Interesting tales behind Meghalaya’s waterfalls

Author: Madhawi Rai
Date: 2020-04-09

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Stories passed down verbally from generation to generation are the ones that say millions about our race. The things that interest me the most are how these folklores give us great storytellers - as if from the past. My recent visit to Meghalaya made me realise that I still craved for such stories. 

As Meghalaya is known from its numerous waterfalls, most of my trip comprised hopscotching from one waterfall to the next, and I realised how this natural wonder still held a special place in my heart. Here are a few waterfalls that hooked me with their beauty but most importantly their myths.  

1. Khoh Ramhah
Ka Khoh Ramhah or “Basket of the Giant” is one major tourist attraction at Cherrapunjee, Sohra. The highlight of this rock is its shape, which is in the form of a big giant cone.

Also known as Mothorp or pillar rock, this giant basket is bounded by two smaller rocks in the same shape. It’s the impressive formation of the rock that keeps tourists spellbound.

Now the myth attached to it: According to the locals, this rock is a fossilized cone-shaped basket that belonged to a big evil giant. The giant greatly troubled the people of that region through his greed and unsocial behaviour. To get rid of the evil giant, the people decided to invite him for a huge meal and mixed his food with sharp iron and nails, which eventually led to his death. The giant basket that he left in that place turned into stone and is supposedly believed to be the Khoh Ramhah.

The beauty of the place is enhanced by the flow of the stream through the rocks, which takes the shape of a rapid waterfall when seen from behind. On a clear day, one can also see the plains of Bangladesh from here, which is a beautiful sight to behold.

2. Nohkalikai Falls
Nohkalikai Falls is one of highest falls in India. The water, which cascades from an impressive height of 335 meters, looks like a white rope from afar and plunges into a carved waterhole.  

The legend of Nohkalikai Falls goes like this: Likai was a young mother who had started to be a porter after her husband’s death. She had a little baby who she could not give her complete attention. Through the persuasion of other women from the village, who insisted that the baby needed a father, she got married to a man. The new husband turned out to be petty and was jealous of all the attention she showered on the baby when she was home. His pettiness led him to do something so ghastly that this beautiful falls was unfortunate to be tagged with.

One day the new husband prepared a meal for his wife who he knew would be starving after the long day of work. Assuming that the baby was in the neighbour's house, she settled down to eat the meal cooked by her husband. I hope by now you could guess where this story is headed. The man was so jealous of the baby that he chopped the toddler and cooked Likai her own kid. Unaware of this atrocious act, Likai sat down to eat her routine ‘kwai’-betel leaves and nuts post her meal. Near the basket of the betel leaves a tiny finger of her daughter was lying, which she immediately recognized. When she figured out what had happened, she was unable to hide her emotions and anger. She screamed and ran till she reached the waterfall and finally jumped to her own death. The locals were so touched by the event that they kept the name of the waterfall in her name. 

3. Dainthlen Falls
Dainthlen Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls, located at Sohra, near Cherrapunjee, best known for its marvellous and gorgeous vista.

Legend has it that a thlen, meaning a gigantic serpent, lived in a cave nearby. The snake used to ambush the local people on their way to the market. It had a strange habit of devouring half of the people and leaving the rest untouched. If there were two people passing, it would attack one and let the other one go. If there were ten, then five people would fall prey to its appetite. The local people though the best option was to walk alone. 

U Suidnoh, a fearless person of Laitryngyen, came up with a plan to tackle the snake. He took with him a herd of goat and developed a friendship with the thlen by feeding it with goat meat. Over a period of time, the serpent became friendly to U Suidnoh and on a call from him would slide up the cave with its mouth gaping wide open to feast on the meat. 

One day U Suidnoh heated an iron on a furnace till it became red hot like meat. He then approached the cave and called out to the thlen. As usual the thlen came and opened its mouth wide open. U Suidnoh then dropped the iron into its mouth. The snake writhed in pain as the iron burnt its insides, and the earth shook as if shaken by the earthquake. When the snake died, the people from Sohra came to the cave, pulled out the body of the snake, and cut it into pieces. The rocky bed of the river now still looks like pieces of chopped meat. Since then the place is called “Dainthlen,” meaning the place where “thlen was cut.”