Sunday 25 November 2012

Sohkhmi - The Green River

"We are in Cherrapunjee."
"Is it raining there?" That is the question we hear most often. Known as the rainiest place in the world, Cherrapunjee was there in the social studies curriculum across India. At an elevation of 1400m it is still one of the wettest places in the world. In 1974 it rained 24555mm (80.56ft) which is the highest recorded rainfall in any one place in any one year in the world. On 16th June, 1995 it rained 1563mm in 24 hours! The rainfall in July 2012 was 3847.8mm.

The huge mountains and the rainforests are lashed by heavy rains accompanied by thunderstorms; from mid March to September. Rest of the year can boast about sunny normalcy suitable for outdoor activities.

A major hobby as well as a profession for people in Meghalaya, there are fishing competitions (in ponds)with a first prize to the tune of Rs.3,00,000 or more in the peak season. There are many rivers bordering Meghalaya flowing down to Bangladesh. The river is auctioned to different villagers and demarcated with boundaries at a range of Rs.1000-5000. Each villager who wins the bid, spends day and night at the riverside camping in a cave or makeshift camps and sells his catch at the market. Angling is the only means, which is a sustainable method. Villagers use homemade gear for angling, not fancy but very effective. Fishing rod is made of flexible long bamboo pole and the fishing reel is made of wood and metal. Polythene line is attached to multiple hooks which are hidden inside a block of boiled tapioca, hooks and bait change as per the variety of fish. The captured fish will be kept in the river until the day of selling.

Sohkhmi-the trail and the trek:
Sohkhmi is a village with less than fifty families, which can be accessed only by foot from Sohra. The motorable road from Saitsohpen near the police station ends at Kut-madan village. By foot it takes an hour to the Presbyterian Church, from where you can see the Bangladesh plains. The river is an hour and a half steep descent from the Sohkhmi village. This trek takes you from 1300m to 75m at the river, an indication of the dizzying trail. We could reach the village by 10am, two hours from police station through wide but rocky walkway. We crossed the village following concrete steps lined with mandarin orange trees. The villagers might be curious where you are heading to. After the last blue house you will get a sneak peak of the bluish green river decorated by white rocks.

The traipse down is knee trembling due to the steep rocky trail. After an hour we reached the hidden paradise at 11.30 and got onto the very narrow wire bridge to enjoy the mesmerizing green river. The tranquil water is so clear that you can see the river bed and reflects the sun on the wet rocks on the side wall. It looks like an aquarium displaying the wide variety of fish in their natural habitat. We did a tad rock climbing to find Bah Pen who hails from Sohkhmi village with whom I had been to this location two years back. Though we did not speak any common language he could recognise me when I told him Bansan's name. He offered his bamboo raft for an enthralling joy ride and we spent one hour playing in the water. Like a fish in the water, Romin swam in the river and was difficult to get him out of the water. At 1.30 we started our arduous ascent back to the village; two hours later when we reached, we even thought of sleeping there because of fatigue. Willpower took over physical exhaustion and we foot slogged to Kut-madan village by sunset. This nine hour trek was highly rewarding and each moment at the riverside was like experiencing paradise. Considering the effort, it is highly recommended to spend more time at the riverside.

To do this trek over two days with all the paraphernalia, contact Bansan at 9615093898 and if you enjoy angling he sells fishing gears too. 


1 comment:

  1. This seems to be a completely different world - and economy, almost unreal - from what we know in the rest of India. Boon or Bane that they are still cut off from modern-day civilisation & still pursuing traditional livelihoods & lifestyles.

    That is quite a trek down 1200 mtrs! Can't even imagine the rigour of it all!

    How is the weather there now? Foggy? Cool? Hot during day? Raining? Lots of waterfalls still or have all the samller water bodies dried up?