FOR A RAINY DAY
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In Sohra, one of the wettest places in the world, what you find is a barren, mysterious beauty—and the rampage of raindrops on your roof
For a place which till recently called itself the wettest on the planet, the landscape of Sohra (Cherrapunjee) is incredibly sparse. As you move your eyes across the green and rocky plateau, you hardly see trees. Instead, the harsh black of the boulders and the cloud-filled valley underlines the remoteness of this weeping landscape. It's also ironic how, in spite of recording an average of more than 11,000 mm rain per year between 1973 and 2006 and more than 12,000 mm in 2007 itself, Sohra suffers from acute water scarcity owing to the massive run-off.
The first night in the town, I am woken up by a loud drumming on the tin roof. The first drops have arrived. Soon, the air is overtaken by a monstrous thunder, a coordinated noise rivalling the wild rampage of a thousand elephants. The rain does not fall at Sohra, it lashes. It travels horizontally over great distances on forceful gusts of wind.
The next morning, while walking on the Shella (pronounced che-lla) road towards Mawsmai caves and Nohsngithiang or the Seven Sister waterfalls (both 6km from Sohra), I come across hills dotted with monoliths and old graveyards. These crosses and moss-ridden stones speak of the mysterious past, of the legends that have circulated over these brooding hills for centuries. The Khasis (the tribe that mostly inhabits this region of Meghalaya and comprises around half of the population of the state) have a story for everything. They believe the monoliths are the work of an ancient race of men of Herculean strength, who drove these stones into the earth with just a single blow.
The most revered of the stones is Ka Khoh Ramhah (or the giant cone). Around 13km from Sohra, the locals believe it to be the Khoh ( a traditional Khasi conical basket) of a giant called Ramhah who used to wreak havoc on the nearby villages. The people had their revenge by feeding him broken glasses and ground iron pieces along with his meal. In this barren landscape, you may be the only one gaping at its magnificent size and the plains of Bangladesh in the background.
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