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Cherrapunji
Location of Cherrapunji
in Meghalaya and India
Coordinates 25°18′N 91°42′E / 25.3°N 91.7°E / 25.3; 91.7
District(s) East Khasi Hills
Population
Density
10,086 (2001)
375 /km2 (971 /sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area
Elevation

1,484 m (4,869 ft)
Climate
Precipitation

     11,430 mm (450 in)

Cherrapunji About this sound pronunciation (also spelled as Cherrapunjee), is a town in East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is credited as being the wettest place on Earth. However, nearby Mawsynram has more rainfall nowadays.

It is the traditional capital of a hima (Khasi tribal chieftainship constituting a petty state) known as Sohra or Churra.

Contents

History

The original name for this town was Sohra, pronounced as "Churra" by the British before morphing into the present one. Despite perennial rain, Cherrapunji faces an acute water shortage and the inhabitants often have to trek for miles to obtain potable water.[1] Irrigation is also hampered due to excessive rain washing away the topsoil as a result of human encroachment into the forests. Now the Meghalaya State government has decided to rename Cherrapunjee to its local name "Sohra".

Geography

Cherrapunji is located at 25°18′N 91°42′E / 25.30°N 91.70°E / 25.30; 91.70. It has an average elevation of 1484 metres (4872 feet).

Cherrapunji.jpg

Cherrapunji sits on the southern tip of the Khasi Hills, facing Bangladesh. The cliffs of Cherrapunji receive heavy rainfall due to monsoon winds blowing from the Bay of Bengal. Thus, the region is home to extremely wet weather.

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Climate

Cherrapunji's yearly rainfall average stands at 11,430 millimetres (450 in). This figure places it behind only nearby Mawsynram, Meghalaya, whose average is 11,873 mm (467 in). Cherrapunji receives both the Southwest and Northeast monsoon showers which give it a single monsoon season. It lies in the windward side of the Khasi Hills. Orographic precipitation results, and monsoon winds are forced to deposit much of their moisture

In the winter months it receives the northeast monsoon showers which travel down the Brahmaputra valley.

It holds two Guinness world records:

  • For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year: 22,987 mm (904.9 inches) of rainfall between August 1860 and July 1861
  • For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single month: 9299.96 mm (366.14 inches) in July 1861.[2]
Cherrapunji
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
9.5
 
15
6
 
 
23
 
16
8
 
 
110
 
20
13
 
 
363
 
21
14
 
 
645
 
22
16
 
 
1299
 
23
18
 
 
1277
 
23
18
 
 
902
 
22
18
 
 
560
 
23
17
 
 
216
 
23
16
 
 
25
 
20
12
 
 
6
 
17
8
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Allmetsat. For graphing purposes, the blue numbers of this graph are at a scale of 1:2. (All figures for that part of the graph have been halved.)

Causes of High Rainfall

Cherrapunjee receives rains from the Bay of Bengal arm of the Indian Summer Monsoon. The monsoon clouds fly unhindered over the plains of Bangladesh for about 400 km. Thereafter, they hit Khasi hills which abruptly erupt out of the plains to reach a height of about 1370 m above MSL within a short distance of 2 to 5 km. The orography of the hills with many deep valleys channels the low flying (150-300 m) moisture laden clouds from a wide area to converge over Cherrapunjee which falls in the middle of the path of this stream. The winds push the rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes. The rapid ascendance of the clouds into the upper atmosphere hastens the cooling and helps vapours to condense. Most of Cherrapunjee's rain is the consequence of air being lifted as a large body of water vapour. Extremely large amount of rainfall at Cherrapunjee is perhaps the most well known feature of orographic rain in northeast India.

Occasionally, cloudbursts can occur in one part of Cherrapunjee whereas other areas may be totally or relatively dry depicting high spatial variability of rainfall. Atmospheric humidity is extremely high during the peak monsoon period.

The major part of the rainfall at Cherrapunjee can be attributed to the orographic features. When the clouds are blown over the hills from the south, they are funneled through the valley. The clouds strike Cherrapunjee in a perpendicular direction and the low flying clouds are pushed up the steep slopes. It is not surprising to find that the heaviest rainfalls occur when the winds blow directly on the Khasi Hills.

A notable feature of monsoon rain at Cherrapunjee is that most of it falls during the morning hours. This could be partly due to two different air masses coming together. During the monsoon months, the prevailing winds along the Brahmaputra valley generally blow from the east or the northeast. On the other hand, the winds over Meghalaya are from the south. The confluence of these two winds systems usually takes place in the vicinity of the Khasi Hills. Apparently the winds that are trapped in the valley at night begin upward ascent only after they are warmed during the day. This explains, partially, the frequency of morning rainfall. Apart from orographic features, atmospheric convection plays an important role during the monsoon and the period just preceding it.

Demographics

As of 2001 India census,[3] Cherrapunji had a population of 10,086. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Cherrapunji has an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 74% and female literacy of 74%. 19% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Culture

Khasi child (1944)

The locals living in and around Cherrapunjee are known as Khasis. It is a matrilineal culture. After the wedding, the husband goes to live with his wife's family and the children take on the surname of the mother.[4]

Cherrapunji is also famous for its living bridges. Over hundreds of years the people in Cherrapunji have developed techniques for growing roots of trees into large bridges. The process takes 10-15 years and the bridges typically last hundreds of years, the oldest ones in use being over 500 years old.[5]

References

  1. ^ Bhaumik, Subir (2003-04-28). "World's wettest area dries up" (in English) (stm). South Asia News (Calcutta: BBC). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2977169.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-21.  
  2. ^ Guinness World Records 2005; pg-51 ISBN 0-85112-192-6
  3. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20040616075334/http://www.censusindia.net/results/town.php?stad=A&state5=999. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  
  4. ^ Cherrapunjee Holiday Resert website
  5. ^ Bridge to Nature: Amazing Indian Living Root Bridges

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHERRAPUNJI, a village in the Khasi hills district of Assam. It is notable as having the heaviest known rainfall in the world. In 1861 it registered a total of 905 in., and its annual average is 458 in. This excessive rainfall is caused by the fact that Cherrapunji stands on the edge of the plateau overlooking the plains of Bengal, where it catches the full force of the monsoon as it rises from the sea. There is a good coal-seam in the vicinity.


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