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India North East India - Meghalaya

Activities in north east India: caving, trekking, rafting, wildlife and tribal culture, contact:

Contact Partha Pratim Das of Extreme North East and Daobai Hospitality which specialses in Bodoland and Manas National Park.

MEGHALAYA, Rain, Caves, Waterfalls, Living bridges and archers

cave-2.jpgCherrapunjee is renowned as 'the wettest place in the world', but when we were there it never rained, whereas in the monsoon it can drop over 4.6 metres of rain a month!

Caves The rain has also carved out the limestone to form most of India's and south Asia's longest caves, near which the Cherra Resort is conveniently located.

The nearby seven kilometre Krem Mawmluh (the fourth longest cave in south Asia) was fairly easy after the short climb to gain the entrance it was reasonable going, with some nice river passage, high avens, pendant clusters of straws, numerous gower pools and some fairly big stals. The roof was also unusually decorated with shredded poly bags swept in from a nearby cement factory! We emerged through a sink hole into vertical jungle, to eat lunch above Nohkalikai Waterfall locally considered (incorrectly) to be the world's fourth highest (no shortage of water here!).

rootbridge.jpgLiving Bridges We also visited some amazing and possibly unique 'living bridges' discovered in 2001, the year before our visit. We were told that we were the first to report them in the UK media: they are genuine eco-friendly constructions built by the Khasi Hill People by training the living roots and creepers of banyan (rubber plant- ficus elastica) trees across the rivers, initially through hollowed out areca nut tree trunks. They are the only structures that survive the annual monsoon floods and date back perhaps two hundred years but undergo continuous maintenance as new shoots are woven into the old. One of the bridges is two-tiered. They are truly spectacular and well worth the steep descent on the jungle trails which, though easy (if slippery) in descent certainly create an appetite and thirst coming back up, both of which were soon attended to by the friendly Resort staff.

Archery In Shillong, we caught a daily archery competition, where a dozen or so archers fire off as many arrows as possible in a limited time and bets are placed on how many hit the target. We lost our few rupees but, like the locals, fully enjoyed the experience.


Top Inside the cave of Krem Mawmluh, one of Meghalaya's thousands of caves, many unexplored

Right A 'living bridge' woven from living roots and vines by the Khasi hill people to withstand monsoon flooding.