When it comes to beautiful and mesmerising waterfalls, the name Meghalaya comes first in my mind. Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is bestowed with some of the major Waterfalls. Of which we recently visited the Nohkalikai Waterfalls in Cherrapunji and it was such wonderful sight that simple words cannot describe it in its best.
It is indeed one of the best places in Northeast India to experience some of the tallest plunge waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, living root bridges, naturally formed caves, rivulets and what not. The state is not just welcoming to visitors but also an excellent place to experience the amalgamation of tribal culture, tradition and great hospitality.
A simple drive along the hills of Cherrapunji will simply blow your mind off. Sohra one of the most favourite and popular places gives you a multitude of sceneries during the four seasons of the year. Each season has its own charm and colour. While monsoons are full of rain, winters make everything look golden when the grassy areas change their colour making everything look so surreal.
Also, the rainiest place in the world Mawsynram a town located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya is just 60.9 km from Shillong. It receives the highest rainfall in India. Monsoons for sure cast a separate spell upon the state with the waterfalls overflowing in all its glory.
But still, the overall landscape is marvellous throughout all the seasons. I visited the Nohkalikai Waterfalls in Cherrapunji previously during monsoons and recently in December 2021. The landscape remains the same but the waterfalls looked more mesmerising during the monsoons.
Some interesting facts about the Waterfalls
The Nohkalikai Waterfalls is located at a distance of around 7.5 km from Cherrapunji in the East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya. With a height of around 340 m, it is said to be the tallest waterfall plunge in the world.
The pool beneath where the waterfalls plunge into is greenish in colour and it keeps on changing to blue colour at various times of the season. The green colour is may be due to the lush green forests that encircle the whole area. You can hear the sound of the waterfall and it definitely gives a pleasing effect to the ear.
The waterfall can be reached at the base after a trek but it’s quite hazardous and risky. The best time of the trek is during winter from November to March as at that time it mostly remains dry. So to view the falls there is a high tabletop area securely constructed with proper fencing from where you can have a panoramic view of the hills that surround the waterfalls and can be viewed in its most dramatic form.
The word Nohkalikai means “Jump of Ka Likai” where Noh means Jump and Ka means female and Likai is the name of a Khasi woman with whom a legend is associated and how the Waterfalls got attached to the legend. Let us know more about this legend.
The legend behind the Nohkalikai Waterfalls
Well as the legend goes there lived a woman named Likai in the village of Rangyrteh. She was a widow and had a baby girl from her previous marriage. She worked hard to make both ends meet for her and the baby girl. But finding it difficult to sustain both lives, she remarried again. But her new husband turned out to be a bad human being. He became jealous of the baby girl.
One day after Likai came back from working in the fields, she was surprised to see her husband had prepared the evening meal and also served it to her. She started eating without any suspicion. But when she found the little fingers of her baby girl in the betel-nut basket she understood what had happened. Distraught with grief, remorse and anger she ran out of the house and rushed to the nearby cliff and threw herself from the edge adjoining the waterfalls and died.
Thus from where The Nohkalikai Waterfalls in Cherrapunji got their name meaning the Leap Of Likai. When I knew about the story which is written on the spot on a display board I felt disgusted and sad at the same time thinking how cruel humankind can be. Thus the place got a deeper place in my heart. You can READ HERE for more.
How to reach the Nohkalikai Waterfalls
The best way to reach is by a cab or shared taxi. There is no public communication available. It is around 54kms from Shillong and takes around 2 hours to reach. The spot can be easily reached even if you are travelling via your personal vehicle as there are proper signboards all along the road.
The drive to reach the spot is equally beautiful and you can find some nice picturesque spots on way. The best time to reach is 3 pm so that you can enjoy the majestic sunset over the hills. The evening is really spectacular on a clear day.
It is also advisable to visit in the latter half of the day as the probability of finding the place foggy remains a bit less. You can hire a taxi for visiting the popular places in Cherrapunji and end your day by visiting the Nohkalikai Waterfalls.
You can also read about some other popular Waterfalls of Meghalaya
The Best time to reach the Nohkalikai Waterfalls
The best time is during the monsoons from March to October when the waterfalls can be viewed in their full glory. But at the same time, a question of visibility comes up during monsoons as it remains foggy due to rains sometimes. A hike down to the base of the Waterfalls is best during the winter season when the treks remain dry.
The best way to enjoy the waterfalls is from the tabletop point from where you can have a spectacular plunge. But for trekkers, I am sure this won’t be enough. The waterfalls can be trekked down to the base. The best time to start is early in the morning only if you have the energy and passion to go for it.
It is a full day trek and takes 4 to 5 hours to reach the base and on way towards back to the main point 6 to 7 hours. There is a steep flight of stairs then there are rocks and huge boulders amidst the lush green forest area. The trek is very risky and needs a lot of stamina. Also, it’s best if you go in a group or with an expert guide to avoid any misadventure. I didn’t go for the trek but my husband during one of his previous visits started off with his friends but returned mid-way as it was too strenuous.
There are some tea stalls in the same campus of the main area where you can have tea, coffee, maggie and other light snacks. There are also quite a lot of stalls that sell local handmade shawls, traditional clothes, magnets, pickles made of chilly or dried fish, handmade bamboo and wooden crafts. Don’t forget to bargain as some of these are overly priced. Also, this is the basic means of income for the local villagers so you can support them by buying a few interesting things like magnets and pickles.
Just a few minutes walk from the area you can have a beautiful panoramic view of Bangladesh. There is also a basic entry fee to enter the viewpoint area of the Waterfalls which is Rs 50 per head and Rs30 for car parking. Don’t forget to carry an umbrella or a raincoat at weather in Cherrapunji is unpredictable. The drive towards the Nohkalikai viewpoint is equally amazing. So you can stop at some points to click beautiful pictures of the landscape.
You may find small waterfalls on the way which almost get dried up during winters but monsoons are in full glory. I like to soak my feet in these wild waters. You can do that too. Nature is in its most raw form in Cherrapunji and it should be enjoyed in the best possible way as I feel. Hope this guide helps you in planning your trip to the mesmerising Nohkalikai Falls in Cherrapunji