Living Root Bridges at Cherapunjee

Cherapunjee alias Sohra in Meghalaya state of India is considered as one of the most wettest places on the Planet Earth (or ‘The Wettest Place’) . People in Cherapunjee and surrounding areas have mastered the art of making the tree roots into bridges. There are many such bridges in these areas. The Oldest such Tree root bridge which exists today is believed to be more than 500 years old.

Living Root Bridges of CherapunjeeA Double-Decker living root bridge at Cherapunjee.

Roots of ‘Ficus elastica trees’ are used to make the root bridges. Ficus elastica trees have secondary set of roots, way above its trunk. Locals patiently join these roots. They use Betel nut tree trunks (cut into half over the length of the Betel trunk) and make a root-guidance system, to make these roots grow in the direction of the shores. They also make bridge spans and railings from roots of these tree! It normally takes a minimum of 10 to 15 years to make such bridges, which are strong enough for people to use.

There is a Double-Decker living root bridge at Umshiang, which may be the only one of its kind in the world.

Cherrapunji is credited with the world record for rainfall in both a single month (366 inches in July 1861) and a calendar year (1,041.75 inches, between August 1960 and July 1961)

Nohsngithiang Falls is a beautiful nearby falls in East Khasi Hills district.

How Do I Go to Cherapunjee or Sohra, the Place of Living Root Bridges?

Living Root Bridges of Cherapunjee can be accessed from Shillong or Guwahati. Shillong, The capital of Meghalaya, is at around 55 kilometers distance from Cherapunjee and takes around 1 hour to travel by car. There are frequent buses to Cherapunjee from Guwahati and Shillong.

There is a Domestic airport with IATA code ‘SHL’ at Umroi, at a distance of 30 kilo-meters from Shillong. The distance from this airport at Umroi, Shlloong to Cherapunjee is around 78 kilo-meters, which takes a travelling time of around 1.5 hours by car.

The nearest International airport, ‘Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport’ with IATA code ‘GAU’ at Guwahati, is at a distance of around 150 kilometers from Cherapunjee. It takes around 3 to 3.5 hours to cover this distance.

The nearest railway station to Cherapunjee is the one at Guwahati, the capital of Assam.

Which is the Best Time to Visit Cherapunjee?

September and October months, after the heavy Monsoon spell, are normally the best time to visit Cherapunjee.

Tawang Hill Station and Tawang Monastery

Tawang Hill Station is situated Arunachal Pradesh state of India, at a height of around 10000 feet (3500 meters) above sea level. Tawang was captured by China in 1962 during the India-China war, later on China has withdrawn its troops from Tawang.

Birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama (Urgelling Gompa) in TawangBirthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama (Urgelling Gompa) in Tawang.

Tawang is home to Monpa Tribes, who are Mongoloid descents, believed to be immigrated from Bhutan and Tibet.

Tawang is known for its natural beauty. There are many hot water springs, waterfalls, lakes, etc, in Tawang. Tawang is famous for River rafting in Tawang-Chu and Namjang-Chu rivers. Tawang is also famous for other adventure activities like Paragliding, Rock-climbing, Skating, Winter sport activities, etc. Snowfall occurs during the months of December and January and ice skating is popular during that time.

At 17 kilometers distance from Tawang city, lies the beautiful Pankang Teng Tso Lake (PT Tso lake or PTso Lake). Best time to visit the Lake is from April to October, when it is summer. During winter the lake remains frozen. The lake and its surrounding areas are a wonderful place , with its gushing river waters, Himalayas, colorful birds, colorfull flowers, etc. Jong–nga-tseir Lake is another lake at 42 kilometers from Tawang city, which was formed in 1973 due to a flash flood. The bare trees (without leaves) are a wonderful place for a tourist and photographers.

Bab-Theng – Khang Watrerfall is a beautiful fall at around 80 kilometers distance form the town, on your way to the Famous ‘Gorzam Chorten Stupa’ (or Gorzam Stupa) in Zemithang. “Phong-Phongma waterfall ” or “Jang waterfall” or Nurongneng waterfall”, at Nyamseir, is another beautiful fall at around 40 kilometers from Tawang town.

“Gorzam Chorten Stupa” at Zemithang is at around 92 kilometers from the town of Tawang. This Stupa was constructed by Lama Prathar in 13th Century A.D and stands on a 186 feet base and is 93 feet in height and is modeled after the “Boudhinath stupa” of Nepal.

Sela Pass at 13,714 feet above sea level is a beautiful place on your way to Tawang. The Iron bridge over Tawang – chu river, built during 1420 -1430, is at around 25 kilometers from the town.

There is a war memorial, “Namgyal stupa”, at a distance of one kilo meter from the town, in memory of the 2420 martyrs of India-China war of 1962.

Tawang Monastery

Tawang is home to one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries, Tawang Monastery.  It is also known as “Galden Namgyal Lhatse”, founded by Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in the 17th century, as per the wishes of his contemporary, the 5th Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. Tawang Monastery has a gold painted statue of Gautam Buddha, having a height of 8 meters. Tawang Monastery is the biggest Buddhist monastery outside of Tibet. The current and 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, when attacked by Chinese military in 1959 March, escaped to India and stayed for a few days at Tawang Monastery, before going to Tezpur in 18th April 1959. Shortly in 1959, Dalmi Lama established the Central Tibetan Administration head-quarters at Mussoorie and later shifted it to Dharamsala in 1960.

The “Parkhang Hall” which houses a library has huge collection of rare hand-written and block-painted manuscripts of many revered books for the Buddhists. ‘Teaching of Lord Buddha’, a 108 gold-embossed manuscripts, is kept here. 225 volumes explaining the teachings of Gautham Buddha are also kept here. These volumes of Buddha’s teachings are specially covered with moth proof silk coverings with paintings. There is a Craft Center which produces colorful woolen carpets.

“Urqelling Monastery” is another Monastery in Tawang, where The only Indian Lama, The 6th Dalai Lama, Urgelling Gompa, was born.

How Do I Go to Tawang?

Guwahati in Assam is the nearest major town with rail, road and air connectivity with the rest of India. Guwahati city is at around 450 kilometers from Tawang town.

Bomdila is the nearest bus station to Tawang at around 180 kilometers distance. Tezpur airport alias Salonibari Airport with IATA code ‘TEZ’, in the state of Assam is the nearest airport to Tawang, which is connected to the “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport” (earlier known as “Dum Dum Airport “), Kolkata. “Rangapara Junction” in Assam is the nearest railway station to Tawang.

Entry permits to Tawang

Being a restricted area, tourists (Indians and Foreigners) are required to get Permits to go to Tawang, details of which are available here, at the official website of Tawang district. Indian citizens can apply for the Inner Line Permits online here .

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram bordering Bangladesh

Dampa Tiger Reserve is situated in the North-Eastern Indian state of Mizoram.

Dampa Tiger ReserveDampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram. Photo Source : Creative Commons Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo by Coolcolney.

Dampa Tiger Reserve was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1976 and re-notified later in 1985. Dampa Tiger Reserve was notified as ‘Tiger Reserve’ in 1994 and is part of ‘Project Tiger‘. Tiger Reserve at Dampa is situated on the India-Bangladesh border. Dampa Tiger Reserve’s border with Bangladesh is being fended and a patrol road is being constructed. Tiger Reserve of Dampa covers an area of approximately 500 square kilometers in size and is the largest wild life sanctuary in the state of Mizoram.

Tiger Reserve at Dampa is unique in many ways as this reserve has steep hills, deep valleys, rivulets, streams, natural salts licks, etc.

Dampa Tiger Reserve is rich in flora and fauna. Fauna in the Dampa Tiger Reserve includes Indian Bisons, Tigers, Leopards, Elephents, Sloth Bears, barking Deers, Hoolock Gibbons, Langurs, wild boars, etc. Dampa Tiger Reserve is home to a large species of birds.

How Do I Go to Dampa Tiger Reserve?

Dampa Tiger Reserve is at a distance of approximately 110 kilometers from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state.

Aizawl airport is the nearest major airport to Dampa Tiger Reserve, which is connected to Kolkotta International airport. Lengpui Airport, a small airport, is the closest airport to Dampa Reserve Forests at around 70 kilometers distance. There is another airport at Silchar in Assam at 180 kilometers distance. ‘Silchar’ railway station in the state of Assam with station code ‘SCL’, is the nearest railway station to Dampa Project Tiger Reserves, at 180 kilometers distance.

You can hire a cab from any of the above mentioned airports or railway station. Bus services are also available from these places.

Is Accommodation and Food Available at Dampa Tiger Reserve?

Yes; You can stay at the forest guest house rooms in Dampa There are only 2 rooms in the guest house and you may need to book the rooms in advance. You may need to carry the provisions to cook the food, as cooked food is not served in the forest guest houses. Alternatively, you may carry packed foods or fruits.

Do Indian Citizens need Permit to Enter Mizoram?

Yes; All Indian citizens who are not from this region and are not employed with the Indian government, need to get the Inner Line passes, which can be applied and collected at Silchar or Kolkata.

Note : ‘The Tropic of Cancer‘ passes through the Dampa Tiger Reserve.

The Speleologists Heaven in The North Eastern State of Meghalaya

Speleologists Heaven : – Meghalayan Caves are among the some of the longest and most sought after caves in India. There are around 1000 caves in the North-Eastern state of Meghalaya, India, This makes Meghalaya state a Speleologists Heaven (i.e. Cave researchers).

Speleologists HeavenSpeleologists Heaven of Meghalaya. Jantia Hill’s cave Expedition in progress. Photo Source : Creative commons File Source : F Simpson. File Author : Biospeleologist.

The Caves are the main Shillong tourist places in Meghalaya. Krem Dam Cave, the largest cave in length Indian sub-continent with a length of nearly 1297 meters, is the cave which is regarded as one of the best cave, bestowed with nature’s beauty. Krem Dam Cave is a sedimentary rock formation with deposits of quartz alone and quartz with feldspar. The cave entrance is a huge one, which is the main attraction of this cave. This is in contrast to other caves of India, which has narrow entrances. The blue waters from a stream stretches across the primary passage-way of the Krem Dam cave, which makes one of the best and mesmerizing ambiance; Making it a Speleologists Heaven.

Krem Mawmluh Cave is 4503 meters in height. Five rivers pass close to the cave of Krem Mawmluh. Krem Mawmluh Cave is made of stalagmite formations. Krem Mawmluh Cave is situated at around half kilometer distance, on the western side of Cherrapunjee. Krem Mawmluh Cave is the forth largest cave in India and is also a Speleologists Heaven.

Mawsynram Cave is made of stalagmite formations which looks like a “Shivalinga”. This caves is known locally as “Mawjymbuin”. Mawsynram cave is located at a distance of 56 kilometers from Shillong at Mawsynram village. Those with trekking exposure can go to the peak of the rock formation, from the base of the stalagmite formation by upward trekking, The view from peak point is one which is worth trekking; it gives a clear view of valley, the plans and the gushing river waters of Bangladesh. “Symper Rock“, an extra-ordinary formation of rocks, close to the Weiloi Village, is at a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the Ranikor – Balat – Mawsynram – Shillong Highway. The body of this rock formation resembles a dome and this rock formation ascends all of a sudden, from among the hillocks of nearby region.

Mawsmai Cave alias “Krem Phyllut” is close to the Nohsngithiang Falls. Mawsmai Cave has huge halls and gallery‘s which interconnects the different cave halls. Mawsmai Cave entry point is near to Cherrapunjee, the place which receives the maximum rainfall in India. This cave is pitch dark and torch light or candles are required to see this wonderful cave. The light gets reflected in a large number of crystal colors.

Siju cave alias Dobakkol (meaning bat’s cave) is on the banks of banks of River Simsang,near to the Siju village. Naphak Lake lies close to Siju cave. This cave is a stalactites lime-stone formation which looks like the Blue Grotto caves of Isle of Capri. Siju cave is the third longest cave in India. Siju caves are situated 30 kilometers on the northern side of Baghmara.

Krem Kotsati, a 3650 meters lengthy cave, is another cave which has eight entrances! You have a wade through a pool of water with appropriate swimming wear, if you are entering from the main entrance. Otherwise, you may have to depend on inflatable rubber boats or swim, to enter this case, as river waters surrenders the cave at Krem Kotsati.

Krem Lashinng is another major cave at 37 kilometers from Jowai. The cave is a large one with a length of 1650 meters, width of 50 meters and 40 meters in height. This cave is covered with mud and is very slippery; a dangerous cave without the help of guides. Months preceding the monsoon season, i.e. Fbruary and March, are the ideal season to visit the Krem Lashinng cave.

Krem Soh Shympi is another deep cave situated at Mawlong village, with 20 meter deep pot-hole entrance and a length of 760 meters.

Krem Umshangktat is one of the most sought-after Speleologists Heaven in Meghalaya. The entry into this cave needs tedious trekking. This cave has a length of 955 meters and the entrance to the cave is 350 meters in width.

Krem Laitprah or Um Imladit is the longest cave In India with a length of approximately 22 kilometers. This is also in Meghalaya state.

Krem Sweep, at a distance of 47 kilo meters from Jowai, is another major cave in Meghalaya, famous for its stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Ho Do I Go to The Speleologists Heaven in Meghalaya?

Meghalayan Caves which are considered as Speleologists Heaven can be accessed from Cherrapunjee.

Cherrapunjee Town is located at around 85 kilometers from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Guwahati in the state of Assam is the nearest airport at 128 kilometers from Shillong.

North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima

North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima is in Nagaland state of India, bordering Burma on one side and Assam and Manipur states of India, on other sides. Kohima is at an altitude of more than 4000 feet above sea level.

A flowering plant called Kewhi is found in abundance in Nagaland. The name Nagaland is linked to this Kewhi plant. The people of Nagalnd are extremely friendly and warm people.

North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima This the entrance to Kohima Town. Source : Wikimedia commons

Visiting Kohima is knowing more about India and the world war II. Kohima was the first seat of administration for the British in the North eastern States of India. The British fought decades trying to capture the areas from defending tribes of Nagaland. The Kohima city was a well planned idea by the British as a watch post for the eastern region.

Kohima is famous for the “Battle of Kohima” also known as “Stalingrad of the East”, which was the battle between the British and the Japanese in 1944 during World War II . “Battle of Imphal”, another major battle in the same period in the nearby north eastern state of Manipur also was fought for the same purpose of defending the British and its allies from advancing Japanese army. The Japanese were decimated and it is said to be one of the worst defeat for the Japanese.

There is a War memorial cemetery for the dead at Kohima maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Kohima Zoo is a tourist location. There is a Sanctuary in Kohima. Japfu peak at more than 3000 feet above sea level on the Himalayas is another tourist attraction.

The giant Rhododendron Tree, the Guinness Record Holding Tree, which is 130 feet in height and 11 feet in girth, is there near to Japfu peak.

What about the climate of North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima?

Climate of Nagaland is that of humid subtropical climate. July and august are the Monsoon season with heavy rains. In December and January, occasional snowfall may occur. Summer is pleasant, and same is the case with winter months.

What is the Ideal time to visit North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima?

North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima is a good place to visit, except during Monsoon season.

How Do I Go to Kohima?

Dimapur is the nearest major city at around 70 kilometers from Kohima. There are buses to Kohima from Dimapur. It takes around 3.5 hours by bus. Dimapur is a major city with railway station.

Do I need Permit to Visit the North Eastern Hilly Capital Kohima?

Those wishing to visit Nagalnd state must get an Inner Line Permit (ILP) except for Dimapur city.  It may take a few hours to get the permit. You need to give your Identity proof and 2 passport size photos along with a small fee (INR 50 or so).  ILP has a validity of one month.