For the longest time, Sohra, or Cherrapunjee as it is popularly known, had the unique distinction of being the wettest place on earth, and still remains a much-visited destination in Meghalaya. A trip to Sohra will reward you with unparalleled views of its diverse terrain. The culture and sartorial choices of the people here is influenced by climatic conditions. Here, you will see brown meadows stretching as far as the eyes can see, punctuated by small wooden houses. During the monsoon, however, the seemingly barren landscape turns into a brilliant shade of green. In the summer, the weather is just the right mix of warm sunshine and cool breezes. In winters, the temperature drops as low as 4°C and the landscape changes once again to a shade of light brown.
The village’s outskirts resemble the Scottish country side, with vast grasslands set against a backdrop of rolling hills. Driving along the well paved, winding road, you will pass plateaus, gorges, streams, hamlets and fields, and soon realise that Meghalaya offers some of the most eclectic views of nature.
Things to See & Do
Mawkdok dympep Valley Viewpoint
The breathtaking Mawkdok Dympep Valley is a dramatic sight. It is located in the midst of a deep gorge, with lush hills rising on either sides. Built by the Forest Department, the viewpoint here can be accessed by a flight of stairs. On a sunny day, the vantage point affords fantastic views of the landscape. However, getting a clear view of the valley is a matter of chance because clouds limit visibility on most days.
A half-hour drive from Sohra lies the Mawsmai Cave, which holds the distinction of being the only fully lit cave in Meghalaya. Although the cave system is quite extensive, only a stretch of 150m is open to the public. The cave’s entrance is wide, however as the trail progresses, the path becomes narrower. At certain places, there are iron bridges connecting one end to another, with the ground seeming to vanish in the darkness below.
Twenty minutes into the cave, the ceiling gets lower, forcing people into a shuffling crouch. It narrows down to a point where you will have to lie down and go down the chute, only to emerge onto a pile of rocks waiting to trip you up. The cave opens up again and there is a sliver of daylight, indicating the path is about to end. But don’t be in a hurry to get out — this is one of the most amazing parts of the cave. Just before the exit are the highlights of the cave — limestone formations jutting out at every angle in various shapes, sizes and structures. The whole experience takes about 30—45 minutes, depending on your speed and agility.
Tip: It is not possible to turn back once you enter the cave as there is a constant stream of people coming in, and in places, the path is not wide enough to support two people; Entry â‚¹10, Photography â‚¹15, Videography â‚¹50
Seven Sisters Falls
Locally known as Nohsngithiang or Mawsmai Falls, this waterfall is located a kilometre south of the village of Mawsmai. The falls can be viewed from a deck located on the side of the road. This viewpoint overlooks a valley with the cluster of waterfalls plummeting from the cliff on the left. The limestone cliff segregates the falls into seven parts from where the Seven Sisters gets its name. The waterfall, with a drop of 315m, is one of the tallest in the country. These falls are a sight to behold during the monsoons. But if you are visiting during winters, you might be greatly disappointed as the gush of water is reduced to a trickle. However, even in the absence of the raging falls, the sight of the glorious valley will compel you to stop here.
Situated around 8km from Sohra, the Thangkharang Park is perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. An absolute treat for nature lovers, it abounds in exotic orchids and other rare plants. The main attraction here, however, are the breathtaking views of the waterlogged Bangladesh plains, as well as of the majestic 305-m-high Kynrem Falls.
A highlight of the park is the 60-m-high Khoh Ramhah rock formation that is perched on a small hill. If you are accompanied by a guide, you will most likely be introduced to Khoh Ramhah as a giant shivalinga. An alternative version says that the people of Sohra killed an evil giant by preparing a meal mixed with pieces of iron and nails. The giant died upon consuming it, and his basket fossilized to form the rock. Another interesting aspect of a visit to the park are the 4.00pm rains, which are a regular feature in this part of the region.
Situated around 5km from Sohra, Nohkalikai is amongst the highest waterfalls in India. The best time to visit Nohkalikai is around evening, when the golden rays of the setting sun seem to accentuate the ethereal beauty of the falls.
Entry â‚¹10, Photography â‚¹20
These spectacular 80—90-m-high falls are located around 2km before the village begins. The waterfall derives its name from the legend of a thlen (Khasi word for snake). According to the myth, there was an enormous thlen that used to live in a cave in this area. Tired of the snake’s evil ways, the locals decided to slaughter it. Adjacent to the spot where the thlen was killed lie these falls. This myth-laden waterfall is frequented by crowds of tourists. Like most other waterfalls in Meghalaya, the force of Dainthlen reduces during the winter months. But during monsoon, the falls appear akin to a smaller version of the roaring Niagara Falls
Where to Stay & Eat
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort (Cell: 09436115925, 09615338500; Tariff: â‚¹3,065—3,825) lies in Laitkynsew, 16km from the town. It is an excellent place to sample local delicacies. Closer to the town is Saimika Park and Resort (Cell: 09863020718, 09615925210; Tariff: â‚¹2,500—4,000) with spacious, clean rooms and great food. There are also Polo Orchid Resort (Cell: 09856000222; Tariff: â‚¹6,226—11,900), Coniferous Resort (Tel: 03637-235537, Cell: 09436178164, 09615791752; Tariff: â‚¹1,600—3,000) and Sohra Plaza Homestay (Cell: 09774970825, 07085280530; Tariff: â‚¹1,850—2,500).