Majuli River Island, Assam

A place with historical importance and scenic beauty is a delight for travelers and nature lovers. Majuli in Assam is an attractive spot with perfect blend of history and natural beauty. It is the largest riverine island in the world. The lie and nature of Majuli is of peculiarities that makes this place unique and extra ordinary. The island originally was a land between river Brahmaputra in north and river Burhidhing in south. In Assamese language Majuli or Majoli means the land between two rivers.  During 1661-1696 frequent earthquakes happened in this region and in 1750 as a result of a disastrous flood that lasted for 15 days, river Brahmaputra divided into two parts, flowing to original channel in north meeting river Subansiri, and another to Burhidhing in south that resulted in the formation of Majuli Island. The island has the extent of 1,250 square kilometers. In the year 2001 this area was also reduced to 421.65 square kilometers due to heavy soil erosion in the island. It is located 200 kilometers from Guwahati city. The island’s extent is always subject to course changes of river Brahmaputra and its tributaries particularly the changes to Lohit tributary. Majuli Island has historical and religious significance as in many Hindu religious texts it is mentioned that synchronize with historical facts.

During the medieval period Majuli was the cultural capital of Assam for the past five hundred years. The 15th century saint and Assamese cultural head Srimanta Sankar Deva, who was a staunch believer of Lord Vishnu, preached and established monotheist form of Hinduism that was later termed as “Vaishnavism”, had founded different satras or monastery according to vaishnavaite orders. Sanker Deva and his companion and later his spiritual successor Madhab Deva together put up the first neo –Vaishnavaite Satra in Manikanchan Sanjong that does not exist currently. Majuli soon became the prime and prominent vaishnavaite faith, cultural and spiritual centre. At the hay time of Majuli there were 65 satras and due several geographical and social factors, currently there are only 22 satras in Majuli at present. Satras not only propound Vaishnavism but also promotes different cultural art forms. Satras promotes the songs and dance forms composed by Sankar Deva. He is the founder of popular Assamese dance forms performed in Satras like Jumora Dance, Motua dance, chali dance, Borgeet Matiakhara, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara dance, Satria Krishna dance, Dasavatar dance and Nandee Bringee. These art forms are performed in the existing satras of Dakhin pat Satra where Raasaleela art form is observed declared as one of the national festivals of Assam, Garamugh Satra were ancient forms of Assamese weapons are preserved, Auniati Satra were ancient jewellery and pottery are kept, Kamalabhari Satra were ancient Assamese literature and classic woks are displayed, Benegenatti satra were ancient royal objects like royal Umbrella made with pure Gold are preserved and Shama Guri Satra that is famous for different types of Mask creation. All these Satras are “shuddi” centres or high spiritual purification centres of Vaishnavas or Vasihnavaite orders.

The main occupations of people in Majuli are agriculture, fishing, boat making, dairy farming, pottery, hand-loom and weaving. Weaving of cotton and silk; Muga Silk, that is found only in Assam makes the weaving art its uniqueness from other countries. The main agricultural products are different varieties organic rice that is devoid of any artificial fertilizers and pesticides. The Majuli natives are originally the descendants of missing tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and the languages spoken are Mising, Assamese and Deori. There are 144 villages in this Island and their connection with the outside is through ferry services during the 6th day of the week.

Visiting Majuli is possible from the Jorhat town that is 20 km away form Majuli where bus transportation is available to Neamati Staemer Ghat where ferry services are available to Majuli. It takes three and a half hour journey where half an hour takes for the bus ride. Other than the Jorhat route, Lakhimpur route in north and Dibrugarh in east are next options to reach Majuli. Being a wet land it is an abode to different species of birds, and time between November and March are the best time to visit Majuli.