Majuli, Assam

Majuli is the biggest inhabited river island in the world. It is located in the middle of the mighty Brahmaputra River in Assam. Initially, this island was spread over an area of about 1250 square kilometers, but due to erosion, its size has now decreased considerably to an area of about 421.65 square km only. Originally, the island of Majuli was a long and narrow piece of land, which during ancient times was known as ‘Majoli’, meaning ‘land in the middle of two parallel rivers’. It was called so because it had the River Brahmaputra flowing in its North and the River Burhidihing flowing in its South. Both these rivers met at Lakhu. During 1661–1696, frequent earthquakes occurred, which led to a momentous and destructive flood in 1750. Due to the flood, the Brahmaputra got divided into two branches, one of which continued to flow along the original channel, while the other started flowing along the Burhi Dihing channel, which lead to the formation of the Majuli Island. The island is popular as a ‘pollution free fresh water island’, and is located at a distance of about 20 km from Jorhat town.

It can be reached by River ferry only, from Nimati Ghat (15 km from Jorhat). First River ferry is at 0830 hrs to Kamalabari Ghat. This ferry transport vehicles along with passengers. The ferry trip is one hrs duration.

An abode of Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture, there are many ancient satras in the destination. Besides, there are several sites associated with Lord Krishna. In the 16th century, Sankardeva, the founder of Vaishnavism, a monotheist form of Hinduism, established various monasteries and hermitages across the islet, known as satras.

There are over twenty-five neo-Vaisnavite centers in the destination, the most noteworthy being the satras of Garmur, Kamalabari and Auniati. On a visit to the satras dating back to 500 years, tourists can explore the rich cultural heritage of the region. The satras have preserved several articles of cultural and historical importance, which include weapons, ornaments, utensils and other artifacts.

Several articles displaying Borgeet, Matiakhara, Jumora dance, Chali dance and Noyua dance can also be found in these satras. Besides, Nande Vringee, Sutradhar, Ozapali, Apsara dance, Satria Krishna dance and Dasavater dance are also illustrated in the neo-Vaisnavite centres.

Pottery in Majuli is also very famous because it is made from beaten clay that is burnt in ovens fired with driftwood, which is quite similar to the ancient Harappa Civilization. The culture and dance forms of this place remain unaffected by modernization even today. The handloom work done by the tribes living in this place is well known.

Best time to visit is in winter.