SHILLONG, May 1, 2018 (TNN): One of the rainiest places on earth is going dry. Cherrapunjee, now renamed Sohra, has long been part of the collective memory of generations who first encountered the name in school textbooks as “the rainiest place on earth”. Receiving about 450 inches of rainfall in a year-despite the dry months in winter-Sohra now takes turns in sharing the distinction with neighbouring Mawsynram in the East Khasi Hills.
The idea of making Sohra the capital of the northeast was abandoned by the British in 1864 after months of incessant rain dampened the spirits of the colonisers. “When the British were here, people wouldn’t see the sun for three months at a stretch,” says former Sohra legislator Titos Chyne. In 1861, British records state Sohra got 1,042 inches of rainfall annually.
More than a century later, tourists keep arriving in droves just to witness the biblical proportions of rainfall. For the people of Sohra, however, all of this amounts to nothing. “What do we do with a record if we don’t get drinking water?” asks 29-year-old Balbinia Lyngdoh, a resident of Sohra. Water is supplied for an hour a day only. “That’s during the rainy season. In winter, we can’t even count on that,” she adds.
Sohra is located at an elevation of 1,484 m atop a plateau overlooking Bangladesh. The topography of the place is responsible both for its record-breaking spells of rain and is also one of the reasons why water supply is such a challenge here. Monsoon winds blowing from across the plains of Bangladesh hit the plateau, rise, cool and precipitate.
Featured image: samacharnama.com