Sunday, 30 October 2011

Nohkalikai Falls in Meghalaya- Day 5

When we left Ramakrishna Mission it was still misty and the more we drove towards Nohkalikai Falls the surroundings got more beautiful by each mile. The hills wore a green sheath with the fog adding that extraordinary allure. Anywhere we looked, there was fog rising out of the valley, there was eternal silence and the world looked untouched. Mist and clouds were rolling through the streets, clinging to the trees and coating the hillsides. The air was crisp and clean. Watching the magnificent view of the valleys filled with green trees, wild flowers, streams and clouds along the way made me wonder if it was a dream.

When we reached the spot, it was so foggy. Standing against a picturesque valley, but rebuffed by endless fog blocking the views… We were little unfortunate when we reached the Nohkalikai Falls, as the entire falls was invisible due to clouds. The clouds were so dense that we couldn’t see anything beyond 2-3 meters. We tried hard to get a glimpse of the falls, but all we could get was the sound of water! Since the place was located on the highest point in Sohra, clouds were floating around and we were literally walking on clouds. Then we realized that viewing Nohkalikai Falls might be a bit of a roll of the dice given the fickle nature of the weather there. The area is frequently shrouded in clouds and the fog always rolls in as if it has a vengeance against visitors. I had experienced this near zero visibility when I had been to Kodaikanal and I must admit that yet I was thrilled when we were passing through the clouds!

Nohkalikai Falls


The Nohkalikai Falls falls from a height of 1,100 feet (335 metres) from a fairly well-forested drainage into a rocky base accompanied by a pretty bluish green pool. There are many small companion waterfalls flanking the main one. Near the view point there was an interesting sign which claimed that this is the fourth highest waterfall in the world, but in fact, it is the fourth highest in India and not in the world!

The legend of Nohkalikai says how and why the falls got its name. According to it, a woman named Likai lived in Rangjyrteh village, upstream from Nohkalikai Falls. Ka Likai’s (The prefix ‘ka’ identifies the feminine gender) husband was a porter who made his livelihood carrying loads of iron to Sylhet. He died on one of his trips leaving Ka Likai with a baby girl to take care. Ka Likai had to take up the job of porter herself, like many other women, ferrying iron from Rangjyrteh to Mawmluh village, leaving her baby in the care of others. Other women persuaded her that she should find another man, for the child too needs a father. So Ka Likai found herself a man, but unfortunately her new found husband was envious of the attention Ka Likai showered on her baby girl and resented the baby. One day when Ka Likai was out on her usual routine of carrying iron, her envious husband killed the baby girl, chopped the child into pieces and cooked the flesh. He threw away the head and bones, but forgot the fingers in the kwai (betel nut) basket. A tired and hungry Ka Likai returned to her house to find none at home. She presumed that perhaps, her baby was with her new father or a neighbour. Acute pangs of hunger and the inviting smell of curry led her to satiate her hunger before going in search of her child. The meat was tasty but left her clueless as to what meat it was as the preparation her husband had made was delicious indeed. As usual, after a meal she took up the kwai basket to help herself to a kwai. Alas, she found besides kwai the severed fingers of a child. The horror of what she had just relished dawned on her. She had eaten her own beloved child. Ka Likai became mad with fury and desperation. She ran screaming in dismay, brandishing a ‘wait’, a chopper, at anyone who tried to stop her. She ran till the edge where the waterfall leaps off the precipice and threw herself over the edge. ‘Noh’ in Khasi means to jump. Thus the waterfall was named Noh-Ka-Likai.
Nohkalikai Falls

We saw, rather say heard, a Khasi woman shouting: “Pineapple le lo, pineapple le lo” (Buy pineapple, buy pineapple). After clicking some photographs, it was time to say goodbye to the place and move towards our next destination, Mawsmai Caves.

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