Cherrapunji in Meghalaya has several reasons to claim. It is the second wettest place on the planet and the only place in India to receive rain throughout the year. The town of Cherrapunji is nestled in the East Khasi Hills about 50 km southwest of state capital Shillong. The town is also known as Sohra and Churra.
Cherrapunji, which means ‘the land of oranges’, is at an elevation of 4290 ft. One can see the plains of Bangladesh from the cliffs of Cherrapunji. Cherrapunji held the record for the wettest place on earth. However, Mawsynram, also in Meghalaya, holds the distinction of being the wettest place. Cherrapunji receives a staggering 11,777 mm of rainfall annually.
Monsoon clouds which blow inland from the Bay of Bengal are stopped from moving further by the ridges of Cherrapunji. The town receives both southwest and northeast monsoon.
Despite receiving excess rain, the town faces acute water shortage and the locals have to travel great distances to get fresh water. Another fall out of the relentless rain is the soil erosion which has denuded land of Cherrapunji and the surrounding valleys.
Cherrapunji is also famous for its live bridges, a result of bio-engineering practiced by the locals. The bridges can bear 50 people at a time and are spectacular to watch.
Besides, enjoying the rains, Cherrapunji is also a good place for trekking. The most popular trekking route is that leads to Double Decker Living Root bridge in Nongriat village. It is advisable to hire a guide on your treks. Other activities to do in Cherrapunji are river canyoning from Nongthymmai to Mynteng steel rope bridge. Rock climbing and camping can also be indulged in Cherrapunji.
- Cherrapunji was the old administrative headquarters of the Khasis.
- The settlement in 1820 was used as a sanatorium for European pensioners in the East India Company’s service.
Cherrapunji is known for its handicrafts, especially items made from cane and bamboo. Stalls and shops selling cane and bamboo artifacts ranging from mementos to furniture are quite common.
Cherrapunji is the best place to buy good quality orange flower honey. You can also buy cinnamon and other spices that are cultivated in and near Cherrapunji. You should definitely buy Meghalaya tea which has a distinctly lighter flavor compared to Assam or Darjeeling tea.
Where to stay
Cherrapunji offers several options when it comes to accomodation. From guest houses with basic amenities, resorts that offer better facilities, cottages, to homestays, you will be spoilt for choice.
Where to eat
In Cherrapunji, you can enjoy Khasi cuisine like pork rice. Eateries that sell pork and other red meat abound in the town. Sohra Pulao which is rice cooked with oil and vegetables without spices should not be missed.
You can also get Indian Chinese, Punjabi and Bengali cuisines in Cherrapunji. However, what you get here is the Khasi version of the cuisines.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Cherrapunji is between September and October. The rainfall is the least during these two months and you can enjoy clear skies most of the day.