Unearthing the secrets of Krem Chympe – India’s hidden river cave

India is a tapestry of hidden wonders, each thread weaving tales of awe and mystique. Over 17 years, Savaari has journeyed across diverse landscapes, unveiling breathtaking sites. Yet, this discovery was truly extraordinary. Savaari embarked on a quest to uncover lesser-known gems in India’s North-East region. Armed with backpacks, a reliable chauffeur, and an insatiable thirst for the unknown, we ventured into the dense forests. The morning was shrouded in mist as we trod softly on a path strewn with golden leaves. 

Birds chirped their morning serenades, but there was something else – a distant sound of water, unlike the typical murmurs of streams. Curiosity was piqued, and then we decided to trace the sound to its source. As we delved deeper, the terrain became trickier; moss-covered stones, low-hanging branches, and the ever-present mist made the journey a challenge. Yet, something drove us forward – a gut feeling that they were on the brink of something magical. Hours felt like minutes as we closed in on the source of the sound. The sight that greeted us left everyone speechless.

It evoked the dreamlike allure of Italy’s famed Blue Grotto, yet we weren’t on the European coast. Instead, we were nestled in the heart of Meghalaya – a place whose Sanskrit name translates to ‘abode of clouds’. But this spot transcended even that poetic description. It was as if we’d stumbled upon a portal to paradise. A lush curtain of verdant green framed the entrance, with water droplets cascading gracefully into a cerulean pool below.

This was Krem Chympe, India’s fifth-longest cave, tucked away in the Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya. A mere 3 km hike northward from Khaddum to Sielkan brings you face-to-face with this subterranean marvel. As we stood there, the Chympe Caves beckoned with mysteries shrouded in profound darkness. The distant murmur of Chympe Waterfalls teased our senses. Glistening limestone formations adorned the entrance, rendered ethereal by the sun’s gentle rays. If wanderlust calls and the beaten path feels too familiar, Krem Chympe awaits, a gem concealed in plain sight. Dive in, and let’s uncover its secrets together.

Krem Chympe - Things to do

Krem Chympe – An underground enigma

We discovered that in the Khasi language spoken by the locals of Meghalaya, “Krem” translates to “cave”. The cave is also known as the ‘elephant cave’ because of the many elephant bones found in the area. And while Meghalaya, especially places like Cherrapunjee, boasts of renowned caves such as Mawsmai Cave and Arwah Cave, there exist several more waiting to whisper their tales. Nestled in the Jaintia Hills, among these hidden tales is that of Krem Chympe.

Ever wondered what magic unfolds when a river vanishes beneath the earth? Mother Nature, with her meticulous chisel, has crafted mesmerizing sanctuaries where water dances with limestone and sandstone. Krem Chympe stands out even in this wondrous collection. A ‘resurgent cave’, its entrance marks the spot where the river, having journeyed underground, chooses to greet the world again. Reverently, we discovered that the local Hmar/Mizo community christens this point of emergence as Sielkan – Pielkhlieng Pouk.

Within Krem Chympe, the river’s flow takes a horizontal shift. To enter, you will need to swim or take a canoe or bamboo raft into the inky darkness. But that’s not the end of Krem Chympe’s allure. This cave holds within its depths a myriad of other captivating discoveries just waiting to be unveiled.

Krem Chumpe cave in Meghalaya
Image credit – Robbie Shone

The hidden marvels of Krem Chympe

Stretching a magnificent 10.5 km, Krem Chympe is not just any cave; it ranks as the fifth-longest in India. But its length isn’t the only marvel. This river cave invites adventurers to navigate its inner lakes, which span an impressive 3.5 km. Imagine swimming through this subterranean world, with the hush of the cave and the gentle ripples of water as your only companions!

Inside, over 50 naturally formed dams stand testament to nature’s artistry, each more mesmerizing than the last. Yet, Krem Chympe’s wonders don’t stop at geological formations. It is a thriving ecosystem, housing vast colonies of bats and unique cave-adapted fish. Among its most astonishing residents is the world’s largest cavefish. Remarkably, this 40 cm long specimen is blind, devoid of eyes, indicating a life evolved in complete darkness.

World's largest cave fish in Meghalaya
Blind cave fish in Krem Chympe | Image credit – National Geography

Another crowning glory of Krem Chympe is its resplendent array of stalactite and stalagmite formations. Crafted over millennia, mineral-rich droplets descend from the cave’s roof, leaving behind deposits of calcium carbonate. These deposits culminate in breathtaking draperies, stately columns, and complex cascades. As explorers delve further, their torches unveil this spectacle, casting an ethereal glow on nature’s handiwork.

As you explore deeper into Krem Chympe, expect to be greeted by the echoing calls of its bat inhabitants. But remember, this cave still holds many mysteries; some corridors remain uncharted, beckoning the next curious soul to unveil their secrets.

The sacred resonance of Krem Chympe Cave

While Krem Chympe Cave is a marvel in its own right, it is more than just an intricate labyrinth of natural formations. To the local indigenous Khasi community, it transcends its physical attributes; it is a hallowed sanctum. Revered as the abode of kind spirits, the cave embodies spiritual and cultural essence for these people. On religious occasions, the area near the cave entrance comes alive with rituals and ceremonies, echoing age-old traditions and underlining the profound bond between the cave and the region’s ancestral legacy.

Caves of Meghalaya
Image credit: Tricky Travellers

Yet, as with all things sacred and fragile, Krem Chympe demands respect and caution. Its internal ecosystems are delicate, easily disrupted by the footprints of human intrusion. Recognizing the cave’s vulnerability, initiatives have sprouted, advocating for responsible tourism and conservation. The aim is clear: to let explorers marvel at its wonders and researchers glean insights, but without jeopardizing its ecological balance. As custodians of this natural sanctuary, the challenge lies in nurturing exploration while championing preservation, ensuring Krem Chympe remains unspoiled for generations to come.

Things to do in Krem Chympe Cave

Beyond its serene ambience and geological wonders, Krem Chympe presents myriad experiences for the intrepid explorer. Whether it’s the thrill of navigating its intricate passages, capturing breathtaking rock formations on camera, or simply soaking in its ancient aura, the cave offers something for every type of traveller.

Canoeing: The cave’s vast inner lakes make for an adventurous canoeing experience. Glide over serene waters, navigating through the subterranean beauty that Krem Chympe has to offer. It’s a thrilling activity that lets you witness the cave from a unique perspective.

Photography: The cave is a visual delight, promising photographers captivating shots. From awe-inspiring rock formations to the play of light and shadows, every corner offers a shot worth capturing. Particularly, the East Khasi Hills backdrop adds to the photographic allure, making it a sought-after destination for both amateur and professional photographers.

Bird Watching: While the cave’s interior is a marvel, its surroundings are equally captivating. The vicinity is home to various bird species, making it a hotspot for bird enthusiasts. Arm yourself with binoculars and a notebook, and you might just spot some unique avian residents. If you are an ardent birdwatcher, add these spots to your bucket list.

Spelunking (Cave Exploration): For the more adventurous, delving deep into the cave’s labyrinthine corridors can be exhilarating. Discover hidden chambers, witness the intricate dance of stalactites and stalagmites, and feel the thrill of uncovering the cave’s mysteries.

Spelunking in Krem Chyme caves in India
Image credits: News Bharti

Nature Walks: The area around Krem Chympe boasts lush greenery and serene landscapes. Embark on a nature walk to soak in the pristine environment and enjoy the tranquillity the region has to offer.

Attend Local Rituals (Seasonal): If your visit coincides with local festivals, it’s a golden opportunity to witness the rich cultural traditions of the Khasi community. Observe rituals, ceremonies, and possibly even local dances performed near the cave entrance.

Stargazing: Once night falls, the clear skies above the East Khasi Hills come alive. Lay back and gaze upwards to witness a celestial show, making it a perfect end to a day of exploration.

During my solo trip to the cherry blossom festival in Shillong, Meghalaya, I was itching to dive deeper into the local wonders. Most waterfalls were a no-show, and I felt a bit lost. On a whim, I booked a Savaari cab for a day, aiming to see more than just the usual. My driver, Mani, pulled up a photo of a mesmerizing cave with a river – looked straight out of Bali or Thailand to me. I was sold instantly!

Arriving there, I felt like I’d stumbled into a slice of paradise. The cave’s entrance, framed with hanging limestone and shimmering emerald waters, was straight out of a dream. The distant sound of the Chympe Waterfalls and the sunlight playing on the cave gave it an otherworldly charm. It was a “pinch me, I must be dreaming” kind of moment. The cherry on top? The friendly locals! They shared stories, showed me around, and made the day unforgettable. A massive shoutout to Mani and Savaari for this hidden gem recommendation!”

Avina Joshi

Guidelines for visiting Krem Chympe

Embarking on a journey to the enigmatic Krem Chympe? Preparing ahead is essential. Given the cave’s unique environment and significance, respecting its integrity is paramount. Remember, you’re not just visiting a tourist spot; you’re stepping into a fragile ecosystem with immense cultural value.

  • Krem Chympe and Chympe Waterfalls are set in relatively secluded locations. Don’t count on public transport as it’s not available. The most practical option is booking a chauffeur-driven cab from Shillong to Khaddum. Once you reach Khaddum, it’s advisable to seek guidance from your chauffeur and local experts for the onward journey.
  • If you’re driving your own vehicle, choose one with high ground clearance to navigate the rugged terrains. Detailed directions can be found in our “How to Reach” section. However, in case of any uncertainties, the local residents are your best source of information. A word of caution: Google Maps may not always provide accurate navigation in these regions.
  • The beauty of nature is a shared treasure. Help preserve it. Please do not leave trash behind. If you bring food or beverages, ensure you carry the waste back with you. Embrace the ethos: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
  • The waters of Chympe waterfall and the pool near Krem Chympe can be deceivingly deep. If you aren’t a proficient swimmer, it’s essential to exercise caution. Avoid jumping in or venturing too deep. If you decide to embrace the waters, ensure you have life jackets or are accompanied by someone well-versed with the region’s water dynamics.

Places to visit near Krem Chympe Cave

Chympe Waterfalls in Meghalaya
Chympe Waterfall

The regions surrounding Krem Chympe teem with natural beauty and cultural landmarks. From the cascading Chympe Waterfall to the tranquillity of the Wah Lukha River, the area beckons with attractions that complement the awe-inspiring experience of the cave itself.

Chympe Waterfall

A true marvel of nature, the Chympe Waterfall is a sight to behold. Every shade of green paints the scene, from the verdant trees to the mossy rocks, culminating in the tranquil pool below. The cascade tumbles lazily, spraying delicate droplets that shimmer in the daylight. It’s a scene so picturesque, one could easily imagine it gracing the screen of a computer as a serene desktop wallpaper. Beyond its visual appeal, the inviting emerald pool beckons for a rejuvenating dive. And while the beauty sinks in, sipping tea from bamboo glasses, with the gentle roar of the falls in the background, completes this idyllic experience.

Khaddum Pieltleng Falls

Nestled in the hills of Saipung town, Khaddum Pieltleng Falls remains a hidden gem, only recently unveiled to the locals. But its newfound fame is well-deserved. The waterfall, with its multiple cascading strips, is a testament to nature’s artistry. Love waterfalls? Here are some gorgeous waterfalls in Meghalaya that you can explore any time of the year.

Wah Lukha River Bank

An embodiment of tranquillity, the Wah Lukha River meanders gracefully through the landscape, its serene waters reflecting the sky above. But it’s not just the river that captivates the eye. A little further, the silhouette of a hanging bridge stretches across. The juxtaposition of the tranquil river and the distant bridge crafts a scene of both serenity and adventure.

Explore the finest tea gardens in Northeast India, renowned for their lush landscapes, with a special focus on Meghalaya, which boasts an abundance of these scenic plantations. Check out this guide for an in-depth exploration of the region’s top tea gardens.

How to reach Krem Chympe

Located in Jaintia Hills, Krem Chympe is just a 3 km walk to the north from the town of Khaddum, following the trail towards Sielkan.

By Air

Umroi Airport, Shillong is the nearest domestic airport, roughly 97 km from Khliehriat, the district headquarters of East Jaintia Hills. You can book an airport taxi in Shillong to travel to Krem Chympe comfortably.

By Train

Guwahati Railway Station is the closest railhead, located around 182 km from the heart of East Jaintia Hills District.

By Road

The East Jaintia Hills District is accessible via National Highway 44, a year-round, two-lane motorway. This major route connects several key locations including Guwahati, Shillong, Jowai, Khliehriat, and Silchar, as well as other eastern states of India. For those starting from Shillong, book a reliable taxi with a chauffeured driver for a scenic and comfortable commute.

Why visit Krem Chympe with Savaari?

Savaari stands at the forefront of uncovering India’s hidden treasures. Our chauffeurs, with their deep local knowledge, are more than just drivers – they’re your gateway to the secrets that the usual roads might hide. With Savaari’s commitment to safety, you’re in secure hands from start to finish.

Venturing into Krem Chympe can be a challenge, with paths that might even baffle the likes of Google Maps. However, with the Savaari app just a tap away, navigating becomes a breeze. Your chauffeur, equipped with local insights, will not only steer you right but will also acquaint you with intriguing cultural tidbits and the flavours of authentic local cuisine. So, let yourself be immersed in new adventures and chart the path less travelled at Krem Chympe with Savaari. A world of fresh experiences beckons!

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by Shabari Shankar

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Unearthing the secrets of Krem Chympe - India's hidden majesty
Article Name
Unearthing the secrets of Krem Chympe - India's hidden majesty
Discover the enigmatic underground world of Krem Chympe cave in Meghalaya's Jaintia Hills, where untold stories await exploration.
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About the author

Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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