Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cherrapunji

In obedience to Amy's advice, I thought I would return to describe some of Meghalaya's jewels. So this week, I thought I would write about one of the world's most beautiful places - Cherrapunji. Famous for being the world's wettest place, till Mawsynram (also in Meghalaya) took over that honour, Cherrapunji combines wonderful and (for the large part) untouched natural beauty with rich history and fascinating folk-lore. There are too many stories to be told in one post, and being a lover of history, that is where I will begin.

The name for Cherrapunji in the Khasi language is Sohra. Perched on a plateau overlooking the plains of Bangladesh (which can be seen from many spots on the way), at an altitude of 1300 metres, Sohra became the port of entry for the British in their conquest of the Khasi-Jaintia-Garo hills, which separated their new acquisitions in the plains of Assam (following the Anglo-Burmese War) and Bengal which they had acquired from the Mughals. The political agent of the British, David Scott, forged a path up the mountains to reach Sohra in the early 1830s to request permission of the Syiem (ruler) at that time, U Tirot Sing to allow the British to build a road connecting Assam with Bengal through the Khasi hills. The mule track that he marked was abandoned for a long time, but is now a popular trekking route - the David Scott Trail. Once the British had begun the construction of the road, it was only a matter of time before they took over control of the government as well and they established their headquarters in Sohra in 1839. However, due to the heavy rainfall as well as occasional earthquakes, the headquarters was shifted to Shillong in 1866. Shillong then became the capital of the province of Assam and remained that way even after Independence until 1972 when the state of Meghalaya was created.

But enough of history before I get too carried away! The trip to Cherrapunji is just like any drive in Meghalaya - spectacular! Breathtaking beauty around every turn. And there is variety too - rock formations, streams, waterfalls, riverbeds and the best of all - lazy village scenes. If you get out of Shillong early enough in the morning during spring and early summer, you will have the added beauty of the clouds which descend down to cloak the peaks and sometimes, even kiss the road. We have made more than 15 trips, thanks to the many friends who brightened our lives by their visits last year and every time we went, it was like a new experience. There was always something that we had not noticed before, something that had changed since the last time, something refreshing to remember till our next trip. Rather like the Word of God - something new each time you read it and blessings - in season and out of season. Here are a few pictures from our last trip.

(Update: More on Sohra at Cherrapunji diary - 1, 2 and more to come)




View of Bangladesh from Sohra

2 comments:

  1. That was breathtaking and brought back memories of our trip to Sohra with you. Thanks for the history, it always puts the place in perspective. That is a wonderful picture of you both as if you are on the roof of the world. it is lovely to share these moving reflections with you. We love you Amy and Arpit.

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