Separating the Assam valley from the plains of Bangladesh, hilly Meghalaya (‘the abode of clouds’) is a cool, pine-fresh mountain state set on dramatic horseshoes of rocky cliffs. Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram are among the wettest places on Earth; most of the rain falls between June and September, creating very impressive waterfalls and carving out some of Asia’s longest caves.
The state's population predominantly comprises the Jaintia, Khasi and Garo tribal groups, who live in the eastern, central and western parts respectively. Though mostly Christian since the 19th century, these peoples still maintain elements of their old animist culture, including fierce clan loyalties, sacred forests where chickens and goats are still sacrificed and lively harvest festivals with mass dances in colourful traditional dress. Meghalaya's tribal groups also maintain their matrilineal system, with property and names passed down from mother to daughter, and men moving in with their maternal in-laws after marriage.