The old Cherra or Sohrarim was the original Cherra village but with the coming of the British who set up their headquarters further south, the village came to be known as 'Sohra' or present day Cherrapunjee. It was here that the British realised the enormity and intensity of the rainfall and set up a meterological office for measuring the rain.
Sohra was declared by the British to be the capital of Assam in 1832, which was later shifted to Shillong in 1866 due to the inclement weather.
Sohra previously known as Cherrapunjee by the British is a sub-division in the East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya and is set upon a plateau on the southern slopes of the state. Sohra is 56 kms from Shillong the capital of Meghalaya and one of the seven states in the North East of India. It is known worldwide for its heavy rainfall. Rising 1,300 m above sea-level, Sohra is set amidst deep gorges and roaring waterfalls. The swift flowing rivers and streams flow in a southernly direction to the plains. The Nohsngithiang Falls (Mawsmai Falls), Dain-thlen Falls and the Nohkalikai Falls are all located near and around Sohra. An extensive trellis of limestone caves crisscrossing the Sohra and Mawsmai areas has attracted speleologists or cave explorers who believe that the cave system could be far more extensive than has been mapped to date. Sohra is also significant for being the first British outpost in this part of the country. Besides the oldest Presbyterian Church in the North East, Sohra has a considerably large Ramakrishna Mission. It is also famous for orange orchards and apiculture. Sohra is also famous for its Cement factory.
Sohra is the place where British Christian missionaries first came into contact with the Khasi tribal community and introduced them to Christianity in the early 18th century. The British also gave the Khasis their script, English, but helped them systematise their grammar. Khasi is the language spoken by the people of Sohra – Khublei!
Set against the backdrop of breath-taking landscape, it is a place to discover the Indian summer monsoons. A unique annual meterological phenomena directly influenced by the south west monsoon and the north east winds. The heavy monsoon rains over these mountains undoubtedly creates in Sohra one of the rarest bio-diverse vegetations in the world. Truly a beautiful corner in north-east India, waiting to be discovered and explored.
Currently, Mawsinram, a small village has replaced Sohra in exact statistic on the highest rainfall anywhere in the world.
From December 2010, the local legislator of Sohra, who at the time was Dr PW Khongjee, created the Cherrapunjee Indigenous Festival, showcasing Khasi indigenous culture, including the Phawar system of narratives that followed most activities, like going out for fishing, or celebrating good harvest and so on. Dances like "the small fish" dance" which is enacted just before going out for fishing in the autumn, or the playing of the Bum (big) drum, dance for the gamblers, etc., were enacted on a massive, ultra-modern stage. Local cuisine, wild honey and Sohra's famous fruits are sold in stalls that ringed the arena.
From 2010, the Cherrapunjee Indigenous Festival has become an annual event in the first week of December.
The fact that Cherrapunjee or Sohra falls directly on the path of South West Monsoon and the oragraphy of the hills at about Cherrapunjee helps to funnel and converge the monsoon clouds of a wide area to a relatively small area and deflect them upwards to cooler climes contribute to such heavy rainfall. Meteorologically speaking, the heavy rainfall area indicated by Cherrapunjee is estimated to cover 100 to 200 sq. kms. Compare this to the heavy rainfall zone of only 5 sq. kms at Mount Waialeale in Hawaii (USA), which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The aerial distance between Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram, which are situated on two ridges running around the same valley, is about 15 kms.
Stay at the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort and experience this exceptional climatic zone.
It shall be an ongoing discovery how global warming and unchecked rampant and mindless deforestation of these pristine hills is going to affect the rainfall and weather in this globally exclusive climatic zone.
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort invites you to enjoy and cherish an enchanting holiday in a scenic mountain top locale. In the summer months, stay and experience the Monsoon Magic at the place where the Indian Summer Monsoon peaks and attains its climax when the surrounding plains and most of India and Bangladesh simmer. Explore the nooks and corners at this extraordinarily blessed dramatic terrain in the dry winter months. The Living Root Bridges another attraction near Sohra can be accessed throughout the year, even during the wet monsoon months. During the rainy season come prepared with raincoats and enjoy getting soaked in the monsoon rain. The resort is just 70 kms from Shillong and it takes 2 hours by road. It is the place to stay at Cherrapunjee.
The captivating beauty of Cherrapunjee and its surroundings – the hills abruptly erupting from the Sylhet plains of Bangladesh at almost sea level to 4500 feet within a short distance of 2 to 5 kms, the clouds embracing the mountains and scores of frothing waterfalls leaping from lofty mountains in free abandon, down precipitous gorges thickly covered by tropical rain forests – has thrilled many a nature enthusiast of all ages, down the ages.
The dry months from November to February throw open abundant Trekking, Bird Watching, River Canyoning, Camping, Rock Climbing and Caving opportunities for the Adventure and Nature lover.
Best Season to visit
The four main seasons of Meghalaya are Spring (i.e. March to April), Monsoon (May to September), Autumn (October to November) and Winter (December to February).
The temperature starts warming by the third week of May and continues right to the end of September and sometimes gets extended well into the middle of October. The average rainfall is 12,000 mm a year, with the maximum rainfall occuring over the southern slopes of the Khasi Hills in Sohra. The highest recorded total annual rainfall was 24,555 mm in 1974. The maximum for a single day was recorded in 1876 in Sohra, when 1,040 mm fell in 24 hours. Sohra also holds the World Record for a month's rainfall when 9,300 mm fell in July 1861.
May to October is best for the scenic beauty – mesmerizing clouds, milky white frothing waterfalls and lush green forests – and to experience the monsoon – Romance in the Rain, Bathe in Waterfalls, Springs & Mountain Streams – Good for Photography, Angling (September- November), Study of insects, moths and butterflies.
November to February which is the winter season is ideal for outdoor activities such as Nature Treks, Birdwatching, River Canyoning, Geo-Caching, Rock Climbing, Botanical Studies, Camping Outdoors, Adventure Caving, Open Air Picnics, Swimming in Natural Swimming Pools.
March is where the Pre-Monsoon showers come in. It is also good to admire nature eagerly awaiting the first rains and bursting forth in exhilaration after the showers.
April is a time to enjoy a grandstand view of tropical thunderstorms accompanied by severe lightning and thunder as they approach the Khasi Hills from Bangladesh plains and let loose their awesome fury. They are known as ‘Bordoi Sila’ or ‘Kal Baisakhi’. Warm days precede rainfall.
Sites to see in and around Sohra -
Mawkdok Dympep Valley View
A few kms from Umtyngar, as one takes the right turn from the road junction, one comes across a beautiful bridge known to the locals as the Duwan Singh Syiem Bridge, which is the entrance to the Sohra tourist circuit. From here the landscape abruptly changes into picturesque deep gorges. The Forest Department has constructed a view-point where visitors can stop a while and enjoy the spectacular natural beauty
Located on the way to the world famous ‘Dainthlen Falls’ and about 3 kms before reaching Sohra town is Sa -I - Mika Park, a one stop tourist destination. Set amidst 69 acres of pristine surroundings, Sa -I - Mika offers not only accommodation but a host of activities that is catered to people from all ages and walks of life. At present there are four double bed rooms with all modern amenities and two traditional cottages. On offer are well appointed rooms, hot and cold running water, room service priced at Rs.1200/- and Rs.1500/- per night. There is also a 200 capacity conference hall which is suitable for hosting cooperate and departmental events, seminars, workshops and concerts. On request, the management can also arrange to organise barbecues, bonfires, tour guides, traditional Khasi dance and local cuisine and drink.
The park has the distinct advantage of being located close to the waterfalls and one can arrange treks and tours to these places, as well as the caves and other areas of tourist interest. Since the management is closely associated with the community, one can also opt for a homestay in one of the villages, to experience life with a typical Khasi family.
Just before reaching Sohra, a road to the right, leads one to the falls which is 5 kms away. The waterfall derives its name from a Thlen or a snake of gigantic size which dwelt in a cave. Legend has it that the people destroyed the snake in order to rid themselves of its reign of terror. Adjacent to the very spot where the Thlen was slaughtered lies the Dain-thlen Waterfalls. Natural rock carvings of the episode draw visitors to see the image of the Thlen, the symbol of greed, corruption and evil.
A hauntingly beautiful waterfall, cascading down from the top of the gorge to the mystic deep green pool below, reminding one of the tragic legend associated with it, of a grief stricken mother who plunged to her death, unable to overcome her sorrow over the murder of her daughter by her husband.
Ka Kper Syiem Sohra (cremation ground of the Sohra Syiemship)
By the side of the Pomsohmen stream lies the cremation ground of the Sohra Syiemship (Cherra Chieftain). Cremation of the dead Syiem (Chief) of Sohra is one of the most expensive and intricate ceremonies. The body of the Syiem is normally kept for years together, if customary formalities are not performed by the Syiem-elect.
It is about 2 kms south of Sohra, the place that the first Welsh Missionaries visited during the year 1942. Their visit not only enriched the life of the locals, but Khasi Literature was also enriched by the invention of the Khasi Alphabet by Thomas Jones. Thus the Sohra dialect became the lingua-franca of the Khasis. The mission started here in Nongsawlia later spread to many parts of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
Access to the cave is via the river, which lies to the south east of the Cement Factory. The entrance is about 10 ft. above water level. A single entrance leads to a double passageway, where the upper portion in certain areas have caved in due to the intensive quarrying of limestone above the cave. The river enters the cave and forms pools of water within the cave. This cave stretches for about 4,500 meters but is marred by pollution entering the cave from the cement factory. Locally known as Krem Mawmluh, it is one of the longest caves in the Indian subcontinent.
A large "Eco Park" established by the Meghalaya government in the plateau, which hosts several hybrid and indigenous orchids in the Green House donated by Shillong Agri-Horticultural Society. The Eco Park also offers breathtaking view of distant Sylhet Plains of neighbouring Bangladesh.
6 kms from the Sohra market to the south lies the village of Mawsmai in the direction of Bangladesh border. At the village crossing, one passes grasslands surrounded by forests, ending in a clearing. From this clearing, a concrete pathway through the jungle leads up to the main cave entrance. This cave is the only cave that is fully lighted. The cave can be divided into two parts (old and new). Of the two, the new cave is yet to be lighted. It has impressive formations of large passages and chambers.
Also known as Mawsmai falls, it is 1 km south of Mawsmai village and derives its name due to the fact that the waterfalls are situated in a south westerly position and get illuminated by the sun from dawn to sunset. The vibrant colours of the setting sun on the waterfalls make it beautiful to behold.
Managed and well maintained by the State Forest Department, this park on the Mawsmai - Shella Road is about 8 kms from Sohra and is a popular tourist spot. There are many rare and exotic orchids and some rare species of plants endemic to the area. A panoramic view of the plains of Bangladesh is clearly visible on a clear day from the park.
Thangkarang Park laid on the high rocky cliffs overlooks the plains of Bangladesh. You can spot the imposing Kynrem falls cascading down majestically in three stages. The bird sanctuary at nearby Thangkarang with the awesome view of the imposing waterfalls set against the backdrop of Bangladesh plains is a bonanza for tourists, both foreign and domestic.
Ka Khoh Ramhah
Also known as Motrop, is an imposing single rock formation in the shape of a giant cone. According to folklore, this was the fossilized cone shaped basket of an evil giant. It lies in close proximity to two other very similar rocks standing like a pair of giant sentinels. During the heavy monsoons, water flows between the two rocks and the cascading waterfall presents a breathtaking sight. The place attracts a lot of visitors throughout the year and is an idyllic picnic spot.
The highest waterfall in Meghalaya, it cascades down in three stages from the top of the hill and overlooks the Thangkharang Park.
Places to stay at Sohra –
CHERRAPUNJEE HOLIDAY RESORT
Village Laitkynsew, Cherrapunjee
Sohra Market , Cherrapunjee
Khliehshnong, Sohra, Meghalaya
Eco - Park Guest House
Nongthymmai, Mawsmai, Sohra
For more detail please click here