Its main attraction however is the sudden way in which the water seems to appear and its accessibility. You don’t have to hike in remote regions to view the falls. Also because of the steps and access path. You get to go quite close to the waterfalls and can admire its beauty fully. The sides of the waterfall are flanked by lush greenery and that adds to the charm of the place.
You have to navigate down quite a steep flight of steps to reach each tier of the waterfall and these steps are troublesome for small children and seniors. It’s a top down descent and climbing down 150 rather slippery steps is not an easy task.
There are benches around the first tier of the waterfall and the second one where one can sit and relax. It’s probable that you will see a video shoot happening around the falls... some or the other movie scene/ commercial or TV show video gets shot there almost every day in and around the monsoons.
It’s strange as to why these falls were named the Elephant falls as there are no elephants in this region. The original Khasi name as mentioned earlier is Ka Kshaid lai pateng Khohsiew or the three stepped waterfalls. A Signboard near the falls details the explanation of the name elephant falls... there was a curious looking elephant shaped stone near the fall. Incidentally an 1897 earthquake destroyed the stone but the name hasn’t yet changed.
The Khasi name signifying 3 tiered falls is immediately relatable. The first fall is very broad and is hidden among the trees. The second fall is quite domesticated and in the winters (and drier months) it looks inconsequential. The third fall is the tallest and most spectacular with crystal clear water falling over sharp rocks of myriad shapes.
As mentioned the Elephant Falls are very near the Shillong City and that contributes to their popularity and explains the crowd that is always present there. There are umpteen stalls selling tea/ coffee, buttered corn on cob, momos and souvenirs. You will also find photographers willing to print out instant pictures for you. There are options of wearing Khasi dresses and then posing for pictures in them.
How to Reach & Fares
If you bargain, the average Shillong local cab driver will show you both Shillong Peak and Elephant Falls in about 600-700 INR. You will spend about 30 minutes at the falls area.
There is a ticket counter charging 20 INR per person for a visit to the Elephant Falls. Most tourists also pay an extra 20 INR fee for bringing along their camera.