Cherrapunji is a small town in the state of Meghalaya which is famous for being the wettest place on earth. However, the nearby town of Mawsynram receives more rainfall and both these Indian towns have now been surpassed by a town in Colombia called Lloró. Cherrapunji is situated at an altitude of around 4,869 feet above sea-level.
The town of Cherrapunji is located 56 km away from the state capital Shillong. There are multiple ways of getting to Cherrapunji. The most economical one is to book a seat on the Meghalaya tourism bus which leaves daily at 8 am provided there are a minimum of 15 travellers on the bus. The next option if the bus does not ply for the day is to share a jeep ride with other travellers which leave from the tourism office. If the above two travel options don’t work out then the only other option is to hire a private taxi. The booking at the tourism office has to be done a day prior to the journey.
The original name of Cherrapunji is Shora and this town used to be the traditional capital of the Kashi tribal region before the British moved the capital to Shillong. The locals still call Cherrapunji, by its old name – Shora. The name Shora is derived from the nearby hills which have the same name. The Meghalaya state government however, has now renamed Cherrapunji to its original name of Shora.
Even though Cherrapunji receives abundance of rainfall the town still faces an acute shortage of water. This is because the whole region is sloping and the rain water drains away. The tribals who inhabit Cherrapunji have to trek for kilometres to fetch edible drinking water. Excessive rainfall even washes away crops every year resulting in massive losses to the villagers.
The attractions around the town of Cherrapunji include both natural and man-made sites. The natural ones include Mawkdok Valley which has countless waterfalls and offers a stunning view of the plains in Bangladesh which are a sight to see towards the end of the monsoons especially during winters. Nohkalihai and Nojsngithiang Falls have water flowing throughout the year and the latter is known as the Seven Sister Falls with seven waterfalls flowing with all their might next to each other. The Seven Sister Falls are a delight to see and a photographer’s dream click.
A conical rock called Khoh Ramhah at Thangkharang Park is believed to be the remains of an evil spirit who used to torment the Kashi tribals of the region. According to local legends the tribals finally decided to revolt against the evil spirit and fed the spirit a dish made of nails and ended their torture. Monoliths and also Kpep stone cremation platforms of the Shora kings can be found on the way to one of the oldest caves called Krem Pubon. These caves are named Mawsami Caves and have stalactites and stalagmites which are around six to seven feet long and still continue to grow.
The man-made sights include Ramkrishna Mission which houses a Kashi museum that has various instruments and vintage pictures of places in and around Cherrapunji. Nearby is an old British settlement of Nongsawlia, where the 157 year Presbyterian Church exists which is also the oldest church of its kind in the region.
All along this site there are plenty of food stalls that sell instant noodles, local bhel as well as pineapples which are grown locally. The option of a piping hot cup of tea is always available here. Restaurants are present only near famous points. These restaurants serve simple food like rice, dal and vegetable.
The town of Cherrapunji has a handful of accommodation options but spending a night here is not very economical as there are only luxury hotels and resorts and even the home stay options are not affordable for a backpacker.
The best time to visit Cherrapunji is during the winter months from October to March when the roads are landslide free and travelling around is not too hard.
Cherrapunji is a must visit place for everyone who travels to Meghalaya and is a dream land for nature lovers who are in search of waterfalls, endless greenery and never ending fog. If you ever want to experience how it feels to be driving through a cloud and practically spending a day in a cloud; then Cherrapunji is the ideal place to visit.