Cherrapunjee or Sohra?!?!?!?… the first name is the “official” and is the one on the maps, the second name is by which this village, situated on a plateau near the Khasi Hills, is known by the local population, belonging to Khasi tribe.
At this time of year, when the monsoon rains are a distant memory, only streams slide the bedrock of this plateau, where the green grass surrenders to dryness, changing to yellow tones.
After leaving behind the gray city of Shillong, and traveling by the winding road of rural landscapes and mountains of profuse vegetation, where we witness the bucolic but hard rural life, one comes to the desolate village of Sohra. The arrival on Sunday morning, with the sky covered with a soft blanket of gray clouds, the shops closed, streets empty of people and roads deserted of traffic, left a gloomy impression that even the next day, with the sun shining in a blue sky, could not erase.
In a region heavily dominated by Christianity, in different forms, Christians, Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals, Presbyterians, etc…, the Sunday is entirely reserved for church. By midmorning, the deserted streets of Sohra, are gaining some colorful, with people walking towards the various churches in fancy clothes, where men dress impeccably ironed shirts, women wear lungis made from sophisticated fabrics, girls wear proudly pompous and colorful dresses and hair carefully combed, with fancy ties.
Situated on a plateau of the Khasi Hills, about 1400 meters above sea level, Sohra suffers from desertification, in an area where agriculture is difficult in a field depleted by erosion resulting from logging, which caused already visible climate change that made this place, formerly called “wettest place on earth,” has lost this title.
However Shora is obligatory passage point for those exploring the slopes of the Khasi Hills, and also serves as a technical stopover for those who want to come down to the valleys, where inhabitants keep the traditional way of life of Khasi culture. The village of Nogriat stands out by the fantastic bridges made from living tree roots: the living root bridges.
There is little to do or see in Sohra, but the day can be used for a visit to Nohkalikai Falls, 5 kilometers Sohra Market. In April, the amount of water in the rivers is not abundant, but still, a visit to the falls provides an interesting walk and a view of the chain of hills that extends to the Bangladesh border.
The stay of a day Sohra gave the opportunity to watch the last three days of a festival, where children and adults, wearing traditional costumes, performed dances to the sound of a minimalist and repetitive music.
Ticket: 10 rupees + 20 rupees for camera.
There isn’t a public transportation to the waterfalls, so the option is to get a taxi (300 rupees) or try to hitchhiking.
Onde dormir em Sohra:
There are several options in terms of accommodation in Sohra, but most are located in Lower Cherrapunjee, in an area where the houses are a bit spread, about 3 kilometers from Sohra Market, the town center.
Of the various accommodations available the choice was for the unassuming By the Way Lodge, where the owner, who looks more like a Rastafarian, welcomes us with kindness, providing all the information.
There are two dorms and a few rooms. The toilet and shower (with hot water) are shared and located outside the room, as the local custom, but are modern and spotlessly clean. There’s a good atmosphere and is the ideal place to meet other backpackers and rest, before and after, the demanding way to Nongriat. You can leave part of the luggage at the By the Way Lodge.
By the Way Lodge (Dukan Road, Lower Cherrapunjee). Nearby Indian Petrol Pump station. Less than 500 meters from the last sumo stand.
Dorm: 250 rupees
The By the way hostel is located close to India Petrol pump station. Less than 500 meters from the last stop of sumo in Lower Cherrapunjee.
Lower Cherrapunjee does not have much to offer than some restaurants and accommodations, but is a large area of natural landscape, that right after the monsoon is totally green and crossed by streams, but in March starts to get dry. But the By the Way Lodge and the friendliness of its owner are more than enough reasons to choose to stay in Lower Cherrapunjee before going to Nongriat.
Where to eat in Sohra (Cherrapunjee):
Meghalaya cuisine, not being friendly to vegetarians, is possible to find the traditional dishes of Indian cuisine, as also some Asian vegetarian option the Lower Cherrapunjee restaurants.
7 Trep Restaurant: Good Indian food. A curry with a rich variety of vegetables served in a generous portion and served with a big bowl of rice only costs 70 rupees. The noodles and momos are the favorites of the local population. The food is cooked at the moment, which may take a while. The staff is very friendly.
Sunday everything is closed in Sohra Market, but some restaurants are open in Lower Cherrapunjee.
But for those who want to get an early start, there are few options for breakfast. There a few small shops, a mixture of coffee and groceries, serving milk-tea and meals, based mainly on rice and meat, from 8.30 in the morning.
Transports in Sohra (Cherrapunjee):
To cover the three kilometers separating Lower Cherrapunjee from Sohra Market there are shared-taxis (locally called “tempo”) picking up and dropping passengers, along the road, without any specific place. Usually you have to wait until they are nearly full to do the trip. The tempo are small cars (Maruti Suzuki) painted in black and yellow.
- Shared taxis Lower Cherrapunjee to Sohra Market: 10 INR
How to go from Sohra (Cherrapunjee) to Nongriat:
In front of the By the Way Lodge, there is a bus stand where the 9 am passes a bus bound for Tyrna, the nearest town of Nongriat with road access… from there are only paths down the mountain to the villages located along the valley.
- Bus Sohra to Tyrna 20 (INR passes around 9 am, the trip takes close to 1 hour)
- shared-taxi Sohra to Tyrna: 40 INR
- in Tyrna is necessary to walk the road to find the path that leads to Nongriat, about 30 minutes walk down the road. Just asked for “Nongriat” to the local population because everyone knows to show the way, even the children.
- arriving to a small group of houses where there is a bamboo chai-shop, the trail to Nongriat, that has more than 2,800 steps and a few suspension bridges until reaching the village.
ATM in Sohra:
There is no ATM in Lower Cherrapunjee, next to the petrol station, on the Dukan Road, as well as in Sohra Market.
There is no ATM in Tyrna or Nongriat.
How to go from Sohra (Cherrapunjee) to Shilllong:
Both in Lower Cherrapunjee as in Sohra Market, sumos (shared jeeps with yellow color) link daily (except Sundays) Sohra to Shillong. They work from dawn until the end of the day. The trip starts when the tempo is full.
- sumo from Sohra to Shillong: 70 INR (1.5 hours)