Filled with lush meadows, speckless lakes and towering hills, Meghalaya is also home to beautiful cascading waterfalls from hanging valleys.
Here are our top ten picks of magnificent and majestic waterfalls whose beauty will be etched in your minds forever –
1. Nohkalikai Falls
Located at 1115 feet (340 metres), Nohkalikai is the tallest plunge waterfall in India and the fourth highest in the world.
At roughly 7.5 km from Cherrapunji (locally known as Sohra), this milky white waterfall cascades down at force to form a plunge pool of turquoise blue and green colours. The scenery can be enjoyed from a panoramic viewpoint at the top or one can trek down steps to get a closer view of the majestic fall.
Legend: Nohkalikai, which literally translates to ‘jump of Ka Likai’, tells the tragic tale of a Khasi widow named Likai who lived upstream of the waterfall with her infant daughter.
Likai spent most of her day working as a porter carrying loads of iron leaving her young daughter alone at home. Whatever time she got, she devoted it to her daughter. But raising a kid alone was difficult and so, Likai remarried with the hopes of providing a father figure to her child. However, her husband grew jealous and resented the child. One day when Likai went off to work, he chopped the child into pieces and cooked her flesh throwing away the head and bones.
Famished and tired after a long day’s work, Likai came home and started searching for the child. She couldn’t find her and thought she’ll search after having her food. Little did she know what she was eating.
Likai usually finished off her meal with betel leaf and to her horror, found a severed finger in her kwai (betel) basket. She finally realised she had cannibalised her own child. Mad with grief and anger, Likai ran out of the house with a hatchet in her hand and jumped off the plateau to her death.
How to reach: By cab or personal vehicle. You can either book a cab from Shillong which is approximately 90 km from Sohra or you can book a cab in Cherrapunji.
Best season to visit: Nohkalikai is in its mightiest during the monsoon season. But trekking to the base and the mouth of the fall can be done only during winter (October to March). During monsoon, due to increased water level, trekking is inadvisable.
2. Seven Sisters Falls
Location: Nohkalikai, Cherrapunji
Also known as Nohsngithiang falls or Mawsmai falls, these cataracts plunge down from a height of 315 metres (1,033 ft) over the top of limestone cliffs of the East Khasi Hills in Cherrapunji.
As the name suggests, the Seven Sisters falls are seven different waterfalls arranged side by side on a tall, rugged cliff. Surrounded by lush green vegetation, it is truly a sight to watch these soaring seven cascades plunging their way down into a single lake.
How to reach: The Seven Sisters Falls is located at a distance of about 4 km from Cherrapunji’s main town and 57 km from Shillong. It’ll take around 2 hours to reach from Shillong.
Best season to visit: All the seven segments can be observed fully during the monsoon months of May to July.
3. Dainthlen Falls
Location: Dainthlen road, Cherrapunji
The perfect place to catch a sunset, Dainthlen is just 2 km from Cherrapunji and 5 km off the road. Descending at a height of 80-90 metres from its source, provides a good opportunity for people to travel to the bottom of the fall.
The water falling down at its full force gathers a lot of steam which adds to the appeal of this waterfall. The natural rock carvings close by the waterfalls where the snake was killed symbolises greed, power and is a famous crowd puller.
Legend: The waterfall derives its name from Thlen which in Khasi means Python. Legend says that there once lived a gigantic python in a cave. The thlen would devour people who would cross the cave. This caused fear and panic among people who then came together to put an end to the snake’s tyranny.
Together, they captured and killed the snake, pulled it out of the cave to the dry river bed and chopped it. The rocky bed of the river even now looks like pieces of chopped meat. Since then the place is known as Dainthlen- the place where ‘thlen was cut.’
How to reach: At around 56 km from Shillong, it will take 2 hours to reach.
Best season to visit: Since the turbulence causes steam formation more during monsoon than the rest of the year, monsoon is the best time.
4. Wei Sawdong Falls
This one is for all you adventure seekers and trekkers out there.
Located near Dainthlen, this three step cascade is considered one of the most beautiful yet physically trying tourist destinations of Meghalaya.
To reach the viewpoint, you need to trek for approximately 20 minutes on makeshift bamboo stairs with mountains on both sides of the trail. At the viewpoint, you can stop and revel at the breathtaking three step cascade. To go to the bottom of the would take another 20-30 minutes of trekking. However on this path, there is absolutely no built path but just muddy, slippery paths surrounded by dense, tall trees. But, it’s all worth what awaits at the end.
How to reach: If you’re already in Dainthlen, it will take you roughly 7-10 mins (2.5km) to reach Wei Sawdong. From Shillong, it’ll take 2 hours to reach and 40 minutes from Cherrapunjee.
Best season to visit: You can visit it either during March-April and even October-November.
5. Elephant Falls
Covered between trees and falling into three tiered succession, Elephant falls serves as a perfect picnic spot loved both by locals and travellers
Like Wei Sawdong, Elephant falls is also multi tiered but in succession. The locals called it ‘Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew’ which translates to ‘The Three Steps Waterfall.’ However, the name ‘Elephant Falls’ was given by Britishers during the colonial era when they spotted a rock at the bottom of the fall that looked like an elephant. But with time, the rock disintegrated.
How to reach: You can hire a cab from neighbouring Paltan Bazar in Guwahati to directly go to Elephant Falls or you can hire a cab from Shillong as well. It’s at a distance of 12 kms from Shillong.
Best season to visit: After the monsoon season, from October to December.
6. Thangsning Falls
Location: Smit, Meghalaya
Situated among verdant trees and a picturesque landscape, Thangsning or Lwai falls is the perfect spot for a quiet and serene getaway.
Standing tall at 100 feet, this fall is divided into two long water columns from which they descend together to form a pool of clear, turquoise blue water. You can see the perfectly yellow pebbles under the sparkling clear water.
How to reach: It’s located 21 kms from Shillong.
Best season to visit: Winters
7. Rainbow Falls
Visitors and trekkers say the journey to Rainbow falls is one of the toughest they’ve ever done. The journey to this fall is usually divided into two- trekking to reach the Double Decker Living Root Bridge which comes after you reach Nongriat village. To reach Nongriat, one must take the dreaded 3500 concrete steps trek from Tyrna village.
The second part is the ascent from the root bridge. There are stairs but they are broken, stony and raw. Once you complete this 1-2 hour trek, you get to witness the “thick, rough, pearl-white strip.” There’s a strong gush of water hitting a gigantic rock which is compensated by the sun rays falling on it and resulting in a beautiful rainbow on both its sides.
How to reach: To reach Rainbow falls, you have to trek through the Double Decker Living Root Bridge in Nongriat village which is accessible only by trek from Tyrna village. You can reach Tyrna village by bus or cab from Shillong or Cherrapunjee.
Best season to visit: Monsoon
8. Wahrashi Falls
Location: Syntung, Meghalaya
Formed over the Wah Rashi Kshaid river, Wahrashi waterfall is the congregation of eight waterfalls. However, only 3 tiers of the fall is made accessible to the public. The other 5 can be viewed from different viewpoints but not accessed.
Encircled by hills and dense vegetation, this eight tier waterfall is truly a sight of mesmerising beauty.
How to reach: The road to Wahrashi falls is very bad and can be travelled only in 4×4 vehicles like truck, jeep, sumo, etc. But once you reach, the path to the falls is laid out with well maintained concrete steps. Distance from Shillong is 60 km.
9. Bophill Falls
Location: Mawlynnong-Lyngkhat, Riwai-Dawki Rd
Located just 5 km from Dawki, this isn’t a place one should miss if you’re planning a trip to Dawki.
The fall flows down to frame a waterway into the Sylhet borders of Bangladesh. The continuously gushing rainfall shows off its majesty during monsoon and post monsoon season. The best part about Bophill is that you can enjoy its magnificence of Khasi hills on one side and the plains of Bangladesh on the other.
How to reach: It will take approximately 3 hours to complete the distance of 85 km from Shillong. Booking a cab or driving your own vehicle is the fastest way to reach Bophill.
Best season to visit: August to October
10. Bishop and Beadon Falls
Location: Suna valley, Mawprem
I am ending the list with the spectacular twin falls- Bishop and Beadon.
Standing at a height of 135 meters (443 feet), Bishop falls is famous for its three tiered silky white cloth like cascade down the East Khasi hills. Beadon is called the twin brother of Bishop falls since they both flow down the same steep slope within a short distance of each other.
Covered with thick forests and vegetation, Beadon falls is long and narrow flowing at 100 feet. They both flow down to meet at Umian river and flow through Suna valley.
How to reach: From Shillong, drive up to Mawlai in Mawprem. The motorable road ends at Mawlai. You can view the falls from the Bishop-Beadon viewpoint near Mawlai.
Best season to visit: Monsoon
Monsoon is approaching fast and we have just given you the best way to make the most out of the rainy season this year!