Beautiful Yet Tragic – Story Of Nohkalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji

 In Destination, Holidays, India, Meghalaya, Travel

When you think of Meghalaya or search for some of the best Meghalaya Tour Packages, one of the first things that come to mind is the cascading waterfalls, the magnificent living root bridges, rolling hills, and valleys that cover the length and breadth of this state. Nestled in the Northeastern part of India this state is regarded as one of the best places to visit in India if you wish to connect with nature and explore its wonders.

One of the most famous waterfalls in Meghalaya is the magnificent Nohkalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji, which cascades down a cliff from a whopping 1115 ft, which makes it the tallest plunge waterfall in the country. The sight of this waterfall is a treat to the eyes of the admirer and thus it is one of the most popular waterfalls in Meghalaya; so much so that it has now become a symbol of the tourism scenario in this state.

But did you know that beneath the beauty of this waterfall, lies a heartbreaking story of a tribal woman who gave up her life at the exact spot? Ka Likai – a tribal woman who belonged to the Khasi Community residing in the forests around, jumped from the cliff of the waterfalls. This heart-wrenching story of the tribal lady gave this waterfall the name – Nohkalikai which translates to “the leap of Likai”.

Legend of the Nohkalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji


The dramatic Nohkalikai waterfalls are located in Cherrapunji, also known as Sohra. The waterfall plunges down a massive cliff which is covered with lush forest into a serene plunge pool at the bottom. The changing colors of this plunge pool from turquoise to green or blue add to the drama of this jaw-dropping waterfall.

If the beauty of this waterfall doesn’t give you chills, the local legend behind the name of the Nohkalikai Waterfalls will surely give you some goosebumps. Nohkalikai literally translates to “Jump of Ka Likai” wherein ‘Noh’ means jump, ‘Ka’ is a prefix used for a female, and ‘Likai’ is the name of the Khasi woman behind the ghastly legend.

Ka Likai, a woman of the Khasi Tribe was a young mother who lived in the Rangjyrteh village, near the waterfall. She was widowed at a very young age and had a little daughter to look after. Her livelihood was based on collecting and selling forest products like firewood, wild medicinal plants, fruits and vegetables, etc. She worked really hard to sustain their lives by going to forests and spending the day finding and cutting forest products.

Due to her busy schedule and loads of work, it was difficult for her to take care of her little daughter. On the suggestions and perusal of the other women in the village, Ka Likai remarried thinking that her daughter would get a father, who could also help Ka Likai with her work, so she would get time to look after her daughter. She stayed with her new husband and a little daughter.


One day, when Likai returned from the forest, her husband greeted her by cooking lunch for her which was meat and rice – the staple food of Meghalaya. Likai was happy with the gesture of cooking a meal and that her new husband is finally adopting to the family. She went out to search for her daughter so that the three could enjoy their lunch together.

Upon searching for some time, she couldn’t find her little one. Her husband suggested to Likai that she must have her lunch first, after all, she came from the forest, after a day’s hard work. Likai agreed with her husband and assumed that her daughter must be playing at the neighbor’s house. She was also excited to eat what her husband had cooked for her and thus, she sat down happily to have her lunch. 

After, enjoying her lunch she went out to look for her daughter. Little did she know about the horror that would follow, which even we as humans can’t even believe in.

While searching for her daughter in the house, she came across a betel nut basket which was kept in the storehouse. Ka Likai was petrified at the sight of the tiny fingers in between the betel nuts and leaves in the basket. It took Ka Likai some time to understand what exactly had happened and when she discovered the truth she was filled with rage and grief.

The thought of eating her daughter’s meat at the lunch, made by her new husband ghosted Likai. The new husband of Likai turned out to be mad man, who was jealous of Likai’s daughter as she got more attention and love. Out of jealousy, her husband killed Likai’s little daughter and chopped and cooked her meat to serve it as lunch for Likai.

The grief and horror that filled Likai’s heart made her helpless. She ran and ran, madly through the forests, until she reached the edge of the waterfalls. Not being able to forgive herself for the rest of her life, Likai took the leap out of the sorrow and jumped to death at the sight of Nohkalikai Waterfalls. 

It is difficult to wrap my mind around that something so beautiful has such a disturbing story behind it. The beauty of the Nohkalikai waterfalls can be washed away easily for a while after listening to this horrific event. Dangerously beautiful! Isn’t it?

Guide to Explore the Nohakalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji

Best Time to Visit Nohkalikai Waterfalls


The Nohkalikai Waterfall is perennial in nature but is a rainfed waterfall. So, if you want to witness this waterfall in full glory, then monsoon (June to September) is the best time to visit this waterfall. The flow of the waterfall is reduced during the winters and summers. The afternoon is the best time to visit the Nohkalikai waterfalls and marvel at them as the mist is cleared by the time, giving you clear views of the waterfalls.

How to Reach Nohkalikai Waterfalls

Source : cherrapunjee

The Nohkalikai Waterfalls Cherrapunji is located around 53 km from the capital city of Meghalaya – Shillong, which is one of the major towns nearby. Visiting these waterfalls while exploring the other marvels in Cherrapunji, is one of the best things to do in Shillong

The nearest airport to Nohkalikai Waterfalls is Shillong Airport and the Guwahati Railway station is the nearest railhead. You can take a cab and taxi services by the local unions to reach these waterfalls. After reaching the parking, you might have to hike for a few minutes to reach the viewpoint of the Nohkalikai Waterfalls and the surrounding lush valleys of Meghalaya.

Things to Do at Nohkalikai Waterfalls


Other than marveling at the Nohkalikai waterfalls from the viewpoint, this waterfall also offers other adventure activities to indulge in, around the the surrounding forest and hills. 

  • Hiking and Trekking: If you are someone who seeks adventure, trekking to the top of these waterfalls can be a satisfying experience for you. This 45 minutes hike will take you through the forest area with steep mountain paths and greet you with a different point of view of the waterfalls and a magnificent view of the valley that lies ahead of you.Another vantage point to enjoy the beauty of the Nohkalikai waterfall is to hike down for 2 hours to reach the base of the waterfall. This path is a little difficult with its steep boulders and forest cover. Once you reach the base, you can take a refreshing dip in the turquoise water of the plunge pool. Camping at night near the base of the waterfall is prohibited as it is still believed that the spirit of Ka Likai still cries near the waterfall and expresses her sorrow, as heard by the locals. 
  • Birdwatching: If you enter the forests surrounding the Nohkalikai waterfalls, you will be greeted with the chirping of various birds. Wildlife enthusiasts can go for bird watching here and try spotting the colorful birds that delve into the forests here.
  • Photography: The perfect natural setting of the Nohkalikai waterfalls is backed by the rolling hills and lush valleys, making it an ideal spot for landscape photography. 

You can also shop for some local handicrafts at a very reasonable price, sold by the tribal people where you park your vehicle for the viewpoint. Exploring other waterfalls, go caving in some of the longest cave systems, and hiking to the living root bridges are some other things that you can enjoy on your amazing natural retreat in Meghalaya. 

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