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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Guest Post: Tales of Mountain Madness

Being an ardent nature lover, I have always been attracted to the mountains, especially in the monsoon season when the abundant green cover, huge waterfalls and the misty climate create such a delightful concoction that I find myself making the soulful journey to the mountains again and again.

Apart from the stunning landscapes and the beauty, one other thing which interests me are the stories related to such places which become part of mountain folklore. One such story is about the famous Nohkalikai Falls in Meghalaya.

These massive falls are a sight to behold - It makes a dramatic jump from within the forests on to the rocks below. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in the country and its roar can be heard from a fair distance. I visited the falls on a rainy day (which are an everyday occurrence in and around Cherrapunji) and for quite some time, the falls were not visible at all due to the heavy mist. However, the sound of the falls crashing on the rocks was loud enough for me to prolong my visit and wait for the conditions to improve.

That was when I met a villager and we got talking. After a while, he suggested we have lunch and if I am interested, he was also willing to narrate the story about the falls and the surrounding places, which has been passed from generation to generation. That was an offer too good to resist - I must admit my hunger played a part in me accepting the invitation.
Noh Kalikai Falls of Meghalaya, one of the highest waterfalls in India

According to the elders, the story of the waterfalls starts with KaLikai (“ka” is used for women) who lived in a nearby village in Sohra (popularly known as Cherrapunji). She lost her husband almost immediately after giving birth to their first child, and was forced to do various kinds of work to support her daughter. As she struggled to make ends meet, she remarried later, and this is where the tale takes an ugly turn.

Her new husband was very jealous at the attention KaLikai showered on her daughter and he could not handle the same. In a fit of rage, when the mother was away at work, he killed the little girl, and cooked her for dinner. KaLikai, unknowingly ate the child. When she realized what had happened, KaLikai couldn’t cope with the horror of it all, and jumped off this cliff to her death. The cliff and its falls came to be known as Nohkalikai (Noh in Khasi means "jump"). I was appalled and kept wondering why most of the stories in the mountains have a tragic ending !!!!

After some time, we passed an hour walking around the place before the mist lifted and the sight of the waterfalls was so stunning that I was rendered speechless for quite some time. The sight was definitely worth the wait and the bottom of the falls with a pretty blue pool looked very inviting. However, my friend (yes, I could call him that) informed me that I can’t make a spontaneous visit to the bottom of the falls as it involves a very difficult trek through the forest. 

As the mist started gathering again over the falls, I decided to move on and it was time to explore the other scenic jewels in and around Cherrapunji.

About the Author: Ganesh is a guy in his early thirties who has an intense passion for travel, culture, sports and wildlife conservation. He is eager to experience the places and faces around the world, always on the lookout for his next destination - in between all that, trying to achieve some balance in life.

Photo Credit: The photo in this post belongs to the author.



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