The Caves Of Meghalaya

by Tony Oldham

Meghalaya means The Abode of the Clouds. It is a north eastern state bordering Bangladesh in the south and Asam in the north, it is reputed to be the wettest place on earth but is also a land of caves, with more than 500 according to B.D. Kharpan Daly, General Secretary of the Shillong based Meghalaya Adventurers Association which was formed in 1990. One reason for the abundance of caves could be the heavy rain in the region reacting with the limestone deposits. He claims with confidence that the figure would go up to 1000.

The Meghalaya Adventurers Association have organised a tour to the following caves. This package covers of all aspects of the tour from the point of checkout at Borjhar Airport on arrival till the point of check-in for departure. Specialised guides receive the groups on arrival equipped with snacks, cold drinks and beverages along with mineral water in well appointed vehicles. Food, accommodation and transport for the whole stay is covered. The pattern of the stay during the tour is as follows: Syndai (3 nights); Lumshnong (4 nights); Cherrapunji (3 nights); SIJU (5 nights).

For details contact: B.D. Kharpan Daly, General Secretary, Meghalaya Adventurer's Association; c/o Hotel Centrepoint Shillong. Phone Number: 91-364-225210 and Fax: 91-364-225293

Caves in East Khasi Hills

Cherrapunjee (Sohra) - 56 km from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, situated in one of the rainest rain belt in the world, 1,300 meters above sea level. A pleasant drive to see roaring water falls leaping into deep gorges, including the famed Nohsngithiang falls. The lovely town is also famous for its limestone caves and orange honey. Centre of Khasi culture and literature, it also has the oldest Presbyterian Church and also an establishment of the Ramkrishna Mission.

  • Krem Mawmluh is situated approximately half a kilometre west of Cherrapunjee adjacent to the small hamlet of Mawmluh. This cave has five river passages of impressive proportions. With a length of 4503 m it is currently the fourth longest in the Indian sub continent.
  • Krem Phyllut is situated in the village of Mawsmai, south of Cherrapunjee. The cave has a large section of fossil passage, two stream ways and three entrances. Length: 1003 m.
  • Krem Soh Shympi, Mawlong, E. Khasi Hills This 760 m long cave has a large pothole entrance 20 m deep. The cave passage is very large with numerous formations at one end. Mawsynram, 58 km from Shillong.
  • Krem Dam, the largest sandstone cave in the Indian subcontinent with a length of 1297 m. It has a very large entrance with a stream running down its main passage.

Caves in Jaintia Hills

Jowai, the headquarters of the Jaintia Hills district is situated 64 km from Shillong, along the Shillong-Silchar national highway. A picturesque town circled by the majestic Myntdu river. In the village of Lumshnong, 60 km from Jowai there are numerous caves. South of Jowai, there are caves in the villages of Amlarem, Pdengshakap, Syndai and Nongtalang. Syndai village is dotted with a number of caves which were used as hide-outs during the war between the Jaintia kings and the foreign intruders.

  • Krem Um Lawan Cave has its history rooted in myths and legends. It is the longest and deepest in South East Asia. Lt 6,381 m -106.8 m. A cave of Eocene age, it has an upper fossil passage and a lower active passage with numerous cataracts and waterfalls.
  • Krem Kotsati Cave has eight entrances and is 3650  m long. The main entrance is entered via a deep pool. Portions of this cave have to be traversed by swimming or by using an inflatable rubber boat.
  • Krem Umshangktat has a 350 m long entrance passage which offers a comfortable stroll on moist sand. The last stretch requires an easy climb across fallen limestone blocks and debris to reach the collapsed doline of the upper entrance. Near the collapse there is a belly crawl which eventually terminates in a sizeable chamber. Length: 955 m.
  • Kremlashinng, Pdengshakap is 37 km from Jowai with a massive cave entrance measuring 50 m wide and 40 m high. Due to the large amount of sticky and slippery mud in the cave, the best period to visit is Feb/March. Length: 2650 m.
  • Krem Sweep at Syndai is 47 km from Jowai. The cave is situated just a few minutes walk behind the village school in a depression. It has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Length: 970 m

Caves in the South Garo Hills

The Garo Hills are known for their abundant wild life. Two mountain ranges- the Arabella range and the Tura range, passage through the Garo Hills, forming the great Balpakram Valley in between. The capitol is Tura, 323 km from Guwahati, at an altitude of 657 m. The highest point is Nokrek Peak, 1.412 m.

Tura has a picturesque landscape of hills against a backdrop of low lying plains, with the mighty river Brahmaputra making sweeping curves as it flows towards Bangladesh.

Balpakram is a National Wild Life Park, about 167 km from Tura, also known as the "Abode of Perpetual Winds". It is believe that here, the spirits of the dead dwell temporarily before embarking on the final journey.

  • Siju-Dobkhakol with a length 4772 m is the third longest cave in the Indian sub-continent and is situated on the bank of the Simsang river just below the village of Siju. It contains one of the finest river passages to be found any where in the world. More research has been carried out in this cave than in any other cave in India. It is the home of tens of thousands of bats.
  • Tetengkol-Balwakol (Cave of Dwarfs with Inverted Feet) is in Nengkhong village, 15 km from Siju. The small and insignificant circular entrancen of 1 m diameter hides a large cave, which, with a length of 5334 m, is currently the second longest cave in the Indian sub-continent.
  • Dobhakol Chibe Nala (Nengkhong): The cave is situated a few hundred meters downstream from Tetengkol-Balwakol on the river Chibe Nala. It is well hidden by a large rock. Length: 1978 m
  • Bok Bak Dobhakol (Nengkhong, Rongdik Nala): A rather complex cave which would seem to be an intermittently active river sink. During wet weather the cave floods to the roof. Length 1051 m.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.