Cherrapunji, located in the East Khasi Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya, holds the dubious honor being the “wettest” place on earth. The average yearly rainfall of the region fluctuates from year to year; however, the number normally falls fairly close to 450 inches (thirty seven and a half feet). The majority of this rain falls during the monsoon season, in which huge tropical storms batter the region and unleash massive amounts of condensation.
Cherrapunji holds several Guinness World Records associated with rainfall, including the records for most rainfall recorded in a single year (905.5 inches between 1860 and 1861) and the most rainfall in a month, having received over three hundred and fifty inches of rain in July 1861. (Nearby Mawsynram is also sometimes called the wettest place on earth and lately has been receiving slightly more rainfall than Cherrapunji. As both are close to each other, you may just call the whole region the wettest place on earth.)
The reason for these torrential rains is complex, but, essentially, monsoon clouds from the Bay of Bengal fly over hundreds of kilometers of open, relatively flat terrain to reach Cherrapunji. Once the clouds reach Cherrapunji, they are faced with the rather steep rise of the Khasi Hills, and in order to rise with the hills, they must first dump much of their moisture.
The locals who live in this region are known as the Khasi. After hundreds of years they have developed ingenious ways of dealing with the extreme rainfall and even turned it to their advantage. For example, they are known for their ability to build living bridges, which involves directing the roots of large trees to grow over rivers. Although this process takes a fairly long time (10 to 15 years), the bridges, if constructed properly, can last for centuries.
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- Wikipedia: Cherrapunji: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherrapunji
- Extreme Science: Cherrapunji, India: http://www.extremescience.com/zoom/index.php/highest-rainfall
- Tourism of India: Cherrapunji: http://www.tourism-of-india.com/cherrapunji.html