Nohkalikai Falls

Nohkalikai Falls is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in India, situated about 7.5km from the subdivisional town of Cherrapunji or Sohra in the East Khasi Hills district of the Indian State Meghalaya. With a total height of 340m, the Nohkalikai Falls is India's tallest plunge waterfall. The Nohkalikai Falls is located about 140km from the nearest Guwahati Railway Station and 166km from the Guwahati International Airport.

Geography Of Nohkalikai Falls

Nohkalikai waterfall
Plunge pool at the base of the Nohkalikai Falls.

The Nohkalikai Falls is mainly fed by the rainwater collected at the top of a small plateau located around the town of Sohra. During the wet season, the powerful streams form the Nohkalikai Falls, which falls in a single plunge over the Cretaceous-Paleogene sandstones and limestones. Located at an elevation of 1,239m, the waterfall has a total width of 23m and an average flow rate of 2.8 cubic meters per second. The water flow is most profuse during the rainy season from June to September, but the flow recedes mainly during the dry season from December to February. The upper part of the falls flows along the vertical cliff, but about two-thirds of the waterfall is free-falling and has led to the formation of a grotto behind the falls. The force of water has also created a plunge pool at the base of the falls, which remains blue in winter and turns to an unusual shade of green during the summer months.

Legend Of Nohkalikai

The name “Nohkalikai” in the native Khasi tribal language means the “Leap of Ka Likai” and refers to a tragic Khasi legend. According to the Khasi legend, a woman named Likai lived in the Rangjirteh village, located about 3km north-northwest from the falls. Her first husband died while at work, forcing Ka Likai to stay alone with her infant daughter. To feed the child and sustain herself, Ka Likai took on the arduous job of carrying iron for trade. Ka Likai had to leave her child unattended for extended periods due to her work. Therefore, on persuasion by her woman friends and to give her infant daughter proper attention, she decided to remarry. But, unfortunately, her wicked second husband was extremely jealous of his little stepdaughter, as he believed Ka Likai was giving her constant attention and loved the little girl more than him.

Nohkalikai waterfall
The stunning waterfall.

One day, while Ka Likai was away for her work, her husband murdered his stepdaughter, chopped her in pieces, and made a soup of her flesh. The fingers of the minor child were then thrown in the betel basket. After returning from work, Ka Likai found the house empty but discovered that her husband had already prepared a meal. Ka Likai wanted to go out and search for her daughter, but as she was tired after her day-long work, she first decided to eat the meal. After her meal, Ka Likai usually chewed paan – a preparation made by combining betel leaves with betel nuts, but this time, to her horror, she found the severed fingers of her infant child in the betel basket. Ka Likai immediately realized what had happened in the house while she was away for work and became insane with anger and grief. She began to run frenziedly through the village until she reached the edge of the Cherrapunji Plateau and plunged herself to death. The waterfall was thus named “Nohkalikai Falls” as a grim reminder of Ka Likai’s tragic fate.

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