Elephant Falls was the British name of what the local Khasi people once referred to as Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew (or “Three Steps Waterfalls”) since the falls actually consisted of three sections in succession. We learned from a sign here that the British renamed the falls because there used to be a rock resembling an elephant near the left side of the main falls (which I think was the bottommost one). However, that rock was destroyed in an earthquake back in 1897.
Of the three waterfalls (all of which were easily reached by the same short and easy walking path), Julie and I thought the bottom tier was the most impressive. The walking path gently descended from the entrance, and I recalled it was practically almost completely paved with lots of stairs and a bridge traversing the stream between the 2nd and 3rd falls.
Then after descending the last flight of steps alongside the third (bottommost) waterfall, there was a shelter and a little bit of a platform for photo taking while a rope was put beyond the platform to discourage swimming. The photo taken at the top of this page was between the last of the steps and the viewing platform at the base of Elephant Falls.
To give you an idea of how short this excursion could be, we spent about 30-40 minutes to take in all three waterfalls, including the short walking and the photographing. I believe there was an entrance fee and opening/closing hours, but I don’t recall what they were during our visit in November 2009.
Even though we didn’t think this was a total blockbuster waterfall, we did think it was a pleasant diversion due to its accessibility (it allowed us to get close to each waterfall, unlike many of the taller ones we saw in the Shillong or Cherrapunjee area). As a matter of fact, we saw a film crew shooting either a movie, TV show, or commercial upstream from the falls as we were passing in and out of the turnoff for the car park.
Elephant Falls is located about 12km from the busy city of Shillong, which is the administrative center of India‘s northeast. We even saw this area referred to as the Scotland of the East since it reminded the Brits (who once made Shillong the main center of this region during their occupation) of Scotland due to the tendency of this area to have misty and foggy weather.
Driving wise, we probably spent no more than 15-20 minutes to get from our hotel in Shillong to the falls. The biggest time drain would probably be the traffic more so than the distance.
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