Surrounding areas

CHERRAPUNJE

Cherrapunje situated 1300 meters (4290 feet) above sea level and 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Shillong is famous worldwide for it's enormous rainfall. The town has one of the highest rainfall totals which occurs between June and the middle of October. The average rainfall here is about 1143 centimeters (450 inches).In 1974, 2456 centimeters(967 inches) of rainfall was recorded, with 930 centimeters(366 inches) in July alone. The maximum rainfall for a single day was 1876, when 104 centimeters (41 inches) fell in a 24 hour period !

 Below--pic--(a waterfall at Cherra)

Cherrapunjee was a rich heritage and was the first British outpost in this part of the country. David Scott, the political agent of the East India Company came to the Khasi hills in 1820 and changed the settlement into a little piece of England. He called it Cherra Station and made it the official headquarters of the British Raj in the Khasi and Jaintia hills. It was selected as a sanatorium for European pensioners in the East India Company's service.

 For those who love adventure, the area - luxuriant with tropical vegetation and innumerable varieties of ferns, mosses and orchids - has deep gorges, countless rain- fed rivulets from peaks, and roaring waterfalls. Cherrapunje also overlooks the vast plains of Bangladesh.

 On the slopes of the hills around Cherrapunje there are many betel nut plantations and extensive orange groves. It is said that in the olden days , oranges from Garhwal , Sikkim and the Khasi hills were carried by Arab traders into Syria. When the crusaders invaded Syria, they took the oranges back to southern Europe and propagated throughout the region.

In the olden days Khasis cremated their dead by this river, a place which is considered to be infested with ghosts. Today it is a place for picnics and recreation.

left---pic---(Nartiang)

At Nartiang, 65 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Shillong, in the Jaintia Hills there are giant monoliths. Up to 8 meters high and 76 centimeters (18 inches) thick, they were supposedly built by Mar Phalyngki, the Goliath of Jaintia legend. One of the stones is said to have been of Mar himself.

Meghalaya, within it's limited geographical area, is endowed with elevations ranging from a couple of hundred meters in the south adjoining the Bangladesh Plains to well over 1500 meters (4950 feet) at the summits of the central plateau peaks. There are few places in the world where topical and sub-tropical species of flora and fauna occur in such concentrations and numbers. The state has two National Parks - Nobrek and Balpakram, and two wildlife sanctuaries - Nongkyllem and Siju.  

Balpakram in Garo means 'The wind blows continuously'. But according to Garo legend, Balpakram is the 'Land of the Disembodied spirit'. After death, human spirits on their journey to the spirit land sojourn there for a while. Also, the spirit of the dead person must cross there before it returns to earth.

Balpakram is a fertile virgin land. The unsurveyed belts of limestone and coal deposits, along with the varieties of seashells fossilized into rocks in the Balpakram Hill provide immense scope for geological and archaeological studies. The forest forms a natural habitat for a large number of rare and indigenous flora which are scarcely seen outside the sanctuary. The place is also famous for it's rare species of valuable medicinal herbs. The dikge muni (The herb of sleep) is the most difficult one to get. It is preserved by vultures in their nests high up on the rocks beyond anyone's reach. Those who do try to reach it by means of ropes, fall asleep suddenly due to the herbs soporific effect.

 Nokrek Biosphere Recessive is located in the Garo Hills. This reserve is one of the least disturbed forest tracts of the sub-Himalayan ranges. It is one of 13 biospheres in the country.

The Garo Hills contain many natural limestone caves. The famous Siju Cave is located very close to the Nophak lake near the Simsang River game reserve. The cave has a formation of stalactites and stalagmites that resemble those in the famous Blue Grotto in the Isle of Capri. The cave is filled with water and is miles long. Bats breed in large numbers in the cave.


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