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The wettest place on Earth
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What’s the wettest place on Earth?

There are many wet places, but which one gets the crown for being the wettest on Earth?

The current record holder, as recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records, is the cluster of hamlets known as Mawsynram in India. Moisture swept from the Bay of Bengal, condenses over this 1,491m plateau, located in the Khasi Hills that overlook the plains of Bangladesh.

Nature made stalagmite in Mawjymbuin Cave, Mawsynram; the area has several waterfalls and fascinating caves carved in the limestone

The result is an astonishing average annual rainfall of 11,871 mm. Even the world’s biggest statue, Rio de Janeiro’s 30m tall Christ the Redeemer, would be up to his knees in that volume of water.

Aerial view of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Unsurprisingly the area is overwhelmingly lush and green, rich with waterfalls and fascinating caves carved in the limestone by the falling water.

Cherrapunji has held the record for highest rainfall multiple times in the past

Ten miles to the east lies the town of Cherrapunji. It’s known locally by its traditional name Sohra and is the second wettest place on earth. Its average record falls shy of Mawsynram’s by 100mm but it holds plenty of other titles. It is still the location of the wettest month and year ever recorded, with an annual total of 26,470 mm in 1861.

View of Bangladesh plains from Cherrapunjee

These extraordinary wet patches are both found in the state of Meghalaya, which translates as the abode of the clouds. People living here travel under umbrella shields called “knups” woven from reeds. These shelter their whole bodies from the persistent downpours so they can still go about their daily business.

Location of Meghalaya in (marked in red) India

The root of this state’s rainy reputation is the legendary monsoon. Thanks to the monsoon, as much as 90% of Mawsynram’s record-breaking annual rainfall can actually fall in just six months, from May to October. July is the wettest month of all here with the world’s highest monthly average rainfall of over 3500mm.

Meghalaya is mountainous, the most rain soaked state of India. The word Meghalaya means, "abode of the clouds". Above is Laitmawsiang landscape wrapped in fog.

But in the dry winter months from December to February, very little rain falls. When local people struggle for drinking water, the title of the wettest place on Earth becomes its biggest paradox.

(All images - credit: Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licence)

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