We visited Majuli last month, and we are still in awe with it! The lifestyle, the culture, the aura and most importantly the locals! Majuli is beautiful in true sense. Few months before we only knew there is a place called Majuli in Assam nothing more! And now we can only laugh at our ignorance, we spent three days in this beautiful place and left with lifetime memories.
In this blog, We will give you 10 solid reasons to include Majuli in your bucket-list and visit as soon as possible. Here we go!
1. Majuli is world’s largest river island
Majuli holds world record of being largest river island in the Guinness book of World’s record. The island is formed by Brahmputra river in South, and Subansari river in North, along with a tributary of Brahmaputra, Kherkutia Xuti. It is first island to be made district in India (declared in year 2016). Majuli being a beautiful amalgamation of nature and culture is a strong contender for UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
The island is also a bio-diversity hotspot and is abode to many migratory birds.
2. Cultural capital of Assamese civilization
Majuli has been the cultural capital of the Assamese civilization since the 16th century. The famous saint Sankaradeva established first Vaishnava satra (monastery)back in 15 th century, and there are now 22 Vaishnava Satras in the city. These satra apart from being a learning centre for neo-Vaishnivism philosophy, also serves as art and cultural centre. The satras can be mainly categorised into Udasin (conservative celibate monastic order)and Grihastha(where monks are allowed to marry and have a family).
We visited the four famous satras which are Auniati satra, Uttar Kamalbari, Samaiguri satra, and the Dakhinpat Satra. Tha Auniati satra being the largesst one, the Uttar Kamalabari satra is famous for its dance and drama performances, the Samaiguri satra is famous for mask making and the Dakhinpat being the oldest one.
Talking about the fesitivals in Majuli, the most famous is the Raas Purnima, that takes place in the Hindu month Kartik showcases a dance performance based on Lord Krishna’s life called as Bhaona. Bhaona was introduced Sankardeva to convey religious and cultural messages to the people through entertainment. We got lucky as we witnessed one such performance during our stay in Majuli.
3. Witness making of World famous religious masks
Majuli has lately in news because of its masks which are used during bhaona, it is being advertised as Masks of Assam by Assam tourism. In our second point, we have mentioned about Samugari Satra which is a Grihastha satra and it is the monks of this satra that specializes in making these masks.
You can visit these workshops to see how this masks are made.We got chance to visit house of world famous mask maker Shri. Hem Chandra Goswami to see his art up close. His house was filled with different masks of various sizes, what caught our attention was life size statue of God Narsimha.
We also visited the house of head Mr. Pramod Goswami and he was kind enough to allow us to make video of him explaining the cumbersome process of mask making. He explained us about the process of mask making, the masks are made by using bamboo framework, followed by wrapping cloth, making facial features using cow dung and clay mixture, and finally painting.
4. A quaint town in nature’s lap
Nature has been very generous to Majuli and the city has kept its beauty intact. With lush green paddy fields extending till horizon, small and large lakes beside every home, birds chirping, and the locals giggling will transport you into some other world. What amazed us most was to see boats in paddy fields, as farmers use it for navigating in water flooded fields to catch fishes. How cool is that!
One can explore Majuli by hiring a private cab or by renting a bicycle or scooty. We will advice you the latter mode of transport. We rented a scooty for Rs 500/- a day and driving on roads of the city is a memory we will cherish for long time.
5. Home to many tribes living in harmony
The city still holds the concept of community living by being home to Mishing, Deoris, the Ahoms and the Nepali communities. The local languages here are Mishing, Assamese and Deori. The harvesting festival known as Ali-ay-ligang is celebrated by Mishing tribe during spring season.
The religious practices are not limited to Satras as every village has Namghar(temple) as centre point where people gather to sing and pray. The tribal people carry out farming, weaving, boat making, fishing, pottery etc for living. Pottery is very different and probably the most important skill in terms of heritage. Pots are made by beaten clay and are shaped with bare hands.
6. Journey to Majuli is memorable and easy!
You might think that since it’s a island, reaching Majuli must be headache. Well Its not! Obviously being an island you an reach only via ferry but that takes less than one hour so there’s that.
The nearest city is Jorhat till which either you can fly or take a train. We flied till Guwahati because its comparatively better connected via air and took an overnight train to Jorhat. From Jorhat station you can either hire a private cab for 300 bucks or a shared cab for just Rs. 30/- to Nimati ghat ferry dock.
You can board a ferry to Majuli for Rs.15/- which runs in an hour interval, the first being 8.30A.M in morning and the last is 3.30P.M so plan accordingly.
It will take around one hour to reach Kamalabari ghat, Majuli. From there one can hire a shared cab to reach main centre of Majuli(Max 50/- per head).
See its easy!
7. Economic Stays in beautiful bamboo houses
This island is new to fame and thus tourism is not well developed. But that does not mean staying will be either pricey or tacky.
Staying in beautiful bamboo houses is another new experience you can have while in Majuli. We stayed in Rishong family lodge and it was best we could ask for. The charges were less than Rs. 1000/- for a room with double bed , balcony and attached toilet. Our host Monjeet, the owner of the lodge is a very friendly and cheerful person, he doubled up as guide free of cost and helped us with things to do while in Majuli.
Just across the road is the famous La Maison de Ananda, the FIRST guest house which was ever built on Majuli Island! It was founded by a French couple who fell in love with Majuli and decided to built a guesthouse. This showed a path to inhabitants and now many guesthouses are sprouting due to demand.
8. Warm and friendly locals
Interacting with locals is the highlight of our trip. As the town remains new to tourists, people get very excited when they see new face, they helped us with directions asked our whereabouts. Everyone we met on island was smiling and didn’t forget to ask how we liked Majuli.
People went out of their ways to show us their culture, one gentleman took us to a ride on his boat to show his paddy field and way of living. He gifted us a bunch of waterlilies, truly a gentleman(that’s his real name GENTLEMAN! not even kidding).
One monk gifted me(Vijaya) his handmade necklace and I was overwhelmed with the gesture!
Despite of language barrier, people were generally warm, and friendly towards us and thinking about them while writing make me smile 🙂
9. Lip smacking tribal food and drink
While our stay in Rishong lodge, we hogged on delicious cuisine made in Rishong’s Family Kitchen. The kitchen has sitting area and you can see your food being cooked.
Our host Monjeet’s wife is an excellent cook and we consider ourselves lucky as we got chance to relish on tribal dinner prepared by her. The thali consists of varieties of dal, steamed rice in wrapped leaves, pitika(mashed potato), leafy fry, smoked chicken, fresh water fish fry etc. all for 250 bucks.
When in Majuli you must try Apong, a traditional rice beer of Mishing tribe. We got a jug full of it in 150 bucks.
10. Visit Majuli before it erodes away
The last and most important reason to visit Majuli is heartbreaking. Majuli is contracting due to erosion and it might cease to exist in next 20 years. It had an area of 880 square kilometers in the beginning of the 20th century, but it has shrunken to 352 square kilometers as on 2014. The city is under constant threat due to soil erosion on its banks of Brahmaputra, every year water level rises and homes of tribal people get washed away.Surveys show that within 15-20 years from now, this beautiful place will disappear. The Government is trying to solve the issue but nothing has worked yet, and now the recent plans is to excavate the river bed of Brahmaputra as told by a local guide to us. We sincerely hope that something works out and this beautiful land remains present for generations to see.
The best time to visit Majuli is during Winter, specially in November when Raas festival is in full swing. Also it is during this season, Majuli becomes a heaven for bird-watching as many migratory birds fly to this island.
We are in love with Majuli, although we visited for three days which was optimum duration as suggested by many but we still felt we could have stayed for more. We are still reminiscing over our experience and we hope you will definitely include Majuli in your bucket list.
P.S. Oh Hey! We have come up with our first part of Majuli vlog 🙂 Check it out here