Go Caving In One Of The First 100 Geoheritage Sites Listed By UNESCO

The Mawmluh Cave in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills area has been named one of the top 100 International Union of Natural Sciences (IUGS) geological heritage sites by UNESCO
Inside Mawmluh Cave in Meghalaya    Photo Credit Abhijit Khedgikar
Inside Mawmluh Cave in Meghalaya Photo Credit Abhijit Khedgikar

Meghalaya is noted for its natural beauty, which includes living root bridges, lush green valleys and hills, stunning waterfalls, and azure lakes. Underneath the pristine rivers and valleys, a beautiful subterranean world of limestone and sandstone caves exists, waiting to be discovered. In fact, it has the highest number of caves in India and is one of the most popular caving destinations. 

The remarkable Krem Puri, for instance, is the world's longest-known sandstone cave at 24.5 kilometres. Then there are the Mawmluh Caves located in the East Khasi Hills district. In 2022, these caves made it to the first 100 geological heritage sites listed under the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) by UNESCO. 

What Makes It Special

Mawmluh Cave, one of the most famous caves in Meghalaya, is located near Mawmluh, a tiny village in Meghalaya. With a total length of 7 km of underground channels, it is considered the fourth longest cave on the Indian subcontinent.

The Origins Of A Geological Age

How often does a state, or even a country, get to share its name with a geological age Meghalaya has that feather in its cap. Geologists have designated the last 4,200 years as a unique epoch in the history of our planet. They're calling it the Meghalayan Age, which began with a mega-drought that wiped out several civilisations worldwide. The International Chronostratigraphic Chart, a famous diagram representing Earth's history that can be found on many classroom walls, will be updated. The evidence for this came from experts from the International Union of Geological Sciences, who say they discovered proof of this catastrophic drought in the Mawmluh Cave system of Meghalaya. 

About The Cave

It is the fourth longest cave in the Indian subcontinent and is referred to locally as Krem Mawmluh. The word "krem" in the local Khasi language means cave. Therria sandstone, thick dolomite, and Sylhet limestone are among the layers that make up this intricate sub-horizontal network of passages. The cave, which is 7.2 kilometres long, has numerous entrances. It is known for stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations. According to The Bengal Gazette, among the earliest English-language newspapers published in India, Lt. Yule, a Britishman, discovered the cave in 1844. It is a part of the system of caves in Meghalaya, which includes caves in the districts of Jaintia, Khasi Hills, and Garo Hills.

It is good that UNESCO has included Krem Mawmluh in its list as it has been under threat due to limestone mining for the cement industry - so much so that it resulted in the cave collapse a while back. 

What Is The IUGS

One of the biggest scientific organisations in the world, the IUGS was established in 1961 and has 121 country members, representing more than a million geoscientists. They work to identify significant geological locations from throughout the world whose contributions to our understanding of the Earth's past have been recognised by the geoscience community. Internationally significant geological sites are listed by the IUGS, including those with tectonic, sedimentological, petrological, mineralogical, hydrogeological, paleontological, geomorphological, and history of geological sciences connections.

The Information

The best way to reach Mawmluh is via taxi from Sohra (or Cherrapunji). Book a local guide to show you the caves and for safety. You should wear rubber boots because you will be wading through water in some parts. Avoid coming during the monsoon as water collects in the caves. The best time to visit is between November to February.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller