Cherrapunjee is one of the most popular day-trip options from Shillong. Approximately 55 KM and 2 Hours’ drive from Shillong, this place has been on the global radars for being the wettest place on earth. However, during our visit, the weather looked particularly dry and sunny. In fact, in recent years, Mawsynram (a little far from Cherrapunjee ) has taken over the distinction of being the wettest place.
No Sumptuous Lunch on the Agenda
The Cherrapunjee trip mostly covers numerous small to gigantic waterfalls, limestone caves, and local parks. You wouldn’t find a bustling locality with restaurants, eateries, and markets on this trip. At each tourist pit-stops, you might get some make-shift shops selling tea, coffee, and some local refreshments. Nothing too elaborate. So having a proper sumptuous lunch might be off the agenda. Here’s an alternative. We came across a local road-side restaurant serving coffee, Momo, and Noodles. Fill yourself with some of these on your way up. These restaurants looked really clean. It’s wonderful to see how the hill people passionately care for whatever little they have to sell. Look at the shop displaying local chocolates and mementos. So neat and organized.
The First Stop: Ram Krishna Mission Ashrama, Cherra Bazar
Located in a scenic and serene setting, the Ram Krishna Mission Ashrama is a peaceful abode. It houses a Higher Secondary school, the residential quarters, playgrounds and an elaborate museum. The evening aarti at the ashrama is an obvious attraction. We, however, had a rather packed itinerary planned for the day. With due respect, this isn’t a place which does justice to your craving for nature and photography.
Up Around the Meandering Roads and the Rocky Mountains
Cherrapunjee predominantly comprises of numerous waterfalls. Though, most of them seemed unusually dry and rickety. Our driver, however, asserted that these waterfalls are restored to optimum glory during the monsoon. The roads are mostly desolate, except for a few tourist vehicles. You wouldn’t find too many hotels either, other than very few upmarket resorts strategically positioned around the popular waterfalls. “Seven Sisters Fall” being one of the most hyped. The fourth highest waterfall in India, it comprises seven streams falling over a limestone cliff of the Khasi Hills.
Limestone Delight: The Mawsmai Caves
The Mawsmai Caves on our way back was another key attraction. These limestone caves span across the diameter of the hill, though only a minor stretch is open for public access. A word of caution here. Avoid the caves if you have respiratory problems, history of seizures or experience orthopedic pain conditions. The pathway within the caves often narrows down to barely a few meters. You need to literally crawl or climb at certain points. Additionally, the slight pungent (rotten egg) smell from water reacting with chemicals turns the air stuffy. We did find tourists complaining of suffocation. Avoid heels and heavy uncomfortable dresses, that restrict your movement. The caves are otherwise beautiful with a rustic charm of its own. Personally, it seemed like an eternity until I saw the light of day at the other end.
Elephant Falls On Our Way Back
We still had some time before nightfall. We, therefore, made a quick pit-stop at Elephant Falls just on the Shillong outskirts. Well, honestly we have had an overdose of waterfalls throughout the day at Cherrapunjee. And Elephant Falls looked slightly repetitive. But unlike the other falls, this one had a lot of water in it.
We returned to our hotel really hungry and utterly exhausted. The Mawsmai Caves was a tad bit challenging for the pot-bellied sedentary nerds that we are.
Thanks for reading so far. Don’t forget to read our Umiam Lake blog. Commonly referred to as the Barapani Lake, this is a vast and beautiful reservoir created by damming the Umiam river back in 1960. Around 15 KM from the Shillong township, the Barapani Lake is one of the top tourist attractions. Here’s a picture to keep you hooked.