Cherrapunji – it may bring to mind green; rain-drenched foliage. Lush verdant landscapes. Or perhaps a blank canvas. To that last point: yes, because it is quite unexplored. A land far away in the northeast that can conjure images akin to fairy tales. But it needn’t be so. The land, that is best known for being one of the wettest places in the world, deserves to be known for its other beautiful aspects too. So, here’s a lowdown on Cherrapunji; before, during, and after the monsoons.
Consider this Cherrapunji travel guide for all seasons if you are planning to visit this beautiful nothing-short-of-mystical town.
Where is Cherrapunji Located and Why is it Famous?
Cherrapunji (Cherrapunjee) or Sohra (the local nomenclature) is a town in Meghalaya; a north-eastern state in India. It is famous for once (and until a few years ago) receiving the highest rainfall in India. Mawsynram, a place just a few miles away from Cherrapunji, has now removed the latter from this honor. But over the years, Cherrapunji received worldwide acclaim for being the wettest place in the world.
It is also famed for its natural beauty, which can immerse and wrap you in a tranquil vibe. It has the capability to help the guests feel the magic of nature, which is unperturbed and still (yet moving and flowing).
Cherrapunji weather is unpredictably predictable.
You can always assume that it will rain here. How much and when; that can be a guesswork. Though you can check daily weather updates for the same. If you are taking a flight to Shillong (capital city of Meghalaya); check the local weather news for Cherrapunji before heading there. If you are travelling by road from Assam to Meghalaya; ensure you remain updated about the changing weather conditions in Cherrapunji at regular intervals.
Though it rains throughout the year in this beautiful pristine town; winter and summer seasons are ideal when it comes to visiting Cherrapunji.
Cherrapunji during Monsoon Season
Cherrapunji during monsoons (May to September) is best avoided. This is what you will find in every Cherrapunji travel guide. But if you are the daredevil type when it comes to travel plans; by all means go there and explore this place. But due to heavy rainfall throughout the day; you will be mostly holed up inside with nothing touristy to do.
But, for some reason, you do decide to visit Cherrapunji in the monsoons; expect to see the magical waterfalls in the region in their full splendor. The sound and the sight of the gushing waterflow can be mesmerizing, spellbinding, and once-in-a-lifetime experience. The white and silver against the velvety and bright green can be a sight to behold.
Another benefit of visiting Cherrapunji in monsoons is that you are likely to get really good deals on accommodations. Less tourist crowd also means that you will have more opportunities to mingle and interact with the locals. Yes, monsoon in Cherrapunji can be rough and it is not ideal for tourists. But with some planning, you can make it work (if you really wish to witness monsoons in one of the wettest places in the entire world.) Wouldn’t it be really nice to do so!
Imagine the rains soaking the Cherrapunji land in fury (gushing and violent) or with love (mild and soft).
Cherrapunji during Summer Season
Cherrapunji before monsoons is quite nice to visit. The point to know here is that though it is technically summers, it is still rainy in Cherrapunji. The temperatures may remain moderate between 20-23 degrees. But during night it can be as low as 13 degrees. Still; this is the perfect season to see the urban aspects of the town.
If you are planning to visit Cherrapunji in April; do not miss the dance festival known as The Shad Suk Mynsiem (Dance of Happy Hearts). It lasts for three days and mostly held within the first two weeks of the month. The festival involves dance, music, and thanking the Gods for the year that went by and the year to come. Attending this festival can give you a glimpse into the Khasi (the native tribe of the region) culture of the land.
Include in your itinerary a plan to see the Khasi Monoliths that are near the Mawsami Falls. These are distinct cultural structures of the region and erected in the honor of the various tribes’ ancestors. You can also opt for hikes in the nearby trails depending on the weather.
Cherrapunji during Winter Season
November to mid or end of February marks the winter season in the region. The maximum temperature can be in the range of 13 to 15 degrees while minimum temperatures can be around 5 degrees (more or less). It will be the choice of the tourist season in any Cherrapunji travel guide. For those who abhor going out in the rains; winters is the perfect time for them to visit Cherrapunji. It is also considered the most ideal tourist season for the region. Rainfall here in winters is comparatively less than the summers. But, do note, it will still rain every now and then (and unpredictably so).
November is also the month for the Nongkrem Dance – one of Meghalaya’s most vibrant festivals. It lasts for five days and during this time; the locals offer their gratitude to the Gods for an abundant harvest. They also offer prayers for prosperity of the entire community. Winters are also perfect for trekking on the various trails in Cherrapunji. Enjoy a picnic under the soothing sun in the Thangkharang Park. The winter sun rays are deliciously crisp and just perfect for a day out in the fresh environs.
Things to Pack for your Cherrapunji Trip:
- Cotton clothes and ones suitable for rains, a few rough clothes for trekking and hiking, and some warm clothing items.
- Umbrella or a raincoat as you might need it any time when you are out and about in town.
- A flashlight. It is best to not always rely on your phone’s flashlight.
- Suitable shoes, hiking boots, extra pair of socks, flipflops etc.
- A portable charger, extra batteries etc.
- Insect repellants, essential medicines, and rash-control creams.
Things to See in Cherrapunji
Living Root Bridges: Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya (nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site List) are manmade and unique to the region. To experience this wonder in person is a must when you are in Cherrapunji. The trip to the bridge can be an adventure in itself. You will need to trek through various points such as hanging iron bridges to reach the double-decker bridges (Living Root Bridges are thus called due to their structure). There are different kinds of root bridges present in Nongriat Village near Cherrapunji. If you opt for a trek and decide to stay the night in the village; you can choose any one of the homestays available there. The locals are welcoming and you can see their hospitality in action.
Mawsmai Cave: Mawsmai Cave is a limestone cave and bright enough inside to give visitors a clear view of its magnificence. The entire cave is not open for viewing but you can still see quite a bit of it. In some places; you might need to squeeze yourself a bit to go through the passages. Prepare to see an abundance of stalagmites, stalactites, flora and interesting fauna (insects, bats et el). Best time to visit it is throughout the year other than the monsoon season as then the rain water fills the cave.
Kynrem Falls: It is one of the highest waterfalls in India. Visit this three-tiered waterfall in the summer and monsoon seasons to see its full might. You can also see it from places like the Thangkharang Park. It is southwest of Cherrapunji; not very far from the famous landmark Sohra Market. There are many waterfalls near Cherrapunji; each with its unique beauty and legend attached to it.
These places will always find a mention in any Cherrapunji travel guide.
Where to Stay in Cherrapunji
Cherrapunji has many accommodation options such as luxury resorts, guesthouses, and homestays.
Here’s a handy list for you:
Luxury resorts –
- Jiva Resort
- Cherrapunji Holiday Resorts
- Polo Orchid Resort
- Café Cherrapunji
- Sa-I-Mika Resort
- Cherrapunji Sunrise
- Pumpkin Vibgyor
- Whispering Pines
- Sohra Plaza
- The Home
- Weskin House
- Nisibon Nongrum
When in town; ensure your Cherrapunji travel guide also includes a visit to at least one of the famous trekking trails in the region such as the David Scott Trek, Shella Trek, and Sohkhmie Trek; and little towns and villages scattered in the surrounding areas.
If you are looking for a destination rich in natural beauty, steeped in culture and in perfect reverence of local traditions then Cherrapunji is one of the top places to visit in India.
So, when are you planning your visit to this enchanting and captivating place? Visitors from USA can book cheap flights to India via Indian Eagle. There is good connectivity to Kolkata from major destinations around the world. You can then book flights from Kolkata to Guwahati or Shillong and then travel rest of the way by road or train. The latter options are ideal for scenic journeys. Approximate distance from Guwahati to Cherrapunji is 150 km and from Shillong to Cherrapunji is around 60 km.
Perhaps you will hear the earth’s rhythm as you step onto Cherrapunji’s moist and fragrant soil.