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Travel Guide to Sohra (also known as Cherrapunjee) - The Meghalaya Odyssey

Meghalaya, a North East Indian state, is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and ageless forests. This state has abundant places that are still unexplored and hence are hidden from the wrath of homosapiens. Cherrapunjee (also spelled Cherrapunji), is a town in Meghalaya which everyone can relate to from their childhood textbooks as being the wettest place on Earth. Though this title is no more held by Cherrapunjee (Mawsynram – another town in Meghalaya holds this position now), it still receives plenty of rainfall during monsoons. Supported by high plateaus and steep valleys, high rainfalls enable Cherrapunjee to have countless waterfalls of all forms and shapes. Mystical waterfalls, abundant caves and one of its kind double decker living root bridge makes Cherrapunjee a must visit for anyone traveling to Meghalaya.

The lovely valleys of Cherrapunji or Sohra play a big role in bringing immense rainfalls here
The lovely valleys of Cherrapunji or Sohra play a big role in bringing immense rainfalls here

In this fifth blog of the series – The Meghalaya Odyssey, we will present a detailed travel guide to Cherrapunjee along with recommendations around stay and itinerary. Note that historic name as well as now official name of this place is Sohra. We will be using the more popular name Cherrapunjee in this travel guide as well as series.


 

'The Meghalaya Odyssey' is a series of 10 travel blogs and 2 photo blogs. Check out other blogs in the series by clicking on the below mentioned links or photographs:


5. Sohra (Cherrapunjee) Travel guide - This article



 

How to reach Cherrapunjee

Guwahati railway station or airport are the nearest pit stops to Cherrapunjee. On reaching Guwahati the cheapest way to reach Cherrapunjee is to take a shared taxi till Shillong which takes around 3 hours and again a shared taxi all the way to Cherrapunjee which is little over an hour’s drive. Shillong too has a domestic airport but flights here are far less frequent and more costly. If you are on a long trip and do not have budget constraints, it is advisable to hire a car or self-drive from Guwahati for your entire journey including Cherrapunjee. The roads in most parts of Meghalaya are well maintained and driving on your own should not be a problem if you have driven on somewhat hilly areas before.


Roads throughout Meghalaya are great and taking a rented cab or self drive is the best option to go around Meghalaya
Roads throughout Meghalaya are great and taking a rented cab or self drive is the best option to go around Meghalaya

Best Time to visit Cherrapunjee

The weather conditions of the town remain pleasant and comfortable for the most of the year. But without a doubt, the best time to visit Cherrapunjee is during monsoon or months right after the monsoon. May-October remains the best time to witness the abundant waterfalls that Cherrapunjee has to offer. However, October-December are most preferred as it is less foggy and has sparse rainfall which will allow you to move around much more freely. January onwards most waterfalls start drying up as they are rainfall fed and this season is preferred by trekkers.

Seven sister falls in Feb as it is dried up
Seven sister falls in Feb as it is dried up

Here you can see the difference in one of the most famous waterfalls of Meghalaya - Nohsngithiang Falls or more popularly known as Seven sister falls. The picture in top taken during monsoon presents a very different view compared to picture on the right taken in february when there is absolutely no sign of even a single sister i.e. even a single stream of water. However during or after monsoon, it will be almost impossible to do many a treks that Meghalaya offers due to excessive slushiness.


Duration of stay in Cherrapunjee

Cherrapunjee can be covered in 2 nights and 3 days. However, it will be good to have 3 nights in hand to ensure you have enough time to absorb what Cherrapunjee has to offer. Also, a visit to Nongriat to see Double decker living root bridge will use up your one full day or even more in case you plan to stay overnight at Nongriat. Rest of the sightseeing spots in Cherrapunjee can be covered in a day or little more depending on your speed and interest. Depending on rains, your schedule might again be affected so having a day in hand at Cherrapunjee is always advisable.


Places to visit in Cherrapunjee

Caves in Cherrapunjee: Meghalaya is blessed with beautiful caves which were carved out of limestone deposits. It is globally recognized by the International Caving organizations with sub-continents’ longest and deepest caves, besides also having the longest sandstone cave. And they have not even completely explored many caves yet. Though most of these caves are in Jaintia region, below are a few astonishing caves you can visit in Cherrapunjee:


1. Mawsmai Caves​

Mawsmai caves have some very weird and alien like limestone formations
Mawsmai caves have some very weird and alien like limestone formations

Mawsmai Caves are located at a distance of roughly 6 kilometres from the main town of Cherrapunjee. These caves are natural limestone formations. The caves are more than 800 feet long but only a small section of 150 meters is open for tourists. The caves are well lit from inside with halogen lamps. The entrance is wide but as one moves further inside, the opening becomes narrower and narrower. One has to duck and squeeze through a couple of areas in the caves. The entry and exit points are different; hence if you are unsure of squeezing so tightly, return back to the entrance. We would not recommend going to Mawsmai caves if you are too old or for small kids to venture alone. One needs to be cautious of bumping yourselves at most points. Caving inside Mawsmai caves is adventurous and unusually beautiful. The stalagmites and stalactites formations are amazing with varied colors and patterns. This natural creation is a work of abrasion and underground water since hundreds of years.

Note: Visiting time to Mawsmai Caves is from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The entrance fee is INR 20 per adult and INR 20 for a camera.

2. Garden of Caves

Situated 10 kilometres from Cherrapunjee town, Garden of Caves is a natural space created by seasonal waterfalls. It is an amalgamation of caves, gardens, cascades and waterfalls surrounded by greenery. The caves and the gardens are centuries old and were used by the Khasi tribes to hide from the Britishers. The caves are open with a lot of sunlight. The major spots to view are the rock formations in the shape of – A King’s bed and Pillow, Heart-shaped rock, Baby rock, Cow-feet rock and Warrior rocks. The waterfalls can be viewed by descending several stairs down from the Garden of Caves. The area is clean and well-maintained. Walking sticks are available at the entrance for the elderly.

Note: The entrance fee to the garden is INR 20 per adult and INR 20 for a camera.

Entrance of Garden of Caves in Cherrapunji
Entrance of Garden of Caves in Cherrapunji

3. Arwah Caves​

Arwah Caves are located on the way to Cherrapunjee from Shillong. In these particular caves, you will find local guides at the entrance to help you discover the caves. It is advisable to hire the guides as these caves are no less than a maze and you could easily be lost. The caves are not lit so well as the Mawsmai Caves. The water keeps dripping and various tiny streams are formed inside the caves. The rocks inside the caves have a yellowish glow and look slimy. You can also spot various fossils in the rock. The guide flashes his torch light on everything there is to see.

Note: Entrance fee to Arwah Caves is INR 20 per person and INR 50 for a camera.


Waterfalls in Cherrapunjee: As already briefed upon earlier, Cherrapunjee can be named land of waterfalls. In monsoon you woul