Friday, August 27, 2010

Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji - world's fourth highest falls?

I had planned to spend this week describing some of the beauty of Cherrapunji, but there were so many other things that came up and now it's Friday!! So let me begin by describing the best known of Sohra's many, many waterfalls. Nohkalikai Falls hold pride of place among Meghalaya's beauty spots not only for its magnificence, but also for the story associated with it. The story is rather gruesome and I will desist from going into all the gory details (though Amy loves to gross out all our guests with them!!). The complete saga (for those of strong stomach!!) is here. It is said that a widow called Ka Likai who lived in a village upstream from the falls had a daughter whom she loved very much. (I guess every woman loves her daughter very much, but I had to put that in to preserve the good traditions of all fairy tales....) One day Ka Likai remarried, but her new husband was jealous of her love for her daughter. One day, when she had gone to work, he killed the daughter. When Ka Likai returned, she was filled with grief and running to the falls threw herself down to her death. 'Noh' in Khasi means jump and the falls were called Nohkalikai in remembrance of her.

The heaviest flow is towards the end of the rainy season (obviously!!) which is around August - about the best time to visit Meghalaya. During this season, there are a number of companion waterfalls making their dramatic leaps off the escarpment The falls nearly dry up by the early spring as there is hardly any rainfall during the winter. However, even when nearly dry, the rock formations and the beautiful bluish-green pool below make sure it remains a place of enthralling beauty. There are steps that take you nearly to the bottom and the adventurous can take the footpath that leads from the bottom of the stairs right down to the pool. Personally, being a man of foresight, I have never ventured down the stairs even, as my mind always goes straight to the thought of the climb back up and suppresses any residual adventurous spirit. I am quite happy to revel in the magnificence of the scene from afar. (However, I have it from reliable sources, that it is worth the effort.) This is usually the second-last stop on our Sohra tour - giving us some time to take in the scene in its entirety. Spending even a short time gazing at this beauty cannot fail to make the heart sing 'How great Thou art....'

Near the viewing point is an interesting sign which claims that this is the fourth highest waterfall in the world.

At first I was really excited to add this to the list of reasons to visit Meghalaya, but subsequent research has brought me to the conclusion that this is probably not completely true. I searched high and low for some technicality which would make this plausible (like longest uninterrupted drop), but in vain. It is however, the highest waterfall in Meghalaya and the fourth highest in India, so maybe the mistake is just a typo! Anyway, as it is unlikely that I will ever see the Angel Falls (the world's highest waterfall), I am quite content to enjoy the Nohkalikai Falls and thank God for all His wonderful works that bless our lives time and time again.


  1. Wow that was grand! Thanks for the saga which puts the story in perspective. I love your history bits. Are these the falls beside which you and Amy appear to be dangerously perched in your post on Sohra. Maybe if you found out the height of the falls you could figure out where it was placed in the hierarchy. The views are great and thank you for taking the time to write and for the pictures. Your blog has become a good resource to return to regularly & thanks

  2. Thank you for your regular comments - good to know there is at least one regular reader!! The falls in the picture with both of us is another of the Cherrapunji falls that I will hopefully talk about in another post. Nohkalikai is actually 1100 feet high and hence does not figure even in the top 10 of the world. Does not retract from its beauty and magnificence though. The pictures can never do real justice to the real thing

  3. yet another rocking post.. am all nostalgic now.. i had visited this fall in december 2009, on the day of christmas and so far its the most stunning thing i have seen on earth.. the present post i am writing is an ode to this fall only.. i had been down the stairs too, it was tough man, going down n then climbing up.. didnt take the footpath to the pool, looked quite dangerous..
    one more thing, nohkalikai (335m) is the 2nd tallest fall in meghalaya after the langshiang falls (337m).. its near the nongkhnum island.. i missed seeing that one.. if possible plz do go there once n post an article on that too.. i would be very thankful :)

  4. regarding the world ranking.. well, there are many waterfalls even in india that are maybe higher but yet unexplored n moreover the height of nohkalikai, as with most others in india is crudely measured.. its a world class fall no doubt.. high, stunning, amazing n with such a story.. u don't get such exotic falls very easily.. :)
    its world ranking presently (leaving aside all the unknown ones and taking into the account the current height) is 213..
    this link would be of help to u..

  5. Thanks and you're right. The measurements are probably very crude - the sites I saw seemed to make Nohkalikai higher than Langshiang, but as you say, what's a metre or two either way - it's the beauty that counts.

  6. Thanks for sharing !
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