High above misty valleys and foaming rivers, ensconced in swirling clouds and perched on an escarpment, lies Cherrapunji (4,500 feet). 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 mistsâ€¦. Appropriately, Cherrapunji lies in the heart of the State of Meghalaya-the abode of clouds.
HISTORY OF CHERRAPUNJI
As in days gone by, the faces of Cherrapunji change not with the seasons, but with the pattern of rainfall. The heaviest downpours span approximately five long months-from May until September. The clouds then are dark and menacing, full blown with rain, which descends earthwards with the stinging force of a whiplash.
Throughout these months, Cherrapunji is transformed into a sea of tiny, gushing rivulets. The raindrops beat incessantly on rooftops and treetops creating a compelling tattoo of awesome sounds, which cannot be savored anywhere else but in the Northeastern states. These are also the 'record-making' months, which contribute to records such as the stunning 22,987 mm of rainfall in 1861. The annual average rainfall of Cherrapunji stands today at 10,871 millimeters. Barely 10 km from Cherrapunji stands the village of Mawsynram, which has snatched away the heaviest rainfall record, with 12,163 millimeters of rainfall.
With the passage of September, the rhythm of the rain-its main force spent-changes to a gentle patter. And the Khasis and other residents of Cherrapunji, the flora, and the fauna respond to the change in the Rain God's mood. Soft pastel shades begin to appear in skies that were gray all day and rainbows that are a photographer's delight begin to make unexpected guest appearances.