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Cherrapunji renamed Sohra

By K Anurag in Guwahati
July 09, 2007 18:16 IST
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It is no longer Cherrapunji that is the wettest place on earth, but Sohra.

Cherrapunji, located in the East Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya, has dropped its name, which was given by the British  and has been rechristened as Sohra, as it is traditionally called by local tribal population.

The naming committee of Meghalaya state government's General Administration Department in response to the long standing demand of the indigenous groups of people in the state has given its seal of approval on renaming of picturesque Cherrapunji as Sohra.

The change of name of the place located at 4267 feet above sea level and inhabited by over 70,000 people from Khasi tribe to the traditional Sohra has been welcomed by all indigenous groups in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya state government basically took the decision in response to representations given by the 'syiem' (king) of Sohra, local headman and the Khasi Students Union.

Cherrapunji received total 11,931.7 mm of rainfall during 1973-2006. The record for  highest rainfall at Cherrapunji in a single day was 2,455 mm recorded in 1974.

Heaviest rainfalls in the place are experienced in the monsoon, during April to September every year.

The old Sohra became Cherrapunji in the early 19th century when the British rulers entered Northeast India via Sylhet plains in the then East Bengal. They set up their first headquarters in north east India at Sohra as it was well connected with Sylhet plains.   

The word 'punjee;, a Bengali term to refer to cluster of villages in the area was later suffixed to Cherra (as pronounced by the British) by the people coming from plains. The local tribal population, however, continued to call it Sohra.

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K Anurag in Guwahati