Are these the dark holes in the earths infested with bats and all things
horrible? The caves of Meghalaya will turn turtle all such beliefs.
This northeastern state bordering Bangladesh on the south, is a land of caves and caverns, more than 500 at on estimate, many of which are yet to be explored and mapped. The state abounds in limestones and the caves, mainly stalactite and stalagmite caves of various formations.
According to B.D. Kharpan Daly, general secretary of the Shillong based Meghalaya Adventurers Association formed in 1990, one reason for the abundance of caves could be the heavy rain in the region reacting with the limestone deposits. He claims that, as of date, there are about 500 in the state and exudes confidence that the figure would go up to 1000.
Krem Um Lawan Cave
As expected, each of the well-known caves has its history rooted in myths and legends. There is Krem Um Lawan said to be the longest one in South East Asia at 6,381 m and the deepest one as well at 106.8m. A cave of Eocene age, it has an upper fossil passage and a lower active passage with numerous cataracts and waterfalls.
Krem Kotsati Cave
Then there is Krem Kotsati with eight entrances, with the main entrance through a deep pool. Portions of this cave have to be traversed by swimming or by using inflatable rubber boat.
Other Known Caves
Krem Mawmluh, the fourth longest in the Indian subcontinent, has a five-river passage.
There is Krem Dam, the largest sandstone cave in the Indian subcontinent with a length of 1,97 m and a stream running down its main passage.
The other better-known caves are Krem Phylutt, Krem Soh Shympi and Krem Umshangktat where one passage inside can be tackled only through a belly crawl!
Caves In Garo Hills
In the extreme south in south Garo Hills district there are some caves including Sijudobkhakol, the most researched cave in India and, yes!, home to innumerable bats. At 4,772 m, it is the third longest cave in the Indian subcontinent containing some of the finest river passages. There are also Tetengkol Balwakol or the cave of the dwarfs with inverted feet and Dhobhakol Chibe Nala and Bok Bok Dobhakol.
On the home front, these caves and caving might not be well known but the caves of Meghalaya certainly have loyal admirers abroad from Europe and UK who make yearly trips to these dens. The MAA has decided to start package tours of the caves ranging from four to five days. The tour will involve sight seeing, caving and some trekking in the cave regions.
B.D. Kharpan Daly,
Meghalaya Adventures Association