Crowned as the wettest place on earth, the village of Mawsynram is a nature lover’s dream and the best place to witness the fury of the rains. With 11,872 mm of rainfall received annually, Mawsynram beats Cherrapunji by a slender margin. Cherrapunji receives 11,777 mm of rainfall. Situated in East Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya, 15 km west of Cherrapunji, Mawsynram is 1400 m above sea level. Meteorologists believe Mawsynram’s location plays a huge part in it receiving huge amount of rainfall. Moisture gathers over the Bay of Bengal, it causes precipitation over Mawsynram, leading to a heavy and very long monsoon season.
The rains are so intense in Mawsynram that the villagers use thick grass to sound-proof their huts from the deafening rain. The ‘Maw’ in Mawsynram is a Khasi word which means ‘stone’, thus referring to certain megaliths found in the Khasi Hill area. The village is most famous for the gigantic formation of a stalagmite, which resembles the shape of a ‘shivling’. Mawsynram is situated at an altitude of 1400m. Picturesque waterfalls and lush green lands make up for the landscape. The drive from Shillong towards Mawsynram is a challenge for drivers and requires exception skills. Only SUVs or four-wheel drives can handle the terrain.
The people of Mawsynram spend months preparing for the wet season. It becomes a ritual for them to buy and stock-up foodgrains, as it becomes highly difficult to leave their homes and go shopping for food during the wettest months between May and July. The women of Mawsynram use rain covers known as ‘knups’, using bamboo slivers, plastic sheets and broom grass to create a rain shield that resembles a turtle shell, which is then worn on the head. The knups are large enough to keep rain off the whole body right up to the knees.
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The labour-intensive process of weaving a knup, takes at least an hour to complete and keeps the women of the village occupied right throughout the rainy season. Bamboo and broom grass that is used to make Indian brooms- are among the chief plants grown in the rocky, hilly region of Meghalaya. A few locals spend all of the monsoon season and part of the winter making bamboo baskets, brooms and knups which are then sold all around the state.
Also, a must-do-experience would be to use one of the jingkieng deingjris, which are living bridges made from roots of rubber trees. Known to take about two decades to grow after which it gains strong support, it is often used by locals to cross turbulent streams during the monsoon. One of the many pastimes for the residents of Mawsynram is the centuries-old tradition of ‘siat khnam’ which means shoot arrow. It is a leisure activity of archery-led gambling where each contestant throws arrows like javelins at bamboo targets a few metres away. Angling in the ponds around the village is another activity.
Mawsynram offers limited options for accommodations. Cherrapunji, 15 km to the east, offers better options. From guest houses with basic amenities, resorts that offer better facilities, cottages, to homestays, you will be spoilt for choice.Options to eat in Mawsynram are limited. Eating in Cherrapunji is a great experience. You can enjoy Khasi cuisine like pork rice. Eateries that sell pork and other red meat abound in the town. Sohra Pulao which is rice cooked with oil and vegetables without spices should not be missed.
You can also get Indian Chinese, Punjabi and Bengali cuisines in Cherrapunji. However, what you get here is the Khasi version of the cuisines.The best time to visit Mawsynram is between the months of September and November. The rainfall is the least during these two months and the weather is absolutely pleasant. However, if you want to enjoy the rains and witness the brute force of nature, then the rainy season is the best time to visit Mawsynram.
Image: Sharada Prasad CS/Wikimedia Commons
BEST TIME TO VISIT CHERRAPUNJI
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Cherrapunji is as given below. The best time to visit Cherrapunji is also specified.