Meghalaya is blessed with numerous waterfalls, which leave many in awe of the spectacular views and stories it holds. One of the most popular among them is the Nohkalikai Falls (near Cherrapunji), the tallest plunge waterfall in the country at a height of 1115 ft. (340 meters). Attracting thousands of tourists every year during monsoons, the majestic waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and is famous for a sad folk tale from where it gets its name.
This point or edge of the fall is accessible to travellers, tourist and most importantly the brave hearted to visit during the winters. During winters, the river and streams are parched, making it possible for trekkers to tread through the river bed towards the edge of the waterfall.
Only the adventurous, with stamina to walk untrodden organic paths, can reach there. Local youths are happy to guide you for a minimal price of Rs 60 per head.
The trek starts through grassy paths, leading to a point to walk down the hill. You are suggested to wear comfortable walking shoes to walk through difficult terrain for almost 20–25 minutes, depending on your pace. Once at the bottom of the hill, giant boulders, with water flowing as a stream, are visible. On your right will be a wide stretch of waterfall. A swim in the pool at the waterfall will relax your muscles.
Continue towards the left, walking through slippery stones or crossing across the fresh icy cold water stream to walk on the sturdy river bed. Along the path, witness beautiful natural carved out stones with the water flowing through the crevices, forming small to big, shallow to deep pools, small-sized waterfalls to calm still water. Do keep in mind that this is the river bed formed through years of water flowing by it.
There will be points that look like dead ends, but adventurous souls will definitely trek through the gaps, holding on to edges, jumping or leaping from stones to stones, to reach the edge of the fall. Looking back at the path taken, one cannot miss out on the beautiful gorge created by the water that flowed during the monsoons.
People also come here for picnics. It is advisable to carry your own lunch or snacks. Please remember to carry your own garbage bags so that you don’t leave behind any litter. Respect the place for pristine beauty.
The only way back is trekking the same path. Although a little difficult, but once conquered, all the rush and aches seem worth it! An average time of 1 hour will just be to walk and trek. You will find yourself enjoying the surreal settings around you, clicking pictures, sitting in solitude or just letting yourself sink in the nature’s gift.
Nohkalikai literally translates to ‘Jump of Ka Likai’ (Ka is a prefix for the female gender in Khasi). Legend has it that a young widowed mother from Rangjyrteh, became a Porter to make ends meet, leaving her infant daughter unattended at home with her new husband, who despised her showering all the attention to her baby. Out of jealousy he killed and dismembered the child, cooking a meal of it. Likai couldn’t find her baby when she returned home from work. She was famished and ate the cooked meat, but just then saw a tiny finger. Putting together what had happened, Likai was horrified with what she had done. Driven by rage and grief, she ran to the edge of the waterfall from where she threw herself off the cliff. Thus, the falls was named Nohkalikai aft er her.
All image credits: Nocy Rangsa Marak