Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is a remote, rustic resort nestled on an enormous hill at the very edge of southern Meghalaya, within spitting distance of Bangladesh and surrounded by stunning views on all sides. The heart and soul of the place is Denis, a former bank manager turned vehement eco-tourism advocate. He and his lovely Khasi wife Carmela have laboured for the last eight years to attract tourists to Cherrapunjee and infuse the spirit of eco-tourism into the local community.
Their resort is just a single building with six rooms spread around a central dining space. The room itself is plastered with placards of information on the monsoon. Visitors are showered with information – not so subtle reminders that they are truly in the wettest place on Earth. Speaking of visitors; families seem to be the most common guests at the moment, although nature tourists, trekkers and backpackers would find no shortage of exploration opportunities at Cherrapunjee.
Carmela and Denis’ journey has not been without its challenges. Over the last eight years they have had to demonstrate the potential of tourism to an uncertain local Khasi community through their work, as well as engage Meghalaya’s tourist officials for their assistance in promoting Cherrapunjee as the unique destination that it is. But now, eight years later, their work is beginning to bear fruit and the local community seems to support them. Denis’ employees are all from the local villages and are hard-working, which has added value to the experience.
In our view, Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is an ideal destination on the basis of its responsible travel and adventure tourism opportunities; no visitor will leave without unique memories of the place and its people.
Rooms at the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort are best described as rustic, pragmatic and comfortable, although the decor seems a little older than its eight years would suggest.
There are six rooms around a central gathering hall – 3 Standard and 3 Deluxe Rooms. Each room (except one) has a double bed and an extra single that is charged if used. The three Deluxe Rooms face Laitkynsew village and have a lovely view. The three Standard Rooms have no view to speak of. Rooms are sizeable, fitting a double bed, an extra single, two sitting chairs, a bamboo coffee table, desk and wardrobe, with a fair amount of leftover space to play in. Other mod-cons are not present, although wireless internet is now available in the rooms. Each tiled bathroom is equipped with hot water and western style toilet, which the staff work to keep extremely clean.
Power goes out frequently, although the resort is equipped with an inverter so you are never without light.
While the building itself is showing some wrinkles, it buzzes with activity as the staff are professional and efficient, having benefited from hospitality training and some hands-on guidance from resort management (i.e. Denis!). The menu is full and almost every single item is available despite the remoteness of the resort. Indian cuisine is readily available as well as some interesting local dishes such as a very rich ‘pork neiiong’ and local beetroot dishes. Fresh fruits and juices are available as well. Service starts at 7am and ends at 10pm.
The resort, being located in the remote location that it is, has no other choices for restaurants or bars. Alcohol is available in small quantities on request. However the atmosphere of the place is decidedly family-orientated.
Trekking is the only activity available to visitors of Cherrapunjee. That being said, there are plenty of treks to do, with a network of established trails snaking around the surrounding hills.
Visitors should make for the ‘living root bridges,’ inventions of the local Khasi community who have adapted a species of Indian rubber tree, Ficus elastica, to create bridges made entirely of roots. The most famous of these bridges, a ‘double-decker’ creation, involves a 700m descent down a part-concrete and part-rock path. During the monsoon season these hikes are akin to running in an ice-skating rink – the rock steps become greased with layers of moss and rain. In other words, only physically fit trekkers should take on these walks. Those who wish to break the journey can ask for basic accommodation at Nongriat, the village nearest to the double-decker bridge, as the ascent back up from the valley is not to be taken lightly. All seasons are suitable for trekking, and it is wonderful to experience the wettest place in the world at the wettest time of year. Less strenuous walks are available to lookout points in the nearby village of Nongkraw.
There are many other treks of varying degree of difficulty ranging from 2-8 hours.
Be spoilt for choice and swim in one of several natural pools located in the surrounding area – all reached by treks downhill. The water is crystal clear, blue, and as fresh as it gets!
There are many angling spots located in the river, about 2000 feet downhill. Best from September to December.Laitkynsew, near Cherrapunjee, is a great place for birders. The landscape is diverse: deep valleys with forest and boulder filled streams, villages surrounded by cultivation, second growth and bamboo groves, eerie steep cliffs with waterfalls and, on top of it all, a barren plateau clad with grassland and pines. More than 190 species were recorded over a six day period in late 2007.
For experience adventure enthusiasts, there’s plenty of river canyonaction over several circuits and difficult grades. Geo-caches have been established in locations around the resort. Have fun on a geo-cache treasure hunt and create one of your own. Go adventure caving at Krem Mawmluh (7km long) or explore Krem Umjasew, reputedly the 3rd deepest cave system in India. It’s available for experienced cavers only and must be booked and planned in advance.
As mentioned earlier, the heart and soul of CHR is Denis, a former bank manager who, in conjunction with his Khasi wife, decided to set up the resort at what is the very southern edge of Meghalaya. Tourism did not exist previously in the area and even after eight years of working there Denis still struggles to get the government, local community, and as many tourists as possible to visit the Cherrapunjee area.
In terms of Socially Responsible Tourism practices, the resort is doing a fantastic job on many fronts. First and foremost are the people of the resort, all of whom are from the local Khasi community. Without the resort, they would have little other opportunities for work and revenue inside their own community. Second is the promotion of nature at the resort. As the so-called “World’s Wettest Place on Earth,” Mr. Denis hopes that most visitors will leave with an increased sense of awe towards nature, and to that end he is happy to let others know about the ‘living root bridges,’ which are unique, biological creations of the local Khasi people.
- Spectacular views en route and from the resort.
- Beauty of the monsoon revealed from the ‘wettest place on Earth.’
- Fantastic trekking opportunities, although extremely physically taxing.
- Consistently good home-style food and professional service.
- Scores very high on all sustainable and responsible tourism measures.
- Owner works extremely closely with local Khasi community.
- Low water pressure is a consistent issue.
- Far away from anything and everything, transport here requires a good full day from major airports/railway and Bangladesh.
- Power cuts are frequent, but they have a back-up UPS which lasts a couple of hours.
Ideal For Whom
Currently, families from Shillong and Guwahati seem to be the most common guests although there are the occasional adventurous Indian and foreign travellers willing to see Cherrapunjee’s internationally-renowned ‘living root bridges,’ extraordinary creations of the local Khasi people. The treks required to view these unique feats of bio-engineering involve strenuous hikes into (and out from) the nearby ravines. For families, there is plenty of exploration to do in the nearby villages.
When To Visit
Cherrapunjee is definitely an all-season destination.
During the monsoon, life-giving rains pummel the hills and the region explodes with natural wealth. Trekking is certainly more difficult at this time as everything is slippery and wet, but the adventurous and sure-footed will be rewarded with splendid views of engorged waterfalls and rivers—a fantastic display of nature’s power.
Post-monsoon season (late October – February) provides the most moderate weather, with the coldest months posting zero rainfall, although humid conditions mean visitors should pack some warm clothing if visiting at this time
How Many Days
Three nights are an ideal stay for Cherrapunjee — plenty of time to take in the nature while allowing enough time to complete a trek to and from the root bridges. Two nights would be more appropriate for couples or families seeking a simple vacation and nature experience, or passing through on a longer tour of North Eastern India.
Things To Bring
A good pair of shoes with a solid grip is an absolutely necessity for trekkers in Cherrapunjee, as is a backpack equipped with a rain cover plus a good raincoat and/or umbrella. Bamboo walking sticks are available at the resort as are packed lunches. Power is inconsistent so a torch wouldn’t go unused in the evenings for reading
Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is located in the village of Laitkynnsew, near Cherrapunjee in the state of Meghalaya, in North Eastern India.
To get to Cherrapunjee, you need to fly into Guwahati in the neighbouring province of Assam, or fly into Shillong directly. The former has a large number of competitively priced domestic flight connections from various parts of the country. Shillong is served only by Air India from Kolkata which tends to be unreliable.
From Guwahati Airport
From Guwahati, find a taxi (approx 30 €) for the drive southwards to Cherrapunjee (5 hours / 170 kms). From Shillong, you can hire vehicles from the Taxi Stand at Police Bazar, Shillong. The 2 hour transfer from Shillong should cost about 15 €.
Otherwise, transfers can be arranged from Guwahati or Shillong by the hotel.
By Road from Bangladesh
Cross-over to Dawkhi on the border and the hotel can organise a pick-up for you.
From Shillong one can hire vehicles from the Taxi Stand at Police Bazar, Shillong.
Otherwise, the Laitkynnsew village bus leaves from SOHRA BUS STAND in Bara Bazaar at Shillong. (Cherrapunjee is locally known as ‘Sohra’.) There are three buses plying between Shillong and Laitkynsew. One bus leaves Sohra Bus Stand at Bara Bazar, Shillong by 11:00 a.m. It reaches LAITKYNSEW by 1:30 p.m. The same bus starts back to Shillong from the village by 2:00 p.m. The other two buses leave Shillong by 1:00 p.m. They reach Laitkynsew after 4:00 p.m. These buses do not ply on Sundays. It is also very convenient to return to Shillong on the day of departure. Backpackers, please take note of this service.
One can also catch shuttle Sumos to Sohra from near Sohra Bus Station at Bara Bazaar near Mot Phran. Presently they charge 0.6 € per person to Cherrapunjee Market and from there take a taxi to the Resort for around 3 €. Alternately, you can hire one of the Shuttle Sumos to Sohra for approx. 10.29 € to 11 € for a direct non-stop drop to Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort.