Majuli is the Largest River Island in the World, in Assam state, India. It is in the Brahmaputra River. Last year the island was declared as a separate district; the first of its kind in India.
Majuli river island is at the confluence of Brahmaputra river and Kherkutia Xuti. Kherkutia Xuti is an anabranch of the River Brahmaputra and Subansiri River.
Frequent earthquakes of the 16th century resulted in massive flooding in 1750, which lasted for 15 days. The combined effect of the earthquakes and flood resulted in the Brahmaputra river discharging partly towards the southward direction. Majuli island was thus formed.
At the beginning of the last century, this island had an area of 1,250 square kilometres. Currently, it has an area of 352 square kilometres only. The island has shrunk as the river Brahmaputra has engulfed the land area. The island was originally called Majoli. The island and the rivers surrounding the island have changed a lot, in course of time.
This island district is considered the cultural capital of Assamese civilization for the last four to five centuries. It’s the abode of Assamese Neo-Vaishnavites. Srimanta Sankardeva, a great social reformer visited the island in the 15th century and established many hermitages and monasteries. They are called satra.
Auniati satra is one of the oldest satras and the main tourist attractions here. Natun Kamalabari Satra, Uttar Kamalabari Satra, Garmur Satra , Shamaguri Satra (famous for mask making), etc., are some of the main satras on the island. Garmur Satra and Auniati satra have museums.
Sankardeva‘s disciple Madhavdeva was also instrumental in propagating the Neo-Vaishnavite culture on this island.
There are a lot of migratory birds in the winter season. Soil erosion is a major cause of worry for this island. The government is implementing some projects to avoid this problem. Afforestation efforts also helped in restoring some of the lost greenery.
There are schools and colleges on the island. A few concrete houses have come upon the island even though most of the residents still reside in huts. The island does not have any industries and hence it is almost pollution-free, except for a few vehicles.
Namghar is the heart of the island, where locals assemble to sing, pray, and conduct religious functions. Raas Leela is the main festival of the island, conducted during the month of November. It is one of the most colorful festivals in India.
Jadav Payeng’s forestation efforts on the Malai Forest
Jadav Payeng is one of the main architects (Ii may be better to call him the lone architect) of the forest called Molai forest, which was named after him. It comprises an area of around 1,360 acres or 550 hectares on the Majuli island.
Jadav Payeng was honoured with Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award in India) in 2015 for his efforts in creating this forest.
This island forest now houses Indian rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, and over 100 species of deer and rabbits. Molai forest is home to monkeys and several species of birds, including a large number of vultures.
Economy of Majuli
The economy of Majuli is mainly dependent on agriculture. Paddy is the main crop here in the island. There are more than 100 varies of paddy here, which are cultivated using organic farming methods.
Fishing, Weaving of Handloom products, Pottery making, Mask making, etc., are the other main sources of income for the villagers of Majuli Assam.
Mask making is an ancient form of art here. Bambusa tulda (Jati Bamboo) is used for making the masks. These masks are usually 10 to 12 feet in height. These masks are used in Bhaona performances such as Sattriya Bhaona & Mukha Bhaona.
Muga Silk Sarees, once reserved only for the members of the royal families, is popular silk produced in the island and other parts of Assam.
How Do I Go to The Largest River Island In The World – Majuli?
Jorhat is the nearest city at around 20 kilometres distance south of the island. It is connected by ferry services to the island. There are a total of 6 services per day between the Nimati Steamer Ghat at Jorhat, on the mainland.
Lakhimpur town is situated to the north of the island (The island is part of Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency). Golaghat town is on the southwest side of the island. Sibsagar town is on the southeastern side.
Guwahati city, the capital of the state of Assam, is around 350 kilometres distance from the world’s largest river island. Guwahati to Jorhat bus services is available. Jorhat to Guwahati distance is around 306 kilometres. Jorhat to Guwahati travelling time is around 7 hours. Majuli to Guwahati travelling takes more than 8.5 hours.
What About Majuli Resort or Lodge in Majuli?
Kamalabari Satra has a lodge in majuli island, with rooms for night stay at very affordable rates; inside the satra.
River View Bamboo Cottage, Okegiga Homes, Hotel MD’s Continental, The Manor, Hotel Jironi, Hotel Jora Palace, Thengal Manor, etc, are some of the Majuli island resorts and hotels in and around Majuli and the mainland region.
La Lolat Eco Camp, Gibbon Eco Camp costs lesser than the above-mentioned hotels. Kamalabari Satra also scores on the price front.
Travel Tip to Majuli River Island Tourists
You can take your car or two-wheeler on the ferry to the island, from Jorhat Assam. Hiring a cab is very costly on the island.