It seems that more I travel, the more I realize to savor the journey as much as the destination.
Same as life, really. We are so focussed on the end goal, that lot of times, we want to bypass all the struggle and hard work that goes along with it, and just move on to the end. Pinning all our happiness on the end product. So much so that we never really enjoy the journey, do we? And, then we move on to the next one, like it was a mere stopover, and not the destination in itself. And, so it goes in a vortex of hopes and aspirations moving from one to the next never really stopping. Perpetually looking for something bigger. Perpetually running. But, it is these journeys that make the destination sweeter, don’t you think? And, only when we start enjoying the journey, can we be really satisfied in the moment. Life lessons that travel teach you! Sorry, I digress.
Undoubtedly, the drive from Shillong was a memorable one. Dense patches of forests forever covered in a veil of mist, tall pine trees standing as sentinels to the way ahead, seemingly guiding to the righteous path, I craned my neck outside as much as I could to take it all in, breathing fresh unadulterated air as hair swayed with the winds in a life of its own.
Alternating between drizzling and shining through the thicket of clouds, over sinuous curves passing right through the heart of hills, unending number of cascades just waiting to be found, I was busy part photographing and part contemplating the beauty of nature so pristine and bewitching.
I stood on the viewing platform to a blanket of dense fog with zero visibility. Just when I started thinking that it might be futile, as if on cue, the fog started to clear unveiling a vast 180 degree expanse of green hills overlooking a gorgeous waterfall tumbling down to form a blissful turquoise green pool. One of those sights that leave you entranced!
Nohkalikai Falls has the tallest plunge in India, falling from a height of 1,115 ft. It is one of the major attractions in Meghalaya state, let alone Cherrapunji.
As the legend goes, a young mother called Likai lived in Rangjyrteh village upstream of the waterfalls. She worked as a porter, ferrying iron from Rangjyrteh to Mawmluh village to make ends meet. Ka( identifies the feminine gender in Khasi) Likai worked long hours as a single mother(her husband died), staying away from home, leaving her infant daughter in the care of others. She then married a second time but her husband didn’t like all the special attention his newly wed wife was showering on the infant. This is when it took a ghastly turn.
On a drunken day with a friend, out of pure jealousy, the husband killed the infant and cooked her meat and threw away the head and bones. On returning home from a long day’s work, Likai couldn’t find her baby but was so famished that she ate the cooked meat. Post meal, while she was sitting around to slice the betel leaves like most locals, she saw a tiny finger that she recognized. Putting together what just happened, Likai was horrified at what she had done. Grief and fury drove Likai to the edge of the waterfall from where she threw herself off the cliff. Noh in Khasi means “jump”. After this heartrending story, the falls came to be known as Noh-ka-likai falls.
Living Root bridges
This is a brilliant piece of bio-engineering practiced by the locals. The aerial roots of rubber trees are made to grow through betel tree trunks placed across rivers until the fig roots attach themselves to the other side. Sticks, stones, and other objects are used to stabilize the growing bridge. This process can take up to 15 years to complete and hold about 50 people at a time. As long as the tree they are formed from remains healthy, they naturally self-strengthen as their component roots grow thicker. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Living root bridges are found all over Meghalaya. Most notable one, being the the double decker living root bridge found inside the valley of Nongriat. It takes atleast half a day to complete the trail and has about 3500 steps one way.
Caving in Cherrapunji
My last caving experience was short and inconsequential.while trekking three years ago, having to crawl through bat shit almost at the entrance of a cave that also spawned a new sense of claustrophia, I almost instantly gave up. So, I was determined to make this one count.
We decided to go to Mawsami caves – the most well known caving destination in Cherrapunji. The limestone cave formations, wading through small pools of water and the eerie atmosphere gives you an idea of exploratory perspective while caving for a complete beginner. However, if you want to have some real caving experience, Krem Mawmlu caves may be a good option. Be prepared with torchlights for some crawling and climbing while wading through knee deep pools.
Passing through abandoned villages, jungles, scrambling through huge boulders and navigating through the river bed is something I want to try while visiting Cherrapunji the next time. Adding river canyoning to my list.
Find more info here.
Ziplining at Mawdok
For a quick adventure fix, stop over at Mawdok valley on the way to Cherrapunji. The stunning valleys offer a perfect backdrop to zipline at a maximum length of 2600 feet. Ideal for beginners to get a taste of the adventure. Although, if you are a seasoned zipliner, this might not pique your interest.
Cost: Rs. 700/-
Cafe Cherrapunjee is one of those cool restaurants with a gramophone, fireplace and retro posters with a 125 year old history built as part of the Raj-era. Evidently, it was used as a post office and was one of the many Dak bungalows where official horses were changed while enroute from Dhaka to Assam. Reuters reports states that in the 1960s, an unidentified flying object was also seen hovering over the property. This adds to the history and mystery of this place. It’s located halfway between Shillong and Cherrapunji and can serve as a pitstop for travelers on the lookout for scrumptious food.
Also, if you wish to stay here, they have luxury tents and cottage accommodation options available. Excellent food, friendly staff, peaceful chilly nights and cozy rooms. What more could you ask for?
Distance – 53km from Shillong to Cherrapunji. Takes about 1 and a half hours.
Cab fares: Rs 2500 – 3000 for 2 days of sightseeing.
If you have any other places from Cherrapunji in mind, or if you found this post useful, let me know in the comments below 🙂