Meghalaya – The Unexplored Caving Paradise of India
You needn’t be a Speleologist to enjoy the beauty of the Meghalayan caves. All it takes is an avid love for adventure of a kind to go exploring these gorgeous, mysterious, yet mind-boggling wonders of nature. Little known to many, Meghalaya houses some of the most spectacular natural caves in the country; tucked inside mountains and deep under the Earth.
Abundant with beauty, one finds an instant connect with nature when traveling through this eastern-most state of India. With beautiful flat-topped mountains, winding roads and drop dead gorges that suddenly give way to open grasslands; the place never ceases to amaze. It is also one of the places receiving the maximum rainfall in India and that is why it is best to go spelunking during the winter months only; lest you find your caves all filled with water and simply inaccessible.
When open for tourists, most explored caves are well-lit, with guided pathways, and lamps to ensure you have an easy walk through. You will however, need to fight that claustrophobic instinct at some points. There are many unexplored caves as well in Meghalaya; left as nature designed them to be; still waiting to be discovered. These caves offer a spectacular display of stalactites and stalagmites twining, dropping and rising to form eye-catching marvels that leave one open-jawed and completely mesmerized.
Here are some of the region’s most spectacular caves. Pick a few or explore them all; the choice and pleasure is all yours:
The Caves of Khasi Hills
The best caves of Khasi Hills are spread across Shella, Cherrapunjee, Nongjri, Pynursla, Langrin and Mawsynaram. The most exotic of them all are:
Krem Mawmluh or Krem Mawkyrdop
Once can enter this cave from the western side of Lum Lawbah. The flowing river behind Mawmluh Cherra Cements Ltd. Can be followed till it disappears into the ground to find this cave. During the dry season, the effluents from the cement factory turn the water into deadly quicksand. That is why it is recommended that you enter these caves through the high level bypass entrance.
This magnificent 30m wide cave is located in a blind valley. A stream of water leads to the cave which is a vision in limestone. The grained texture of these limestone structures almost make it look like sandstone. Where the river passage ends, the roof collapses to let you see the golden rays of the sun.
The entrance to this cave is hidden by boulders and trees and can be seen clearly on windy days. The main trunk of this cave is about 1 km in length, with inclined walls. Towards the west is a slippery and loose passage that is often called the “Way to Heaven”. The calcite formations and the spacious galleries make this a sight to remember.
Located near the Sohra market, this cave is found in the Mawsmai village closer to the Bangladesh border. The grasslands and the forests of the village end in a clearing from which a concrete path will take you to the cave. This cave is fully lit and is known for its spectacular chambers and passages.
Just before the Mawsynram village is a metal road that leads to the parking zone near this cave. The entrance is about 50 metres in width and is about 4 metres high. A large stalactite over a stalagmite looks like a Shiva Ling. This is one of the reasons why people consider this cave holy ad sacred. The entire cave is made of calcareous sandstone and it measures about 209 metres in height.
Caves of Jaintia Hills
These hills are home to some of the most spectacular caves in the country. Some of the most popular ones include:
Krem Liat Prah
This is one of the 150 known caves in the Jaintia Hills district. What sets it apart is that, it is the longest naturally formed cave in India. This cave has been surveyed extensively and is currently a part of the Clouds Expedition Project. It measures an astounding 25 kilometers in length!
One can enter this cave from the Cheihruphi village. It is the third longest cave in India and is just perfect for those who love adventure. The cave offers a wet crawl that leads you to a passage with boulders strewn across in awkward positions. After this passage, you will enter one of the most beautiful cave passages which has a meandering stream flowing through it. The formations in the cave are magnificently colored in hues of orange, grey, black, red, white
You must visit the chamber called ‘Titanic Hall’ which is magnificently decorated with cave pearls that are scattered on the floor of the cave.
This cave reminds one of the Phantom Cave as it is hidden behind a waterfall. As you walk through, the cave becomes smaller in size. As one moves further inside, there comes a passage with unstable boulders that lead to a wet crawl ahead. Absolutely thrilling for an experience!
This cave has inside it, a magnificent river that flows for 3.5 kilometers. You will pass through a series of deep and large lakes as you make your way into the cave. It is known for its colony of bats but remains unexplored for the most part.
This cave is also known as the Tangnub Monkey Cave and is famous for its keyhole passages that have a beautiful coating of orange mud. It is the deepest direct shaft known in the country and is also the fifth longest cave in India.
This is a cave that is revered by Hindu sadhus who make their way to it all the way from Nepal sometimes. The stalactite and stalagmite formations along with the flowstone look magnificent but have been blackened by the kerosene torches that the locals use.
The Caves of Garo Hills
This is another magnificent cave with a maze of passages that vary in size. Some require you to stoop while you walk and well, the others may even require you to crawl!
The Siju caves
This cave consists of some of the most magnificent rock formations. One passage known as Princess Di’s Chamber is the most magnificent one of them all.