10th March 2016, Thursday…Day (20) Cherrapunjee to Dawki 156 km
I slept for over 9 hours uninterrupted that night in Cherrapunjee, perhaps the best sleep of the trip inside the car so far, may be because the over 7000 steps that I had to tread while walking down and up the double decker bridge at Nongriat had a toll on me. But when I got up that morning in Cherrapunjee, I felt so good fully recharged and energetic.
Unlike North it was hard to find tea shop open so early. The people in Sohra seems to be little laid back and disciplined. Instead of waiting for the shop to open I drove to Eco Park Cherrapunjee, which was just a few kilometers drive.
Designed and maintained by the Government of Meghalaya, Eco Park is popular for lovely view of the ‘Green Canyons’, the waterfalls, and a crystal clear water stream running within its boundaries. Placed atop a plateau, this park offers nice views of the Sylhet Plains of Bangladesh.
Walking through thick fog and well maintained pathways of the park was quite good. Since it was too early, there weren’t many people around and as the day progressed many tourists started coming. The park was well maintained and in thick fog, looked very charming.
The land end at the park was sudden and steep, resulting into creation of waterfalls and canyons. The site was just beautiful and at times little frightening as well. A small mistake and one would disappear in the canyons below.
The waterfalls and stream did not have much water in it. The views of Bangladesh were blocked by thick fog as well, still had nice time walking through the vast open spaces and man made bridges, statues and structures in between.
It cost me Rs45- at Eco Park (Entry Rs.10-+Camera fee Rs.15-+Parking Rs.20-). From Eco Park, I drove to Mawsmai Caves, which were again very closeby and paid Rs.60- (Entry fee Rs.20-+Camera fee Rs.20-+Parking fee Rs.20-).
Meghalaya is also famous for its numerous caves. Of the ten longest and deepest caves in India, nine are in Meghalaya and with length of around 30000 meters, Krem Liat Prah in the Jaintia Hills is the longest.
Situated around 6 Kms from Cherrapunjee, the Mawsmai limestone caves are well lit and popular with the tourists. Though the caves are quite long but only a distance of 150 meters is open for tourists.
The stalactites and stalagmites caves have innumerable forms, shapes and sizes inside leaving one to imagine as many life forms as possible. This magnificent natural wonder is the handiwork of years of natural abrasion and underground water.
As I reached the entrance of the cave, I met a number tourists from all parts of the country but the one’s from neighbouring West Bengal outnumbered them all. Irrespective of the age and gender excitement was writ large on everyone’s face.
The caves were clean, smooth and well lit. Water was dripping from the roof at many places. The passage and floor was wet but smooth. And as we moved ahead, we witnessed enumerable natural formation of shapes and images.
It was good to see the wonderful creation of nature and people enjoying with families and friends. It took us good 15-20 minutes to reach to the far end of the cave. There were two openings, one narrow and the other a bigger one. Both opened into a nice passage with Sacred grove on both its sides.
From Mawsmai Cave, I drove to Seven Sister’s fall or the Nohsngithiang falls which was closeby. Falling from a height of 315 meters in monsoons, the falls are one of the most beautiful and highest plunge falls in India. The fall was hardly a lean trickle during the dry weather that day.
From Seven Sisters fall I drove to state forest department maintained Thangkharang Park, offering a nice view of Bangladesh, Khoh Ramhah Rock and Kynrem falls. Since thick fog had formed all around, the view was hampered and due to dry season, there was no water in the fall as well.
The beauty of the place is enhanced by the flow of the stream through the rocks, which takes the shape of a rapid waterfall when seen from behind. On a clear day, the Bangladesh plains are a sight to behold.
Kynrem falls, the 7th highest waterfall in India was just a small tricking droplets during this dry spell. I was told the sight was amazing during monsoons.
After visiting few famous places, waterfalls and Mawsmai cave I drove back to Halari tourism society restaurant in Cherrapunjee. The lady at the restaurant greeted me with a smile and like the previous evening, served me a simple but yummy food.
It was so nice being there in Cherrapunjee, I did not wish to leave the place and so in order to spend some more time, I drove to various places, villages, towns and countryside aimlessly. The place is so clean, orderly and beautiful. I believe it must be heavenly during monsoons.
Falling from a height of 340 meters, Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest plunge waterfall in India. Fed by the rainwater collected on the summit of a small plateau, the fall decreases in power during the dry season. An emerald green pool is formed at the place where the water falls, making it a beautiful sight to behold.
With heavy heart, bidding goodbye to Cherrapunjee and promising to be back again with family during the monsoons, I drove down 6-7 kilometers excursion to the left on the main highway to shillong and after driving for a while on the deserted road reached Nohkalikai falls.
Again the water in the falls was not spectacular but the site was beautiful and grand, must be amazing during the rains. It was good to see some tourists at the place and few restaurants open. After spending good half an hour walking around the place, exploring the area, left for Dawki, my next destination of the trip.
It was around 5.30pm evening when I left. The weather was dull and murky. Sun was about to set and Dawki was still around 120 kilometers away from the place, I was solo and new to the area. Dawki is the last town before Bangladesh border, so did not stop anywhere en route and focussed solely on the drive.
Reached Dawki at around 8.30pm night.
In contrast, Dawki was a very lively place. The bazar was buzzing with activity. There weren’t many places to stay but I saw a number of small eating joints. A number of trucks and taxis were lined up on both sides of the road.
I straight away drove till the last point on the road near the border and asked the BSF men whether sleeping inside the car was safe. They told me there was no problem yet asked me to try PWD rest house.
Drove back and then walked up few stairs to reach PWD rest house, no one was there and even after waiting for about 15-20 minutes no one arrived, walked back on the road again, saw a filling station and was surprised to meet hindi speaking men from Bihar working there.
They also confirmed that there was no problem in sleeping inside the car except that few days ago there was a murder in the town and the culprits were not yet nabbed. They told me to park the car inside the filling station and sleep.
I felt a little scary though, drove back to the main market, took few drinks, ate something, parked the car on a side, put the covers over, slipped inside and slept, another wonderful day and another adventurous night…….!!!