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Nohkalikai Falls: The Tallest Plunge Waterfall in India

Nohkalikai Falls is one of the most beautiful and photogenic falls I had ever seen. At 335 meters it is the highest plunge waterfall in India and the 4th highest in the World. Just a 10 minutes drive from main town of Cherapunji, the fall is located at another blunt end of the plateau. The gorge here is green and trees grow like a mini rainforest. From the edge of the cliff the waterfall looked like a white rope in a sea of green forests.


The water plunges 335 meters downwards and has carved out a waterhole. Strangely, the waterhole is as blue as the sky in winter and green in summer. In winter the water recedes to just a minimal amount, but in summer the falls are lavish. 


The name Nohkalikai is derived from a tragic Khasi legend. Almost every beautiful or interesting place in North-East seems to have originated from a sad story. This is no different.  A woman named Ka Likai remarried a man but her second husband became jealous for treating her daughter with so much love; perhaps more than him. One day while she was away at work her husband cooked the girl and served it to her. After she had eaten it, she was to go looking for her baby girl. Much to her dismay she found her daughter’s finger in a betel nut basket. Greatly saddened by this, she leaped off the fall and the fall came to be known as ‘Nohkalikai’ which is literally translated as, ‘jump of Ka Likai.’ 


A minimal amount of Rs.10 is charged as the entry fee (different fee for camera). Few shops stand one side facing the cliff. Steep steps spiraled down the cliff but left you disappointed as it ends bluntly in the middle. There is no proper road to the bottom of the falls, but at least you get to see the waterfall a bit closer. 


At the shop a woman dressed in Jainsem (traditional Khasi female dress) waved her hand and said, ‘Honey… Purr…honey.’ She had her bamboo stall, sequined with old whiskey bottles, and filled with honey. ‘Purr… pure... honey!’ she repeated.


‘How much?’ I inquired, tapping a bottle. Few second passed. “Kanau?” I said browsing my mind for a few Khasi words. ‘Two hundred and fifty…very pure,’ she replied, her hand pointing to the cliff to indicate that the honey had been harvested from it. 


You might as well want to buy a hat here for Rs.150-200 if you are planning on a long trip. You’ll be in the sun more often than you like it. This sombrero like hat made from leather can come in quite handy to shield both sun and rain. 


Getting a good glimpse of Nohkalikai Falls can be a hard bet during rainy season. Clouds could appear out of nowhere and ruin the whole show. But in autumn the view is nothing less than a grand spectacle.

Published On: Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Jim Kasom

Jim Kasom is a travel photographer and blogger. For almost three years he has been exploring India and is still amazed by the diversity of this Country. He likes to walk a lot on his travels and believes it is the most exhaustive way of exploring a place.
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