Shillong to Cherrapunji was a road trip that we planned while we started off to Meghalaya from Nagaland. Our 30 days road trip had no Meghalaya in its itinerary, but the inclusion of Meghalaya just pumped up the value of our journey by thrice. It took 12 hours for us to cover a distance of 420 kilometers from Kohima to Shillong, but we had Cherrapunji in our mind.
Is Cherrapunji the wettest place on Earth?
You Can watch our complete Cherrapunji experience in this video.
We bumped on to that question several times as we drove towards Shillong. As we stopped somewhere in Assam for our lunch, we couldn’t stop but google the query for an answer. Google simply amazed us by the facts; Cherrapunji is surely not the wettest, but among the wettest places in the world. Further more, Cherrapunji lies close to the wettest place on the planet – Mawsynram, Meghalaya.
Our first attempt for Cherrapunji
On our first day (in fact it was already night as we reached) in Meghalaya we spent in Shillong. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya has plenty of hotels in various budgets that you can choose from. Even in the hustling bustling capital of Meghalaya you will surely enjoy the glittering valleys, especially at night.
The very next day we started off from Shillong. We followed the instructions of Google Maps and our destination was Cherrapunji. After driving for almost an hour (or may be 90 minutes) we ended up in an amazingly beautiful village. Google was guiding us through the easiest route, but the road constructions then blocked our path and we decided to walk in the village and return without visiting Cherrapunji that day.
What we needed there was a human assistance, and it couldn’t be better from anywhere other than the Department of Tourism, Government of Meghalaya. They offer daily tours to Cherrapunji and Dawki, and sightseeing tours in Shillong. We were more than happy about it. We paid Rs. 600.00 for 3 people and reserved our tickets for the next day.
Finally we traveled from Shillong to Cherrapunji
Early days of winter were cold and foggy, but we were at the pickup point much before the departure schedule. The honking sounds of cabs filled the air. We sipped a hot black tea and waited patiently for the officials. They were so punctual that the guide, the driver, and one of the office bearer appeared in the Tourism Office at sharp 7:50. In another 10 minutes the bus was rolling through the crowded yet winding roads of Shillong.
Our First Stop: Mawkdok Valley
Mawkdok Valley was just 31 kilometers from Shillong, but it took almost 100 minutes for us to reach there. The tall trees and thick valleys were stunning, but they were not as green as the monsoon days. A suspension bridge that connected two hills caught most of our eyes and cameras. A feeble yet clear stream was giggling and flowing between the valleys of the two hills. We picked the steps and descanted until a platform to get a closer view of the stream.
There were a few vendors selling fruits and crafts on the roadside. A lady was renting out Meghalayan costumes for the guests to pose in local attire and take memorable snaps. Some of our co-travelers tried those costumes and clicked a few memories through their camera lenses. The sight of vegetated hillocks with rich vales and curvy roads mesmerized me and my companions. We strolled around for almost 30 minutes and then continued towards Cherrapunji.
Eco-park, on the top of Seven Sister Waterfalls; among the places to visit in Cherrapunji
While they stopped the bus in front of Eco-park, I thought that it is the final spot – the famous Cherrapunji. It was only then, from our guide, that I came to know Cherrapunji is not just a point of interest in Meghalaya, but a collection of attractions which included the Eco Park. Mawsmai Nongthymmai Eco-park opened a vast meadow that turned from riotous green of monsoon to the daffodil yellow of early winter.
We walked over the drying grass to reach the brim. The depression was quick, but green and deep. A slender waterfalls that was weakened by the winter attracted many. We were standing on the top of the famous Seven Sister Waterfalls in Cherrapunji. The slope with hillocks and then a widespread plain is a spectacular sight from the Eco-park. While Meghalaya has plenty of places to visit and enjoy a relaxed vacation, Mawsmai Nongthymmai Eco-park (Mawsmai falls) is famous as a picnic spot.
Mawsmai Cave, our third point of interest in Cherrapunji
After the suspension bridge and the Eco-park, we were in front of a cave that attracts a lot many tourists. The limestone caves of Mawsmai are popular as the lonely ones which are lit enough for the tourists to explore and take pleasure from. After acquiring the entry tickets from the counter, we walked through the woods that stood tall and dark. I listened no sound in the forest except for the footsteps of tourists and chirping of crickets.
Though wide the opening of the cave is, we were instructed to take the cave walk only if we are free from back pains and other body pains. We did not forget to capture a few images as we walked, strolled, and crawled through the caves of Mawsmai. Whether you call it as the stalactites and stalagmites or as the hanging formations and the mounds of mineral deposits, the cave is full of natural sculptures in different shapes and sizes. Some of those hanging stalagmites even dripped water from the roof of those caves – creating a more dramatic scene.
Lower Cherrapunji, for a glimpse of Bangladesh and Seven Sister Falls View
The plain lands of Bangladesh are superb to watch from a higher elevation, especially from Meghalaya. At the lower Cherrapunji we were allowed to click snaps and relax for a few minutes in the refreshing breeze. We stood on a peak and expanded our sight through the voluptuous slopes until the stretching fields of Bangladesh. The aerial view of a flowing river was vague but perplexing.
Not far from the Bangladesh viewpoint is the Seven Sister Falls viewpoint. Though we couldn’t spot a majestic plunge of water through the canyons of Meghalaya, we could easily assume the scene during the monsoon season. While Meghalaya is famous for its plentiful valleys and waterfalls, Seven Sister Waterfall takes a major share of attention. As per our guide, the best time to visit this place is between July and October.
Ramkrishna Mission Cherrapunji
Ramkrishna Mission was the next major attraction to visit in Cherrapunji. Popularly known as RKM Cherra, the mission is a prominent point of interest in Meghalaya. Overlooking the mountain ranges of Cherrapunji, RKM Cherra has a wonderfully maintained anthropological museum. The museum is an undoubted resource point for learning about the history of northeast India and the lifestyle of people from the northeastern states.
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama has got a guesthouse in the name of Sarada Dham. There is also a dormitory facility within the Ashram that can accommodate up to 25 people. However, Sarada Dham in Cherrapunji is not a commercial guesthouse, but devotees and admirers of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda can avail the provision.
Nohkalikai Falls, our last stop during the Cherrapunji Trip
We were almost concluding our Cherrapunji trip and Nohkalikai falls made our ending a grand finish. While many websites praise Nohkalikai falls as the tallest among the waterfalls that plunge directly to a beautiful pool, I couldn’t stop admiring the majestic falls and the emerald green pool.
We walked around and explored the place for finding better spots to catch a closer yet complete view of the falls. The place had many vendors selling crafts and street food. We took our lunch from a small restaurant that had its balcony opening to the falls. The sight of Nohkalikai falls from there was spectacular, yet my heart throbbed for climbing down to get the feel of water splashing from several meters high.
While returning back from Cherrapunji to Shillong, I was determined; I made my mind to visit Meghalaya during September of 2018.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com