Urmila Marak Aug 13 2014

Discover the Caves of Meghalaya

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Nature has its own crevices and cavities underneath the earth or within mountains that are simply majestic, intricate and breathtaking. The caves for me are nature’s splendour that remains hidden until explored. Meghalaya, my home state, is endowed with beautiful caves and some of them are  yet to be explored. The three districts of the state, Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, have the most incredible caves in the country that sure deserves to be discovered by the adrenaline junkies.

Mawsmai Caves

Mawsmai Caves

Situated about 6 km away from the once wettest place on earth, Cherrapunjee, (the wettest place in the world today is Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills district) Mawsmai Caves is one of the most accessible caves in the state. You do not need a guide to explore this place, as it is well lit except for a few portions which are dark. If you go by the opening of the cave, which is spacious, you will be mistaken. As you find your way through, the passage gets narrower. The 150 m-long cave is a one-way traffic, as you need to go in from the entry and come out from the exit on the other side. Some passages are so narrow that you will have to squeeze and stoop to get through. If you are overweight, then it will be difficult to pass through. The water seeping from the rocks may be a dampener for some, but for the adventure lovers the well-lit caves are a delight as the natural limestone formations that glimmer in the light come alive and it is up to you how you interpret the shapes. Bats will be your constant companion, but you do not need to fear, just trundle along without bothering them and you will be safe.

Krem Mawmluh

The crystal clear stream running inside the cave

The crystal clear stream running inside the cave

The 7-km long cave, also known as Krem Mawkhyrdop, is also is Cheerapunjee. However, while exploring this cave you will have to be prepared to wade through cold waist-deep water, crawl on your belly for a few metres and climb uphill. The water inside is from the five rivers that flow through the cave. Rocks protrude from all corners and it is pitch dark. There are guides to take you inside and you will have to gear yourself with a caving suit, headlamp and helmet.  Go in a group and you will enjoy the experience.  You will see a lot of stalactites and stalagmites formations all through.

Krem Mawjymbuin

The stalagmite formation giving an outline of a Shivalinga

The stalagmite formation giving an outline of a Shivalinga

About 58 km away from Shillong in Mawsynram, you will find the Krem Mawjymbuin Caves. A huge stalagmite giving an outline of a Shivalinga inside the cave draws a huge number of Hindu devotees here. Water constantly drips on the Shivalinga, making it even more unique. When you are inside the 209 m-high cave, you will see a stream beneath the left wall of the passage. The stream will act like your beacon and you will have to follow its course till you get to the side chamber, leading to the east. This cave is considered to be sacred by the Hindus.

Siju Caves

The Dobakkol Caves, meaning the caves of bats in Garo, located in Siju is about 121 km away from Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills. This 4,472 m-long limestone formation cave on the banks of the river Simsang has the best river route, which is a rarity.  There are several passages that are an unexplored maze, and it is a must-visit for the adventure lovers. As its name suggests, there are tens of thousands of bats that you need to be wary of while getting inside.  You need to wear a caving gear with a helmet and headlamp when you get in as the cave is not lit. 335E

Getting there

Guwahati is the base to reach these beautiful caves. Buses are available from Guwahati for Shillong. To get to Cherrapunjee from Shillong, there are a number of local buses. You can also hire a sumo or a cab for Cherrapunjee.  There are day as well as night buses for Tura from Guwahati. Sumo services are available too. From Tura you can easily get a local bus for Siju. While booking your bus tickets to get to these places, check out www.ticketgoose.com.

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