Extreme Destinations: Mawsynram, India

Published: 04/17/2015

Some travel destinations are considered extreme due to exceptionally harsh temperatures. Others are revered for their remoteness and rugged terrain. Still other destinations are extreme in terms of their near inaccessibility. However, in a small village in north-east India, known as Mawsynram, it is all about the rain.

Mawsynram is reportedly the wettest place on earth thanks to an average annual rainfall of 11,872mm (467.4 inches). The Guinness Book of World Records recorded 26,000mm (1,000 inches) of rainfall there in 1985. If you like your rain in heavy doses and for long stretches, Mawsynram is the place to be.

Life in Mawsynram

Tourists who travel to Mawsynram usually do so for one of two reasons. Either they are interested in seeing the region's beautiful natural surroundings or they are curious about how life is lived in a place where so much rain is the norm. It is the latter that many people are surprised to actually see. For example, the torrential rainfall common in Mawsynram comes as a shock to Westerners who experience it for the first time. Yet the locals accept it with the same nonchalant attitude you would find in the Caribbean regarding hurricanes.

That said, the normalcy of the rain does not mean local residents do not do things to adapt. One of the first things visitors notice is the heavy, thick grass on the roofs of local homes. The grass is put there to reduce the noise of the rain. Without the grass to act as an insulator, the noise can be deafening during the heaviest storms.

The locals also spend the early months of every year stocking up in preparation for the May-July rainy monsoon season. During those three months, it becomes virtually impossible to leave one's home because of the rain, mudslides, and persistent flooding. When people do have to go out, their trips are short and they tend to either walk or use 4WD transportation.

Tourism Opportunities

Life can be very uncomfortable in Mawsynram during the monsoon season; this is obviously no time to visit as a tourist. Nevertheless, the remaining nine months of the year offer some very good opportunities to see this beautiful area near the Bay of Bengal. The village gets its name from the rocky outcroppings and small mountain peaks easily seen from any location in the village.

The local areas just outside the village are the place to find lovely waterfalls, lush valleys and hillsides, and a few forested areas. One of the main attractions is a local stalagmite cave with some incredible formations. You cannot visit Mawsynram without seeing this cave. Not far from the village are two additional sites worth seeing: the Mawsynram and Mawsmai waterfalls. Mawsmai Falls are the fourth highest in India, at a height of 1,035 ft.

You will not find luxury hotels or five-star dining in the village of Mawsynram. Nonetheless, you will find plenty of friendly people and awe-inspiring nature that makes putting up with the rain well worth it.

 
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