Meghalaya is a north-eastern state of the Indian federation, one of the smaller ones also. Because of the complex borders of India in this corner, it is bordered by Bangladesh with its lowlands to the south. To the north lies Assam, famous for its black tea, along the northern border runs the river Brahmaputra.
Meghalaya is located in the southern foothills of the Himalayas, most of the country lies at an elevation of around 1,000 m asl. This mountain ridge is a very effective barrier for water-laden clouds from the Indian Ocean, as they are forced to rise, cool down and then rain. So this part of India has a rather cool and wet climate, the comparably low temperature for a sub tropic country, is very nice for European tourists. But on the other side, frequent and heavy rains are typical for the country, several places in Meghalaya claim to be the wettest place on Earth. The inhabitants know this, so they called their country Meghalaya, which means abode of the clouds.
The mountain ridge of Meghalaya is mostly composed of limestone, at least at a certain elevation. This layer is heavily karstified, obviously a result of the heavy rains and the ideal temperature. The caves have temperatures a little above 10 °C, an ideal temperature for limestone dissolution. The lush vegetation produces the carbonic acid necessary for dissolution, and the huge amount of water leads to a high level of erosion. The caves of this small area dominate the list of the longest and deepest caves in India. And there are not only karst caves, there are also quite huge erosional sandstone caves, which is quite exceptional.
The exploration of all those caves began in the early 1990s, which is quite recent. The explanation is, as often, a political one. India is rather poor, and the locals do not have much spare time to explore caves. But, as often in 3rd World countries, there is an enormous gap between the mass of poor and the few rich people. There are many families, which are wealthy, and the younger generation is able to do the same sports as most of the people in western countries. A result of this fact is the Meghalaya Adventurers Association, which was formed in 1990. A group of rich young people, interested in sports, climbing, exploring, who tried to explore the local caves. They came from all over India, not from the poor Meghalaya, but they collected some local factotums over time. For more than ten years, British, German, American and other western cavers went to Meghalaya on yearly expeditions and made combined trips, on one side exploration of absolute virgin caves, on the other hand training for the locals in all necessary caving techniques. This exchange was obviously extremely productive: in a few three-week expeditions, dozens of huge caves were discovered, explored and surveyed. The Meghalaya Adventurers Association organized the trips very well, which would have otherwise been extremely difficult for foreigners. And British and German cavers - at home in countries where holes are called caves if they are longer than five meters - explored 25 kilometers of virgin passages in a few days every year!
This development is quite new, and it took some time until finally caves were opened to the public. The first was opened in 2004, another in 2014. The caves are normally very big, and many parts are very quite easy to visit, for unknown reasons none of those caves were developed for tourists in any way. The two caves which are open as show caves are actually rather small and unimpressive passages. We guess the main reasons why they were chosen were stuff like ownership, accessibility by road, and location close to major cities. Also, some cave related sites were opened, like a park with rock formations and small caves, and a huge cave shelter with a lingam, which is actually more like a cave temple.
There are also mentions of a cave named Krem Mawmluh on various websites which we have not listed. This is definitely not a show cave, and it is also not a semi-wild cave, this is rather difficult cave trekking, and the company seems to have no website. We will list it if we have decent information, at the moment we can only guess that it closed due to Corona, as all links to the operator seem to be gone.