Rise Above the Clouds – Cherrapunjee

Ever saw the clouds above and wonder where do they come from and how it would be to rise above them? You must pay a visit to Cherrapunjee, the place we knew as the wettest place on earth. (It may no longer be the wettest one but it can do wonders for you if you are looking for a quiet and adventurous gateway but still not in the mood of suddenly discovering your next door neighbor vacationing in the same spot). We just came back and I thought I better write it down and pay the place its due it truly deserves.

Doesn’t it look Heavenly?


Day 1:
Cherrapunjee, locally known as Sohra, is 56 kms away from shilling. It has some beautiful waterfalls and the mawsmai cave around. Both my husband and I am not the typically sight-seeing sort of person. But this time my in-laws were there and we planned to visit 4 points.  The path to sohra is a winding one and truly amazing.  Sometimes you just take a turn and enter inside the world of cloud.  Most of the journey our car was kind of playing hide and seek with the cherra cloud.

On the way to Cherra

We could not actually see any of those waterfalls but people around seemed having a gala time. It was almost a picnic spot and khasi women were selling local handicrafts, honey and fruits. It was monsoon but I guess you have a better chance to see the waterfalls if you go in winter.

Light at the end of the Mawsmai Cave

We headed towards mawsmai cave and were extremely disappointed after seeing numerous number of tourist buses at the parking spot. Good that we did not let that dampen our spirit. It was worth all the trouble and we had a great time exploring the cave. The limestone cave was well lit and in some parts we saw some guides sitting at the corner with their torches on. It’s a magnificent watch. You should remove and keep your shoe at the ticket counter.  Also, its better not to take your kid along as it is almost impossible to carry someone while you are trying to crawl your way in.

The living root bridge at Mawlynnong

Our final destination was village Laitkynsew approx 17 kms from sohra town. I had booked our accommodation at “Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort”. Path to the village has steep bends and numerous waterfalls on the way.  I have been to garwal, kumaun, sikim and Darjeeling but this was so far the greenest journey I ever had. We were told that landslide do happens and people just cross the same and take a different bus to reach the village.  This is the only accommodation apart from the sohra plaza in sohra town.  Mr. Denis and his wife started this resort 10 years back and on 12th June, 2010 they celebrated its anniversary.  It has 6 rooms, 3 deluxe and 3 executives. The deluxe rooms overlook the Bangladesh plains (Syllet formerly known as Srihotto) and if you book in advance you might get one of these.  Even if you don’t you can sit on the lawn and enjoy the view. Clouds roam around as they like and most of the times you can see their movement from Bangladesh to cherra hill.

The Cherra resort

The resort has a common dinning cum living hall and you can access Wi-Fi connection or internet by paying a nominal amount of 100 RS per day or 30 Rs per hour. It was already 3:30 pm when we reached the resort. We had the delicious local dish ‘Jadoh’ (Pork over rice). You should also try the local fish fry. Food is amazing.

Clouds playing hide and seek

The resort overlooks the Bangladesh plain land

We had lunch and went for a stroll through the picturesque village and walked till Nongwar village. It  rained all the night.

take a stroll through the picturesque village road

Day2:

Beside the wandering clouds cherrapunjee has these amazing living root bridges. These bridges are made from the roots of the rubber trees growing at the opposite sides of the river. The tribe war-khasis noticed that the tree “produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves. In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction – say, over a river – the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.”

Local people now daily use these bridges to cross rivers and streams.  They even have a double Decker root bridge and some of them are strong enough to hold at least 50 people at a time.

Wenda, our guide from the village, had come to take us to the living root bridge. It takes 3-4 hours. But the stepping stones were slippery as it had rained heavily yesterday night. So we had to come back and head towards the closest bridge near the upcoming splashing park. It was really sweet of Mr. Denis, who gave us a pick-and-drop service from the resort to the starting point for the treck. It’s a half an hour trek and has a beautiful waterfall at the end of the journey.  This bridge was shorter but the waterfall made up for the loss. We were pretty satisfied as we had already seen a complete living root bridge in mawlynnong (cleanest village in Asia). I will cover the details in part 2.

on our way to the living root bridge

waterfall at the end of the trek

On our way back

We bathed in the spring water and came back to our resort.  We met a family from Bangladesh. It was nice to meet those people and Mr. Denis’s family. None of the rooms have T.V and hence most of us were at the lawn or at the common room, interacting with the others. Everybody, including Mr Denis’s family dined together (though at different tables). The setup was new but we totally loved it.

The misty Cherra cloud

Afternoon view of Bangladesh was wonderful and we could clearly see the roads on Sylhet plains. Whatever rains cherrapunjee receives in a day reaches Syllet within 12 hours.

The Sylhet plain from our window

How to go: you can drive from shillong or guwahati airport. Cab(indigo) costs 1600 if you for a direct drop from shillong. in case you want to check out the sight seeing and then for a drop, it will cost you 2000. You can contact Ban @09615024619.  There are direct flights from kolkata to guwahati/shillong airport

Accomodation: contact details is specified in http://cherrapunjee.com

23 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Sanghamitra,

    Let me have an opportunity to write the first comment.

    I have been to Cherrapunjee in Sep. 2009, Thanks for refreshing the wonderful memories. There are so many falls / Park in Cherrapunjee to see, the link of my post is given below :-

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2009/10/14/cherrapunjee-wettest-place-in-the-world.

    You are lucky to see the living root bridges, it is a life time achievement, we were not able to visit it because we went to Cherrapunjee immediately after the rains that time trek path was very slipper so people suggested that this is not the right time to visit those bridges. other than that I have been to all the places.If you get some time go through my post on Cherrapunjee.

    Keep sharing your traveling experiences.

  • Roopesh says:

    Hi Sanghamitra,

    The pics are amazing but the first one is a stunner. The clouds and plants are glistening due to moisture from fresh rain and sun has just come out of clouds. The pics is also very symbolic gives an impression of seat of God from where one watch heavens. I can relate very well to your trip as I have visited Cherra Resort in March 2009. However, at that time surroundings were dry and it was just okish trip. However, we liked the warmth which Mr. Denis showed by talking to us at length. We even trekked to the nearby living root bridge which was quite steep. Now I know what I have missed by not going there post monsoon :(

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome aboard Sanghamitra.

    I have never been to Shillong or Cherra. I now remember seeing a mail ,you know one of those fwd mails, where someone has beautifully captured these live bridge and when I looked at them, I didn’t imagine that I would get to read a log of someone who has seen it first hand :-)

    Thanks for sharing and first photo is really the killer one, symbolizing leisure and Ghumakkari. Thanks again.

  • vasanth.gopalakrishnan says:

    Hi,
    good article. i always wanted to go to cheerapunji. I don’t know when but i guess till such time, i will make do with this travelogue. keep travelling, keep riding.

    Vas

  • Sanghamitra says:

    Thanks!! :-)
    @Roopesh – Post monsoon Cherra is truly awesome…
    @Mahesh – I have read your article before making my trip to point down the list of falls…but we could not see any of them…
    @Nandan & Vasanth – its never too late. :-) plan for the next monsoon. At least 3 days…

  • vibha says:

    Wow…Cherrapunji. I remember reading about it in my geography book.

    Would love to go there sometime. Thanks for sharing your experience Sanghamitra.

  • sskagra says:

    Good looking site seeing photographs and watching cloud very close
    Thanking you this written work

  • Manish Kumar says:

    ??? ?? ??????? ??????? ?? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ?? ?? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???

  • GAM says:

    Very interesting and informative post. I loved the picture of the living bridge. It must have been lovely. Were there any leeches there?

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Used to read about Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on earth in my school days.

    Beautiful write up. The pictures are simply mesmerizing.

    Thanks for sharing this memorable experience.

  • Dr S Ghosh says:

    All the pictures are good. Moreover the article is good. This type of Hanging bridge, I have never seen.

    Thank you

    Dr Ghosh

  • Oik says:

    The photos are nice…really ddepicts the mood very well

  • Sanghamitra says:

    Thanks :-) I’m really glad that you all liked the pics…and yes..you all must pay a visit to the living root bridges..
    @GAM – Sure there were leeches. But it was worth it..

  • Hi Sanghamitra,
    Excellent write up and snapshots of the wettest place on earth!
    It brought to my mind the experiences of Alexander Frater’s travels in ‘CHASING THE MONSOON’, an excellent book of his travels from down south in Kerala and culminating in Cherrapujee.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Brilliant pictures Sanghamitra, that captures the overall mood and feel of the place so well :-)

    When I looked at the fourth picture, I wondered what is it, looks like a bridge, looks like a part of tree and finally my curiosity was very well answered in details about the root bridges.

    Vijay, thanks for sharing the name of the book. Such recommendation really helps in making a good choice when you are at the book shop.

  • Sanghamitra says:

    @Vijay & Manish
    Thanks for your kind comments

  • Vidya says:

    Wow ! the name rang a bell, but never imagined to make a trip there. Your post inspires me to do so :)

  • aurojit says:

    Hi Sanghamitra,

    Cherapunji of course leaps onto us from geography books, whenever the word is mentioned. I remember relating Cherapunji to Chhatri (umbrella) subconsciously.

    As you rightly mentioned, it may not be the wettest place now – I learned this the hard way while educating my daughter on the subject. Imagine – a class 3 (or was it 4) book/student repudiating you or whatever you imagined your knowledge is made of …( though I agreed to my daughter’s claim in the clumsiest manner possible – with a darkish nod and an unfriendly grunt).
    So, in a way, Cherapunji becomes an special term for us – from the days of yore, in light of the fact that Cherapunji no longer appears in Geography books of today.

    It was a very good article, with equally enthralling snaps. The one in the mawsmai cave was very interesting – it appears like one of those NatGeo guys venturing into the messy snake filled caves.
    Great job.

    Keep writing.
    Auro.

  • Sanghamitra Ghosh says:

    @Vidya and Aurojit
    Thanks for going through my post…

  • Sandip says:

    Sanghamitra,

    I have not been to this place ever but it’s really great experiance to see through your eyes. Keep sharing your travel experiances. Looking forward to it.

    Sandip

  • wow….indeed cherrapunji is a really beautiful place.

  • ???? ????? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??? ……….??? ???? ??? ….???? ?? ???????

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