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Thursday, October 24, 2013

It is 'Mawsynram' ~ not Cherrapunji - the wettest part of the World ...

Monsoon is active and it rains often now a days…. Chennaites are sulking – they are not prepared for this too.. … heavy rain battered the city and some roads were found water logged chocking the traffic ~ pedestrians and two wheeler riders were the worst affected.  It may be a stray incident but the so known posh Khader Nawaz Khan Road in Nungambakkam caved in after the rains, forming a six-ft deep pit.  Around 9am, the asphalt caved in, said onlookers. Corporation officials said an underground sewage leak had created a cavity beneath the road. A senior corporation official who inspected the site said, “The sewage pipe running beneath the road had small holes through which sewage has been leaking for years.” The sewage mixed with the sand, dissolving it. Over time, the clayey soil lost its consistency. “Every time it rained, water seeped in and washed away the sand, which led to the formation of a cavern beneath the road,” he said. The rain probably caused collapse. Corporation officials said the road was laid three years ago and had not been inspected. After Monday’s surprise, the corporation plans to check other roads in the city.  Other officials said that private players had dug up the road without permission and had not re-laid it as per corporation standards.

~ and one thought what would happen if there were to be too heavy downpours … in schools we have read that at Chirapunjee [Cherrapunji] it rains all the time and is the place which receives maximum rainfall in the World.  Cherrapunji is a town in the East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. It is the traditional capital of a hima (Khasi tribal chieftainship constituting a petty state) known as Sohra or Churra. Cherrapunji is located at 25.30°N 91.70°E. It has an average elevation of 1,484 metres (4,869 ft) and sits on a plateau in the southern part of the Khasi Hills, facing the plains of Bangladesh.   It holds the World record for the most rainfall in a calendar month and in a year. It received 9,300 mm (366 in) in July 1861 and 26,461 mm (1,041.75 in) between 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861.

Read that the original name for Chirapunjee was Sohra, which was pronounced "Churra" by the British. This name eventually evolved into the current name, Cherrapunji. The word "cherrapunji" means 'land of oranges'.  Sad to read that despite perennial rainfall, Cherrapunji faces an acute water shortage and the inhabitants often have to trek for miles to obtain potable water. Irrigation is hampered due to excessive rain washing away the topsoil.  Valleys around Cherrapunji, however, are covered with lush and very diverse vegetation, containing numerous endemic species of plants, including Meghalaya subtropical forests.

I have so far never heard of this place – Mawsynram ~ a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, 65 kilometers from Shillong. Daily Mail reports that this place is the ‘wettest place on Earth’, with an annual rainfall of 11,872 millimetres (467.4 in).  Mawsynram is located at 25° 18' N, 91° 35' E, at an altitude of about 1,400 metres (4,600 ft), 16 km west of Cherrapunji, in theKhasi Hills. The name of the village contains Maw, a Khasi word meaning stone, and thus might refer to certain megaliths in the surrounding area.  It is stated that Mawsynram, located about 15 km north-west of Cherrapunji is the wettest place in the world, or the place with the highest average annual rainfall. Mawsynram, receives nearly 12 m of rain in an average year, and a vast majority of it falls during the monsoon months.

Here is something from the Daily Mail on the people of this Indian village who live in the wettest place in the world with 40 ft of rain a year  :  If the soggy start to autumn is getting you down, spare a thought for these poor souls living in the wettest  place on Earth – starts the article.

Torrents of water turn the streets of Mawsynram in north east India into waterfalls and the constant deluge leaves families plugging leaking homes. Power lines topple under the weight of the cascading rivers, animals seek shelter where they can and locals have learned never to leave home without a brolly.  It is stated that the village which lies close to the border with Bangladesh, is battered by an average of 11,871mm, nearly 12metres, of rain a year.  In a bid to shelter from the downpours villagers have even created specially made reed-turtle shell-like baskets to protect them as they work in the fields. But no-one in the mountainous village, close to the border with Bangladesh, is heard complaining as the monsoons bring a welcome boost as tourists flock to the area and the dry season leaves many facing a desperate hunt for water.

While the UK has suffered a wash out in the last week, the hapless villagers in Mawsynram cope with the chaos caused by 11metres or 467ins of rain each year - more than 20 times the average rainfall in London. ~ the neighbouring Cherrapunji - dubbed the second wettest place on earth - does not escape the violent weather. The severe downpours do provide locals with a welcome income boost as tourists flock to the area to witness the spectacle.  While India's wet season runs from June to September, northern areas like Mawsynram experience an extended monsoon period. 

In June 1995 the village was hit by the greatest rainful in a 24-hour period when more than 5ft of rain fell. For the last few years, the streams of tourist to visit Cherrapunji and Mawsynram have increased,' 'They come here to see the rain during the wet season which gives the inhabitants a well needed extra income. 'The locals tell  that the dry season is worse than the wet in many ways, because they actually have problems to find water for drinking and washing.' The area of north east India is so wet because rainclouds, which form in the summer, are trapped from escaping north into Tibet by the world's highest mountain range, the Himalayas. The violent downpours cause chaos, pulling down power lines and creating treacherous conditions on the roads.

It seldom gets hot in the region with average monthly temperatures ranging from 10C in January to just over 20C in August. The noticeably drier months run from December through to February, where monthly precipitation reaches a meager 60mm. The driest place on Earth, South America's Atacana desert, fails to see even half-an-inch of rainfall each year and some parts of the desert have not seen a rain shower in the last 500 years.

The top wettest places according to the report are : Mawsynram, Meghalaya, - 11,871mm per year; Cerrapunji, Meghalaya - 11,777mm – followed by : Tutendo, Columbia - 11,770mm; Cropp at Waterfall in New Zealand - 11,516mm and Ureca on Bioko Island in Equatorial Guinea, Africa - 10,450mm

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Oct 2013.
Photos and news courtesy :
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