Meghalaya, the abode of clouds, is a one-of-a-kind state in India with the most beautiful green hills covered in clouds, lakes, mesmerizing waterfalls and mysterious caves. To top it all, it has rainfall throughout the year, bringing alive the natural beauty of the place. The state is dominated by the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills and its tribes are not only very colourful, but also display a rich culture, music and dance. Food here also has a unique charm. The state’s capital city of Shillong is so beautiful that it has inspired writers and poets since more than a century to come and write about it. The capital city is a big tourist attraction. Cherrapunji and Mawsynram are known as the wettest place on earth, one being the former record holder, the other being the current one. Cherrapunji is also known for its living root bridges, an indigenous method of constructing bridges that has earned the awe of people around the world. Mawlynnong is the recent tourist favourite, having been awarded the distinction of being Asia’s cleanest village. The Mawsmai Caves, Siju Caves, monoliths across the length and breadth of the state, Indo-Bangladesh border at Dawki and the forest areas of the state, especially the Nokrek National Park and Mawphlang Sacred Grove, also cast a spell on visitors. With so much to see and experience in this state in the northeastern region of India, one can easily spend one whole week indulging in all that it has to offer. But in this article, we decided to restrict ourselves to the beautiful waterfalls only. Meghalaya has some of the tallest falls in India. The following are some of the most noteworthy ones.
1. Kynrem Falls
Kynrem Falls is a waterfall located in the Khasi hills on the eastern belt. It is a three storeyed falls. It cascades down from a hill gloriously for about 1,000 feet. Kynrem Falls is located in the Thankarang Park in the Cherrapunji region. Because of its location it is spectacular throughout the year as the flow of water is perfect. Once inside the park, one has to do a downhill trek through the forests to reach the waterfall. There is a bridge from where one can marvel at the waterfall. It is also one of the highest waterfalls in Meghalaya and is ranked the 7th highest in India. The other attraction here is the Shiva Rock, also known by many other names like Pillar Rock or Mothorp. From this rock, one can get amazing views of Meghalaya. This waterfall is located about 16 km from Cherrapunji.
2. Elephant Falls
Elephant Falls is a very popular sightseeing location for both tourists and locals in Meghalaya. This is because it is located closest to the capital city of Shillong. The falls cascades through three tiers for which it is known as KaKshaid Lai PatengKhohsiew, which, in the local language, translates to three step waterfalls. The flow of the water is quite heavy, making huge sprays around. One has to go down all three levels to see the full waterfall. It is covered by thick greenery all around. The Elephant Falls is so named because there used to be a rock here that resembled an elephant. It was however, destroyed during an earthquake. The water itself flows over rocky surface. During winter, when the flow is less, one can see the shallow bed of the water, which is a brilliant green. Shillong Peak is located close by; it offers splendid views of the city.
3. Seven Sisters Falls
Seven Sisters Falls is a very popular waterfall in India. It is also known as Nohsngithiang Falls or Mawsmai Falls. It is located in Cherrapunji, near the Mawsmai Village. It is called the Seven Sisters Falls because there are seven segments through which the waterfall cascades, making it look like seven different waterfalls located side-by-side. It is one of the highest waterfalls in India, ranked 4th, plunging down over 1,033 feet from the top of the Khasi hills. The waterfall is absolutely mesmerizing as it cascades down limestone cliffs of the Khasi hills. The white expanse of the waterfall is covered in lush greens. This waterfall almost dries up during winter, but it is voluminous during monsoon. The Seven Sisters Falls is located about 2 hours from the city of Shillong.
4. Nohkalikai Falls
Nohkalikai Falls is amongst the most beautiful waterfalls in Meghalaya, located at a distance of 7 kms from Cherrapunji. It has the highest plunge in India. The water cascades down from an altitude of 1,115 feet forming a pool below. Water in the pool is green in summer and blue in winter. It is a truly picturesque waterfall. But there is a very depressing story behind this waterfall. Folklore has it that a lady jumped into this waterfall after discovering that her second husband had killed her daughter from first marriage and cooked her meat to feed the mother.
5. Dainthlen Falls
Dainthlen Falls is located in Sohra, close to Cherrapunji. There is an interesting story associated with it. It is said that there was a huge serpent called Thlen that lived in the caves near the falls. The locals however found it destructive and killed it to free themselves from its hands. Thlen is the Khasi word for python. Today there is a scenic park here and the place is a very famous picnic spot for the locals and daytrippers.
6. Langshiang Falls
The Langshiang Falls are located in the west Khasi Hills. It is formed from the water of River Kynshi. The Langshiang Falls are really massive. It has a single plunge and a height of more than 1,000 feet making it one of the highest waterfall in India. It is surrounded by the Sangrian forests. The falls are best viewed from the village of Mawpon. A small trek to the Nongkhnum river island is a popular activity here. One has to reach Nongkhnum to view Langshiang.
7. Bishop and Beadon Falls
Bishop and Beadon Falls are one of the most pleasant waterfalls in India. It is a rare treasure in Meghalaya. These are twin falls. Bishop Falls is a three-tiered waterfall with a heavy stream, flowing down an altitude of 440 feet while Beadon falls creates foam crashing down rocky slopes surrounded by green forests. The water falls into a deep gorge of the Umiam River. The falls ultimately end up flowing through Suna Valley. These falls can be reached from Shillong, after a short trek from Mawlai. The location of these falls in a forested area gives visitors the opportunity of viewing wildlife also. The location is perfect for picnics. There is a platform to view the falls from a distance.
8. Sweet Falls
Sweet Falls are located near the Happy Valley. It is located remotely and is not very frequented by tourists, yet popular with the locals. It is surrounded by hills and thick green forests filled with mostly pine trees. Although only about 315 feet in height these falls are said to be very dangerous. People are prohibited to trek till the point of the falls since many accidents have occurred due to the slippery rocks here. Locals also believe that this falls is haunted. However, one can enjoy its scenic beauty from Happy Valley. The falls are located very close to the city centre of Shillong.
9. Borhill Falls
The Borhill Falls are situated near Dawki. Dawki is a wonderful location with cliffs and the Umngot river, on the Indo- Bangladesh border. Borhill Falls is a little remote, so it is less treaded on by tourists. The falls are at their best during monsoon since the flow of water is heavy. The water from here ultimately flows into Sylhet in Bangladesh. Great views of the Khasi hills are on offer here. The Bangladesh border can be seen from this place, and this is an added attraction for tourists. One can camp on the banks of the Umngot here or go swimming or boating all the way up to the Bangladesh border.
10. Mawphlang Falls / Umkawang Falls
Mawphlang is a mesmerizing place near Cherrapunji and Shillong with some hidden treasures of Meghalaya. It is also known as the Umkawang Falls. The caves, and sacred forest of Mawphlang located nearby are simply awe-inspiring. The Mawphlang Sacred Grove is a mysterious forest, that has many legends associated with it. The falls has a long cascade through multiple tiers. The falls end into a small pool of clear water. One has to do a short trek before reaching the falls.
11. Krang Shuri Falls
One of the lesser known falls, Krang Shuri is to be found in West Jaintia Hills, about 30 km from the town of Jowai. Visitors have to pass through a forest with slippery stones to reach here. The most jaw-dropping aspect of this falls is the colour of the water of its plunge pool. It is a beautiful shade of deep copper sulphate blue. Reaching here is worth all the pain. It looks like a perfect dream. The best part is that the place is less crowded.
12. Rainbow Falls
This is often referred to as Meghalaya’s best kept secret. This falls is located in Nongriat village, about 18 km from Cherrapunji. At Nongriat, vehicles do not ply and you have to see around on foot. One has to descend about 3,500 steps to reach this postcard perfect village. Inside the village, the sky is hardly visible as the trees form a canopy around. The falls lies secluded deep inside the forest and it takes about 1.5 hours trek from the double decker bridge to reach here. The falls plunges into a pool of deep blue that invite visitors to take a dip. But one should be careful with the slippery rocks.
13. Tyrshi Falls
Located on the Jowai-Shillong Road, this is another beautiful but lesser known falls of Meghalaya. It is often called Jowai’s answer to Shillong’s Elephant Falls. Reaching it involves some trek, but the trip is worth all the pain. The surroundings of the falls is blessed with abundant beauty, so much that you would not like to come back. No ticket is required to visit here and there are no crowds. So one can enjoy the sound of gushing water amidst the serenity.