Chasing The Monsoon in Cherrapunji

The curtain of mist just falls down, rain drops are on your face, cold wind travels east to west in the aura of silence, and you see people with bright red stained lips along with their umbrellas. Welcome to  Cherrapunji.

It was in the month of August when I decided to chase the rain in the wettest terrains on the planet. What better time to dance in the rain than monsoon in the land of clouds. And I set out to explore this part of the world which is an unexplored paradise on earth.

Charrapunji is credited as being the second wettest place on  earth. Originally known as “Sohra”, the British pronounced it “Churra” before it got its popular name as Cherrapunji. Situated on the southern edge of the Khasi Hills, this town shares its international border with Bangladesh on its south. Nearly 60 km away from Shillong, Cherrapunji offers one of the most picturesque landscapes and unparalleled scenic beauty. The surroundings are mostly dotted with towering Khasi hills and valleys beyond your horizon. You are welcomed by the charming Khasi people with a big smile. Known as the abode of clouds”, Meghalaya surprises you with its splendid secrets.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

While driving up , I saw the very first layers of clouds in the Khasi hills in Upper Shillong. It was a sight well framed in my mind. I stood still for a few minutes to have a glimpse of this amazing view. As I was approaching the Sohra valley, I rolled down my windows,popping my head out to let the swirls of clouds play with my hair. I was lost in the moment.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

The plateau of Cherrapunji has a completely unique horizon. The multi layers of hills and sun rays are not seen in this part of India. Instead, rocky hills, lush green surroundings, valleys and clouds are there to delight you.On my way, I crossed a number of villages like Six Miles, Banuin, Myllien, Mawjrog  and Nongsawlia.  I noticed that the population of these villages was very less.

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Photo Credit : Himanshu Lahkar

It was 11.30 am. I had already covered half of my journey towards Cherrapunji. I must tell you that the weather in Cherrapunji is unpredictable. You never know when you are welcomed by clouds or rain on the road. With each turn, new landscape awaits you.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

As I was heading up, I saw a sudden change in the climate. Within a fraction of minutes, clouds descended on the entire road, leaving it to zero visibility. I was awe-stricken by the sudden transition. By the time I got down from my car at Duwan Sing Syiem Bridge to view the Mawkdok Dympep Valley, rain started pouring.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary

I was amidst the clouds and absolutely smitten by the place. Since I was totally unaware of the weather change, I did not even carry an umbrella with me.  I was drenched completely. A hot cup of tea was what I needed urgently. It was surprising that in that cloudy and rainy weather also, you can find small roadside tea stalls in that place. Khasi women were selling tea, biscuits, water bottles, and all essentials to the tourists under a small umbrella.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

Unlike other parts of India, this region has another specific characteristic of their social system. Meghalaya practices matrilineal system where the women hold the most important position in the family with all social, cultural and political rights. Interestingly, it’s the groom who comes to live with the bride’s family after marriage. Women are in charge of business outside while men end up doing household chores. That’s why you will see more women in the market selling goods than men in Meghalaya. It reminded me of my experience in Emma Market (Emma means Mother in Manipuri language) in Manipur where women run the market exclusively. In matrilineal system, even children take the surname of their mother instead of the father. According to Khasi tradition, the youngest daughter inherits all ancestral property. Khasi women also exercise their right to marry outside the community as well. It’s so amazing to know that when the whole world is fighting for gender equality, a state like Meghalaya is practicing matrilineal system. Meghalaya truly sets an example  of celebrating women in the society in real sense.

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Photo Credit :  Rana Konwar

By the time I reached Cherrapunji, I could only see the descending clouds. It was still raining. I headed towards Eco Park, which is one of the tourist attractions in Cherrapunji.

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

Designed and maintained by Government of Meghalaya, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the ‘Green Canyons’ of Cherrapunji. Not just that, you can also view the amazing plains of Bangladesh (If the weather is clear).

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Photo Credit : My Travel Diary/Parnashree

My first sight of the famous Double Decker Living Root Bridge amazed me. You really have to see it to believe it. Located in a thick tropical forest of Meghalaya, this bridge is nothing less than a man-made cum natural wonder.

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Photo Credit : Tourism Of India

These roots grow from ancient rubber trees which are seen only in the Northeast region. Created by Khasi people, these roots are weaved in such a way that they are in a form of a bridge on top of the river. There are a few root bridges in Meghalaya, but Umshiang Double Decker Root Bridge is the most popular one.

Another jaw-dropping sight is the Nohkalikai Falls . This breathtaking waterfall is the tallest waterfall in the country which falls from a height of 1115 feet and it is the fourth highest in the world.

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Photo Credit : Himanshu Lahkar

This waterfall is also called as Seven Sisters Waterfalls. If you are lucky, you can have the picturesque view of seven different waterfalls cascading down the hill.

Cherrapunji has a lot to offer from root bridges, waterfalls, Eco parks, caves to breathtaking valleys. Also known as “Scotland of East”, it has a bundle of hidden treasures in the middle of the forest. Though tourists have started exploring this part of India lately, but if I compare it with other parts of India, Northeast is still way beyond the margin.

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Photo Credit : Sanjeev Singhania

I thoroughly enjoyed chasing the monsoon in Cherrapunji where the auditory sensation of raindrops and misty forest even whisper unheard tales. And I could not shy away from dancing in the rain.

More Information :

Getting there

By Air : The best way to reach Cherrapunji  is to fly to Guwahati in Assam and then take a road trip from Guwahati to Cherrapunjee.  You can also fly directly to Shillong  from Kolkata on Monday , Wednesday and Friday. Indian Airlines operates a 50 seater ATR German aircraft on this route. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, Jet Konnect and Air Asia fly from Delhi to Guwahati.

By Railway : Guwahati railway station is the nearest railhead to Cherrapunji.

By Road : The distance between Guwahati to Cherrapunji is approximately 181 KM. You can also take State Transport buses to Shillong and from there you can hire private cab to reach Cherrapunji. The Distance from Shillong from Cherrapunji is nearly 60 KM. There are many luxury coach operators operating Bus services to Shillong . You can also take tourist taxi from Guwahati.

Stay :

There are a few  accommodation options available in Cherrapunji. Though one can stay in Shillong and travel to Cherrapunji. Here are some  good accommodation options ….

  • Polo Orchard Resort (http://www.hotelpolotowers.com/polo-orchid-resort/index.asp)
  • Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort ( http://www.cherrapunjee.com/)
  • Sa-I-Mika park (http://www.saimikaresort.com/)
  • Pala Resort (http://www.palaresort.co.in/)
  • Sorha Plaza (http://sohraplaza.in/)

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14 Comment

  1. Wow.. so refreshing… very beautiful captures and a great post..

  2. Not able to visit live root bridges during my visit to Cherrapunji. Localities suggested that after monsoon treks are very slippery and hence not advisable to visit.

    Thanks for refreshing our memories.
    Mahesh Semwal recently posted…Binsar Farms – Dreams to RealityMy Profile

    1. Thank you Mahesh ji. Do visit Cherrapunji in monsoon .Its beautiful

  3. Hi Parnashree, a few suggestions from my side;imagine that after reading this post on Cherrapunji, I make up my mind to see this place, first hand.How do I reach here?Where can I stay?What is the best time to travel to this beautiful place?I have written a few blogposts on Rewa and Rajasthan and have included links there.These links answer some basic questions of the traveller.Besides, when someone clicks on these links, you get to know the performance of the post.
    By the way, which wordpress theme do you use here?

    1. Hi Swayam Sir, Thank you so much for the lovely suggestions. I have updated my blog post with required information. I hope that it helps to plan your holiday in Cherrapunji.
      I am using Optimiser Theme .

  4. Truly wonderful and inspiring post. I love the mood of your shots

    1. Hi Itinera, Thanks for your kind words. Do read my other blog posts as well.

  5. Green is such a soothing cover that mother earth adorns.. Beautiful coverage…

    1. Thank you Prasad sir. It means a lot to me.

  6. Beautifully written and nice photographs. I would love to be surprised by weather moods of Cherrapunji 🙂

    1. You should visit Cherrapunji in monsoon. You will be surprised not just by the weather but by a bundle of hidden gems in this region.

  7. Nandan Lakhani says: Reply

    I would never term it as a “Scotland of East”…. i would rather term Scotland as “Cherrapunji of West” 🙂

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