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Majuli: Assam's Cultural Capital

''Discover rare fauna species and experience pottery and mask making in this island.''

Location : Located on the banks of river Brahmaputra in Assam, world's largest river island Majuli is known for its pristine landscape. The island is considered as one of the most beautiful places on earth and still preserves the ancient Assamese culture. It is about 200 kms east from Guwahati in Assam and 20 kms from Jorhat.

Why go the distance? : For starters, taking a stroll through the villages of Majuli is highly recommended to savour the warmth of the people and their simple way of life. The island also has rich bio diversity. If the visit is timed right, rare fauna species, such as the greater adjutant stork, pelican and the whistling teal can be spotted.
Majuli is the principal seat of Vaishnavite faith, culture and practice. The treasures of Majuli are undoubtedly its Satras or monasteries. Of the 65 Satras, there are only 22 in Majuli today.
These Satras are the treasure houses of the songs and dances initiated by Shri Sankardeva like "Borgeet" Matiakhara, Jumora dance, Satria Krishna dance, Dasavater dance etc. The island can also be visited to witness the unique festivals that its people observe. People who enjoy pottery and mask making should definitely visit the place. Majuli is known for exotic homespun masks crafts.
Bird watching too is another reason for tourist visits. The southern part of the island is a bird lovers’ paradise. If interested in bird watching, one can head southeast, southwest or even towards the northern part of Majuli Island.

Where to stay : Majuli does not have a developed infrastructure for tourism and there is just about one hotel.
Writing in advance to some Satras for guestrooms would be a good idea. Some of these Satras are Natun Kamalabari, Uttar Kamalabari, Auniati, Bhogpur and Dakhinpat. The first two are walking distance from Kamalabari. The other two are about six kilometers away with Dakhinpath being at one end of the island. You can reach Dakhinpath via ferry from Neemati.
Apart for Satras, accommodation is also available at Inspection Bungalows with the one at Kamalabari being well located and Circuit House at Garamur, which is the sub-divisional headquarters. There are lodging facilities available at Jorhat too.

How to reach? : Majuli is 20 kms fom Jorhat town, which on average takes three hours. Buses ply regularly from Jorhat to Neamati Steamer Ghat, the main ferry boarding point for Majuli. The Ghat has lodging facilities, some tourist information booths and food stalls catering to transiting ferry-goers. Though Jorhat remains the principal entry point, Majuli can be approached through Lakhimpur on the north and Dibrugarh on the east. Jorhat is well connected by air, with flights via Guwahati and Kolkata from different metros of the country.

Best time to go : If bird watching is something that interests you, visit between November and March. In order to witness Rasleela, which is a three day festival, one should plan visit around mid-November. The festival is a celebration of the legendary love of Radha and Krishna and the devotion of the gopis to Krishna. Another festival, Ali-ai-ligang can be witnessed in February-March. It is a colourful annual festival of the Misings tribe. If you want to visit sometime in Autumn then you would have the opportunity to witness the Paal Naam at Auniati Satra. It is a huge attraction and the end of Autumn would be the best time to visit.

Source / Review By : Annu Choudhury


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