Shillong to Sohra ( Cherrapunji) Episode 3 | Meghalaya | North East India Tour
While we were planning our Meghalaya tour, a lot of people asked us to visit Cherrapunji too. When we reached Meghalaya, we came to know that the place is actually called Sohra. This is the 3rd episode of our Meghalaya tour. If you’ve missed the first two episodes, do go back and watch those too. Otherwise, you will miss the continuity. I saw a number of travellers using Shillong as their base to further travel to Sohra & Dawki. In my opinion, this is not a good idea. If you’ve got 4 or 5 days with you,… …you can spent 2 nights each in Shillong and Sohra. While travelling in Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, I observed that…. ….during the monsoon season,…. …one should avoid travelling in the mountains. But in Meghalaya, most of the tourists prefere to come during the monsoon season. It was quite strange to hear this at first but…. ….when we reached Meghalaya and saw the rains and the clouds here,…. …we enjoyed it a lot. For many years, Sohra was known all over the world for its rains. It is said that if there was a place in the world which received the most rains…. …it was Sohra. Though it rains quite heavily in Sohra even today but now the title of…. ….’the wettest place on the earth’ is with Mawsynram right now. Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. We are in Shillong, Meghalaya. We are about to leave for Sohra. The time is 7.30 am. To cover the distance of 55kms to Sohra, it will take us about 1 hour and 30-40 minutes. Come, let us begin our journey. We still have 25kms to reach Sohra. We’ve stopped here to enjoy the view. This area is called Mawkdok. We just crossed the Mawkdok village and now are standing on this bridge. Wow! So beautiful! Amazing! What a beautiful view of the valley! Dense forest! I can see some people down there. Let us go there and watch the view from that point. We climbed down the stairs to reach this place. Now look at the scene from here. Mountain slopes on both the sides and down in between the valley! And the sunlight, since it is morning time,…. …is shining there but not till our point. So, this is a very exclusive moment! People here told me that this place usually remains foggy, so I am lucky that I got to see…. …this beautiful view this morning. Right now, we are on the outskirts of Sohra, to visit the Wah Kaba Falls. Sohra is just 4kms from here. Now look at the waterfall in front of us. Speaking aerially, the waterfall would be 300m away from us. I was thinking about how to approach the waterfall and I figured out…. ….that by road you can go upto that building and then, you can walk down for about 20 minutes and…. …right there, we can go up to that railing built there. So, that is one way you can go closer to the waterfall. Now our next destination from here, we saw this waterfall, it is good,…. ….and the visibility is also clear till far…. …and our next destination from here will be Dainthlen Waterfall. It is 6kms away. As I told you earlier, a lot of people still call Sohra as ‘Cherrapunji.’ Actually the right name for the place is Sohra. So, that is where we will be spending night today. So come, let us move on towards Sohra, towards Dainthlen Waterfall. We have taken a turn from the main road, to travel 5kms further. This is a small road, with almost nil traffic. We are traveling to Dainthlen waterfall at a slow pace. We’ve reached close to the Dainthlen Waterfall. The place where I am standing right now…. …if you look closely, there are lots of stones around here. Usually when we go closer to the waterfall,… …the water flows down from above and we are standing below, watching it. But here, the experience is that…. …we are standing right where the waterfall is beginning to flow down. And, from very close quarters, we can see the water flowing down. Water is flowing at a high speed. And the sound of this waterfall is awesome! Since we are experiencing the waterfall so closely, it is feeling very good! We came to the parking right opposite to Dainthlen Waterfall. After that, just as we started in our car and reached here…. …and I decided to stop right here, get down & see the view on both sides of the bridge. If you look carefully, what do you see! All these stones, black in colour,…. …form a very large stone bed. There is water passing through these stones, at some places the water is stagnant. It is good to look at and this is a very exclusive moment. Just as this car passed by our side…. …I felt the bridge moving slightly. This counts for an experience as well. The time is 11 am. I am hungry. Let us travel straight for 5kms till the main road. After that, we will find out about what we can eat. This journey is not to be done point-to-point. I mean we started from one waterfall, travelled 5kms in our car, and reached another waterfall. Just keep watching left and right sides of the road and wherever you want, just stop your car. Like we travelled 4kms and… …right behind us, you can see this mini waterfall. Water is flowing down step-by-step. Just stopover for 5 minutes and watch this pleasant view. Look at that boulder there! This is an unexplored region. Tourists come here, but not in large numbers. There you can see a monolith. This place is too good! Really magnificent! If you keep taking these mini stopovers, you will definitely enjoy this trip. After touching the main road while travelling back from Dainthlen waterfall, we travelled 100-150 meters,… …and saw this restaurant, Orange Roots. Let us go inside and eat lunch. I am famished. This is because we are having our breakfast and lunch combined, at 12 pm. Thanks! Thanks! This is your traditional dress? Yes Sir. It is our traditional dress. It is called Jainsen. Jainsen? Yes! Great! Khublei! (Thank you!) Thank you Sir! Khublei! Thanks! Here, in local language, Thank You is ‘Khublei.’ And if you want to say Thank you very much, you say “Thank You Shibun.’ This thali has gulab jamun as sweet dish, my all-time favorite. With papad (poppadum), I’ve also got tawa chapati (flatbread cooked on a griddle). And there is a combination of North and South in this thali. I can see rajma (kidney beans) and paneer (cottage cheese). I can also see rasam (tamarind-tomato gravy) with dal. First of all rasam! Great! Sour….with ginger! Good preparation! As for the spices, the garam masala is adding a rocking taste in the rajma! Thank you! I really liked the paneer. This large piece of paneer is absolutely fresh. Thick gravy and with that, this whole red chili! Awesome taste! Overall good food! I liked the food served here. Quite simple and clean restaurant! While eating my meal I can also see clouds floating outside. Now it is the turn of sweet dish! Gulab Jamun! Yay!!! Gulab Jamun has good taste but it is too sweet! The kind of lunch I was expecting to have, I’ve had almost that lunch. Overall, I am happy & satisfied. Now we are leaving here to travel further. Right now, we are 55kms from Shillong, having reached Sohra. I had told you that Cherrapunji is the wrong name, correct name is Sohra. See the weather, how it has changed here. About an hour or so ago, the sun was shining bright. It seemed that it was going to be a sunny day. But now it is so cloudy that it seems it is going to rain in another 15-20 minutes. We have stopped at this crossing, someone told us that…. …about a vegetable market up there if we want to check out local vegetables. Right now, we are going there. On the board right there, it is written that Nohkalikai Fall is 5kms from here. This is a famous waterfall. It is quite huge. After visiting the vegetable market, we will also go to the Fall. The only thing is, it has suddenly become so cloudy that I am not sure about the level of visibility at the Fall. We will decide that in a moment whether we should go there today or tomorrow. For now, let us go up to the vegetable market. We’ve reached the vegetable market. This market, which opens once a week, has a lot of shops selling vegetables here. All the nearby villagers, who grow vegetables on their farms,…. …it is they who have their shops here. Now he is showing us these mushrooms, which are locally produced at a farm here. Can I see it? And apart from these mushrooms, you sell fruits! Pear, apple, banana! What else is there? Tapioca! So we can eat it as it is? Yes! Banana plant’s, banana tree’s stem! Okay! This, I had seen, kind of nimbu (lemon) is quite popular in West Bengal too. What is it called here? Sojau! Sojau! What are the timings of this vegetable market? 7 am to 10 pm! 13 hours! really! Just look at this! This is a very interesting thing! Ahh! You must be eating turai (Ridge gourd)! When turai ripens beyond a limit…. ….it is dried up and it acts as a natural scrub. You can use it as a natural scrub, like this! You can scrub your arms, hands and body with this. You can take out the scrub after breaking this shell, which is quite light in weight. This is something I have not seen before in my life. This type of natural scrub…. …is available here. What you see in front of us is a stall selling local Khasi food in the market. So, these are the food items sold here and I don’t know their names. But as you can see, a number of locals are eating here and, apparently, liking the food too. It is the typical Khasi food that is available here. Lai leaves! And with that, I can see a lot of varieties in dry fish available here. And here as well. Iskus, here you call it squash? Yes! Squash! Okay! And Gajar (carrot) in a very cute size! This shop is also selling a lot of vegetable varieties. Bamboo shoot, which we hadn’t seen so far here, is also sold at this shop. One more thing that I can notice in this vegetable market,…. …is that 90% of the vendors are females. This is a fact, which is unique as well as different. We’ve bought ourselves some Pukhlein to eat. A batter is made of wheat, rice flour and sugar and, as you can see, deep-fried. I assumed this would have sugar in it, but it is very less sugar that I can taste in it. But since, this has oil in it,… …it is important to drink tea with it. Otherwise it will be very oily to eat. But yes, it would make for a decent snack with a cup of tea! The locals love it. We can figure that out from the fact that there is a long line of people waiting to buy Pukhlein. The women are cooking it on wood fire. Are you here only at the time of this weekly market? Or do you sell here daily? Daily? Once, once in a week! Not daily! This is another local snack. It is called Pusla. This is Pusla. I have unwrapped it completely. You can look it carefully. Since there is limited jaggery added to it, the sweetness that comes from adding sufficient jaggery is missing. Yes, it is good as a snack but again…. …a cup of tea with it is mandatory, otherwise, it will be very dry to eat alone. See, they are selling supari (betel nut) here. From them, I understood that when supari is harvested from the trees,…. …it is soaked for 3-4 months. The combination of supari with betel leaf is so popular in Meghalaya that…. …you will find it offered in every household. If you visit someone’s home, he will offer the betel leaf-supari either after a meal or anytime during the day. Now we didn’t go to any home here, so didn’t get this chance, but that is what we were told. Now, I will eat it and leave the vegetable market. We’ve been roaming in the market for the past 2 hours. And it was a good experience coming here. Also, to watch vegetables so closely, and talk to everyone about the market, was satisfying. Good experience! Really, it is delicious to eat betel leaf with supari. In fact,… …the supari has turned softer because of being soaked. So, it is not difficult to bite it with your teeth. I could do it easily. Let me eat this as well. Thank you! Now, our next destination will be Nohkalikai Fall. Distance – 5kms! We’ve reached Nohkalikai waterfall. Now, see the situation right in front of us. Specially about the visibility…. I can see just upto 50 meters of distance & beyond that I cannot see the waterfall at all but…. …I can hear the waterfall for sure. Now, we will wait for 15 to 30 minutes here. If the weather clears up, we can see the waterfall, but if it doesn’t, we will move on. Later on, either tomorrow or day after, we will try to come here again to see the waterfall. And the 15-20 minutes, that we are going to spend waiting here… …let us check out what is available in those shops. Dalchini (cinnamon)! Can I see it? Yes! Hmm! Is dalchini a famous spice here? A lot! What is its rate? It is Rs. 250. One stick for Rs. 250! Okay! There will be a discount! What? There is a discount! You will give me a discount! Wow! Great! I will buy this one from you! I’ve been told that the dalchini grown here is quite famous and it is sold at all these stalls. So, you can purchase it here and I am going to do the same. So, you are selling it to me for Rs. 200? Yes! So, great! Thank you! So, please break it into smaller pieces for me. Now, the visibility is absolutely clear! It feels good to be here. There is no fog, no clouds and the Nohkalikai Waterfall is right in front of us. Looking at the speed with which the water is flowing down, it feels it will be thunderous up close. That is the pressure of the water flow that I can feel from this distance. And even though the waterfall is 300 meters away, I can hear the sound loud and clear. I doubt there will be a path to go down there. By the look of it, I can say there won’t be a proper route but if someone can trek down there, that’s different. But this place is awesome! If you will look down there, the spot where the water is hitting the earth…. …& you can see the green-coloured water collected at the bottom…. …looks ultimate from up here. I am enjoying eating this pineapple. After eating pineapple, we will go back 5-7kms from where we came. And we will visit the famous caves – Arva Caves – there. Once we visit there, we will decide what to do with the rest of the day. We had gone to the Arva Caves. But due to insufficient light, the caves were closed early. We traveled 3kms from there to reach here at Mawsmai Caves, as is written on the board here. Come, let us go inside now. We’ve reached the cave entrance. Here it is. Let us go inside now. This is a natural cave and you can see water seeping through its roof, one drop at a time. Wow! And look at the width of this cave, it is quite wide! And as I am touching all the rocks on the inside, I can find them wet. This means the water is seeping through the cave walls. Nobody has made these caves. These are formed naturally, though the centuries. Now, we don’t have any information about how old these caves actually are. But to come here and watch the cave from inside, at such close quarters,…. …is a very good experience! As I was telling you how droplets of water are seeping through the inner surface of the cave. This means the water is coming from atop the mountain and passing through the stones is dropping here. We’ve approached just 25-30 meters into the cave. And see this passage is so narrow. We will have to stoop low to pass this passage. See the cave from inside as we reach further towards the interior. The passage is narrow again. We will have to walk carefully. Lest we slip. I have to stoop a bit in order to be able to walk through. This passage is about 3.5 to 4 feet high from the ground level here. Awesome experience it is to walk through such a large cave! Well, the actual experience of this cave won’t be in that you come here and walk through it in 5 minutes. The actual experience would be to spend time observing it from inside, watching the water seep through the stone walls….. …& check out the shape and design of the rocks on the inside. The main thing is that all this is formed naturally, without any human effort involved. We will pass through here, and cross that path and reach the other side. Come, let us go. This is the first-ever cave experience in my life. It was in Kerala last time when I visited a cave. But that was a different experience and this is a totally different experience! This is the first time in my life that I am passing through such a large cave. Wow! I feel like coming back here tomorrow. I enjoyed this visit so much! We’ve reached the exit now. Today’s cave visit, if you ask me frankly, has been an awesome experience! You should come here with sufficient time in hand. By the way, if you want a walk-through, you can walk through the cave from entry to exit in 7-8 minutes. Now, we will leave here. Now the place where we will spent the night is the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort and…. …it is about 15kms from here. Or about 14-15kms. So, let us go there. It will take us about 45 minutes to reach there.’ There we will have our dinner and then end today’s journey. We left Mawsmai caves at 5.45 pm. It is 6.20 pm now. As we left the cave, I began noticing the sky. As the sun was setting, I was looking at the changing colours of the clouds in the sky. It was fun. As the car drove on slowly, we continued to feel and enjoy this beautiful view of the sky. During this journey, I even felt that while driving we are enjoying this view but we must stop to enjoy it better. So, we’ve stopped here and we will enjoy this view right till it is completely dark. Look at this view. It seems like there is a large source of light shining from behind the clouds. And that light is passing through the clouds and coming to us, painting the clouds golden in the process. Just look at the scene – there are golden as well as dark clouds in the sky. And it seems as if someone has placed a photo-shopped image taken on a computer. That is what I feel! I don’t know about the scene during winter season but…. ….if you want to enjoy this kind of scene anywhere in the open during the rainy season,…. …you should come to Meghalaya. You will definitely enjoy this kind of evening view. This is an awesome moment, really! We will spend 15-30 minutes more here. We will enjoy this view even more. And we will move on only once it is dark. This is too good! We are spending tonight at the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort. After dinner, I will also show you the room that we’ve hired for ourselves. After that we will end today’s journey. Let me tell you what all is there to eat. First of all, this herb that you see here is called Jamyrdoh. I’ve been told that while eating my meal, just like we eat onion, tomatoes, etc., the same way…. …we can eat this leaf. It has a lot of health properties like it is good for blood circulation in the body. With that, they’ve also given me baby potatoes. To show me that this is the dish in which baby potatoes have been used. This is mint chutney. This is fish curry, made with a local fish variety! Dal, potatoes (I’ve already told you) and this salad, it is made with mooli (radish). This salad has in it something like mustard seeds, called Nei-lieh, but these are not mustard seeds actually. These seeds have been used while dry roasting the radish. People here prefer rice over roti. Normally for lunch or dinner! But I wanted to eat chapati tonight so I asked them for tawa chapati. The specialty of the baby potatoes is that first of all it has been cooked in mustard oil. Second thing – the potatoes have been cooked with their skin on. Usually we remove the skin while cooking potatoes. But these potatoes have the skin intact. Moreover, since these are small in size, the potatoes have not been chopped or sliced further. Just halved and cooked! In a vegetarian meal here, I’ve observed, dal is a necessary part of the meal. Very nice preparation! Very tasty! I’m enjoying the food. This is simple food! As if, I am eating dal cooked at home. Let us do one thing…. …let us also eat Jamyrdoh along with the meal. This will tell us the taste of this leaf. It is pungent! I mean to say the taste of this leaf is strong and you would realize it while eating the leaf. I won’t say that you will like it in the first instance. I ate just one leaf and I have realized that I will have to eat it 5-6 times more in order to develop a liking. And they told me that it is also used to make a chutney. In non-veg food, I can see here people eating fish but not much. In non-veg food, the most popular food is pork. And rest is after that. This is a local fish. Freshwater fish. Its name is Heeleul. I can see lots of small bones in this fish. So, I will have to eat it carefully. The other good thing is that all the food that I am eating here has been cooked in mustard oil. This includes fish, potatoes and dal! The meat of this fish is slightly on the sweeter side. I had forgotten to eat the mooli salad. So, here it is! You are aware of the taste of mooli. Adding Nei-lieh seeds to it has brought in a juicy element, a pungency to the taste. We are going to finish our food in the next 15-20 minutes. After that I will show you my room! And then we will end today’s journey. We are staying in this room. Its tariff is Rs. 4650, inclusive of taxes. The room tariff also includes breakfast and dinner. This place has more than one categories in rooms and ours was the starting category. After this, there are other categories available like premium, deluxe, etc. Tell me your opinion about today’s episode. As always, I shall be waiting for your comments. If you have any experiences related to Meghalaya travel,… ..do share those with us in your comments. That is it! Bye for now! Thanks for your time! If I tell you that our primary purpose to come to Sohra was to visit the caves,… …visit the double-decker root bridge,… …and to enjoy waterfalls, rains and clouds, I won’t be wrong. We will meet soon with a new episode! Till then, goodbye! Thanks for your time!