Cherrapunji, also known as Sohra, is a town in East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India. The town is the traditional capital of ka him Sohra (Khasi tribal Kingdom).
Most of us have never seen more than a few millimeters of rainfall at a time. That is unless you've been to India before, where the average amount of rainfall is 118 cm or 3.87 feet.
Although Sohra experiences greater-than-average rainfall each year, the city broke the world record in 1861 and still holds the title today!
The Great Rain of 1861
Like many other cities with a subtropical highland climate, Sohra is greatly impacted by monsoons. These seasonal winds blow in torrential rains for approximately six months before changing directions and bringing dry air for the rest of the year.
Sohra receives winds from the southwest and northeast monsoon winds. The windward-facing side of the Khasi hills enhances the precipitation rates in the region, bringing in a good amount of rain. The conditions in 1861 were just right, and the area received over 75 feet of rain that year, with 30 feet coming in July alone!
The Wettest City…Stuck In A Drought?
Despite being one of the wettest cities on earth, Sohra is regularly impacted by droughts during the dry seasons. Erosion caused by overfarming and heavy rainfall has left the area depleted of quality topsoil and unable to retain moisture. With limited irrigation techniques, most of the water is spilled onto nearby towns. The lack of water is so extreme during the dry season that locals have to journey to get potable drinking.
- Sohra receives rains from the Bay of Bengal during the Indian summer monsoon.
- Monsoon clouds travel over 400km before they hit the Khasi Hills and rise abruptly to 1,370, above sea level within 2 to 5km.
- The city receives approximately 39 feet of rain each year.
- As of 2012, the town had a population of 10,086 people. The locals living in the area are known as Khasis. The community is a matrilineal culture.
- The area gets about 11,777 millimeters which is lower than the nearby 11,873 mm in Meghalaya.
- Average temperatures range from 11.5 °C in January to 20.6 °C in August. The annual temperature is 17.3 °C.