The hills of Meghalaya are dotted with over a thousand natural limestone caves. Exploration of these caves have begun only recently. Of these caves, Krem Mawsmai ( ‘krem’ meaning ‘cave’ in Khasi, and Mawsmai’, translating to ‘Oath Stone’ ) is one of the caves where you need not be an experienced caver to navigate. It is perhaps the first cave which has been lit up by halogen lamps and has facilities for tourists. Although the cave is longer than the 800 ft that is open to public, navigating through the stretch enables you to enjoy a wondrous adventure. We were told that there are other unlit parts of the cave that can be explored. For that you need to carry a torch. Also you need to be physically fit to navigate up and down the wet rocks. These caves are not for the faint hearted. Only people with a spirit of adventure will enjoy it. It may not be suitable for toddlers, senior citizens or people with health conditions. There is no chance of losing your way as the pathway is sufficiently lit up and there are signs to guide you.
The Mawsmai cave is located 6km from Sohra town, as Cherrapunjee is locally known. The mouth of the cave is wide and covered with greenery. After buying our tickets and depositing our shoes at the counter, we crossed a small bridge and ascended a few steps to reach the entrance. There is a board depicting the flora and fauna inside the cave. As we descended barefoot into what seemed like a labyrinth, the feeling of being in the sets of an Indiana Jones movie began to creep in. After taking a few steps, natural light disappeared and the walls and roofs started closing in, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere.
Our eyes were greeted by fascinating stalactite and stalagmite formations which are the result of rainwater dripping into the core of the hills for over a million years. My son was convinced that the limestone sculptures were man made and gradually defaced by running water. He could discern so many shapes of men, animals, dragons and celestial beings!. In certain places we were drenched by the dripping water. It was a challenge to take photographs while trying to keep my gear dry! There is hardly any place to stand erect. In most places we had to stoop and crawl. The pathway at times becomes extremely narrow and you have to twist your body to get to the other side. Wading through water and trying to balance ourselves on wooden planks that have been placed strategically to aid the visitors, we reached a pool that can be crossed with a narrow iron bridge. Now we understood why we were asked to leave our shoes outside. But proper waterproof shoes would have made the trek easier. After some more twists and turns, to our collective relief, we found the exit and crawled out with the realization that this has to be one of the most spectacular experiences of our lives.
We were thankful for the food stalls and sitting areas outside the cave where we could dry ourselves. Piping hot noodles and coffee brought back the much need energy for the fun evening ahead.
The best time to visit the caves is in summer – March to May. The water dripping inside the cave is moderate. During rains, more water will drip inside the cave and you will find it difficult to dry yourself once you are out of the cave .In winter, the cave will be relatively dry. But maybe without the water features, the cave’s appeal will be somewhat diluted.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.