth without getting drenched by the very own Cherrapunji rain. Word of caution though, it’s better to avoid a visit during the monsoons as the rainfall is very heavy and hence the walks and hikes can be a bit dangerous.
Breath of Fresh Air
Step your foot into the Mawlynnong village and just and breathe. The breath of fresh air you get here is something you don’t get anywhere in India and that’s a fact. This village is Asia’s cleanest village. But little do you know about the beauty it holds! The picturesque village of Mawlynnong near Cherrapunji promoted extensively by Cherrapunji tourism is also known as ‘God’s garden’. Managed completely by the villagers, the cleanliness, and beauty of the village makes you feel like you are in paradise. Might as well as have a breath of fresh air while you’re in Cherrapunji eh?
Picture Perfect Paradise
The absolute natural beauty of Cherrapunji is well and more than enough to make you believe in god. Nobody could have made something so perfect. Cherrapunji and its beauty make you wonder if it came right of the god’s canvas. The spellbinding views are literally what they do in fact- leaves you speechless. All you do is get engrossed in the mesmerizing beauty in utmost quietness. Want to see the entire tapestry of picture-perfect Cherrapunji in one place? Mawsmai eco-park is the place to be. The eco-park managed by the Meghalaya Tourism offers splendid views of the Green Canyons of Cherrapunji, as well as the far off Sylheti Plains of Bangladesh. The park is ideal for families as a picnic spot and to indulge in photography. Doubtlessly, one of the best places to see in Cherrapunji.
Untouched, Unperturbed And Unblemished
This is one of the fundamental reasons why I loved visiting Cherrapunji. Sure, there are plenty of tourists visiting this mesmerizing location each year and the number keeps rising. However, there are many parts of Cherrapunji which are still unexplored. Despite the rising number of tourists every year, you still don’t encounter large noisy crowds or blaring horns of innumerable vehicles. Cherrapunji is still pure, untouched, and pristine.
They say it’s not the place that you fall in love with, but the people living there. If that’s the case I can assure you, Cherrapunji has a hit home run in that matter. The natural scenic beauty combined with the very welcoming locals makes this wonderful place to visit. The locals in the area are from different tribes and very nice to all the visitors. Sure they are a shy lot and tend to avoid being photographed, but they undoubtedly wonderful hosts. I also learned that it is the locals who themselves take up the duty of cleaning the roads and surroundings. It is the combined effort of all these people that make Cherrapunji heaven. The smiles, the waves of laughter, the very old gentleman who showed us the correct directions. The chai wala who told us the places we should visit… the people at Cherrapunji will be etched in my memory for eternity
These are the 12 reasons why you should visit Cherrapunji. These are just 12 of the countless many. I remember the sadness of the last day as I took a mental image of the place that I have fallen in love with, a picture to cherish in my mind forever.
When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it wherever you go and maybe that explains why Cherrapunji is still in my heart.
Suggested Reads– Gangtok, Sikkim