Cherrapunjee, the abode of clouds, is noted all over the world for highest recorded rainfall. Here you may find clouds billowing upwards from down the gorges and spreading over the sky for imminent downpour. Here it rains cats and dogs with such tremendous gust of wind which may be incredible to one who has no personal experience. Here you may find varieties of cloud formations and quick change of weather fair to foul and vice versa. Here you find undulated hill ranges draped in the velvet of lush green grasses.
Cherrapunjee being situated on the summit of the southern ranges of Khasi hills and located at nearly 4,500 feet above sea-level over looking vast plains of Sylhet district receives full brunt of monsoon directly from the Bay of Bengal coming across the vast plains of present Bangladesh.
Annual rainfall averaging to 4900 mm per year there has been heavy rainfall of 17,930 mm in 1988, the recorded figures for 2003, 2004 and 2005 being 14,865 mm,14,821 and 14,970 mm respectively. Mawsynram, another place noted for heavy rainfall, is situated about 8 km to the west by aerial distance.
Minimum recorded temperature in January 1997 was 2.6°c.
Cherrapunjee is located at 50 k.m. point on the Shillong-Shella road whereas Mawsynram is located at 50 k.m. point on Shillong-Ballat road both being bifurcated from one another at Upper Shillong 7-Mile Point near Elephant Falls.
Whereas Cherrapunjee is located at the altitude of 4200 - 4500 feet on the East Khasi Hills range, Mawsynram is located almost at the similar altitude on another hill range lying respectively on eastern and western sides of river Umiam which emerging from Shillong Peak flows southwards to Bangladesh via Shella placing two noted rainfall plateaus viz. Mawsynram and Cherrapunjee respectively on its right and left sides, the aerial distance between the two places being approximately around 5/6 kms. by the presence of Wahlyngkien field
and two gorges viz. Dainthlen and Umiam. The mobile telephone towers as well as the lights flickering at Mawsynram can be seen from Ramakrishna Mission Cherrapunjee provided the area remains free from fog or clouds.
Cherrapunjee being centrally located at the highest rainfall map of the world, Mawsynram comes about 5/6 kms. to the west whereas Pynursla falls about 5/6 kms. to east of Cherrapunjee by aerial distance. In the said rainfall map, both Mawsynram and Pynursla may be taken as its geographical suburbs.
Some notable Waterfalls of the area :
Beautifully adorned by many seasonal falls and some noted perennial falls like Nohkalikai (3 k.m. away), Mawsmai (9 k.m. away), Dian Thlen and Umstew. Cherrapunjee has its flora of varieties of wild orchids numbering to about 250 types whereas the natural fauna includes wild deer, gray panthers and leopards residing in the forest at gorges along the courses of hill rivulets.
Some notable Natural Formations of the area :
Cherrapunjee has a few fascinating stone gorges noted among which are Riat-Maw-Iew, Maw-Laikhlieh and Riat-U-Shain. The famous Mawsmai Cave with charming stalactite formations is located 9 k.m. away close to the Mawsmai falls.
Existence of coal and limestone in abundance and presence of various fossils have led the geologists to conclude that this place was once upon a time under the deep sea.
It is also held by some experts that Khasi Hills are older than Himalayan Ranges. Along with coal, limestone and iron ore, this place has plenty of orange, areca nut, jack fruit, pine apple and cassia leaf groves in the vicinity.
Cherrapunjee is situated exactly at the midway between Shillong and Shella both the places being 50 k.m. away respectively to the North and South. As one descends southwards to Shella lush vegetation with orange orchards and areca nut groves are seen beyond Mawsmai village throughout the course of journey. The sky remaining clear you may look at the exciting panorama of Bangladesh plains just 4,500 feet below your foot.
At clear nights the illumined towns of Sylhet, Sunamganj and Chhatak of Bangladesh are sights of attraction from the height of Cherrapunjee. Delicious banana with charming fragrance and orange honey grown in the vicinity of Cherrapunjee are well known in the country.
Even in pre-British period Cherrapunjee was noted for its iron industry and trade rapport with Kolkata. Cherrapunjee was declared to be the capital of greater Assam by the British in 1832 which was later shifted to Shillong in 1866 due to very wet and inclement weather of this place. Cherrapunjee being geographically loser to Kolkata than Gauhati by the then route which went through Dhaka and Sylhet all essential commodities were supplied to Shillong from Kolkata via Dhaka, Sylhet and Cherrapunjee in pre partition days.
The presence of beautiful stone laid pavement along with several attractive culverts from Bholaganj to Shillong through Cherrapunjee and Mawflang as well as to many other nearby villages even down in the adjacent gorges built nearly 200 years ago by local masons and labours is a vivid example of perfect workmanship of civil engineering through their traditional knowledge of construction work.
The old Mahadev Temple at Laittyra village and Chandi Mandir at Shella Bazar, 5 km and 45 km away from Mawsmai view point, bear evidence of the traditional culture of the local society.
The Durga Bari at Nartiang in Jaintia Hills and annual Durga Puja celebration at Shella Ashrama -- [click] clearly indicate the age old faith of the local residents there.