We welcome you to the Shade of the Clouds ~ Cherrapunji, Meghalaya.
Located around 60 kilometers from the capital city of Shillong, Cherrapunji is a land of vast natural beauty, majestic waterfalls, pleasant rains and unexplored caves. The drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji takes around 2 hours and is through roads across the mountains of Meghalaya. Cherrapunji is the second wettest place on planet Earth after Mawsynram in Meghalaya, recording an average annual rainfall of 11,727 mm.
Cherrapunji is a small hill town nestled in the East Khasi Hills district in the Indian State of Meghalaya. A land of pristine streams, undulating waterfalls, lush cover of green mountains, unadulterated landscapes, beautiful sound of unending rainfall, unexplored deep caves, friendly people, delightful food and no to forget the Bio-engineering marvels of the Living Root Bridges, Cherrapunji is a place which should be on the travel list of any person wanting to seek solace in the lap of Mother Nature. Known to be the second wettest place on planet Earth after Mawsynram in Meghalaya, Cherrapunji records an average annual rainfall of 11,777 mm every year. It has been recorded in Cherrapunji, in the year 1974 when Cherrapunji had recorded the highest annual rainfall at any place in this World. Also it was on 16th of June 1995, when Cherrapunji recorded 1563 mm of waterfall in a day making it the highest recorded rainfall at one place in a day. This downpour makes the climate of Cherrapunji always pleasant across the year. This beautiful town is located at a height of 1,300 meters above the mean sea level and is often referred to as ‘Sohra’ meaning the ‘Shade of Clouds’.
As per historical references, Cherrapunji was traditional capital of the Khasi tribes chieftainship and was known as Churra at that time. With the advent of the British in India, Cherrapunji became an important British outpost under the leadership of David Scott who made Cherrapunji the official headquarters of the British Raj in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Sohra was the original name of Cherrapunji which was pronounced Churra by the British and eventually evolved into Cherrapunji. The word Cherrapunji means ‘Land of Oranges’. Cherrapunji is inhabited by the Khasi Tribes of Meghalaya from as early as the 16th century.
Meghalaya is a Christian dominated State and so is Cherrapunji where majority of the people practice Christianity as their faith. It was the Welsh Catholic Presbyterian Church which started preaching Christianity here at Cherrapunji and continued to establish many schools and churches as the first missionary. The church built by the Catholic mission at Cherrapunji is a grand structure and has been built on similar lines as that of the Church at Vatican.
The pleasant climate conditions and the vast cover of natural beauty makes Cherrapunji a favored tourist destination and people from across the World come to Cherrapunji across the year. The best time to to admire the waterfalls of Cherrapunji is during the monsoons from June through September when continuous downpour fills these waterfalls rain source and the gushing sound of the waterfalls is a magical experience to witness here at Cherrapunji. What causes the rainfall in Cherrapunji is an interesting phenomenon. The Khasi hills where Cherrapunji is located, erupts suddenly at a height of 4500 m above the mean sea level across the plains of the country of Bangladesh which shares its border with Meghalaya. The town of Cherrapunji is the tall Khasi hills falls on the direct path of the South West Monsoons and these clouds which are rain bearing get funnelled across the deep gorges of Cherrapunji. This in turn leads to the rapid cooling of the upward thrested rain clouds and they start condensing and deluge the town of Cherrapunji.
This is the major cause of the heavy rainfall at Cherrapunji. Cherrapunji no doubt has achieved this fame of being home to the heaviest rainfall on Earth. This can be well experienced when one visits Cherrapunji and feel the immense quantity of rainfall that keeps pouring across the day and night and often an umbrella doesn’t help here.
Cherrapunji is located at a distance of 60 km from the State capital of Shillong and 150 km from the city of Guwahati that has the nearest accessible Airport and Railway Station. The road conditions are good and hence the drive from Guwahati to Cherrapunji is an amazing one sighting the green mountains and the majestic landscapes of Meghalaya.
Upon reaching Cherrapunji you are sure to be left spellbound by the beautiful landscapes this town has to offer. Cherrapunji has always thrilled nature lovers and enthusiasts from a very long time mostly with its dense terrain, magical clouds, leaping green mountains, varied flora and fauna, the amazing birdlife, the tall grasslands and rich tropical rainforests. These beautiful sceneries along with it being one of the rainiest spots in the World with many tourist attractions like waterfalls, caves and Living root bridges have started drawing the attention of tourists from across the World and Cherrapunji today is becoming a very popular tourist destination in North East India with people from across the World coming to visit Cherrapunji across the year. Tourism at Cherrapunji has now become an attractive mode of income generation for the people here.
The people residing in and around Cherrapunji belong to the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya and are often referred to as Khasia people by the Assamese and Bengali people living around the low adjacent surrounding of Cherrapunji. Further, these Khasi people of Cherrapunji are divided into subclass which are mostly the Shi Kur and Shi Kpoh who have a common ancestor. A major feature of the Khasi tribal heritage is the Matrilineal society where the head of the family in a Khasi household is a lady. This is a very interesting phenomenon where the legacy of the family lineage is taken from the Mother’s side. The mother is the head of the household and takes care of her family and when the parents grow old the responsibility of taking care of them is entrusted to the youngest daughter who also inherits the family property. The children take the surname of their mother and the man goes to live with his wife after marriage. These Khasi people of Meghalaya enjoy a greater share of liberty in life when it comes to their life choices. They are often allowed to marry on their own choice and not dependant on the family choice unlike the other parts of India. Here in Meghalaya there is no system of dowry and the women are treated equally as men and women take up jobs in diverse professions. From running a shop, a business, or working as government officials or politicians, at Meghalaya one can find women handling job roles of various responsibilities that also include teaching and nursing. The women across Meghalaya hold various high level posts in the government offices, political offices, schools, colleges, business houses, etc.
The primary language of Meghalaya as well as Cherrapunji is the Khasi language. An interesting part of the Khasi language is that it doesn’t have any script. But with time, writing down the Khasi language in the Roman script has been received well down the generations and is popular now with newspapers and magazines being published in this mode of writing. From the earlier times when the Christian Missionaries arrived at Cherrapunji and established the first mission, Cherrapunji has become the literary Khasi around the Khasi land. However, one interesting thing to note is that since there is not defined common script, the dialects across the villages in and around Cherrapunji differ. For example, the people in the Nongriat Village speak a slightly different Khasi language than the ones at Tyrna and Shella villages.
In addition to the various tourist attractions at Cherrapunji, one must also visit the local market here at Cherrapunji which is not only a place to buy and sell goods but also a huge social gathering.
Places of Interest at Cherrapunji ~
1| Nohkalikai Falls ~ Cherrapunji
The Nohkalikai Falls is located around 5 km from Cherrapunji town. Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest plunge waterfall in India and the height from which the water falls is 340 m. It is also the third tallest waterfall in India Nohkalikai in the local Khasi language means “Jump of Ka Likai” which is linked to a gruesome story of a local Khasi woman who jumped off the cliff next to the falls. A very beautiful waterfall often covered by the clouds of Meghalaya, the Nohkalikai Falls are fed by rainwater collected on the small plateau at the top of the falls. The waters of Nohkalikai are crystal clear and form a beautiful pool at the bottom. Around the viewpoint, one can find many local shops that sell souvenirs to remind you of your magical trip to Nohkalikai.
According to legends, in a village called Rangjyrteh, upstream from Nohkalikai Falls, a woman named Likai resided but had to remarry after her husband died. Ka Likai (Ka is the prefix given for the female gender in Khasi) was left with her infant girl with no means of income. So she had to become a porter herself. Her work required her to leave her daughter unattended for long intervals but when she would be at home she would spend most of her time taking care of her infant. Ka Likai, who married a second time, couldn’t pay attention to her second husband. The jealous husband killed the infant and cooked her meat after throwing away her head and bones. When Ka Likai returned home, she saw nobody in the house but except for a meal that had been prepared. She wanted to go look for her daughter but she ate the meat as she was tired from work.
Ka Likai usually had a betel leaf after her meals but she found a severed finger near the place where she usually cut betel nuts and betel leaves. Ka Likai realized what had happened in her absence and went mad with anger and grief and started running as she swung a hatchet in her hand. She ran off the edge of the plateau and the waterfall where she jumped from was named Nohkalikai Falls after her.
2| Seven Sister Falls ~ Cherrapunji
The Seven Sister Falls is the fourth tallest waterfall in India. Also known as the Mawsmai Falls/Nohsngithiang falls, the Seven Sister Fall is a seven segmented waterfall. The waters at Seven Sister fall from a height of 340 m.
The falls plunges over the top of limestone cliffs of the Khasi Hills only during the rainy season. In full spate, the segments stretch most of the way along the cliff. The waterfalls get illuminated by the sun and the vibrant colors of the setting sun on the waterfalls makes it beautiful.
3| Living Root Bridges ~ Cherrapunji
Cherrapunji is famous for its Living Root Bridges. The Khas tribes of Cherrapunji have over several years perfected an art of growing roots of trees (Rubber) into large bridges. This process to grow a Living Root Bridge takes around 15 years and once completed, these bridges last for over 500 years. The Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge at Nongriat village near Cherrapunji is one of a kind in the World!
4| Dainthlen Falls ~ Cherrapunji
Dainthlen Falls is located a road to the right before your arrival at Cherrapunji. The Dainthlen falls does not see much of a footfall as compared to the Nohkalikai and the Seven Sister Falls and is an ideal place to spend your time at Cherrapunji in calm.
On your visit to Cherrapunji you will spot waterfalls in and around its vicinity. The elevation from the mean sea level and the continuous down pour the year around is the reason for the numerous waterfalls at Cherrapunji. These Waterfalls are a pride of the Meghalaya Monsoons as the glory of these falls are in their prime during the rainy season in Meghalaya.
The Nohkalikai Falls and the Seven Sister Waterfall are the most visited by the tourists of Cherrapunji. The Nohkalikai is the tallest plunge Waterfall in India and the Seven Sisters is the second tallest plunge Waterfall in India.
If you are not interested in visiting the normal touristy places in Cherrapunji, one waterfall that would be an ideal visit is the Dainthlen Falls near Cherrapunji. Not frequented by many, the landscape around the Dainthlen Falls is unadulterated and has a soothing calm ideal for spending the day at leisure.
Just before reaching Cherrapunji, a road to the right, leads to the Dainthlen falls which is located at distance of 5 kms away. Legend speaks that this waterfall derives its name from a Thlen or a snake of gigantic size which dwelt in a cave. The villagers used to frequent the heavenly market of Langhiang, Kongkhen and had to pass the bridge of the Gods and the cave of the Thlen. Anyone, travelling in even numbers was safe, but in odd numbers one would be devoured by the Thlen. A great Durbar was called for in order to devise a plan to get rid of the snake permanently. It was believed that this snake was butchered here by Uisymroh, a knight of Yore who fed the snake with red hot iron rods which killed it instantly. A grand feast was held and the whole town partook the meal. However, one old lady took a piece of the meat home for her grandchild but kept on forgetting to feed it until one day the Thlen was revived again. Remnants of the tools used for the feast that have turned to stone can be seen even today.
5| Mawsmai Caves ~ Cherrapunji
Meghalaya has many caves within the State many explored and many yet to be explored. The most visited cave at Meghalaya is the Mawsmai cave at Cherrapunji. Located in the heart of the Cherrapunji town, this cave is a vast expansion of natural limestone formations. The Mawsmai cave has an impressive formations of large passages and chambers.
The State of Meghalaya has numerous unexplored Caves across. Ranging from the Khasi and the Jaintia Hills to the Garo Hills these Caves are a sight to behold having numerous stalactites and stalagmites (made of limestone) in the caves in innumerable forms, shapes and sizes. While some of these caves are easily accessible to their summit by walking on foot, others needs to be reached by swimming a distance of over three (3) kilometers to reach the insides of the Cave. While some caves are shorter in length span the others continue upto several kilometers.
Some of the well known Caves of Meghalaya in the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills are ~
- Krem Mawkhyrdop or Krem Mawmluh
- Krem Dam
- Krem Lymput
- Mawsmai Cave
- Krem Liat Prah
- Krem Lubon
- Kotsati – Umlawan Cave System
- Krem Shrieh (Tangnub Monkey Cave)
- Tetengkol Balwakol
- Dangedikol Chiningkrikol
Out of the above the most frequented and easily accessible cave of Meghalaya is the Mawsmai Cave. Located in the heart of the town of Cherrapunji, the Mawsmai Cave is a vast expansion of low passages of the 150m-long natural limestone formation. Located at the village crossing of Cherrapunji, to reach the Mawsmai Caves one passes grasslands surrounded by forests, ending in a clearing. From this clearing, a concrete pathway through the jungle leads up to the main cave entrance. This cave is the only cave that is fully lighted. The cave can be divided into two parts (old and new). Of the two, the new cave is yet to be lighted. It has impressive formations of large passages and chambers.
Hotels, Resorts and Homestays at Cherrapunji ~
1| Polo Orchid Resort Cherrapunji ~
Located on the edge of the cliff of the breathtaking Cherrapunji Valley, overlooking the splendid Seven Sister Waterfalls, this rustic-style star resort is the best hotel in Cherrapunji and has a way of slowing down time to a tranquil tempo. Set amidst acres of lush gardens, Hotel Polo Orchid, Cherrapunji is a showcase for relaxation with tropical-inspired design touches, grand architecture, a sun-drenched balcony, wide shady corridors, and flower lined patios for a memorable stay.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 7,000 per day per cottage
2| Sa-I-Mika Resort Cherrapunji ~
The Sa-I-Mika Resort is nestled in the misty hills of Cherrapunji. Sai-I-Mika invites you to enjoy the childhood memories of rain on your face in the monsoons and the chilly yet warm winter sunshine. Sai-I-Mika offers you a unique blend of traditional Khasi hospitality and comfortable lodging as you live as close to nature as can be possible among the creeks, meadows and crags typical of Cherrapunji.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 3,000 per day per cottage
3| Sohra Plaza Homestay Cherrapunji
Sohra Plaza conveniently located on the way to Daiñthlen Falls, 100m from Shillong-Sohra State Road. The exclusively designed rooms are stylish, comfortable and fitted with all the amenities and convenience you will require while staying away from home. At Sohra Plaza you will be welcomed by smiling faces and cheerful greetings. Every Staff, whether a Housekeeper, Receptionist or Waiter will please you with kindness, smiles and good service.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 2,500 per day per room
4| Cherrapunji Holiday Resort
A family run nature resort ~ the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort at Laitkynsew Village in Cherrapunji is the nearest comfortable stay option at the vicinity of the Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridges. Surrounded by scenic beauty, the Cherrapunji Holiday Resort is a preferred stay option by tourists from across the World. Being a family run business, this place offers you the warmth of staying at a home away from home. The family also runs the Cherrapunji Orange Restaurant just upon your arrival at Cherrapunji, that offers lip smaking South Indian Vegeterian delights at a place where Vegeterian cuisine is not an easily available option.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 4,000 per room per day
5| Coniferous Resort Cherrapunji
Located in the vicinity of the Mawsmai Caves and the Seven Sister Waterfalls the Coniferous Resort at Cherrapunji is a budget stay option. It is located close to the Daily market at Cherrapunji. Warm welcoming staff and hospitality of the team at the Coniferous Resort are their prime TRPs. The resort also has ample parking space if you choose to visit Cherrapunji with your own vehicle.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 2,500 per room per day
6| 7 Sister Falls View Inn Cherrapunji
If you are looking for a budget accommodation near the Second Tallest Plunge Waterfall in India then the 7 Sister Falls View Inn is the ideal option for you. Located very near to the Seven Sister Falls aka the Mawsmai Falls, 7 Sister Falls View Inn provides you an option of stay from Standard, Luxury Rooms and Dormitory facilities. With an adjacent Restaurant, they ensure your cup of Hot Coffee is at your disposal to beat the Rainy weather of Cherrapunji.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 2,500 per room per day
7| Cordial Lodge cum Restaurant Cherrapunji
Located ideally at the center point of all the major Tourist attractions of Cherrapunji at Mawsmai, the Cordial Lodge cum Restaurant is another available budget accommodation at Cherrapunji. The famous Mawsmai Caves of Cherrapunji is located very near to the Cordial Lodge cum Restaurant. The other attractions of Cherrapunji i.e. the Nohkalikai Falls and the Seven Sister Falls are also close-by.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 2,500 per room per day
8| Halari Tourist Lodge Cherrapunji
Another Budget Stay option at Cherrapunji is the Halari Tourist Lodge. Located at the Cherrapunji daily market, the Halari Tourist Lodge offers basic amenities for a night halt at Cherrapunji. The Living Root Bridges, Mawsmai Caves, the Nohkalikai Falls and the Seven Sister Falls at close proximity to the Halari Tourist Lodge.
Tariff Starts ~ INR 2,200 per room per day