Ben: চেরাপুঞ্জি c(h)ērāpuñji
‘Sohra Cluster’/’Scanty Fruit’ Town/Sub-division, Meghalaya
From Sohra and Ben: puñja, ‘group’, cluster’; and Kha: sohra, ‘bearing small or scanty fruits’.
Sohra is Cherrapunji’s local name and its official name. Cherrapunji is a corruption and does not mean ‘land of oranges’, as has been suggested by some, although the region is famous for its sweet oranges.
Cherra/churra is a mispronunciation of Sohra. Sohra was actually a ‘cluster’ or ‘group’ of hilltop villages and some propose this as the origin of the punji in the name.
Sohra is a marketplace for fruits produced in the villages in the local area. But while fruits are sold here scarcely anything actually grows in Sohra and the name Sohra suggests there was less (or smaller) fruit to pick here than elsewhere.
Sohra and the nearby Māwsynrām are the wettest places on the planet, with rainfalls of about 11-12,000mm/year:
‘The geography of the hills, with many deep valleys, channels the low-flying (150–300m) moisture-laden clouds from a wide area to converge over Cherrapunji. The winds push the rain clouds through these gorges and up the steep slopes. The rapid ascent of the clouds into the upper atmosphere hastens the cooling and helps vapours to condense. Most of Cherrapunji’s rain is the result of air being lifted as a large body of water vapour’ [Sohra SDO]