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Happy Holidays – Cherrapunji

High above misty valleys and foaming rivers, this is a stunning location and the year-round rain earned Cherrapunji coveted entry long ago into the Guinness Book of World Records as the wettest place on earth, the place where the rainfall can be recorded in feet rather than in millimeters.

Today, climatic changes have edged Cherrapunji out of the topmost ‘wet’ slot, but it still retains its pristine beauty, its unusual facets, the perpetual clouds, and the perpetual mists…. Appropriately, Cherrapunji lies in the heart of the State of Meghalaya-the abode of clouds. Amidst all the surprises of Cherrapunji, perhaps the most abiding is the startling realization that the wettest place on earth where it rains every month also has an amazing amount of warm sunshine. When the clouds drift away, there are a series of memorable views, and one can see as far as Bangladesh. Orchids blooming a few feet away form a patch devoid of vegetation. Dense woods interspersed by rocky, cliffs furrowed by erosion.

As the months move on, the smell of decaying vegetation lessens as the showers become intermittent. New plants spring to life, and people go about their tasks with renewed energy.

The hills around Cherrapunji do not have the lush green vegetation one normally associates with wet places. An amazing variety of rare orchids, ferns, and moss convert each pocket into a botanist’s paradise. Cherrapunji produces the best quality of oranges as well as pineapples. In fact, Cherrapunji oranges are the ancestors of the famous Nagpuri oranges in the Central India. Cherrapunji is perhaps the only place in India, which has just one season: the monsoon. The rainfall varies from heavy to medium to light, but there is no month without rain. Another surprising fact about Cherrapunji is that it rains mostly at night. Day-to-day activity is not really disrupted by the rain. Cherrapunji is 58 km from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. A steep motorable road, almost perpetually bathed in mist as it climbs upwards on the last lap, leads up to Cherrapunji. Buses and taxis ply to Cherrapunji from Shillong.

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