Cherrapunji is only 60 kilometres from Shillong, but once the bustle of Meghalaya’s capital has been left behind, the road seems to head to a different country altogether. The highway teeters on the brink of a seemingly infinite abyss. Sheer drops soon give way to terraced fields, sparsely dotted with mud huts. The perennially green landscape breathes freshness and Sa-i-Mika Park sits right in the middle of it.
At first glance, Sa-i-Mika seems like a jigsaw puzzle gone awry. The pieces, ranging from cottages, swings, and a basketball court, are scattered with eccentric abandon across an untamed landscape of grass, rocks, and streams. Rolling thunder and mist descend upon Sa-i-Mika all year round, driving visitors into the wood-panelled restaurant at the heart of the retreat. It’s tempting to stay up late with a good book and a blanket, as driving rain attempts to drown out the soft rock ‘n’ roll tunes that are almost always playing in the restaurant.
Several hiking trails lead outwards from Sa-i-Mika. The shortest (2.5 km/1 hour) is the trail to Nohkalikai Falls, which has a drop of 1,100 feet, making it the tallest single-tiered waterfall in India. Visitors can make their way to the edge and stare into an incredible panorama that includes the plains of Bangladesh. Those feeling adventurous can follow the forest trail to the two-tiered root bridges in the village of Nongriat (3 km/2 hours further). About 4 km/2 hours northwest of Sa-i-Mika is Dainthlen Falls, where visitors can clamber atop a massive rock overlooking the waterfall. Sohra town (more commonly known as Cherrapunji) is a pleasant 3 km/1 hour walk downhill from the lodgings, and the only place to stock up on snacks and supplies. Caving enthusiasts can hire taxis to the Mawsmai Caves (7 km/30 minutes), while those looking for relaxation can make their way to Thangkarang Park (14 km/45 minutes), a picnic spot with spectacular views of Bangladesh.
While there is no television or internet at Sa-i-Mika, they do have a badminton court, skating rink, and a concrete basketball court.There’s also a shallow pool fed by rain water and a simple play area for kids.
Sa-i-Mika has three stay options. The most comfortable lodging is in cottages. Basic bamboo and mud huts (doubles ₹2,500) have attached baths but no ceiling fans, and can occasionally get stuffy. A 10-bed dormitory with an indoor sitting area and shared bath is most popular with backpackers and college students (₹350 per bed). Meals and snacks can be ordered from the restaurant all day. The menu is a no-frills mix of Indian, Chinese, and local Khasi fare that includes dohkhlieh (pork salad), dohneiiong (pork gravy with sesame seeds), and jadoh (fried rice).
Appeared in the August 2013 issue as “Rustic In The Rain”.
Updated in March 2016.
Sohra (formerly Cherrapunji) is a town in the east Khasi hills district of Meghalaya. Sa-i-Mika is 4 km/20 minutes by taxi from Sohra market and 60 km/2 hours from Shillong. The closest major airport is Guwahati, around 200 km/6 hours away, with buses available to Shillong (4 hours). From Shillong, local taxis are the fastest way to get to Sa-i-Mika (2 hours; prices vary). Direct cabs from Guwahati to Cherrapunji are difficult to find as Assam taxis can only ply till Shillong(Sa-i-Mika Park, Khliehshnong; 96159 25210; saimikaresort.com; bookings should be made a few weeks in advance).
is a stand-up comic and humour writer. He can often be spotted scrounging for plug-points in coffee shops, or wandering sleepily through airports across the country.
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