DANCING WITH CLOUDS IN CHERRAPUNJEE
“Splashes of rain, ever changing cloud patterns, roads that steal your heart, people and their grace, of breeze that is luxury and mystical” – Yes, someone rightly gave me the directions to Cherrapunjee.
“Country Roads, Take me Home” by John Denver played uninterrupted behind lobes of my brain as I pulled off my journey on the gorgeous road connecting Shillong to Cherrapunjee. I could not believe my callousness to have never stepped into terrains of Cherrapunjee, despite being bitten by travel bug since forever, with my hometown next door in Guwahati. Cherrapunjee, once the wettest place and now next to Mawsynram, is a beautiful abode amidst clouds, rain and landscape that charms your soul and steals every bit of awe in your mind. The roads far from being dubious with brown grasses adorning either side, zephyr caressing your hair and mist dancing to fine tune present a picturesque view straight out of postcards. I can’t stop going dreamy, chatty and smitten by the beauty of the place, a perfect getaway to satiate your wandering mind with a dose of countryside lustre.
Be it the smooth and broad highways that invited my soaring soul to delve into its impeccable beauty or the rain that felt like drops of first rain in ages, it definitely was a plethora of pleasure to barter anything else for. As I sit and write this while travelling from Guwahati to Dimapur in the train, I am getting needy of the place, it is like a circuitous hangover that will only cure once I go for another vagabond trip to Cherrapunjee. Trust me when I say this, trust me when I say the aura of the place is really addictive.
HOW TO REACH CHERRAPUNJEE?
Reaching Cherrapunjee is easy and it is a journey to be loved, cherished and preserved in corner of mind with idyllic countryside view to fall in love with. I started my journey from Guwahati and I loved every bit of the stunning landscapes I passed by.
Guwahati —————- Shillong ——————–Cherrapunjee
Guwahati is well connected to Railways, Airport, Bus and Cab which makes it easy for one to start their journey. Cabs are available from Paltan Bazar Railway Station for Shillong on shared basis, Rs 300 per head in car and Rs 170 per head in Tata Sumo. The journey is for around 3 hours.
From Shillong take a shared cab or Tata Sumo to Cherrapunjee from Anjali Cinema Sumo Stand for only Rs 70 per head. If you want to enjoy the drive and take breaks like a boss you can hire a personal cab for Rs 1000 to 1200 to Cherrapunjee. You can stop at Mawkdok Valley that breaks the road into two directions in Y-section with one road leading to Dawki and other to Cherrapunjee. Mawkdok Valley is beautiful with lush green landscape, gorgeous valleys and you can also go zip-lining to feed your adventure soul.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHERRAPUNJEE?
Cherrapunjee is a road trip that will already leave you smitten and mesmerised but finding an accommodation depends on your personal choice. There are resorts, backpackers hostels and homestays, you are free to choose according to your budget. Budget seeking is one of my front-runner demands so I will start with low to high budget.
By The Way – It is a backpackers hostel located in South Cherrapunjee that charges Rs 250 per night per bed. It is run by Heprit who is a good guy until you don’t mess up with few rules to be followed in the room. They are basic rules and make sure you don’t break them. It is a clean, tidy and comfortable place.
Pateng Homestay – The homestay is located near Cherrapunjee or Sohra Market on the way to Ramakrishna Mission. While walking the uphill to Ramakrishna Mission you will find the place on your left. I haven’t stayed there personally but the price will be around Rs 1000 per night. Contact Number – 09774485910
Sai-Mika Resort – This is one of the best resorts in Cherrapunjee if you are seeking comfort, luxury and serenity. If you have a better budget, go for it. The room rates vary from Rs 3000 to 4500 per night.
WHAT TO SEE IN CHERRAPUNJEE?
Cherrapunjee is a heavenly bliss with gorgeous landscape, soaring waterfalls, natural caves, gargantuan valleys and clear blue water everywhere. Bangladesh is almost a stone throw away and simply walking on the countryside roads of Cherrapunjee drives a rush of fulfilment. I could not stay there for a long and all I had with me is 1 day but for you do take some time in hand to explore the place. Here is what I did within the time frame I had
Noh Ka Likai Waterfall
It is located in North Cherrapunjee and has a dreadful, wicked and haunting story behind it. The waterfall is named after a woman Ka Likai who jumped into the waterfall after being fed with her daughter’s meat by her second husband. Apart from the story, the waterfall is to leave you in profound awe as you witness the gigantic valley and the soaring waterfall falling from its meeting in a deep blue crate.
Seven Sisters Waterfall
The best season to visit these magnificent waterfalls is during monsoons to witness seven streams of waterfall soaring down the spectacular valley covered in green carpet. I could not get the most spectacular look of the waterfall during my autumn visit because by end of this time few waterfalls tend to dry up. The wilderness of nature bestows its golden hands on the waterfalls and leaves one mesmerised with what they see. It is located in South Cherrapunjee.
Caves are claustrophobic but there is something mystical about them that make them so deep and interesting. Arwah Caves are formed by constant seeping of water leading to patterns carved naturally out of rocks and is almost a 30 minutes long dungeon walk with streams of water in between. If you love uncovering hidden truths, it is a must place to crawl in.
It is more of a commercial cave with lights and little steel bridges in between for convenience of visitors. It takes around 10 minutes to walk through the caves with complete illumination that makes it easy for the visitor to closely observe the cave formation and pattern. It is located in South Cherrapunjee and is very close to Eco-Park.
It is an artificially made park located in South Cherrapunjee with the soul feeding view of the valley surrounding Cherrapunjee. Bangladesh is hypothetically only a stone throw away from Eco-park and is generally a place for children to satiate their wanderlust. Check out the Missing Falls that is covered using a well like structure and the waterfall runs underground.
It is based on the preaching of Swami Vivekananda that focuses on holistic learning with culture and spiritual studies. There is a school inside the campus, two museums displaying the ethnic culture of all states in North-East and a temple. Photography is not allowed inside the museum. If you are a cultural geek this is a place to be.
HOW TO TRAVEL WITHIN CHERRAPUNJEE?
There are many options for Travelling within Cherrapunjee if you don’t have your own convenience.
You can rent bicycles from few places on per day basis but unfortunately, I am not aware of the places. Ask anyone and they should be able to help you.
Hire a local Taxi for the day to go to all the major attractions. The charges are anything around Rs 1000 to 1200 for a full day.
If you have few days in hand, cover North side first and next day South Cherrapunjee or vice-versa. Depending on your stamina you can also set on foot touring around.
There is also an option to book a full day Cherrapunjee Tour from Shillong organised by Meghalaya Tourism. The seat can be booked for Rs 350 per person from Meghalaya Tourism Counter in Police Bazar, Shillong a day earlier as the tour starts early morning next day. You can choose to go back to Shillong or stay in Cherrapunjee.
Cherrapunjee is a place that calls you back again and again to admire its surreal beauty and fall in love. Be it the sparse autumn rain, the gurgling waterfalls, the avalanche of surrounding valley, mist dancing on the streets or landscapes straight out of picture postcard, the place is no short of glory for its rustic attraction. A trip down the alleys of the perfect countryside in Cherrapunjee is more than sumptuous that fed every bit of my hungry soul.