Who has not heard of this place? We all have learnt it by heart when our teachers asked us to repeat the answer to the question
"Which place gets most rainfall in the country?"
Of course that title is now taken away by neighbouring village Mawsynram. But Cherrapunjee is a cute little place. Charming in every way.
My first glimpse of Cherra was way back in eighties when i was posted in Shillong for few days. It was a sleepy little village with one road in the middle. The Church was the only big building surrounded by small houses with low compound walls. The circular road in the village and the greenery around made the place resemble villages in English country side.
After i left army, we went again in 2009 as part of our North East India tour. It is a short and scenic drive from Shillong when the road wind up and you stop at Cherra. These are flat rolling hills. They look like a large foot ball ground on which you can play a game. They are not tall like Himalayas or Western ghats. This is the reason why Shillong and surrounding hills was called by British as "Scotland of the east".
Cherra, as i said is still a laid back, small village. The people pf Khasi hills are very amiable and laid back. They are also happy bunch. You can see that as soon as you reach any village. The best time to visit Cherra is early in the morning when the day trippers from Shillong don't invade the tranquility of this place.
The first thing you see on the way to Cherra is the Ramakrishna Ashram built in 1931. A small ashram, it has a nice meditation hall with shrines of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Mata Sharada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. Driving along, you will reach the view point from where you can look at the beautiful Cherra valley with myriad water falls dropping down from the flat hills. Noh Khlikai is the most prominent one but don't miss out to enjoy the myriad water falls falling on either side of Noh Kalikai. These water falls are at their glorious best when it rains.
Which is the best season to visit Cherra? Obviously it is immediately after rains. But anytime of the year is good too. Cherra is also at its best when it rains. Go there if you want to experience rains. We have done this in Malnad region - western ghats - in South India and i am sure experiencing rain in Cherra should be wonderful. The best time to visit should be in late August or September when rains subside, everything is green and water falls are lovely.
Apart from water falls you can also visit British built Presbetyran church, the longest cave formations in the country at Mawsmai, Thangkharang park.............and many more.
Bikers would love this place. It is a pity that most people come here for a day trip from Shillong to complete a tick in their box of "Also visited " list. Cherra deserves at least three - four days to explore. Do mountain biking, go for treks, check out Anglican cemetery, visit a Khasi home or just do nothing and enjoy the rural atmosphere of the place.
Here are some pictures of the place.
|British built houses......notice the chimney|
|The Presbyterian church. Built in 19th century by British|
|The theology college|
|Valley view from the road to Cherrapunjee resort|
|Living root bridge - A natural wonder|
By Air - Guwahati is the nearest Airport which has connection to all cities in India.
By Train - Guwahati is the nearest Railway station which is connected to all the cities in the country.
By Road - Shillong is connected to Guwahati by a good road. The road journey through Khasi hills takes three hours. Buses depart regularly from Guwahati to Shillong. It is recommended to hire a cab locally at Shillong which help explore all the places. Cherrapunjee is 55 KMs from Shillong.
The best stay option in Cherrapunjee is Cherrapunjee Holiday resort.
Website - Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort
We would recommend this as it will help you explore the region. The drive from Cherrapunjee to this resort is one of most picturesque you can come across. Run by amiable Ryan, this a simple home stay with excellent food and clean rooms. Ryan is an expert in the region and is credited with exploring and documenting amazing "Living root bridge".
a) If you are planning to travel during monsoon, be prepared to get wet. Carry umbrella and rain gear.
b) Binocular is a must. It helps you get a better view of the surrounding hills as well for bird watching.
c) Don't be in a hurry. Be a Khasi in Khasi hills!! Explore Cherra leisurely.
d) If you are staying in Cherrapunjee Holiday resort, explore the village nearby. Don't miss out the trek to "Living root Bridge". Ryan will also help you in arranging for walks to nearby places if you are keen to explore.
e) If you are a road tripper like us, drive on the road towards Bangladesh for some awesome views.
f) Try local cuisine - mostly Non Veg - and locally brewed Rice Beer
g) If you love trekking, there are some nice trails apart from trek to "Living Root Bridge".
h) If you love outdoors, then try out "River canyoning"
An excellent site on Meghalaya - Meghalaya Tourism - Official Site
If you need help in planning a trip to Cherrapunjee and Shillong, you are welcome to write @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to help.