Sunday, August 9, 2015

Waterfalls of Chirapunjee- Kynrem and Dainthlen falls - 2/2

This post is in continuation to the last post Water falls of Chirapunjee - Nohkalikai and seven sister falls
While Nohkalikai and Seven sister falls are the major tourist attractions in Chirapunjee of Meghalaya.  There are few other falls which are seldom visited. Dainthlen and Kynrem  are two such water falls which attract us with their distinct beauty and Khasi folk tales associated with it.
Kynrem water falls
Kynrem falls thunders down in 3stages from the height of 305 mts and it is  India’s 7th highest waterfall. Due to its remote location and bad road condition generally taxi drivers are reluctant to go there. My driver was kind enough to take me to this waterfall along with my guide Batman. It is about 25kms from Chirapunjee and 10-12 kms from Chirapunjee holiday resort where I stayed. Kynrem falls is located in Thangkhrang  park in East Khasi Hills district. There are many view points to enjoy the waterfall.
View of the fall from a distance is brilliant though the closest view from the road connecting to Bangladesh offers magnificent view of the fall during the monsoon.  In fact, it was not possible to view the falls without getting wet by the water smoke covered around the area. No need to say Monsoon is the best time to visit. It was in its full glory as I was there in June. There were other parallel cascades which adorned the main water falls. 
Kynrem falls

View from the road below
Other parallel cascades along with Kynrem
 Dainthlen water falls
I heard about the Dainthlen falls in the restaurant where I had lunch. It is about 5-8 kms from Chirapunjee. Road to Dainthlen falls passes through the most picturesque part of Chirapunjee. As we moved ahead we reached a plateau and I was not sure whether we are on the right path as there was no mountain to see the water fall. After reaching the fall I realized that we are watching the fall and are right on top of the water fall itself. It is a soft falls without much roaring sound. There is a protective railing from where water descends. I had to do struggle to take complete picture of the water falls. It was already evening and dusk was about to cover. Like any other Khasi water fall, Dainthlen also has a legend. These Khasi folklores are interesting and some are horrific stories like Nohkalikai falls.

Dainthlen is about a serpent, Thlen, who was a monster serpent who was living in a cave nearby. He was not only a cruel monster but also cunning. He had a pattern of killing people. If a group of people were moving around the cave, he would choose half of them to kill. So the safe bet was to walk alone but people were scared to walk alone. Like any other stories, here comes a hero. A brave person from the village decides teach him a lesson. He develops friendship with the serpent by feeding goats and one day when Thlen brings his mouth out to eat goat, the brave man dropped the red hot iron lump into serpent’s mouth and kills him. The people from nearby villages pulls out the snake to the river bed and chops him into pieces. It was believed that every bit of the Thlen to be eaten up, otherwise, Thlen will be able to recreate himself. Villagers were happy that Thlen is no more and didn’t want him to come again. So happily villagers arranged a feast. Then story goes that one of the women kept a piece for her grand child who couldn’t participate in the feast and forgot to feed him. Then Thlen recreated himself and story goes on...
Whatever the legend, the bank of the river does look like pieces of chopped snake meat. It was cracked and chopped. There were not many tourists around. Weather was good. Neighborhood around the falls is perfect for picnic. 

On the way to Dainthlen

Landscape  on the way to Dainthlen

Dainthlen falls, Chirapunjee

Bank of the river from where Dainthlen plunges

 Other similar posts 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Waterfalls of Chirapunjee - Nohkalikai and seven sister falls

Chirapunjee , the wettest place on earth is dotted with innumerable water falls. Chirapunjee during monsoon is enchanting and treat to our eyes. It is just not possible to escape from waterfalls in whichever direction you drive. Though rivers in Chirapunee are of very short length, swollen streams in  monsoon  plunge wherever they find space downwards. The green mountains provide lovely background for the gorgeous waterfalls. It is water water everywhere.  I gave up counting the number of water falls I visited after couple of days. But there are few water falls which are very impressive by their beauty and also because of the stories associated with them. I am posting these stories in two parts. This is the first story.
This is the most common view of innumerable water falls  in Chirapunjee
  Nohkalikai falls
Nohkalikai falls is about 10 kms from chirapunjee. Chirapunee is locally called as Sohra. This is the tallest plunge type water fall in India and the fourth highest water fall in India in terms of height with 335 mts.  Nohkalikai is a rain fed water fall. It will be in its full charisma during monsoon and goes slim during winter. But it depends on our luck to get a good view of the falls in monsoon as it plays hide and seek due to unpredictable clouds and fogs. I kept half a day to test my luck with Nohkalikai. 

View of Nohkalikai falls from Chirapunjee resort
It was an enchanting view from the Chirapunjee resort where I stayed. One sunny day I left for Nohkalikai only to see clouds by the time I reached the falls. I decided to take a walk in the beautiful meadows around the falls. Even after my walk and experiments with selfie and self timer clicks for more than an hour, clouds didn’t give way to the water falls. Apart from the view point on top, there are steps to go closer to the falls. I went down and started waiting. Clouds quickly cleared for a while. But before few clicks again it was covered. After couple of hours of wait I could only get a few good shots. When water plunges down there is an exotic green pool formation at the bottom which was very common around all the falls in Chirapunjee. 

Nohkalikai falls
 There is a heart wrenching story behind such a beautiful water fall. Nohkalikai in Kahsi, a tribal language means ‘ jump of Ka Likai’. The legends goes like this. There lived a woman called Likai in the village Rangjyrteh. Women in Khasi tribes are called with prefix for respect as Ka. So she was Ka Likai. Her husband who was a porter died leaving behind Kali Kai with a baby girl. Having no other source of income for livelihood KaLikai had to join as a porter ferrying iron from one village to other. She finds it difficult to attend to her baby girl. Other ladies of the village persuaded her to get married again  as she needs a man and  her baby a father.  Ka Likai gets into another marriage. But her husband was all jealous looking at the attention Ka Likai was giving to her baby. He couldn’t bear that. One day when Ka Likai was away for work, he killed the baby and prepared a dish. Tired Ka Likai after returning from work, naturally attracted with the delicious inviting smell, eats the curry. Though she thinks of her daughter, she presumes she might be with the neighbors. She finds the food tasty though she couldn’t recognize the meat. After the food, she goes to pick her Kawi basket before going out to fetch the child. To her horror, she finds her daughter’s fingers there. She trembles in shock and pain knowing what she ate was her daughters flesh. Uncontrollable Likai attacks everyone around her and runs away from the place until she reaches the edge of the water falls and jumps in to the fall. In Kahsi Noh means jump. This fall is named in memory of Likai who jumped …Sigh….

This is very disturbing story. Isn’t it? I wish no one should ever face such a painful fate..

Meadows around the falls

This girl enticed me to buy her cinamon by posing to my cameras
Seven sister water falls
Seven sister falls is also called as Nohsngithiang falls. This falls has several strands of cascades falling together. It was not exactly 7 strands. There were more than seven strands when I visited during the monsoon. Due to fog, I hardly got a chance to see them. Water from the falls will flow down to the plains and within few kilometers it enters into Bangladesh plains. I guess, during winter this falls would disappear. I felt that too much hype was given to this waterfalls and there are many were unknown, nameless falls as beautiful as this falls if not more.
Seven sister falls hidden under clouds

Seven sister falls

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mawphlang sacred forest in Shillong, Meghalaya

After an hour's  drive in the torrential rain, my driver says ‘ That is the forest ‘ parking the car aside. Unable to  get out of the car I look around to see the forest from the window. There is nothing to be seen encircled by mist and rain.  I wonder has he taken me to the right place. Not finding any sign of anyone being there, I decide to wait until the  rain stops. After a while, mist uncovers to see a clearly defined forest amid the meadows. Gauging how dense the forest is I realise its not wise to stride alone.At the same time making my mind not to return without entering the forest, I request the driver to drive back to the village and find out a guide.
There comes the problem of language. Neither my driver nor I could speak in local  language, Khasi. So after futile efforts for sometime I decide to wait in front of a house which has a board mentioning information centre. After a  long wait with rain as a companion, a boy emerges out of the rain like a rain god and luckily he claims himself as a guide and agrees to  accompany me to the forest. As rain was in no mood to stop, we walk in the rain and enter the forest.
The sacred forest is the protected forest managed by village community.Khasi tribes believe this as the abode of their gods. It has history of 1000 years and some trees are as old as 800-1000 years. There is a clear distinction between neighboring grassland and the forest. It is a dense forest with rich biodiversity. It has many herbs and medicinal plants which can cure many diseases. Most of the trees were covered with algae and orchids. No one does anything bad inside the forest and nor they speak bad words. Mcduff, explains that it is sacred to them and no one is supposed to take anything out of the forest. Some villagers who violated the custom had to suffer illness. Those who spoke bad things inside the sacred forest lost their speech and wicked acts resulted in turning their head  180 degrees, Mcduff the guide  narrates.
There is another legend to the  forest sacred. Long back a guy from  Assam, while walking through this area had a vision that the entire forest would disappear into meadows. Treating  it as a threat to their forest, the villagers of the entire vicinity decided to protect it. Since then, no one had cut the trees nor used the forest for their livelihood. Amazing indigenous way of forest conservation by Khasi tribes!
The sacred forest has many herbs and trees which are precious and can only be found here. There are precious varieties of Rudraksh trees (Rudraksh is a seed used for rosary)  and some fungus which glows in the night. Mcduff gives a colorful picture of the forest when different algae and plants would glow in the night which takes me to the scene from the movie Life of pie where the boy spends a night in the magical world of glowing forest.
I look  at the standing rock and a small group of stones. This is where they perform rituals as a community and the standing rock is the place where villagers meditate. Keeping the  umbrella aside, I allow  rain to caress  me and I pay my respect to the forest deity.
Further, the path goes steep down and he suggests to return as it is slippery and not advisable in that heavy rain. I return following Mcduff on the path full of humus which is soft and oozy. While walking back rain reduces letting me to take some pictures.
Rain bathed meadows outside the forest glows in the sunlight and it is inviting. I jump in joy for my trademark picture.

Before I sign off, Let me confess something I faced being a solo traveller. I was not at all comfortable while  waiting in the rain for a guide near the forest. It was so heavy rain and no one was around even if I had screamed, yelled and shouted except the driver. On top of this, I  wanted to add one more stranger as a guide to the team and I was ready  to go inside the dense forest. But  when the guide started talking about the sacredness of the forest and the punishment for the bad things, my confidence on him grew like a mountain. I was convinced that sacred forest would be the most safest place in Meghalaya. I relaxed and enjoyed the rain. How I wish if India had such sacred places everywhere that we women could travel without a tinge of worry.

Travel notes 

  • Mawphlong sacred forest is 25 kms away from Shillong, Meghalaya. It takes 45 minutes to reach Mawphlong from Shillong
  • It is open from morning till 5 pm
  • Entry fee is Rs., 20 and vehicle entry fee is 30
  • It is good to contact guide before reaching the place to save time. My guide Mcduff and his father both work as guides. You can contact Tambhor on +919863082456
  • If you have enough time, I suggest to go inside the forest for 1-2 hours
  • There is a heritage village outside the forest which has  different models of tribal houses and also houses museum
  • Local people speak good English. They can’t understand Hind
Forest covered in mist

Starting point of the forest

Entry to Mawphlang sacred forest .. It was raining

Group of stones meant for rituals

Spoon leaf

In to the woods

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Heritage village outside the forest

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