Located on a plateau among the forests and valleys of the East Khasi District in southern Meghalaya is the city of Cherrapunjee, India. There is a wealth of things to see and do in Cherrapunjee, as this town has become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the northeastern part of the country.
Cherrapunjee, more commonly known as Sohra locally, is located near some of northeast India’s most precious natural wonders, including spectacular waterfalls, mysterious caves, deep valleys, and the glorious living root bridges. The town is also the second wettest place on Earth, with an average of 463.7 inches of rainfall per year. It’s second only to the nearby town of Mawsynram, which averages 467.4 inches annually.
Khasi culture is on full display in Cherrapunjee, from sights and smells wafting though the tight and winding lanes of its markets to the mouthwatering, pork-based menu at its restaurants. It’s easy to immerse yourself in its splendor. The locals are warm, friendly, and eager to share their culture with visitors, which helps make it such a dynamic destination. These are the top 5 things to see and do in Cherrapunjee, India.
Eat Traditional Food in Mylliem
During your car ride from Shillong to Cherrapunjee, you’ll pass through the town of Mylliem, which is located about 45 minutes south of Shillong. Mylliem is the perfect town to stop and grab a bite to eat before you dive into the top things to see and do in Cherrapunjee. There are many fantastic options for foodies looking to dive into traditional Khasi cuisine, so bring your appetite!
For breakfast, I recommend visiting R. Kharbangar Tea Stall. The breakfast I had at this tiny restaurant is one of the best I had during my time in northeast India. I suggest ordering their pork intestines with liver, the dohklieh, the chicken curry, and putharao.
The pork intestines with liver is a phenomenal combination. The flavors of the two organ meats go extremely well together. I also loved the variety of textures. The intestines were soft and chewy, while the liver was dense. They were bathed in a flavorful sauce that contained sesame seeds. I couldn’t get enough of it!
The dohklieh is like a Khasi version of a Russian salad and contains pork, potatoes, ginger, and onions. It is unique and flavorful and reminded me of ceviche even though the protein is pork instead of seafood. The ginger flavor in it was outstanding! Speaking of flavor, the ones in the chicken curry blew my mind. Even though gravy was light, the taste was anything but!
My suggestion is to try everything by itself first and then eat the rest of the meal with pieces of the putharao. Putharao is a small, steamed rice patty that also contains jaggery. Break it apart and eat it with your meaty dishes. It’s quite dense and tastes similar to a Venezuelan arepa! Then finish up your meal with some minty red tea.
After you’ve experienced the best things to see and do in Cherrapunjee, you’ll pass back through Mylliem on your way back to Shillong. When you do, I suggest you grab some more of their delicious pork dishes for dinner. When I tell you the pork I ate in Meghalaya is the best I’ve ever eaten in my life, I mean it. The Khasi people really know how to cook pork right, and the best thing about it is that it’s super fresh!
There’s a nice amount of food stalls in Mylliem, so you might want to browse for a bit just to see everything that’s being offered. I suggest you go with the pork momos. In addition to tender pork meat, the momos also contain onions and are served with a spicy sauce. They’re fairly light on the pork and allow the onion flavor to be more prominent, but they’re still incredible! Try them with the sauce. Just be warned: it’s spicy!
One of my favorite foods of all time is blood sausage and one of my favorite blood sausages in the world can be found at a roadside stall in Mylliem! It’s smoky, bloody, and soft and comes with spring onions. It was also gelatinous, but not in the same way that fat is. It is a powerful and heavenly flavor explosion in your mouth. I literally could have stood at that stall and eaten sausage all night!
There is also a dried, smoked pork and a delicious pork soup with rice that are well worth your time. Don’t miss the small but magnificent thali containing pungent pickled bamboo, refreshing salad and mixed vegetables, a dense and powerful dehydrated wild apple, and a delicious and meaty roasted beef.
The thali also comes with thick and creamy fermented beans, a light tree tomato chutney, a very briny fish chutney, and a sensational and earthy mushroom chutney that made my taste buds go haywire. Don’t miss out on this meal on your way back from Cherrapunjee!
Visit the Wei Sawdong and Dainthlen Waterfalls
As “the Scotland of the East,” Meghalaya boasts numerous beautiful waterfalls. Some of the most stunning waterfalls in the state can be found in the vicinity of Cherrapunjee. All of the falls in the area are among the best things to see and do in Cherrapunjee. Two sets of falls that absolutely must be seen to be believed are Wei Sawdong and Dainthlen.
Wei Sawdong Waterfalls
I highly advise visiting Meghalaya during their dry season because you have to hike down a steep, rocky path and follow a trail to get to Wei Sawdong Waterfalls. You also have to traverse a sideways wooden ladder of sorts and even with the guardrails, it’s very easy to slip and fall.
The path is tricky to navigate even when it’s dry, so I can’t even imagine how treacherous the hike would be when the rocks and path are slick with rain. Be careful and make sure to wear proper footwear! Flip-flops won’t cut it here.
On a side note, there’s also a lot of litter here, which is unfortunate because this area is otherwise incredibly gorgeous and pristine. Please don’t litter. If you have trash, just keep it with you until you can get rid of it properly. Don’t ruin these beautiful sites for others by leaving garbage lying around.
The waterfalls are so worth the trek it takes to get there. Wei Sawdong Waterfalls consists of three levels with pools and three drop-offs. I don’t think there is a word that can properly describe how mesmerizing these falls are. They empty into a beautiful pool. If you visit during the dry season like I did, you can stand on the rocks by the edge of the pool to get the best view of the falls yet!
My friend Paul and I saw them from afar at first and headed down another treacherous path to see them up close. I’d never seen a waterfall like them in my eleven years of traveling the world. The natural beauty and splendor in this part of Meghalaya is astonishing. Wei Sawdong Waterfalls is definitely one of the top things to see and do in Cherrapunjee.
A short, five-minute drive from Wei Sawdong Waterfalls will take you to another beautiful natural wonder in the area, Dainthlen Falls. These falls feature a much higher drop than Wei-Saw-Dong and overlook a stunning, green canyon. The view is epic beyond words and reminded me of the movie Jurassic Park!
There’s a large rock by the side of the drop-off where you can actually lie back and just enjoy the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. The star at Dainthlen Falls is the view, rather than the falls themselves. I was blown away by the landscape. It’s no wonder the British were so smitten with Meghalaya when they arrived during the Raj.
I could definitely understand why. Taking in the view at Dainthlen falls is another of the best things to see and do in Cherrapunjee!
Visit the Local Market in Sohra
When you arrive in Cherrapunjee, known locally as Sohra, the first place you should visit is the local market. Once you get there, you’ll be greeted with a flurry of activity. There are vendors selling fruits, vegetables, fish, raw honey, breads, bamboo goods, and meat as far as the eye can see! You’ll even come across a guy selling a massive amount of tobacco.
I love exploring markets in different countries because they give you a real feel for local life and culture. They’re great places to people watch and you gain a lot of insight about the country you’re visiting.
As is the case in Shillong’s Iewduh Market, you’ll see and smell a wide variety of things as you make your way down the crowded lanes. One of the biggest spectacles can be found in the meat market. There, you’ll watch vendors butcher pork carcasses right at their stalls.
It’s raw and intense to watch, but it’s real and is a part of everyday life here. If you can stomach it, watching the butchers work is one of the reasons why visiting the market is one of the best things to see and do in Cherrapunjee. You can get every part of the pig here: the heart, liver, ribs, intestines, pork belly, and much more.
No part of the hog goes to waste around here. The abundance of pork in Meghalaya is just one of many reasons why this state is so unique.
As you continue through the market, you’ll see vendors selling all kinds of fish, including eel. Most of the fish here is caught and sold within twenty-four hours. They only eat fresh fish and meat here, so nothing is frozen. You’ll also find whole, plucked chickens, goat heads, animal innards, and much more.
Like other markets in Meghalaya, there is a beef section in this market. This is in stark contrast to nearly every other area of India, where there is an extremely high number of Hindu people. That is why beef is practically forbidden, and cows are considered sacred. But in Meghalaya, the Hindu population is extremely low and most of the residents identify as either Christian or Catholic, so eating beef isn’t considered taboo.
Even though I visited Cherrapunjee during its dry season, you have to remember that it’s still one of the wettest places on Earth. It rained a bit during my market visit. But if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to see some Khasi rain covers made from bamboo! They were pretty cool and I could see how they’d be useful in a very rainy town like this one.
This market offers so much to locals and visiting tourists and is such a raw and unique place. Visiting it is undoubtedly one of the top things to see and do in Cherrapunjee. You’ll certainly get an eyeful there!
Eat Local Khasi Food
At the market in Cherrapunjee, you’ll find a small, stone, open-air restaurant. The small restaurant is very charming and bare bones. There isn’t much room, so you’ll likely eat your meal shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals with lots of people brushing past you. It’s such an awesome, local experience. And believe me when I say this: this cramped spot serves some of the most spectacular food I’ve ever eaten in India!
Here, you’ll enjoy a fantastic pork liver that is dense and flavorful and comes with a light sauce on it. It was so good that I got more of it after my first serving! Another amazing dish is the jadoh snam, a rice and pork dish that’s cooked in blood. You can’t really taste the blood in it, but it makes up for it by containing juicy and fatty pieces of pork that made my mouth water!
I also suggest trying the dense and crispy pork fritter as well as the pork fat. The fat is dense and gelatinous and had a flavorful curry on it. It reminded me a lot of pork belly! The dohklieh, or pork salad, was phenomenal as always, as was the fermented fish chutney.
There’s also an incredible, lighter salad made up of potatoes, green beans, and onions, which was nice and refreshing after lots of heavy meat dishes. Cap off your meal with some minty red tea.
This was one of my favorite meals of my life! It’s one of the best things to see and do in Cherrapunjee, for sure. The fresh pork in Meghalaya honestly blows American pork out of the water. It’s so flavorful and is consistently cooked extremely well, no matter where you get it from. The best thing about this meal is that it only cost 90 rupees, or roughly $1.30 U.S., so it’s a major deal!
See the Living Root Bridges
To reach the main attraction of the Cherrapunjee area, you’ll have to drive about 45 minutes away from the local market. It’s worth it, though, as you’d be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in the world. Of course, I’m talking about Cherrapunjee’s living root bridges.
You have to drive down a windy, rocky road through a canyon to get to the location. Once you arrive, you’ll need to spend 20 rupees on walking sticks, which are meant to help you out—you have a 45-minute hike ahead of you! Keep in mind that the area closes at 5 p.m. local time, so try to get there at least 2-3 hours before then so you have time to get down to the bridges, see everything you want to see, and make the hike back.
The first part of the hike consists of descending stairs carved into the hillside, so it isn’t too bad. I took them at a run to cut down time. The staircase winds through the jungle, so there’s lots of dense vegetation on either side as you descend. After you reach the bottom, you’ll have to cross a metal suspension bridge, climb more steps on the other side, and cross a second suspension bridge. It’s a workout for sure!
Soon after crossing the second metal bridge, you’ll see the first living root bridge. These bridges were made by locals who twisted the roots of large banyan trees together. The roots grow together, intertwined with one another, and are stable and strong enough for people to walk across!
Further on are guest houses and more stairs going up and down. You’ll reach a point where you’ll have to pay admission to continue on to see the famous double decker living rood bridge. Children only pay 10 rupees, while adults pay 20. If you have cameras, there are extra fees, so be aware of that before you go there!
Just past where you pay admission is a much larger living root bridge. Wooden planks have been put down to make it more walkable. It’s incredible to see how the roots of these banyan trees have been twisted together to create these bridges. They’re so cool and unique to this part of the world.
And finally, you’ll arrive at the double-decker bridge, a two-layer bridge of twisting, intertwining banyan tree roots that overlook a pool of water with stones all around it. It is a breathtaking sight and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my travels.
Visiting the double-decker living root bridge is well worth the nearly 50-minute hike to get there. It’s definitely one of the top things to see and do in Cherrapunjee. It’s every bit as spectacular as people say it is!
A day trip (or an even longer stay) to Cherrapunjee is something that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. I spent less than a day there, but I fell in love with the area during that time. From the sensory overload of the local market, to some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, to the beautiful waterfalls and mind-blowing living rood bridges, this place is truly mesmerizing. To top it all off, the people are warm and friendly, and the culture is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did, so book a trip there today to experience the top five things to see in Cherrapunjee for yourself!
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