Elephant Falls

Shillong, Meghalaya, India

About Elephant Falls

Hiking Distance: 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-11-10
Date last visited: 2009-11-10

Waterfall Latitude: 25.53674
Waterfall Longitude: 91.81917

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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).

Elephant_Falls_033_11102009 - Elephant Falls - the lowermost of the three drops
Elephant Falls – the lowermost of the three drops

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.

Elephant_Falls_004_11102009 - Context of the uppermost drop and the start of the next drop of Elephant Falls
Context of the uppermost drop and the start of the next drop of Elephant Falls

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.

As a matter of fact, the Elephant Falls allowed us to get close to each waterfall, which was something that I don’t think any of the other waterfalls we saw in Shillong or Cherrapunjee had allowed (or at least was made quite difficult).

Elephant_Falls_023_11102009 - Direct look at the bottommost of the Elephant Falls
Direct look at the bottommost of the Elephant Falls

Furthermore, attesting to the accessibility of Elephant Falls, 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 resides near Shillong in East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya State, India. It is administered by the East Khasi Hills District Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can visit their website.

Elephant_Falls_006_11102009 - The first Elephant Falls
Elephant_Falls_008_11102009 - Which way to go?
Elephant_Falls_012_11102009 - This seemingly miscellaneous intermediate cascade is what I think might be the second Elephant Falls
Elephant_Falls_035_11102009 - Bridge between the 2nd and 3rd Elephant Falls
Elephant_Falls_030_11102009 - Angled view of the third and bottommost of the Elephant Falls
Elephant_Falls_001_jx_11102009 - Signage near the entrance of the Elephant Falls explaining the name that the British gave

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.

For geographical context, Shillong was 99km (2.5 hours drive) south of Guwahati. Guwahati was about a 2.5 hour flight from Delhi.

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Bottom up sweep of the first falls

Bottom up sweep of the second falls

Focused on the face of the third falls

Downstream sweep from the top of the third falls ending well downstream of the falls

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Tagged with: shillong, east khasi hills, khasi, meghalaya, india, waterfall, northeast, ka kshaid lai pateng khohsiew, three steps, cherrapunjee, cherrapunji, sohra

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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