Hiking Shoes - Check! Waterproof Jackets - Check! Water bottle, extra clothes, Torch - Check! Stuffed into my Wildcraft rucksack. And with that, the rainy adventure begins!
It is not possible that you head to the Abode of Clouds – Meghalaya and not visit one of the wettest places on earth – Cherrapunji. With its stunning green valleys, pristine waterfalls, mysterious caves and adrenaline-pumping activities, Cherrapunjee is a paradise for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. The rain just adds to the fun element to all these places to visit in Cherrapunji.
At one point in time, (when I was in school ), Cherrapunji held the record of being the place with the heaviest rainfall in the world. It recently abdicated the top spot to its neighboring village- Mawsnyram but still retains the title of being the place with the heaviest rainfall in a single month. It was this fact that led me to discover that Cherrapunji was more than just a place with heavy rains. And having visited it, I promise you that there is no missing out on this green paradise when you are in Meghalaya.
So strap up buddies and let’s get ready for a rainy adventure- where you do not just discover the best places for Cherrapunji sightseeing but also, get valuable tips for planning your visit – all through my own visit here.
In the 16th century, the Khasi hills were ruled by tribal chiefs called Syiems. The kingdom had its headquarters in a small center called Sohra. The place continued its quiet existence until the 18th century when the British took over from the last Syiem – Tirot Singh. They for some reason pronounced Sohra as Churra or Cherra. And that gave this town a new name – Cherrapunji.
Cherrapunji means the land of oranges. One would assume that a lot of oranges grow here. However, that is not really the case. It is however a green valley rich in unusual flora and is dotted with waterfalls. The clouds fly high and low, giving the landscape a misty, romantic feel. In fact, when you head out for some Cherrapunji sightseeing, you might find yourself waiting for the clouds to clear before you actually see the place. And trust me, this wait is not irksome!
Best Places to visit in Cherrapunji
The Cherrapunji tourist places are not the usual, crowded and overtly developed set of destinations. They are actually rustic and natural and frankly, that is what adds to the allure of Sohra. These Cherrapunji attractions range from legendary waterfalls to unique living root bridges and raw caves that have to be explored with a torch.
I can see the nature lovers and adrenaline junkies rubbing their palms gleefully. I bet that by the end of this guide to Cherrapunji, you would be packing your Wildcraft backpacks and booking your tickets to this lovely Meghalaya town!
Cherrapunji Root Bridges
The Living Root Bridges are one of the key attractions of Meghalaya and Cherrapunji tourist places has some of the best in the state. The Living Root Bridges are sturdy bridges built by the Khasi tribes across a river. Each bridge takes around 15 years or more to be built. It is the construction that makes it unusual as it involves growing live plants like Rubber trees and letting their roots create a safe and sturdy bridge that can allow an army of 50 people to walk along safely.
The Nongriat Root Bridge or the Double Decker Living Root Bridge is the most famous Cherrapunji root bridge that you need to explore. In fact, it is the only living root bridge in Asia. The journey to it makes an amazing hiking trail where you cross pretty waterfalls like the Rainbow falls, chase colorful butterflies and cross quaint Khasi hamlets.
Caves in Cherrapunji
The Khasi hills surrounding Cherrapunji have some of the longest caves hidden within them. Some of these are still unexplored while a few have been developed well with lights and pathways as key Cherrapunji attractions. Here are three unmissable ones –
Arwah Cave in Sohra
With just a torch in hand, imagine crawling through the dank caverns hidden behind a waterfall.
Though there are many other caves in Cherrapunji, my favorite will always be Arwah Caves. A journey through these gives you a true sense of caving where you will squeeze through gaps, crawl through holes and shuffle along narrow crevices – all in a pool of fresh water. The cave is full of fossils that an expert guide will point out to you with a beam of torchlight.
Mawsmai Caves – one of the key Cherrapunji Tourist Places
Mawsmai caves has been developed by the tourism authorities and feels different from the Arwah caves. The cavern is lit and this allows one to enjoy the natural rock formations with the stalagmites and stalactites. This cave too, has its share of narrow crevices and gaps but one can cross them easily owing to the handrails and bridges constructed within. Definitely worth a visit.
Time constraints prevented me from visiting these caves. I believe, that Krem Phyllut has three entrances and two river passages. It is quite a popular place in the list of Cherrapunjee sightseeing and is busy with tourists throughout the year.
Waterfalls of Cherrapunjee
You might have come across many of these waterfalls in Meghalaya in my earlier post on waterfall hopping. Interestingly, a lot of those legendary cascades are located in Cherrapunji. Not only will they leave you spellbound with their beauty but will give you an opportunity to walk along their beds. And yes, almost each one of them has a story connected to it.
Nohkalikai falls – a key Cherrapunji attraction
This by far, is one of the most popular waterfalls of Cherrapunji – more so as it is considered to be the highest plunge waterfall in the world, falling down to 340 m in a single stream. The plunge aspect of the fall has an interesting legend of a woman – Likhai who jumped off a cliff. What and why? – Well you can read all about it through this post.
Seven Sister Falls
As the name says it – seven cascades that gush over the hills. Locally, these are called as Nohsgnithiang falls. The falls are called so with reference to the seven sister states of North East India.
Wah Khaba falls
The enchanting falls are said to be home to two fairies who entrap men. Wah Khaba falls have an lovely hiking trail and can be visited enroute from Shillong to Cherrapunji.
A creepy gigantic serpent who ate humans used to live at what is now Dainthlen falls. Legend has it that the serpent was killed and the current water bed was his chopped body. Well, I wouldn’t really know the truth but I can tell you that walking along the bed was quite a thrilling experience. Check it out through this post. Personally, among all the Cherrapunji waterfalls, this one was my favorite.
Mawkdok Dympep Valley
The Mawkdok Dympep valley is actually 24 km from Cherrapunji but you are likely to pass by it when you come in from Shillong. The pretty valley point is marked by the Duwan Sing Syiem Bridge. Right next to the bridge are stairs that take you to viewing platforms from where you can see the green ravine outlined by the swirling white clouds. You can pose in a Khasi outfit against this, have a meal or two in the cafe by the bridge or just zip-line over the valley.
Mawsyram village – one of the Cherrapunji Tourist Places
Mawsyram village is just 15 km from Cherrapunji . This is the hamlet that took over the title of the World’s wettest place from Sohra. A village walk will give you a glimpse of how the people manage the heavy rains. They in fact, have special bamboo attires that shelter them. Their homes are made sound proof by using the natural thick grass that is available in the area. Besides that, in a good season, the green village is great for some birdwatching and nature walks. A giant stalagmite occupies the center of the village – people revere it as a natural Shiva-linga.
Thangkhang Park is known for its exquisite panoramic views of the Bangladesh plains and the Kyrem falls. It is well-developed as a picnic spot with enough for kids to do. The park has a greenhouse and several interesting species of plants and trees that any nature lover would love to explore.
Koh Ramhah Rock in Sohra
I really wanted to get to this unique rock. More so owing to the legend that I heard. They say that this lone cone shaped rock has entrapped an evil spirit and anyone who touches it gets possessed by it. Well, I don’t want to touch it. Just want to enjoy the majestic views that it offers.
The Khasis used to honor their ancestors by erecting stone tablets. This aspect is one of the unique things about this tribe. The Khasi monoliths are well preserved in this area and make a good addition to the Cherrapunji attractions for they give you a good insight into the culture of the place. I could not make it here but I did get a glimpse of them as I drove past the place.
Other day trips from Cherrapunji
While most of the places to visit in Cherrapunji that I have mentioned are within the radius of 20 km or so from the town center, there are two more that I would like to add as day trips from Sohra. These two places are bound to make your Cherrapunji trip perfect.
This border town with one of India’s cleanest rivers can only be described as a fairyland. Dawki river or officially named as Umngot river is just magical with its colored pebble island and tiny cascades along its sides. On a clear day, the river is so transparent that you would feel as if you were floating on glass.
When I visited it, owing to the rain, it had turned green. But even the green was mesmerizing. Check out a complete post on Dawki through this link and you will know why I highly recommend it.
Mawlynnong – the cleanest village in Asia
73 km from Cherrapunji is the cleanest village in Asia. Mawlynnong is not a hamlet that you need to see. It has to be felt and experienced for its enriching culture. A village walk introduces you to their admirable community philosophy and practices that have been instrumental in them being recognized as the cleanest village of Asia. Chase a butterfly or two and don’t be surprised when they lead you to secret gardens or gurgling streams.
I highly recommend spending an overnight at Mawlynnong. Check out this post that tells you why you should do so. The same post is also, a complete guide to planning your visit and includes the various attractions of the hamlet.
When here, you can also, visit the Mawlynnong Living Root Bridge and the Balancing rock. Besides that, you have the village viewing point that allows you to see the Bangladesh plains.
Well, that is it from my end as far as the best places to visit in Cherrapunji goes. I am sure it is enough to get you packing your Wildcraft gear for a trip to Cherrapunji. The rest of this guide to Cherrapunji will help you with the best way to get there, the right season and where to book your stay. So while you read it all, just pin this up as a ready reckoner.
How to get to Cherrapunji?
The closest airport to Cherrapunji is in Guwahati (181 km). Same goes for the railway station. From either of these two places, you can either hire a cab to get you straight to Sohra or you can get into a bus for Shillong.
In Shillong, there are shared cabs available near Police Bazaar that take you to Cherrapunjee. You can also, hire your own tourist vehicle or get a bus from the same place.
Where to stay in Cherrapunjee?
There are limited hotels and resorts in Cherrapunjee. Most of the bigger ones are priced on the higher side. However, there are plenty of home-stays that are available in Cherrapunji. Very few of these are however, listed on the internet. It is better to book them through a local tour operator.
What is the best time to visit Cherrapunji?
Any time between October to May is a good time to visit Cherrapunji. I would recommend avoiding monsoons as the rains tend to cause flooding in the caves and also, some of the hiking trails are closed.
- The key places to visit in Cherrapunji are quite a distance from each other. You will need to hire a car or a local cab to reach them. It is better to engage one for the entire day and enjoy the attractions.
- Sohra is a small town. There are plenty of restaurants within the town but at the various Cherrapunji tourist places, you might only find a cafe or two that might serve Maggi or bread only. Hence, keep some snacks handy in your rucksack.
- Keep a raincoat or a jacket or an umbrella with you at all times. It does tend to rain through the year.
- Wear waterproof shoes
- Booking.com offers limited stay options for Sohra. You could browse through them and see if you would like to book any of them online.
- I highly recommend North East Explorers for your travel through Meghalaya. They are very well versed with the area and can provide end-to end tours that pick you from the airport and leave you back there.
- If you use Amazon for your online shopping, do consider using this link to get to the site and buy your requirements.
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Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.