Majuli is the largest fresh Water River Island in the world, situated
in the upper reaches of the river Brahmaputra in Assam. This landmass,
with a population of 1.6 lakhs, majority being tribals, has a very
rich heritage and has been the abode of Assamese Vaishshnavite culture
with tremendous potential for spiritual and Eco-tourism.
The island is a bio-diversity hotspot and has rich ecology with
rare breeds of flora and fauna and is a part of a major migratory
path for Ducks, Geese and other birds. The population contains a
wide mix of tribal peoples, including Ahoms and Kacharis; the Mishing
and Deori tribes inhabit upper Majuli.
The Assamese Vaishnavite Culture
Ferries run twice a day from Nimatighat, 12-km north of Jorhat,
to Manjuli, which holds several important Vaishnavite Sattras. At
present there are 22 Sattras on the island, including those in Garamur
and Kamalabari, but one has to travel a few kilometers out of Kamalabari
to see some of the more interesting ones.
Although the origins of Majuli may be uncertain, it is known for
a fact that the social reformer Sankardeva visited the island in
the early 16th century. Sankardeva propagated a form of Vaishnavism
that was simpler and more accessible than the ritualistic Hinduism
of the time. His approach was rooted in faith and prayer, and stressed
on the cultural aspects of life and living.
This cultural ambience is not confined to the Sattras alone. Every
village on the island, whether tribal or non-tribal, has assimilated
these traditions in daily life. The central point of all villages
is the Namghar; where periodically people gather to sing and pray.
It is more than a temple - it is a sacred meeting place as well.
Usually after the sessions of reading and discussion, the members
of the Sattras will get together to decide on matters concerning
the village community.
A Harmonised Living
In this day of individualism, Majuli still preserves the notion
of the community. Among the majority Mishing community, who migrated
from the Arunachal hills many generations ago, traditions of Ali-Ay-Ligang
(the harvest festival) are still preserved, and different ethnicity
have been living together peacefully for generations.
Pottery -The Art Of Primitive Times
Pottery in Majuli is probably the single most important heritage
of all. Pots are made with hand from beaten clay and burnt in driftwood-fired
kilns. Only the womenfolk in the village labour to shape the pots
with hand. Finished pots are ferried up and down stream on country
boats for barter trade. According to the archeologists this has
to be a missing link between Mohenjodaro & Harappan civilization.
Elsewhere in the world potter's wheel reigns supreme; but Majuli
still retains its link with the long dead past. Thus, Majuli is
a living archeological museum in its own right.
The Sattra at Auniati, 4-km west, keeps Royal artifacts from the
Ahom kingdom and has an interesting collection of Assamese handicrafts
and jewellery. While Bengenati, 4-km east built in the early 17th
century, has a very friendly caretaker who is happy to show visitors
6-km beyond Bengenati, is a centre for making clay and bamboo masks
- sculptures in their own right - used for traditional festivals
and performances. Other interesting Sattras can be found at Bongaori,
8-km beyond Shamaguri, and Dakhinpat 5-km south of that. Majuli
has recently been recommended for consideration as a UNESCO World
Heritage Site by the Indian government.
Majuli's nearest centre is Jorhat which is well connected by air,
with daily flights from Guwahati, and four flights a week from Calcutta
The nearest railway station is situated at Jorhat.
By Road & By Boat
From Guwahati, Jorhat is a seven-hour bus ride and buses leave early
mornings and at nights. From Jorhat it is only 14-km to Neemati
Ghat. There are at least two ferry rides to Majuli every day, one
around 10.00 am, the other around 3.00 pm. Exact times can be ascertained
from the private bus stand at Jorhat, from where buses leave for
The first ferry ride lasts about an hour - after that transfer
to a bus for a ten-minute bus ride across Major Sapori, another
island en route to Majuli. Then a short ferry ride, and yet another
bus ride to Kamalabari, the main town on the island. One can also
hire a taxi, either from Jorhat or in Majuli. The taxi can cross
over on the ferry.
Lord Krishna is supposed to have played with his consorts in Majuli.
Though thousands of miles distant from Vrindavan, one only has to
visit Majuli during the "Ras Purnima" in the month of
'Kartik' (October - November) to experience the zest of this festival.
Virtually every single person on the island is involved in the three-day
long 'Ras' festival, depicting the life of Krishna.
Every village hosts its own, and people who have left Majuli return
to take part in the song, dance, theatre and merriment. And the
language that is used is 'Brajavali', the tongue of Mathura. In
Majuli, the days of Bhawna and Ras are special, with thousands turning
out all over the island to watch and experience.
Location: 12-km North Of Jorhat,
Famous For: Vaishnava Sattras &
Significance: The Largest Fresh
Water River Island In The World.
Best Time To Visit: October To May
General Information & Accomdation info on Majuli city of Assam - India