One of the most photogenic waterfalls in India, Nohkalikai in Meghalaya is the fifth highest waterfall in India. Nohkalikai, which means means ‘Ka Likai’s Leap’ in Khasi language, is located about seven km away from Cherrapunji, the second wettest place on the planet. Water plunges from a height of 1,100 ft uninterrupted from the highest point to the foot of the falls making it a spectacular site. The force of water has carved a waterhole which remains blue in the winter and turns green in the summer months. The flow of water is profuse in summer while the flow recedes in the winter to a small stream giving the impression of a white rope against the green forest.
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Nohkalikai Falls have been named so after a tragic Khasi legend. According to the legend, a woman named Likai had to remarry after her husband, who was a porter by profession, died on a trip carrying iron to Sylhet. Ka Likai (Ka is the prefix given for the female gender in Khasi) was left with her infant girl with no means of income so she had to become a porter herself. Her work required her to leave her daughter unattended for long intervals but when she would be at home she would spend most of her time taking care of her infant. Ka Likai, who married a second time, couldn’t pay attention to her second husband. The jealous husband killed the infant and cooked her meat after throwing away her head and bones.
When Ka Likai returned home, she saw nobody in the house but a meal was ready. She wanted to go look for her daughter but she ate the meat as she was tired from work. Ka Likai usually had a betel leaf after her meals but she found a severed finger near the place where she usually cut betel nuts and betel leaves. Ka Likai realized what had happened in her absence and went mad with anger and started running as she swung a hatchet in her hand. She ran off the edge of the plateau and the waterfall where she jumped from was named Nohkalikai Falls after her. ‘Noh’ means to jump in Khasi.
The gruesome story aside, the waterfall is a delight for adventure lovers. There are many things to do when visiting the falls like trekking, camping, bird watching, landscape photography, swimming and angling. A minimal amount is charged as entrance fee and for carrying a camera. Steps lead part of the way to the base of the waterfall but end midway. A trekking trail takes you rest of the way. Catching a glimpse of the Nohkalikai Waterfall during the monsoon season is tricky due to the thick cloud cover. The best time to visit the Nohkalikai Falls is in the months of September and October when the skies are relatively clear.
The nearest accommodation option is in Cherrapunji which offers a wide variety to suit every budget. From guest houses with basic amenities, resorts, cottages to homestays, you will be spoilt for choice. It is advisable to carry food and water when visiting the falls for extended periods of time. In Cherrapunji, 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.
Image: Kunal Dalui/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.