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Cherrapunjee or Cherrapunji is a sub-divisional town in the East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is presently the second wettest place in the earth. The original name of this town was ‘Sohra’, which was pronounced ‘Churra’ by the British. The name thus eventually evolved into the current name. This tiny town is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the region. The pristine beauty of Cherrapunjee draws nature lovers and has made this place very popular among tourists. Apart from the abundance of natural beauty, it has got some other attractions nearby such as the stone caves and the world famous double Decker root bridge. It is just 53 km from the capital of Meghalaya, Shillong.
Nohkalikai Falls - This is one of the most attractive sites of North East. Situated just 5 km from Cherrapunjee, Nohkalikai is one of the tallest plunge waterfalls in the country. The height is nearly 1115 feet. This is a waterfall which offers a really spectacular view to the tourists. One of the attractive features of this falls is a naturally formed green colored water pool at the bottom of the falls. The view of water gushing down through the mountains in full flow into the deep gorge is truly an unmatchable scene. Monsoon is the best time to visit this place as the falls gush with water during Monsoon. Summer is also a good time for watching the beauty. During the dry season like December to February, the power of the waterfall gets decreased. The word Nohkalikai in Khasi language means ‘the jump of ka likai’. It is associated with a legend of a woman named Ka likai who is said to have jumped off from the cliff next to the waterfall.
Mawsmai cave - It is about 7 Kms from Cherrapunji and is a nature’s wonder. One of the best limestone caves in the region. It ignites a sense of adventure among the tourists immediately upon entering it. The cave was formed due to natural erosion and there are lots of Stalagmite and Stalactite formations inside. The cave is well lighted inside. It is a one-way cave which means after entering inside the cave, tourists have to follow a narrow road and the outer gate is on the other side. It gives a unique opportunity to feel the thrill of cave walking.
Mawsmai Falls - It is a waterfall very close to the village of Mawsmai. The waterfall is positioned in such a way that throughout the day it receives sunlight which increases its beauty. Water falling down in shining sunlight is a treat to watch. It is the 4th highest waterfall in the country. Monsoon is the best time to visit here.
Kynrem Falls - Just 40 mins drive from the village of Cherrapunji, Kynrem is one of the highest waterfalls in Meghalaya. Amidst a scenic backdrop, this falls comes down from the top of the mountain into three levels and eventually deep down below. This waterfall is better viewed from the bottom but just ahead of this falls there is a viewpoint where one can see the three level of the cascades prominently.
Cherrapunjee is 55 km from the capital Shillong and could be easily reached by road in about 2 hrs. Guwahati is 150 km and a four and a half hr drive so traveling directly to Guwahati is also quite possible.
Thangkharang Park – Situated 12 km from Cherrapunji this is one of the popular destinations here. It offers a panoramic 180-degree view of the plain land of Bangladesh below. From here one can enjoy the view of Kynrem falls also. The park has two different sections and the two are joined by a bridge. Another great attraction here is the famous giant rock called Koh-Ramhah which is a natural single rock formation that looks like an upside-down basket. Streams flow through the rock and the view from here is stunning.
The Eco park – The park is created by the Meghalaya Govt to help attract tourists to enjoy the scenic beauty of Cherrapunji. It is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the surrounding view. Swirling clouds, misty valleys, deep gorges, flowing cascades and the lands of Bangladesh, the viewpoints of this park offers everything to the tourists.
Living roots bridges – This is a unique example of human harmonious existence with nature that is found only in the state of Meghalaya and nowhere else in the world. These are bridges made of the roots of living rubber trees which have botanical name Ficus elastica. These are quite strong bridges and often have the capacity to carry more than 50 people. Living root bridges are found in different areas of the state. The double Decker bridge is found in the village of Nongriat. Asia’s cleanest village Mawlynnong has got a living root bridge. These bridges are the combination of natural wonder and the master craftwork of the local Khashi tribal people.
Shillong is the most obvious choice, many tourists who are short in time, go to Cherrapunji on a day trip as well.
Mawlynnong Village - This is one of the cleanest villages in Asia. With the course of time, it has become an important tourist destination of Meghalaya. Mawlynnong is around 78 km from Shillong and about 81 km from Cherrapunji. The village lies in the midst of East-Khasi hills. The village is a fine example of collective consciousness and meaningful community life. The entire credit of making this village as one of the cleanest villages goes to the local inhabitants. Clean roads, blooming flowers, lush green backdrop, a small waterfall; everything just adds to the beauty of the place. This is an ideal place to mingle the local people. The villagers are warm and enjoy the tourist activity in their village that makes them proud.
Dawki Village - Dawki has become very popular among tourists in recent years. If Mawlynnong is the pride of Khasi hills then Jaintia hills have got the village of Dawki. Umngot river flows through this village and boating into the crystal clear emerald green water is a unique experience. The Dawki coronation bridge over the river is also beautiful. It is a bordering town with Bangladesh.
If you are promoting North East, you must be sending your guests to Shillong, and if Shillong is in your map, can Cherrapunji be far behind?
The first option is to do a day trip to Cherrapunji area where your guests will start from Shillong in the morning have lunch at Cherrapunji and be back to Shillong by the evening. Please note that to visit the Living Root bridges, tourists have to walk for some time, during the day trip, this may not be possible.
Those who are interested to explore the area in further detail might want to stay in the area for one or two nights. There are few established good accommodations here but several small hotels, lodges, and Homestay have proliferated.
Those interested to see the region further may visit and stay at Mawlynnong or Dawki, the two places are close to one another and about an hours drive away. So both places can be covered making your base at one. Accommodation options in these places are very limited though.
Visiting Meghalaya does not require a special permit and unlike many other parts of North East, there is no restriction of tourist vehicle movement, this makes operating tour in the region easy. However, travel agents must pay special attention to the shortage of accommodation in the area. Unless booked well in advance, good rooms in season time are difficult to get and even the good rooms here are in no way comparable to other major destinations of the country. Guests must be educated about these constraints before starting a tour of the region.
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