Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Travelogue:Chasing Abode of Clouds from Shillong to Cherapunji

As a student all of us has read that Cherrapunji, located at an altitude level of 1484 meters (4869ft) is the wettest place in the world.Since then Cherrapunji was alive in my dreams.Travelling of Shillong is considered to be incomplete without a visit of mystique Cherrapunji.There are plenty of places to visit in between shillong and Cherrapunji, rich with fall off the mountains in thunderous waterfalls, abundant with forests, natural caves, and a thriving flora and fauna.
Cherrapunji-Abode in Clouds
Truly Cherrapunji is abode on clouds, paradise on earth and the home of indigenous tribes and exotic cultures.It was our third day in Shillong and Cherrapunji was still to explore. I was very excited, keen to find Cherrapunji of my dreams: hills, fern, orchid and low cloud. The sights and match my imagination.
On way from Shillong to Cherrapunji
We hired innova taxi for sightseeing tour on this route. This journey from Shillong to Cherrapunji was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. We crossed the deep mist of clouds, sunny clear sky and many more. Roads were quite good and wide. We enjoyed full panroming view points and spots throughout the travel.
The flat lands dramatically start becoming different as we get closer to Cherrapunjee. Initially you get to see hills where rocks and stones are being mined and that landscape gives way to thickly forested hills.
1. Mawkdok valley (Lush green valley)
First stop during Shillong-Cherrapunji mid way a lush green valley.Waterfall and river can be enjoyed by going down 500+downstairs. Mawkdok Valley left me speechless with its beauty! This valley is charming and the serenity surrounding this place will completely blow your mind.
Mawkdok Valley-Zip Lining
Extremely green with the dense plantation that stretches across the entire highway. When I reached here, the entire valley was covered with clouds, making it heavenly to look at.
Mawkdok valley is famous for Zip-Lining. It is one of the finest places to Zip-line in India. One can Zipline at a height of 500 Feet and enjoy the Bird’s eye view of the valley.
2. Wah kaba falls
This fall was our second stop.Wah- The waterfall drops from a steep rocky side and plunges hundreds of meters down to a gorge. The water flowing through the falls is crystal clear.Situated right on the road side; it is easily accessible and needs a short hike to reach the waterfall viewpoint. Visitors can even go to the edge of the waterfall where one can see some safety barriers in place to prevent accidents
Wah Kaba Fall
One should be careful standing on top of the waterfall as well, it's very windy everywhere. There is also a smaller waterfall on the way to the much bigger Wah-kaba.The waterfall drops from a steep rocky side and plunges hundreds of meters down to a gorge. This tiered fall is close to 170-190 m in height. You will have a steep climb down the hill across uneven steps to reach the waterfall.
Situated right on the road side, it is easily accessible and needs a short hike to reach the waterfall viewpoint. Visitors can even go to the edge of the waterfall where one can see some safety barriers in place to prevent accidents. 
A legendary story about Wah kaba falls
This waterfall has a legendary story. In the past there lived two fairies in this Waterfall- one black and one white. Sometimes on a market day, one will see these fairies at Sohra Market shopping like ordinary people carrying basket to keep their belongings. 

Most of the people in the market cannot recognize them but for those who can differentiate, they can easily recognize them because they have no shadow of their own. 

These fairies used to hypnotize the people coming in contact with them. In the past most of the young men disappeared from home and returned after two to three month and it was believed that they were married. A lot of people still believe the legend.
3- Arwah lumshynnora Caves : These caves left usyou spellbound. The cave has a narrow entry and boasts of magical scenery inside, surrounded by the thick forest, an absolute treat for adventure.The cave itself is significantly large, but only a small part of it has been opened for tourists.
 It is about 300 meters which takes 20 minutes to explore. It is very dark and creepy inside especially when crawling through the narrow tunnels. There are many chambers and narrow passages in the cave. There is also a stream flows inside the cave.
There are two paths to reach the cave from the parking area, one is rugged trail and other is pleasant walk. It takes around 15-20 minutes to reach the cave entrance.It is advisable to carry a pocket torch as the lighting inside the cave is not sufficient.

The continuous water dripping ambience gives the tourist a certain sense of fear in the pitch dark recesses of the caves.
If artificial lights are not in Caves, it is pitch dark and can be very scary, even during the day. Even with lights on, it is a scary experience for each and every Visitor.
 4. Nohkalikai falls
Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest plunge waterfall in India.Its height is 1115 Feet. This fall is about 55 km away from Shillong towards Cherrapunji.The falls fed by rainwater is tremendously powerful as much majestic.
There is no proper road to the bottom of the falls, but at least you get to see the waterfall a bit closer. The water gushes fiercely to the bottom creating a roar that is heard much before reaching the fall. We were mesmerised by the far off villages that appeared like hamlets from a fairy tale. The colour of the water flowing from the fall was something unique. It was bluish green,the view of this falls is absolutely breathtaking, it is definitely one of the most photogenic falls in India.
Nohkalikai Fall
A legendary story of Nohkalikai Fall
The story goes something like this--–Nohkalikai literally means ‘jump of Likai’. Once upon a time, there was a woman named Likai who lived in a village called Rangjyrteh. Upon the death of her husband, she had to ferry goods to Sylhet to support her young daughter. The village people suggested her to remarry as the child needed a father and so she did. But the stepfather turned out to be so jealous of all the attention that his wife gave to her daughter that one day, when Likai was out working, he chopped the daughter into pieces and cooked her meat.
When Likai came back, she didn’t find her daughter and assumed that she must be out with her father or neighbours. Likai was hungry and could smell the aroma of freshly cooked meat coming from the kitchen. She ate a good meal not knowing what it was.

The truth dawned upon her when she discovered severed remains of a child’s fingers in her house. She was overwhelmed by anguish and couldn’t accept that she had feasted on her own daughter. She ran out of the house and jumped into the falls. Nohkalikai literally means ‘jump of Likai’.
5. Seven sister falls
Seven sisters falls, has seven segments. This is the fourth highest waterfall in India, plunging down a height of 315 metres (1,033 ft) over the top of limestone cliffs of the East Khasi Hills in Cherrapunji.The falls are made up of many different falls and form a curtain of water falling down steeply from a cliff.
Seven streams fall from a hill into the gorge offering grace to the scented wild surrounding it. The sight and sound were captivating. The falls is poem-like-fantasy and along with the silent hills that kiss the seemingly low cloud offer an impacting picture. On way to this all there are small tea stalls where you can also get boiled eggs,Maggie,pav bhaji, pineapple, some snacks tea and mineral water.
Eco Park
6. Eco park
A large "Eco Park" established by the Meghalaya government in the plateau, at a distance of 3 km from Cherrapunji Bus Stand which hosts several hybrid and indigenous orchids in the Green House donated by Shillong Agri-Horticultural Society.The Eco Park offers breathtaking view of distant Sylhet Plains of neighbouring Bangladesh. The natural beauty from the edge of the Eco Park is truly startling.
This park has parking, entry and camera charges. It is moderate size park and also offers swing for adults.Situated near Seven Sister Waterfalls, it is one of the popular and must visit places in Cherrapunji. It has a small canteen,where tourists can get food stuffs (Thali food),tea snacks bottled water,but most of times it remains crowdy.
Eco Park facing Planes of Bangladesh
We watched the Sun go down in the hill, the signal to return back.Thus ended one of our best trip’s while we headed for Shillong.By the time we reached our hotel, we were exhausted yet energized; we had breathed the untouched undiluted, glimpsed the elegance and felt the frenzy of raw nature all together. Overall it was a really thrilling and mystique trip. This trip was a “Chasing Abode of Clouds from Shillong to Cherrapunji”.
Written,photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram

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