Exploration 2000

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Project

Synopsis of the cave exploration expedition to Meghalaya, North East India

9th February to 10th March 2000

For the fourth consecutive year the 'Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Project' surveyed over 20 km's of new cave passage in Meghalaya, North East India. At that time this took the total length of surveyed cave passage in this part of India to over 150 km's which considering that regular systematic cave exploration only began in 1992 was testament to the potential of the area and its future as a significant caving region.

In 2000 a team of ten cavers from the UK spent just under one month in the field working in partnership with members of the Shillong based Meghalaya Adventurers Association, with whom the cave exploration project has been linked since 1994. Exploration concentrated on the Sutnga Area in the Jaintia Hills, that had been reconnoitred as part of the previous years expedition (Caving in the Abode of the Clouds 1999) and was subject to some preliminary exploration by pupils of Wells Cathedral School in April 1999.

During the 2000 expedition a total of 26 new caves were visited to yield a total of 20.4 km's of surveyed passage. Significant proportions of the new explored cave consisted of fine river passage, which is typical of the type of cave found in Meghalaya. Caves of this nature include Krem Um Sngad (length 2.4 km's) Krem Wah Ryngo (length 3.3 km's) and Krem Mawshun (length 3.3 km's). The latter began with a vertical entrance series that intersected a fine branching, and typically 'Meghalayan' main streamway.

However, in contrast with the exploration undertaken in previous expeditions to Meghalaya the 2000 expedition saw many caves of a more vertical nature explored. These included Krem Brulee that was similar in form to a Yorkshire Pothole. Krem Pui Pui, a massive pot hole in a river bed, that measured 30m by 40m at its lip and dropped 35m to a forested floor reminiscent of a 'lost world'. The most impressive find of the expedition was undoubtedly Krem Shrieh (Monkey Cave) located near to the village of Tangnub. This excellent cave yielded 8.7 km's of passage and in 2000 made it India's fourth longest cave explored to date. Its most impressive feature was its massive entrance shaft of 97m depth that with surface dimensions of 20m by 40m and a base of 60m by 60m provided an airy start to the cave.

Towards the end of the expedition a return was made to the Cherrapunjee area to tie up a few unfinished leads. Here, Krem Rong Umsoh was extended from 1.8 to 2.8 km's in length. A reconnaissance was also conducted in the West Khasi Hills (Borsora Area) in readiness for next years expedition. As usual with cave exploration in North East India the number of new leads collected exceeded the number of leads being investigated by a factor of about 2:1, suggesting significant cave still remains to be explored.

As in previous years the expedition worked in close collaboration with members of the Shillong based Meghalaya Adventurers Association, the State and Regional Tourist Departments and local people, and is indebted to their continued support. More caving equipment was donated to the Meghalaya Adventurers in order to continue supporting them in conducting their own cave exploration and involving more local young people in the activity of caving.

Along with the more serious side of cave exploration the expedition members enjoyed a busy social scene of local events and parties in the company of the expeditions ever growing number of friends from Shillong and the Khasi Ladies.

Simon Brooks - Expedition Co-ordinator, Caving in the Abode of the Clouds.