It seems that the more I travel, the more I realize to savour the journey as much as the destination. Same as life, really. We are so focused 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 to 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 into 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. Traversing through the meandering roads of Cherrapunji enveloped in cotton candy clouds makes you think about life.
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.
Apart from being one of the wettest places in the world, Cherrapunji has a lot more to offer to the casual tourists and the adventurers alike.
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. 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. Ka( identifies the feminine gender in Khasi) Likai worked long hours as a single mother, leaving her infant daughter in the care of others. Subsequently, she re-married but her husband was envious of the affection his newly wed wife showered on her infant.
Overcome by jealousy, on a drunken day with a friend, the husband killed the infant and cooked her meat and threw away the head and bones.
After reaching home, Likai couldn’t find her baby but was so famished that she ate the cooked meat. Afterwards, she saw a tiny finger that she recognized while she was sitting around the house. 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.
If you are fascinated with stories like this, check this out for more enchanting tales from Meghalaya.
Living Root bridges in Cherrapunji
This is a brilliant piece of bio-engineering practised by the locals. The aerial roots of rubber trees made to grow through betel tree trunks placed across rivers until the fig roots attach themselves to the other side. In addition, sticks, stones, and other objects are used to stabilize the growing bridge. This process can take up to 15 years to complete and holds 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. It is fascinating, isn’t it?
Living root bridges are found all over Meghalaya. Most notable one, being the double-decker living root bridge found inside the valley of Nongriat. Reserve a day for this trail which 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 muck almost at the entrance of a cave(that also spawned a new sense of claustrophobia), I almost instantly gave up. Thus, 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 the exploratory perspective of 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 torch lights 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.
Zip lining 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 zip line at a maximum length of 2600 feet. Ideal for beginners to get a taste of the adventure. Although, if you are not doing it for the first time, 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, served as a post office and one of the many Dak bungalows where official horses were changed while en route 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. Located halfway between Shillong and Cherrapunji, it can serve as a pit stop for travellers 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 cosy rooms. What more could you ask for?
Video of Mesmerizing Meghalaya, one of the seven amusing states of North East India!
Distance – 53km from Shillong to Cherrapunji. Takes about 1 and a half hours.
Cab fare amounts to 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 🙂