The 2022 ‘Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition’ took place between November 6 to December 1, starting with a pre-expedition of a nine-member group in Jalaphet village of East Jaiñtia Hills.
Here, the team explored five caves of which three were newly discovered, including Krem Poh Bhang in the village of Poh Bhang and Krem MoRyho in the village of Kairang. Krem Poh Bhang yielded 220m while Krem Mo Ryho yielded 323m.
This year marked the 30th year of caving expeditions in Meghalaya, exactly 100 years after the famous interdisciplinary scientific expedition of Siju Dobhakol of Kemp and Chopra in 1922.
The 29th edition of the International Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition Team (no major expedition was conducted in 2021) comprised of 19 cavers drawn from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, The Netherlands, United States, other parts of India, and members of the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association.
The main expedition team however concentrated its efforts in the area of Muallian in East Jaintia Hills, where they explored and mapped one new cave (Krem ETB) and the continuation of Krem Rynjang (Ret Dung Khur) and Krem Pynnoh Um Sngad.
Krem Pynnoh Um Sngad was extended from 4,131m (2020) to 5,295m, and connected to the new cave Krem ETB which had also been explored to 7,138m, thus making the cave system Krem Poh Um Sngad – ETB the ninth longest cave in India at 12,433m.
Krem Rynjang (Ret Dung Khur) going strong as ever was extended from 11,558m to 16,328m and is now number 7. Both the cave systems – Krem Pynnoh Um Sngad-ETB and Krem Rynjang are ongoing and geologically there is a convincing possibility that the two systems will connect.
“The prospect for the next expedition is very exciting as the mysteries of these two subterranean labyrinths unfold with a hint of surpassing Krem Liat Prah-Um Im-Labit system as the longest cave in India,” said Brian Daly Kharpran, general secretary of Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association.
He also said that the expedition this year was much harder and more technical as all the caves in the area are vertical with over 85m entrance shafts.
According to Kharpran, overall, the 2022 expedition explored and mapped 13.35 kms of new cave passage.
To date (November 2022) the whereabouts of just over 1,700 caves and cave locations are known in Meghalaya of which over 1000 have been explored or partially explored.
With this year’s expedition, the total cave passage explored and mapped in the state of Meghalaya has reached 531km. with much more still waiting to be discovered. This solidifies Meghalaya as a top caving region in the world.
Much of the cave that has been explored and mapped in Meghalaya over the last 30 years consists of impressive river caves mixed with massive and often richly decorated relic passages along with magnificent clean-washed shafts that create cave systems equal in size and beauty to those found elsewhere in the world, maintaining Meghalaya’s status on the world-caving map as a significant caving region. Besides, these caves offer a rich diversity of cave life.
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association has thanked the Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs and the Meghalayan Age Limited for their continued support, “without which the documentation of the caves of Meghalaya would not have been a success”.