For almost five months in a year, two towns in Meghalaya get rained out. Why is that?
From the bamboo forests of Mizoram, I, your langur friend, take you to the nearby state of Meghalaya to tell you the story of why the heavens open up there every monsoon season. But first, I have to tell you a little about this tiny state located so high up on a mountain plateau that it seems like clouds dwell here. Isn't that what its name means?
Meghalaya is a favourite haunt of mine as it is for tigers, elephants, leopards, deer and many other wild animals. Who would not love the dense forests that cover a third of the land, and where oranges, plums and peaches grow as well as bananas and pineapples and where countless species of orchids bloom to give nectar to millions of colourful butterflies? Just ask the hornbills or the talking hill mynahs here, if you don't believe me. High on the Khasi Hills, at varying heights, the forests are a safe haven for all of us. To make things even better, there are many sacred groves within them. Ever heard of sacred groves? Well, they are parts or regions within forests that are protected by local people for it may have a shrine or a temple. No hunting of animals here and no felling trees. Such protected areas are found all over the country; perhaps there are over a lakh of them in all. Just as you might expect, every sacred grove has many rare plants, birds and animals.
Hey, I wonder why tigers don't remain within sacred groves, as there no poacher would dare come after them!
Come summer every year, monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean blow toward the sub-continent. They pick up moisture from it, which then form dark and heavy monsoon clouds. While one branch of the winds strikes the west coast of India, the other blows over the Bay of Bengal bringing heavy rains to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The winds continue to blow toward Bangladesh and eastern India.
Now comes the interesting part.
The Khasi Hills of Meghalaya rise abruptly and almost vertically just north of the plains of Bangladesh. The rain-bearing winds are stopped by these mountains. Hence, they rise up. The valleys and deep gorges help to bring the clouds up like in a shaft. As the clouds go up they become cooler and hence, they are unable to hold the water-vapour. The southern slopes of the hills get rains like no other place on earth. Can you guess which two towns of Meghalaya are here in the wettest regions on earth? Yes, you are right! Cherrapunji and Mawsynram are two towns that get more than 11,000 mm of rain on an average each year. For nearly five months, it doesn't just rain here, it pours! Of course, tourists come here to see this spectacular event.
Just between you and me, tell me how often have you wished on Monday mornings for the skies to open up and flood your school, umm?