Mirror-mirror on the wall, which is the wettest place of ‘em all? For years there’s been a rivalry between the famous Cherrapunjee and the not-so-famous Mawsynram as who which destination receives the most rainfall in the world. While it was the more famous neighbor that consistently won the podium since the comparisons began, last year the citizens of Mawsynram rejoiced as the title for the ‘wettest’ place on Earth went to their village. While Mawsynram received a whooping 11,873 mm (467 inches) of rain in 2016, Cherrapunjee received 11,430 mm (450 inches) in the same year.
Although this doesn’t take anything from what you as a traveler would experience in your sojourns to the beautiful state of Meghalaya, the absurdity of such comparisons expose themselves once you indulge in a chat with the older folks from the respective villages. That’s because, they’re clearly fed up of the constant clatter that rains cause on the tin rooftops of their humble dwellings.
But Meghalaya, which literally means ‘abode of clouds’ in Sanskrit, and is home to over 17 rivers is a paradise waiting to be explored. The state is made up of three main regions – the Khasi, Jaintia and the Garo Hills. These names are synonymous to the tribes that occupy the region.
The destinations for the monsoon traveler are the villages of Cherrapunjee, Mawlynnong, Mawsynram and Dwaki. And to reach all these places one has to camp at the state’s capital, Shillong.
To many of us, Shillong is the city of music lovers that hosts a lot of desi gigs and international acts. But music apart, this city – perched atop a plateau and surrounded by the magical Khasi hills, has a lot many places of interest that are part modern and part traditional. Some of them are:
Elephant Falls – It’s Shillong’s biggest attraction. There are steps at the foot of the falls that make these falls unique.
Bara Bazaar & Police Bazaar – Although the tourist guides and blogs will root for the Police Bazaar but it’s actually the Bara Bazaar that brings out the true character of this city. This is where the locals come and shop and it is this market where goods are available at wholesale prices.
Laitumkhrah – Shillong’s fancy business district with quite a few food joints where the young socialize. One of the popular joints here is Café Shillong that also plays hosts to live music performances every weekend.
Seven Sister Waterfalls
The phrase ‘A Walk in the Clouds’ literally comes true here as you get to this beautiful village about 70 kilometers from Shillong. Apart from the perennial rains during the monsoons, Cherrapunjee has some serious green tourism going for it. And while at Sohra (Cherrapunjee’s traditional name), you cannot miss the mesmerizing Nohkalikai and the Nohsngithiang (Seven Sister’s) Falls. You’ll find unique awe inspiring root bridges are also around Cherrapunjee although the village of Mawsynram also plays host to travelers in quest of the root villages.
Cleanest Village of Asia
This beautiful village has been awarded the ‘Cleanest Village of Asia’ title in year 2003 by the Discover India magazine. Whether that appeals to you or not should not make a difference to your itinerary as this one deserves at least a day’s worth of time from it. And while at this beautiful village, chat with the friendly Khasi people who follow the matrilineal system in society and where there are bamboo dust bins placed everywhere. The collected garbage is then converted in manure by the villagers.
The underdog village that is now officially the wettest place on this planet. The village has its own guest house for travelers and the entire area is manicured and maintained like a garden. There is also a botanical garden which is a must visit. And if you’re looking for some more adventure, visit some of the oldest surviving root bridges around the village. Very similar to Cherrapunjee when it comes to the weather, visiting this scenic village should be a priority on your travel plans.
There are a few very basic home stays available at Dawki and this actually makes the visit more adventurous. Take a day’s trip from Mawlynnong village and visit the Bophill Falls and take a boat ride in the surreal Dawki River.