Treasure Trail continues in Monster’s Lair at Mawsmai caves, Meghalaya

posted in: Asia, India, Meghalaya, Nature | 54

First Published on July 10, 2017

The first part of my treasure hunting was through the unexplored Arwah Caves in Meghalaya. The stunning walls, the low ceilings, and narrow crevices were truly an adventurous experience for my entire family. There was a certain thrill in meandering through those caverns that were dimly lit and filled with water streams. It definitely added that punch to the whole treasure trail. However, the exploration was far from being over. Typically in a treasure trail, you have arduous trails and monsters that guard those trails. Right? So, we did our bit with the difficult trail (well! Not so difficult, just being dramatic!). We still had the monsters’ to tackle and guess what –  we found them right at the next set of caves – Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya.

Inside Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya
Inside Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya

Well, technically, there were no monsters! However, the Mawsmai caves in Cherrapunji had a lot of their formations that resembled monsters and those dreary beasts that typically guard the treasure. It was fun spotting these strange formations and giving them an identity. My daughter found these caves much easier to walk through as there aren’t too many of those crazy turns and twists. “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy” is how she termed it.

Introducing Mawsmai Caves in Cherrapunji

Mawsmai caves in the local language mean “Oathstone caves“. I tried to find the reason behind this name but for the first time, I seem to have hit a dead end as to why it is so-called. I was even more curious after I visited the caves for they definitely have some eerie shapes –  that makes you feel as if you are in the world of the undead!  (Yes, I do read a lot of those Vampire and underworld creatures books).

Clamp like formation in Mawsmai Caves in Sohra
Clamp like formation in Mawsmai Caves in Sohra

Krem Mawsmai (Krem means cave in the local language) are limestone caves that are actually around 250 m long. However, only 150m of it has been open to the public. These caves are possibly the most famous among all the Meghalaya caves and are quite well developed for the tourists. There are little bridges built over the cave streams making it easy for the visitors to navigate through the dark caverns. It has its share of narrow crevices and low ceilings that require you to squeeze or crawl. And at times, you will also, encounter shallow water pools. As for my monster trail, you enter from the mouth of a giant monster and exit from its rear. Do you think I am kidding? See for yourself on this tour of Mawsmai Cave.

Monster One – The Entrance of Krem Mawsmai

Path leading to the Mawsmai caves in Cherrapunji
Path leading to the Mawsmai caves in Cherrapunji

Jubilant with our victory at the Arwah caves, the A-team (aka us) walked confidently along the wooden pathway to conquer the next set of caves. Expecting the same body contortions, we felt we were all prepared until we stopped dead in our steps. A large monster with open jaws lay waiting for us.

The guy was ancient with lots of gray wrinkles, some of which was covered with a green beard. His teeth looked like as if he has not brushed for ages. He sat there motionless, staring at us, beckoning us to enter his large belly that we could see from the entrance of Mawsmai caves.

The Open -Jaw like entrance that leads you inside Mawsmai Caves
The Open -Jaw like entrance that leads you inside Mawsmai Caves
The interiors of Krem Mawsmai from the entrance
The interiors of Krem Mawsmai from the entrance
Greens sprouting from the rock surface
Greens sprouting from the rock surface

Mawsmai Caves are right in the middle of a lush green forest. The walk to the entrance will showcase a variety of plants including some unique orchids and ferns. The rocky facade actually looks stunning owing to those green highlights. In fact, you must go closer to the rocky surface and see how those little saplings sprout out of nowhere. Of course, here and there, you might encounter a few sparkly spider webs. 

Walking into the belly of the monster (Inside Mawsmai Cave)

The dragon-like formation in Mawsmai Caves
The dragon-like formation in Mawsmai Caves

Definitely, this guy had a bad tummy. I mean look at the whole path strewn with his ingested food. What was even more interesting was that this guy did not just allow humans in but also, his fellow monsters. Some of them looked like snakes, some like dragons and some even looked like a phoenix!

The stalagmites and stalactites are quite well developed in these caves. They dominate the various caverns as masterpieces of natural art. These rock formations take place over millions of years. Arwah Caves too, had tons of these and though, they are dated around 56 million years back, the formations were still a little smaller. With such dominating structures in the present caves, you can imagine how far back the Mawsmai Caves history goes.

The Grand old man of Mawsmai Caves
The Grand old man of Mawsmai Caves
The epiglottis formation as I call it - in Mawsmai Caves
The epiglottis formation as I call it – in Mawsmai Caves

The strange shapes kept staring at us as we walked past them till we reached the grand old man, waiting to ask us a riddle. I think he was just so surprised to see us that he was dumbfounded. We quickly walked past him to reach the point that looked like the epiglottis of the cave monster. From here, we seemed to have crossed over to its belly.

Drooling Monsters – the streams in Mawsmai Caves of Cherrapunji

Squeezing through the Epiglottis into the belly of the Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya
Squeezing through the Epiglottis into the belly of the Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya

I am really not kidding when I say we had to squeeze past the epiglottis into the belly. A narrow cave passage led us to the most interesting sights. Coated with the gastric juices of the cave monster, the smaller ones within its belly were staring back at us – Drooling!

Basically, these drops of so-called drool were actually the rainwater and the limestone water that kept falling from the cave roof. It had been raining and this water fell along the walls of the caves and made them glisten in the low lights. Here the journey was quite like the Arwah caves but not as raw. We crouched and balanced through the narrow parts of the cave to finally reach a tiny hole.

The drool of the monsters dripping
The drool of the monsters dripping
The drooling snakes of Mawsmai Caves
The drooling snakes of Mawsmai Caves

Squeezing through the gut (Passages of Mawsmai Caves)

Squeezing through the gut of the Mawsmai Caves
Squeezing through the gut of the Mawsmai Caves

This is the part where I felt I had to squeeze through the guts into the open, dark caverns filled with pools of ……Water! What else, you crazy people.

The center of the limestone caves was a little low lying and that caused all the rainwater to form mini pools. There are little bridges that will help you walk over the deeper ones but nonetheless. there is a bit of wading to be done. Trust me! It is fun to walk through them.

Through the narrow holes of Mawsmai caves
Through the narrow holes of Mawsmai caves
Wading through the shallow pools of water in Mawsmai Cave
Wading through the shallow pools of water in Mawsmai Cave
Large water pools in the Cherrapunji Mawsmai Caves
Large water pools in the Cherrapunji Mawsmai Caves

Out from the rear – Exiting Mawsmai Caves in Sohra

Out from the rear of Mawsmai caves
Out from the rear of Mawsmai caves

The crazy ride with high ceilings and small slits of sunlight continued till we reached this point where suddenly, we were out in the open. Our treasure trail ended here This is where the treasure trail ended with us having picked up some memorable gems along the way. This monster’s lair turned out to be a beautiful end to our underworld quest. Once outside, you will also, see a lot of the ancient rock formations around the caves. The Mawsmai caves are an absolute must if you are a geologist.

Claw of the cave?
Claw of the cave?

Personally, I found the Arwah caves more adventurous but the Mawsmai caves were artistic. The experience through them gets your imagination wild – as you have seen in this post. I am pretty sure that what I discovered and saw might look different to you. This is the magic of Nature’s abstract art. I wonder what you felt like as you came along with me. You know where to let me know. And in the meantime, don’t forget to pin this journey to your board.

Mawsmai Caves

How to reach Mawsmai Caves in Cherrapunji?

  • Guwahati is the closest railway and airport to Meghalaya. You will need to get here and then, take a cab to Shillong or directly to Sohra.
  • The North East Explorers helped me with the cab and the stay in Sohra. I had hired the cab from Guwahati back to Guwahati for around a week.
  • Mawsmai caves are located close to the Seven Sisters’ falls in Cherrapunji (Sohra).

What is the best time to visit Mawsmai Caves in Meghalaya?

In terms of the weather, it is advisable to avoid the monsoon months – June to September. The caves get flooded during this time and might be closed for safety. The rest of the year is perfect for visiting Krem Mawsmai. The Mawsmai Cave timings are from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days.

Travel Tips

Mawmai Cave Timings and Ticket Prices
Mawmai Cave Timings and Ticket Prices
  • The Mawsmai caves tickets cost INR 20 per adult, provided you are more than 3 in a group. If you are less than 3, then it is INR 60. Check the capture above to know more.
  • The caves are slippery and wet. Hence, I recommend comfortable footwear that helps you grip and walk along the cave.
  • Please carry a light raincoat or windcheater here. Even within the cave, there is water dripping and you are bound to get wet.
  • A torch is advisable as certain parts of the caves are dark
  • You should be able to finish these caves in half an hour
  • There are restrooms and small cafes here in the parking area.

Booking Resources

  • Booking.com  is great for picking your stay or hotels in Shillong. They have limited options for Cherrapunji.
  • Click through to North East Explorers for any tours in North East India. You can take up their packages that even include cabs and stays with a guide or just what you require. I used them to book my cab and stay in Meghalaya and highly recommend them. 
  • For any of your travel accessories or even home needs click through to Amazon from my website.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.

 

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54 Responses

  1. Rohini

    This is a very interesting narrative and ties in geology with the fantasies of a fairytale !

    (It is also like Pinocchio’s adventure when he was swallowed by a giant whale 🙂

  2. Blair Villanueva

    It is very interesting cave story, and it was also thrilling (i have wild imaginations) to visit a cave. Never done it before, but hopefully soon. Is it cold inside?

  3. Fiona Mai

    The path leading to the cave looks quite mysterious. If I have a chance to visit this place I might feel like I’m exploring a hidden world or something like that. This is definitely a worthy attraction to visit Meghalaya.

    • Ami

      It is a magical place – Meghalaya. There are so many lores and interesting things to do here. YOu definitely must visit and especially, visit Mawsmai caves

  4. My Travelogue by Bhushavali

    Ahhhh!!! This is too much!!! I really gotta pack my bags and head in the north eastern direction. I have to agree, the formations, do look like how monsters are depicted in animation! Lolz! This is just awesome!!!

    • Ami

      Doesn’t it feel like a page out of fiction? You will so love it Bhushavali. Plan quickly.

  5. Tom @ Adventurous Travels

    Amazing – I love places like this, it looks mysterious and wild! I love the narrow passages and the rock formations. It’s great to discover such wonders – thanks for showing them, especially that they’re not that well known around the world!

  6. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Mawsmai caves really look intriguing and full of mystery. The entrance indeed is like the open mouth of a monster. However what I am really fascinated by is the bizarre and somewhat grotesque shapes of the rocks inside the caves, it does give an eerie aura to the place.

  7. kopikang

    wow!! very interesting place though I must say inside was eerie.. I admire you and your companions for managing to get into the narrowest and darkest parts! I hope one day we can all be enlightened with the origin of its name!

  8. ambujsaxena05

    Mawsmai caves look great! I was a bit disappointed with the entrance. In andaman islands, there is Limestone caves and the entry to those caves is through a canopy walkway so i had expected something similar here too! But anyways the shapes of the caves betray Stalactites and Stalagmites that we had been taught in our geography classes!

    • Ami

      Interesting. Though my opinion of the same is a little different. The ones in Andamans were impressive in a different way . These ones I felt were more artistic. In any case, both of them are amazing. Thanks for stopping by Ambuj

      • ambujsaxena05

        I think one needs to be there to gather the different aspects of both the caves! Since you have been to both the places, you know much better! Hope to head to Mawsmai caves sometime soon!

  9. Lisa N

    I love exploring caves. Looks like you had an amazing time. I visited India last year and its been one of my best travel experiences so far. Your blog makes me realize how much I still got to see and look forward to!

    • Ami

      Thanks Lisa. India has so much that we Indians are unable to cover it all. You must come back again for these.

  10. Marjorie G.

    I noticed that the stalactites and stalagmites are of dark color, what could be the reason for such discoloration? I have entered caves before but this is the first time I’ve seen one that has black tint. I like how you made this post interesting by creating a story, it did make me feel a bit like you guys were entering the belly of a monster.

    • Ami

      Thanks Marjorie. I have a feeling that the colors that you see are owing to the low light pictures that I had to resort to. Else they seemed fine. Glad you had fun with my imagination.

    • Ami

      The caves were not spooky at all. They were fun. On the history, there is only geological evidence. Sadly could not find anything else. Thanks for stopping by

  11. Thelittlelai: Beyond limits

    This is actually very informative and detailed post. I love to explore caves always and I’m always left in awe whenever I gaze to its stunning mineral formations. This cave is truly beautiful, but I’ve noticed that some of the mineral structures are dying, and some are recovering. I hope that they can preserve it. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us.

    • Ami

      Thanks a ton for your comments. I am not so sure of them dying or so. My pictures may not have caught the whole story as there was really low light within. Nonetheless this is a lovely place and for that reason, they should preserve it.

    • Ami

      ohh, we just had the time of our lives. Fantastic experience here. Thanks for stopping by Jane

  12. swatisinha09

    Great narration and very interesting cave journey. BTW, are you sure that was ummm water ?

  13. misstalkingfeet

    I have never heard of something like this before.It sounds so unique and exciting.Inlove the way you described the monster as epiglamis and the acidity thing.It made me laugh.I shall definitely visit Meghalaya for sure

    • Ami

      Thank you Harini. The cave monster was real in my head and I loved going through it. Cheers

  14. Chasing Potatoes

    I enjoyed reading this article and I like the helpful information in it. I have always been fascinated with caves. They are full of mysteries. That’s why I love exploring them. Their aesthetics are just different from any natural wonder. Anyway,thank you so much for sharing your adventure.

    • Ami

      Thank you so much. It was a fun and interesting cave. I hope you can sometime make it here.

  15. Jerry

    In the history of Sohra (Cherrapunjee), it is written that the then king of Sohra, Borsing Syiem, learnt that his younger cousin, Morsing Syiem, wanted the kingship of Sohra as his own, and to achieve this, there was no other way but to overthrow his elder cousin in battle. Borsing however had no wishes to see blood shed especially considering that it would have to be a fight with his younger cousin. So he gathered 7 of his loyal ministers and left Sohra in search of other places and as History tells us, “they reached a place further downstream and decided that to be the location of their new kingdom”. Here the 7 loyal ministers took a fresh pledge of loyalty to their king Borsing Syiem. They erected monoliths both male and female in this place as a sign of this Oath.This place came to be known as Mawsmai (Oathstone).The monoliths still stands even today to remind us of this event. The Mawsmai Caves lies in this vicinity, hence the name Mawsmai Caves. (This is to let you know in brief about how the name of Oathstone came to be.) Hats off to you – very well presented.

    • Ami

      Wow, now that is an interesting story and I will be adding it to the post with due credits to you. Thanks a bunch

  16. Elizabeth

    It’s always fun to go through caves. I haven’t been in too many though. The Mawsmai caves do look like they have some spooky formations! I think going through the tight gaps like you had to do would be a little nerve-wrecking for me! Looks like a great adventure though 🙂

  17. Stephanie

    This is paradise for young kids, they tend to LOVE exploring, and are pretty much fearless at that age! A little sad that there were no actual monsters LOL, but the formations were just as cool! I’m really scared of tight spaces, but to see such really cool formations, I would definitely do this. When formations look so much like something, I have to sometimes wonder what the chances of likeness are!?

  18. Linda (LD Holland)

    I am sure it was fun looking for rock structures that resembled the monsters. But good thing they are just fiction. The walls do seem very narrow in place and I can understand why you felt like you were walking into the monster’s belly. So cool that the interesting rock formations were still found after you exited. What an interesting experience.

  19. Kate

    I’ve never seen cave formations that do look like monsters, haha! Or at least monster innards, especially your epiglottis. 🙂 I can’t believe the gut crevice that you had to crawl through! Super good tip about the walkways being wet and slippery so that we can plan for proper shoes when touring the Mawsmai.

  20. Jas

    You’re so right that these caves look like the world of the undead. I think I’d feel a little claustrophobic having to squeeze between the tight spots, but the shapes and rainwater/limestone water droplets are all so interesting! Can’t believe how old these rock formations are are and mother nature never ceases to amaze!

  21. Yukti Agrawal

    I had recently visited such type of cave in Oman and found it very interesting. This Arwah cave in Meghalaya really look interesting surroundings of lush green forests. I loved the drooling snake shaped rocks and also narrow holes look claustrophobic. Thanks for sharing all tips and guide for these rocks.

  22. Manjulika Pramod

    Mawsmai looks like one artistic cave. I had read about it in the context of Cherrapunjee but had never read about it in detail. This was interesting and lively. The pictures do all the talking and indeed blend in with your storytelling. Some of the pics indeed make it look like a large monster with breathtaking maze within. I would love to explore these limestone caves and will keep it in mind whenever I get a chance to be around.

  23. Agnes

    Exciting place. What a great adventure. The caves are so fascinating. This one looks a little claustrophobic. It is tight and humid. You had to squeeze through these wet walls, impressive. It looks like a monster. I love this rock formation, stalactites, stalagmites, geology of caves.

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