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The Legend of Noh Ka Likai

 

nokalikai

Noh Ka Likai Falls, Sohra, Meghalaya

Ever looked at a waterfall and thought, “Man, wouldn’t it be cool so jump off that cliff?” Well, that thought is going to stop being funny once you read this story.

India’s tallest plunge waterfall Noh Ka Likai in Meghalaya’s Sohra district (formerly Cherrapunjee) has a rather sinister story behind it.

Legend has it that Ka Likai (Ka denotes the feminine gender) and her husband, Kynrem were deeply in love. However, Kynrem contracted a disease on one of his work trips to Sylhet (present-day Bangladesh) and died soon after. Likai’s daughter was barely a year old then. Likai was left to take care of her child all by herself. She toiled in the fields and did odd jobs to survive. But despite the hard life, she took great consolation in her only child, Lasubon.

Likai soon began to be courted by men. But she could not forget Kynrem and turned away her suitors. Except the very persistent U Snar, Kynrem’s old rival, who would not take ‘No’ for an answer. Likai’s friends and family asked her to consider the prospect of remarriage, since U Snar was rich and Likai would not have to work so hard anymore.

Likai was apprehensive since she expected the new man in her life to wholly accept her daughter, as well. But her relatives and people around convinced her that U Snar was endearing himself to Lasubon and would accept them both. After much deliberation, Likai agreed to marry U Snar.

For a while, life was good. Likai did not have to work so much. But U Snar’s parents did not approve of his new wife and threw him out of the family business. Likai was back to where she started.

U Snar would stay home, invite his friends over and get drunk while Likai went to work in the fields again, leaving Lasubon behind. One day, she came home to find U Snar beating Lasubon because she had said she did not know how to buy alcohol for U Snar and his friends. Likai threw a fit and warned U Snar not to lay a hand on her beloved daughter again.

The next day she returned home from work but Lasubon did not show up to welcome her. Thinking, she might still be playing with her friends, Likai went into the kitchen and found that U Snar had prepared a meaty curry for his wife. She thought U Snar had had a change of heart and had her fill of the meal. Looking to round it off with betel leaves, she found the severed hands of Lasubon in her betel nuts basket.

Horrified, she realised what had happened. U Snar had killed her daughter, cut her up into pieces, made a curry out of them and served it to Likai. Unable to bear her own grief, she plunged to her death from the waterfall that is today known as the “Jump of Ka Likai.” U Snar, on the other hand was never heard from again.

The council of elders then decided that the village where this tragedy occurred be resettled so that such evil may never befall the Khasi people again. The village no longer exists but the legend of Ka Likai lives on.

-Source “Around The Hearth: Khasi Legends” by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

About the waterfall itself: Figuring among the ten tallest waterfalls in the world at just over 1000 feet, Noh Ka Likai is best experienced in the monsoon when the waters rush through the hills to plunge into a gorgeous green blue pool below. I saw it in March when it was just a steady trickle but the sheer drop is so frightening that even the mysterious pool below cannot redeem the darkness of Ka Likai’s story.