Exploring Mawphlang had been an incredible journey and we awaited reaching our next destination Cherrapunjee (also known as Sohra) with bated breath. Whether you are in a mood to romance the rain or chase the monsoon, this pristine wonderland nestled on the southern slopes of Khasi Hills is sure to cast a spell on you!
The David Scott Trek left us dead-tired, but not in low spirits. The captivating view of the mystic valleys, picturesque landscape, and bubbling rivers entrenched amid swirling clouds took our breath away. And here lies the aura of the second wettest land on earth. After all, how often you get the clouds caressing your face. Traversing through the fog, we were amazed by the nature’s transition on our way to the land of rains.
Until now, we were living a dream, but a reality-check awaited us on reaching Cherrapunjee. Not booking any hotels had our back against the wall; all credit goes to the Independence day weekend rush. After 2 hours of frantic search, when we almost gave up hope, our driver shibu da came to our rescue. His friends at Eco Park Hotel were really kind and made a decent arrangement for us on the terrace.
Yes you read it right; after the tiring trek and 3 hours ride through the winding roads, we now have to spend the night on the terrace. But as the dawn broke the next day, I wished the night never ended. Call me eccentric….Yes I am! As it was a blessing in disguise and for reasons good enough.
From experiencing the thrill of camping (even if on a terrace) to getting high on music, the night blessed us with some small joys of living. Thanks to my talkative nature, I was quick to strike a conversation with a guy named Kith (he works as a guide in Mawsami Cave) and even quicker to find out that he is fond of western country songs and also has a band. After knowing this, I couldn’t stop myself from convincing him to sing a few songs.
Surely we were lucky enough as he agreed and oh boy! What a performance it was; I just have one word – Magical. As he strummed the guitar to the tunes of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’, we 3 truly lived through some of our joyful moments from the past. And it was not just Kith, one of the hotel staff also joined and doubled the fun with some Assamese and Hindi songs. But the star of the night was the hotel owner. Seeing our enthusiasm and excitement, he too joined the fun and how melodiously he sang. We were not just astonished, but also amazed by their talent so much so that we lost track of time and count of pegs. The clock struck 2, when decided to call it a night with “Allah ke bande hasde jo bhi ho kal phir aayega”.
The night left us pretty much exhausted, but we were in no mood to just sit back and relax and went ahead with our plans for the day.
The Eco Park has been designed by the Meghalaya Government to help tourists enjoy the beauty of the “Green Canyons” of Sohra and the cascading waterfalls that adorn the attraction. If you wish getting a up close and scenic view of the Canyon, all you need to do is cross a bridge and get to the edge of the Canyon. The Park also has a view point offering an amazing view of the Bangladesh Plains. And this is not all, the Park is also home to a wide variety of Orchids (courtesy the Shillong Agri-Horticultural society). Also, the popular Nohsngithiang Falls originates in the southern end of the park. But we were unfortunate and missed enjoying the beauty of the Green Canyon; all due to the thick clouds that covered the entire view.
With a heavy heart, we moved towards Noh-kalikai Falls. Credited as one of the tallest waterfalls in India, Noh-Kalikai is not just famous for its beauty, but also the tragic legend associated with the Falls. This beautiful waterfall spilling downstream from the gorges to the pool below is worth having a thousand look. The story of a grief-stricken mother who jumped to death, unable to overcome the sadness of the daughters murder by her husband gives the waterfall a haunting touch.
The Arwah Caves
Next in our checklist was exploring the caves that Cherrapunjee was famous for. And just the idea of getting inside the underground cavern added to my excitement. Mawsami Cave is the star attraction of Sohra, but we skipped it and chose to explore Arwah Cave – the unexplored one in the region. This cave offers a beautiful view of the other side of the hill. As I walked towards the cave, all I could see was deep cliffs and lush greenery; mustering some courage I went inside and was awed to discover that caves can be home to such beautiful secrets. From fossils of butterflies and birds to the streams that oeuvre life, it was a natural wonderland. Even the rocks with a lovely yellowish glow carried its own charm.
The guides here deserve a special mention for their sweet nature; what surprised me is that they never ask for money and on being asked, with a shy smile comes the reply “as you wish”.
Cherrapunjee can be best described as hypnotizing in one word. If not a visit to this part of Meghalaya, I would have never believed that waterfalls can be so beautiful or wettest terrains can have such adorning scenic beauty, or caves can be home to a whole new and beautiful world within. Adding to such natural treasures was the night that I bet will be etched in our hearts forever!