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Being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records can be enough to make something or some place famous. In the case of Cherrapunji, that distinction will probably make any hydrophobiac run for the hills, literally: this is because Cherrapunji is known as the wettest place on Planet Earth. The rain it receives is so high that the rainfall is recorded in feet rather than in millimeters. The two Guinness records it holds are:

1) For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single year, which is 22,987 millimeters (or 904.9 inches) of rainfall from August 1860 to July 1861; and
2) For receiving the maximum amount of rainfall in a single month, in July 1861, when the town received 9,299 millimeters (or 366.14 inches) of rainfall.

The town itself is located in the district of East Khasi Hills, in the state of Meghalaya in India. It has an average elevation of about 1,484 meters, on the southern tip of a plateau that looms over the country of Bangladesh called the Shillong Plateau. The 2001 census pegged Cherrapunji’s population as 10,086, giving it a population density of 375 people per square kilometer. Females constitute the majority of the population, at 51%. Literacy, at 74%, is very much higher than the national average of 59.5%.

Originally, the town was called Sohra, which was pronounced as “Churra” by the British when they exerted control over India in the 19th century. It was eventually used by the British as a hill station to serve the Welsh and Assam missionaries, who eventually set up a community there. Shillong later overshadowed Cherrapunji and became Meghalayas’ capital but as of late, Cherrapunji has been slowly making a comeback.

It can be said that Cherrapunji is probably the only place in India that has one season: monsoon. It receives both the Southwest and Northeast monsoon showers, making the rain almost non-stop throughout the year. The town’s yearly rainfall average hovers at 11,430 millimeters, or roughly 450 inches. This places it just second behind another town of Meghalaya, Mawsynram, which receives an average of 11,873 millimeters of rainfall, or roughly 467 inches. Most of the rain is the consequence of air being lifted as a large body of water vapor due to the area’s deep valleys; the winds push the Indian summer monsoon rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes, and the rapid ascension hastens the cooling and helps the condensation of vapor, resulting in extremely large amount of rainfall.

The locals living in and around the town are called Khasis. They are matriarchal in nature, that is, after the wedding, it is the husband who goes to live with the wife’s family, and their children will take on the wife’s surname. For those who want to visit Cherrapunji, the main method is by taking a taxi from Shillong, which costs around 900 to 1000 Indian rupees. An alternative would be to enter India through Bangladesh, via Dawki Landport. From Dawki, travelers can hire SUVs or sedans to take them to Cherrapunji, although this can be more expensive.