Majuli, a land between two parallel rivers
Majuli is not a single island within a single parameter, but it is the combination of cluster of islets formed and developed in the mid-river stream of the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries — the Luit & Kherkatia to the north & north- east and north-west extremity.
Majuli stands among the oldest and the largest inhabited riverine islands of the world. Majuli is the only island district in India. It is carved out of Jorhat district of Assam.
The island today is separated from the mainland Assam by 2.5 km of river span and can be approached from Neamati Ghat in Jorhat district to the south of the island by ferry reaching Kamalabari in Majuli.
Majuli extends for a length of about 80 km, 10-15 km north-south direction with a total area of about 875 sq km and at an elevation of 85-90 m above the mean sea level. It is formed in a stretch of the river where the largest number of tributaries drains out to form their delta on the northern and the southern banks.
Majuli’s land mass is regularly inundated by floods spreading sediments to its soil which makes it suitable for growing paddy, mustard, sugarcane, pulses, jute, garlic, potatoes, fruits and other essential goods.
The Wetlands or Chaporis of Majuli
The north and south banks of the river Brahmaputra have wetlands- a characteristic feature of the hydrology of the system. They are locally known as Beels and are the breeding grounds of rich flora and fauna unique to this region.
The river, its tributaries, the wetlands and the chaporis along with the island of Majuli make it the largest mid river delta system in the world. Mājuli is a hotspot for flora and fauna, harbouring many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season.
Among the birds seen here are the greater adjutant storks, pelicans, Open-billed storks, Siberian cranes, and the whistling teals. It is home to wild geese, ducks, and teals. Majuli is a paradise for the bird enthusiasts.
The Demography of the Island
The population of Majuli comprises the tribals, non-tribals, and the scheduled castes. The tribal communities include the Misings, the Deoris and the Sonowal Kacharis. The non-tribal communities include Koch, Kalitas, Ahoms, Chutias, Keot, Yogis, etc. The Mishing community has the largest population in the island who immigrated from Arunachal Pradesh to Majuli centuries ago. Languages spoken are Mishing, Assamese, and Deori.
The island of Majuli today houses a total of 243 small and large villages. Of these 210 are cadastral villages (revenues generated by the administration and supported with revenue maps) and 33 are non-cadastral villages (villages without revenue maps are mostly resettled or rehabilitated shifted due to flood and erosion in Majuli).
The pervading beauty that envelopes the island all throughout the year later turned it into a pilgrimage since the advent of Srimanta Sankardeva, who had been joined by Madhavdeva, the Chief Apostle, in Majuli’s Dhuwahat Belaguri at the early part of the 16th century. Majuli began to excel from his historic event of communion (Manikanchan Sanyog) and subsequently ushered in the spreading of Neo-Vaisnavism across the entire island and the north east region of india. The Vaishnava Satras founded by Sankardeva
The colourful culture of the tribes, Pottery-making from beaten river earth, mask-making with bamboo shavings or with paper-mache, home-spun mekhela chadar and dhotis along with agriculture and fishing
Satras and Namghars in Majuli
Majuli island has played a pivotal role in the literary landscape of Assam. Neo Vaishnavite preacher Madhavdev met his guru Shankar Dev, the founder of Neo Vaishnavism in the island which is termed as “Mani Kanchan Sanjog”. Madhavdev enriched Assamese literature with Namghosa, Borgeet and Bhatima, etc. Satra institutions encouraged writing of plays and devotional songs. Majuli gave birth to a host of literary luminaries that includes well-renowned poets and writers of Assam.
Several art forms like maati akhora (performed by young priests), and Dashawatar (by Satriya girls) are very artistic.
Mukha Bhawana, the art of story telling and inspiring the locals with victory of good over evil is a famous art form of the island. This encourages mask making for earning a livelihood too. The famous characters of Ramayan enact scenes from this Hindu epic for tourists and at different festivals.
The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and the chronic rainfall. The simple life-style of the local communities and the subsistence form of occupations maintains respect for each other. The peace and quiet life of the island along with a varied flora and fauna encourages tourism to the island. The people of the island are spiritual by nature and there is no crime.
How does one experience the unique features of Assam?
The river unites the three fascinating cultures of the Tibetan Civilization in the North, the sleepy villages of India in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam Valley and the bustling villages in the Delta of Bangladesh. There’s more to this river in India’s northeast than just its annual floods. The river is revered equally by the religious canvas of indigenous populace of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims and Bons.
MV Mahabaahu offers an expedition form of cruising on the mighty Brahmaputra that refuses to be tamed. MV Mahabaahu is a 23 cabin (2 suites, 2 Luxury Cabins and 7 Deluxe Cabins with private balconies and 12 Superior cabins with large picture windows.) motor vessel offering a seven-night eight-day rendezvous, Sunday to Sunday from October to April.
The 7 night Upstream itinerary from starts at Guwahati and ends in Jorhat in the State of Assam, while the 7 night Downstream itinerary starts from Jorhat to Guwahati in the State of Assam. Airport connectivity is available at Guwahati and Jorhat. All inclusive price starts from USD 350* per person per night for base category cabins.
The Itinerary is subject to weather and river conditions or if we are faced with any political challenges. The tourism season is from October to April: In the coldest month of January, the temperatures range from 60-degree Fahrenheit to 70-degree Fahrenheit or 15-degree Celsius to 21-degree Celsius. Warm layering is required. Light rain can be expected so a parasol/mackintosh would be useful.
Binoculars and cameras will enhance the experience. Casual light comfortable clothes, comfortable walking shoes for all excursions, sun shades and hats are recommended. We organise Sit-down dinners at the end of the day. Breakfast and Lunch are buffet setting. Drinking Water systems are fitted in all cabins along with flasks for excursions. Tea/Coffee/cookies and hot water kettle facilities are available in each cabin. All items in the Minibar are chargeable. Laundry/Sauna/Steam/Jacuzzi/Ayurvedic therapies/Rejuvenation Massages/ Hair Spa facilities too are available on board.
Yog practice on pristine deserted sandy islands and to stroll the soft silver carpet of sand and continue into numinous bonfire evening under the distant suns that twinkle in our night sky of the northern hemisphere. Barbequed snacks in ethnic tribal style, a local brew to wash down, some games to indulge in and a traditional reverence to the son of Brahma for a safe passage completes the enthralling journey
Cruise with Confidence: We’ve added fresh procedures to upraise our hygiene ideals for every facet of onboard practice; air filtration systems, personal steel flasks, cabin-based water filtration units and added hand sanitizer stations at all exits and entries. Immunity-enhancing herbal teas, Yoga and nature-walks, cruising in the lap of wilderness and enjoying beverages on silver sands of deserted islands away from civilization are conducive in times of pandemic or any other infection. Ayurvedic treatments, Steam Sauna, and Jacuzzi for rejuvenation and a Paramedic on board are an added advantage.
*Terms and conditions apply.