Majuli is the largest inhabited freshwater river island in the world, situated right at the center of the mighty Brahmaputra river. An island always remains an isolated place where one does not expect a lot of hustle. It is one such nature’s silent venture to lure humans into serenity. With an area of 800 kilometer square and a population 150000, the island district of Majuli is one of the most popular destinations in Assam. It is a home to a mix of communities – the Mishing tribe, the Deoris and Sonowal Kacharis. The neo-Vaishnavite monasteries remains the central attraction for everyone. Winters are the best time to visit Majuli. For the rain lovers traveling to Majuli during the monsoon, the powerful scent of fresh rain and breathtaking sunsets are always a pleasure.
Historically, the island was more than 1500 square kilometer but the moving waters of the Brahmaputra river eroded one third of its segments. During the medieval period, a great Hindu saint made this island his home and brought about a cultural rebirth. The renaissance emerged to change the shape of art, music and religion in Majuli. This culture still rests in the heart of Majuli and even today, the island flaunts a spiritual aura and an enlightening experience for offbeat tourists all over the world.
visitors must follow the following footsteps to get the best of their journey
Carry your car in the boat ride
Regular ferries are available from Nimati ghat in Jorhat (around 20km away) from morning till 4 pm in the evening. One can carry his car or two wheeler to the island and on the ferry as well. It is advisable to reach before the departure time else he won’t be able to park his vehicle in the ferry. The ferry is a 40-50 minutes scenic joyride in the vastness of the Brahmaputra river and is mostly crowded by people who are employed there, or tourists and residents. Basic snacks, washrooms and safety jackets are available on board.
Stay in the homestay made of Bamboo
If a tourist is looking for a decent place to stay in a limited budget, he must opt for La Maison de Anand, a bamboo made accommodation that offers a comfortable room along with a relaxing sit-out outside every room. The prices range from Rs.500 up to Rs.1500 and they provide meals in a common dining place for all travelers, cooking dishes right in front of their eyes. So one must get ready to try the local authentic Mishing delicacies in what is known as Risang’s Kitchen named after their daughter. There are personal cottages up for grabs as well but obviously at a higher price. Monjit, the owner of the homestay, has been hosting travelers for many years now, and can be the best guide all throughout the trip.
Pay the visit to the divine Dakhinpat Satra
Located in Kamalabari, this neo-vaishnavite Satra is a pious place of worship, where all unmarried saints have their prayers and carry on their traditional ceremonies. Ras Mahotsav, a popular festival in the island, is celebrated here with zest.
Hear stories from Mask man in Natun Samaguri Satra
Hemchandra Goswami, the mask man is a story-teller. He has been creating masks since his childhood days with his uncle. He stands as the one man army behind so many masks found in the Satra, and his masks have also been popularized by artists around the world. He brings tourists home and narrates the history of how it all came into existence. He gives a chance for everyone to ask questions, keeping an eye on the tourist’s curiosity. Most of his masks are created for the Ram Leela held in October. One can buy the mask as well. His personal favorite is that of Lord Hanumana, which he wears and enacts charmingly.
If you have followed the first four basic footsteps, you must go along some of other important travel tidbits for your time in Majuli
Enjoy and hymn the bhajan
Either early morning or evening, you should get a chance to experience the prayers in the monasteries (Satras), where ecstatic monks play musical instruments and hymn mantras. The local community gathers together for long hours spending their time enjoying the music. Keep yourself informed about the timings by enquiring at the Satra itself and everyone would be delighted to invite you.
Where all the houses are elevated
One thing that gains the attention of each traveler are the houses in Majuli – most of them are made of bamboo and are elevated to a certain height to protect from the natural calamity that might happen on the island during flood season. They’re well constructed with natural resources and provide solid local housing, so do take a walk in any of the streets.
Biggest satra in Majuli
The visit to the island is incomplete without taking on the biggest satra of all – Auniati Satra. The premises has a big worship place and a small museum that has artifacts from the ancient Majuli. It is a great opportunity for you to unravel the history of Satras, wide collection of Assamese handicrafts and the entire island district.
Cycle through Garmur to meet the Mishing Tribe
Doesn’t travel keep you fit? Take a step ahead and ride a bicycle (available at ₹100 for a day) in the alleys of Garmur and race through the river. On the way, you get a chance to meet inhabitants belonging to Mishing tribe. The monsoon travelers need shelter during the rains and are more than happy to find them and have a meal together.
Don’t forget to eat at Ural restaurant
Food is simple and delicious at Majuli. You will easily find your way to Ural in Garmur, a restaurant that offers the delicious local food from Khar, Laksa, Tenga and a few varieties of rice. Make sure you try the Pitha (a traditional Assamese dessert) and the Komal Saul cereal. It has got great ambience and the most hospitable service.
If you were always interested in visiting unique places and are evoked by the idea of Hindu monasteries, this might serve as your dream destination. Take your car or bike, ship yourself to Majuli island and spend a day or two diving into this land of enticing beauty.