Carved out of Assam in 1972, hilly Meghalaya (The Abode of Clouds) is a cool, pine-fresh contrast to the sweaty Assam plains. Set on dramatic horseshoes of rocky cliff above the Bengal plains, Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram are statistically the wettest places on earth. Most of this precipitation falls April to September (and mostly at night), creating some very impressive waterfalls and carving out some of Asia’s longest caves.
Eastern and central Meghalaya are mainly populated by the closely related Jaintia, Pnar and Khasi peoples, originally migrants from Southeast Asia. Western Meghalaya is home to the unrelated Garo tribe. Despite their different ethnic backgrounds, these two groups both use a matrilineal system of inheritance, children taking the mother’s family name and babies often carried on the father’s back.