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Old 23rd May 2015, 23:27   #1
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Default Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

When the pre-monsoon showers are belting out their rhythm, how do you feel? I feel very lazy. I just want to lay there and listen to the rains and do nothing. And what do you do when you feel extra lazy? Ofcourse, absolutely nothing and just wish that there's more rain.

It was one such day. I was feeling particularly lazy, what with the rains continuing and the long weekend looming ahead. So, lazy me decided to do what I could do...chase more rains to laze away the time. And to do that what best could it be than a drive through the clouds to Cherrapunjee, the erstwhile wettest, "rainiest" place on earth. So, just sit back and join me in a drive through the clouds.

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Old 24th May 2015, 12:55   #2
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Now for Guwahatians, Cherrapunjee is what Ooty, Mysore, Yeracud etc are to Bangaloreans. On a given day, you could meet half of Guwahati there and on a bad day, chances of meeting your best friend, worst enemy, ex-GF and her MIL can not be discounted.

So, after making too many trips in the past, I had avoided the place for the last few years, but this time my laziness got better of me to drag me and my family along with 2 other friends and their families to this beautiful, cloud covered plateau.

The plan was to leave Guwahati in the evening, stay in Shillong for the night, then drive to Cherrapunjee the next morning, do nothing, stay the night and then next day come back.

D1 - Started off for Shillong in the afternoon with a plan to enjoy the chill in the evening after the hot and humid Guwahati climate. The road to Shillong that was once a nightmare has now become a pleasant 4 laned hill twister. Ofcourse, the trade off is that the hills beside the road has been denuded of the pine and jacaranda trees that was once there.

The road crosses over the dam on the Umiam river and the reservoir, known as Barapani is a tourist spot with speed boats, resorts etc. Having been there many a times earlier, skipped this and moved onto Shillong.

Shillong has many attractions in itself, but we were in no mood to explore Shillong this time. Just went to the Police Bazaar point to have some food and walk around. Police Bazaar is the central place and the main market in Shillong and like all tourist highstreets in other hill-stations like Shimla, Mussoorie etc, is always full of tourists and hawkers.

Strolled around the area, had some food and then reached the serviced apartment that one of my friends had booked.

Here, I'd like to mention about the traffic in Shillong. Though the roads are narrow and steep, traffic by and large is disciplined with people stopping or giving way to other motorists and pedestrians. Also, lane driving is strictly enforced by the traffic police and being in the wrong lane at any crossing would mean a long detour. Also, do not rely only on GPS to navigate as most maps get confused by the numerous one way, no entry, single lane restrctions and do not always suggest the correct route inside the city. With the current vehicular population explosion, Shillong could also throw some nasty traffic jams at times.

Nevertheless, ended the day with nice home style cooked naga smoked pork curry, chicken curry, boiled veg and salad and rice. Just before going to bed, went out to the balcony to check out the rain, only to find clear sky.

Sigh !!! Hope Sohra would work overtime to throw the full fury of rains that it is famous for and that is what this drive is all about.

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Guwahati Exit

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Road is a nice 4 laned hill drive. Freshly laid tarmac is a pleasure to drive on.

PS - Pls excuse the quality of the above snaps through the dirty windshield.

Last edited by wanderer4x4 : 24th May 2015 at 16:07.
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Old 24th May 2015, 14:02   #3
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

D2 - Woke up in the morning after a sound sleep and immediately went out to the balcony to see whether it'd rain. The crisp, chilly, fresh air greeted me with a lot of sunshine and not a single fleck of rain cloud in sight. So much for my rain chase!

Anyways, had a lazy breakfast and went ahead to Cherrapunjee hoping for clouds and rains. Cherrapunjee is a plateau with rocky, flat mountains with very little tree cover. Most of the vegetation is grass and shrubs. This is due to the fact that most of the rocky, mountainous terrain there has very little top soil. Some say that the volcanic igneous, basalt rock does not hold much soil and whatever top soil the mountains had, has been washed off by the incessant heavy rains for hundreds of years.

Whether because of the volcanic rock or weathering by the rains, the hills of Sohra, as Cherrpunjee is locally known, do throw some interesting landscapes. Most of the hilltops are flat like table mountain and the sides are with deep creases and cuts. Now, whether these are due to the lava flow in some ancient times or due to the rain and wind, are for experts to explain.

We had booked ourselves at Sa-i-mika park resort. The resort is situated over acres of undulating, rocky grassland and is perfect for lazing around doing nothing. It has those stone cottages that give one a rustic yet comfortable feel. The resort is a few kms before the actual Sohra village, but is good for a comfortable stay. After driving very leisurely with lots of stops, we reached Sa-i-mika with ample time for lunch.

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Exiting Shillong, on the way to Cherrapunjee

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Twisty road through the idyllic mountainside with jhoom cultivation

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Suddenly saw the dark clouds with full promise of rains

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And Sohra did not disappoint

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The turn off to Cherrapunjee. The left goes towards Dawki and Bangladesh border.

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How'd it feel to live in that house... not for nothing the British felt at home in these areas reminding them of Scottish highlands.

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Time for some shots of the rain drenched Scorpio.

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Can you see the resemblance to the Table mountains? Also, this area of Meghalaya is full of clouds and the same spot can give you different shots at multiple hues and shades of the mountains because of the play of the sun and clouds. Rains and clouds also make sudden appearance here and most of the times rains mean real heavy cats and dogs and misty drizzle is not a concept that Sohra believes in too much.

Driving on towards Sohra on the superbly laid tarmac, I was hoping for the clouds passing over the roads and the clouds did not disappoint. Visibility became zero, air became cooler and crisper and my white Scorpio just blended into the clouds.

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Unlike fog and mist, clouds clear off as suddenly as they appear as you can see in the above photo. The visibility was almost zero one instant as shown in the previous photo and then pooff... its all clear and sunny. I just love this play of cloud and the sun.

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After a few turns, went into the clouds again, this time even thicker as you can see above. I was loving it, but still the rains remained elusive after the initial burst sometime earlier.

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Old 24th May 2015, 14:13   #4
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

D2 contd. - After lunch, it was time to relax, move around the huge resort grounds and generally do nothing. Here's some pics from the resort.

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The resort in general

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The cottage that I stayed in. Nice large space with a fireplace.


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Ramakrishna Mission Ashram shrouded in clouds in the distance.

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Can you spot the mini bus? The road traverses all along the top of the hill.

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The lava flow frozen in time...

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The resident waterfall of the resort. Just a small hike away.

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After whiling away the time, someone suggested that we go to Dainthlen falls which is nearby the resort. The falls has a legend attached to it as with all other waterfalls in Sohra. Some legends say that a large snake, Thlen in local language, was troubling the villagers and which was later on driven to the edge and killed by the villagers and whose imprint can be seen on the waterfall. Another legend is that long back red hot lava flowed like a serpent and once they reached the edge, the flow broke off and cooled. This seems more like a plausible story.

Anyways, the falls is unique in a sense that it is one of the few waterfalls where one can stand on the precipice and see the waterfall roaring and flowing right under your feet. The whole river bed forming the source of the falls looks like a huge, flat lava plain which it probably is. The whole landscape around the falls is one huge flat plain grassland and my camera could not capture all of it.

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Dainthlen Falls

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Here the waterfalls is falling through right between my legs.

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The flat lava flow river bed with crystal clear water with interesting patterns and fissures.

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Our very own Horse Shoe falls. Imagine the falls in full monsoon flow. [Ofcourse, it does not fall as wide as the edge is even then]

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The rides right on the river bed.

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The wide flat grassland.

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Interesting patterns, crystal clear water

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The road meandering through desolate grassland

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The river forming the waterfall follows you to some distance. Couldn't resist going down to the crystal clear water and here again, strange rock formations and a tiny waterfall.

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A natural bonsai in the rock and water...better than any human artist could have managed.

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The lonely cottage

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The resort at night

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The resident band kept their tiny tot audience enthralled with their renditions of nursery rhymes in rock style. Even the adults were mesmerised
by the "Twinkle twinkle little star, Old McDonald had a farm or Jingle bell jingle bell" all presented peppily by the superb band whom you can request for various rock and blues numbers. This time around though our kids kept them busy with requests for nursery rhymes which they sportingly obliged to.

Dinner was a non-veg affair with multiple pork and chicken items prepared by the resort staff. Enjoyed good food amidst the solitude.

Oh, BTW, did I tell you that no rains have fallen despite the heavy cloud cover? Will the rain gods not oblige this time? I was just hoping that it rains in the night. What a treat it'd be to hear the rains drumming away on the tin roofs of the stone cottages.

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Old 24th May 2015, 15:57   #5
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

A sudden rustling noise woke me up in the middle of the night. It was the wind slapping the tin roofs. Then suddenly my ears picked up the distinct beat as if a thousand horses are running towards me beating their hooves. Yes, the rains...the famous torrential downpour that Sohra is famous for. Now, it was approaching from the side and the noise appeared from the roofs of the cottages it hit first. In a couple of moments it hit my cottage and despite being prepared it was still enough to shock with the sudden force with which it hits. It feels as if someone is rapidly shoveling large pebbles on the flimsy tin roofs. I turned around, tucked myself fully under the warm blankets and went to a slow sleep listening to the steady drumbeat of the rains which continued till the morning.

Again, the suddenness with which it had appeared, the rains went away to reveal a beautiful morning full of sunshine. Before breakfast, we decided to hike down to the waterfall at the back of the resort.

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Your very own private beach


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It seems as if someone stacked up those slabs to make the waterfall

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Here it seems as if some artisans left their half cut rocks to return some other time.

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The undulating vista

After breakfast it was planned that we'd visit the caves and the Noh Ka Likai falls with a stop at the cloud view point enroute. So, off we went.

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The thick clouds below forming a creamy panorama

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And suddenly the clouds above hit out with their usual fury. This pic was snapped between two sweeps of the wiper in high and you can see how heavy the rain was by the amount of water on the windshield.

After the rains had stopped, we reached the Mawsmai caves. These are limestone caves with interesting formations and beautiful colours. Only issue is that the passage is very low and narrow at places and heavy built or claustrophobic people will find it hard to traverse the slippery rocks.

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The Mawsmai Caves

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I have only this single picture of the inside of the cave as my daughter became afraid of the claustrophobic interior of the caves and to comfort her, I ended up carrying her around, slipping and sliding on the rocks which was an adventure in itself.

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Somewhere hidden in these clouds are the Seven sisters waterfalls. I was content to view the play of the clouds and the mountains. It's magical...the creamy clouds below you...

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The Cherrapunjee weather station

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Next on the way, Noh Ka Likai falls. The road meanders through these beautiful meadows rising till the top of the mountain. Notice carefully in the above two pictures, you can see some markings on the mountainsides. These are plantations done by the government. Not sure, how these green meadows would look like with tree and shrubs growing. I prefer the kind of green yet rocky barren look that it presently has.

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The Noh Ka Likai was also hidden behind the cloud curtain. Only to give a sudden glimpse to us humans.

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The sad legend of Noh Ka Likai. The kids trying to decipher it.

After Noh Ka Likai, it was time to head home. Time to climb down from the clouds and face the daily rigours.

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The road back home.

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Somewhere beyond these clouds is home. The clouds will follow me home, but sadly not where you can touch them, feel them and get enveloped by them.

- THE END -

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Old 24th May 2015, 19:54   #6
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th May 2015, 20:51   #7
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Thank you Wanderer 4x4 for the wonderful travelogue/photologue

Amazing set of photos; very clourful with nice narrations.

For a person like me from down South, such travelogues keep the desire alive to travel to these beautiful places.

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Old 25th May 2015, 09:42   #8
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Thank you wanderer4x4 for showing me a place that is far far away and one that I may probably not visit at all. Although obviously nothing will beat being there myself, this virtual tour is the next best thing.
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Old 25th May 2015, 11:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAS View Post
For a person like me from down South, such travelogues keep the desire alive to travel to these beautiful places.
Thanks. Do make a trip to the parts. All the states in NE have lots to offer to the traveler. And regular tourist places can be done easily and comfortably.
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Originally Posted by Stryker View Post
Thank you wanderer4x4 for showing me a place that is far far away and one that I may probably not visit at all. Although obviously nothing will beat being there myself, this virtual tour is the next best thing.
Thank you, Stryker. Though these places are far, the common tourist places are easily accessible. You can cover multiple locations from your place in 5-7 days. ( Of course, a road trip would with a different timeline altogether)

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Old 25th May 2015, 13:39   #10
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Nice pics, wanderer. The pics of Sa-i-mika park makes me long to drive over and spend the weekend there. The manager Atanu is my childhood friend, hope you met him, great guy. I love sitting in the dining hall at night while the mist envelops the place, such a peaceful place. While the rains last, read a good book near the old school fireplace and when the weather clears, go hiking and trekking in any direction you please. If you walk along that stream for a few hundred meters you come to a very beautiful and deserted waterfall, and that is one of my favourite places there.
btw, where in guwahati do you live? I think I might have spotted the scorp with the tbhp stickers somewhere.
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Old 25th May 2015, 13:53   #11
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Loved your narration wanderer4x4. This is a very crisp and well-presented travelogue, with the right amount of narration and lovely pictures to engage even the non-readers (like me).
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Old 25th May 2015, 14:49   #12
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Just some of the pics when i visited cherrapunji during summer of 2013, you can make out the landscape from these very location.
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Old 25th May 2015, 18:06   #13
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Wow . wonderful narration and pictures . Feeling nostalgic . Would love to visit this land again and cover the places you have highlighted. Btw, did you engage 4wd in any occasion during this trip ?
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Old 25th May 2015, 18:44   #14
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Haha some lazy bum you are. You sneak off to Sohra and laze for a full weekend. Gawd. I would have returned back from Aizwal in that time. Lol.
Anyway amazing pics and superb narrative. Your pictures of the ECO PARK almost made me want to go there, if I didnot know any better. haha. You should laze more often I think.
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Old 25th May 2015, 20:09   #15
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Default Re: Chasing the rains, driving in the clouds - A dash to Cherrapunjee

Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrodrive View Post
Nice pics, wanderer. The pics of Sa-i-mika park makes me long to drive over and spend the weekend there. The manager Atanu is my childhood friend, hope you met him, great guy. ......btw, where in guwahati do you live? I think I might have spotted the scorp with the tbhp stickers somewhere.
I did meet Atanu, he is one long termer there. I stay near 6 Mile and you may have seen me on G S Road as that is the route I take everyday to office.
Quote:
Originally Posted by S2!!! View Post
Loved your narration wanderer4x4. This is a very crisp and well-presented travelogue, with the right amount of narration and lovely pictures to engage even the non-readers (like me).
Glad that you liked it. In any case, since I'd spent some leisurely time, I did not have much to write anyways. So, the writing was bound to be crisp and short.
Quote:
Originally Posted by supratim07 View Post
Just some of the pics when i visited cherrapunji during summer of 2013, you can make out the landscape from these very location.
You seem to have caught both the big falls in clear conditions. Nice ones, thanks for sharing.

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Originally Posted by ManuMacher View Post
Wow . wonderful narration and pictures . Feeling nostalgic . Would love to visit this land again and cover the places you have highlighted. Btw, did you engage 4wd in any occasion during this trip ?
4wd is not at all required on that sector anywhere. The main roads are superbly laid and are in great condition despite the heavy rains. The inner roads to some of the falls are broken in patches but are easily doable in any car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Haha some lazy bum you are. You sneak off to Sohra and laze for a full weekend. Gawd. I would have returned back from Aizwal in that time. Lol.
Anyway amazing pics and superb narrative. Your pictures of the ECO PARK almost made me want to go there, if I didnot know any better. haha. You should laze more often I think.
Thanks, mate. The trip was planned in a very short time. And yes, I also do wish that I could laze more often, now only if wishes were horses....
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