Majuli is the riverine island in the mighty Brahmaputra and is the largest river island in the world. The beauty of the landscape, the green paddy fields, the meandering kutcha roads, the blue water of the Brahmaputra, the humble village life will leave you mesmerized once you set foot on the island. Majuli will give you the much needed calm and serene vacation which we all deserve after the stress and anxiety 2020 gave us.
Majuli Island has 144 villages and is the first island to be made into a district in India. Initially it had an area of 880 sq kms but due to erosion the island now is shrinking with each passing year. The island is multi-ethnic and hence boasts of a rich and colorful cultural heritage.
Satras of Majuli and the Satra Culture:
Majuli was one of the nerve centres of the Neo-Vaishnavite movements during the heydays. It was here that Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva met his foremost disciple and apostolic successor Madhavdeva for the very first time. This event is referred in the history of Neo-Vaishnavite movement as Manikanchan Sanyog.
Satras are actually temples as well as cultural centres of Neo-Vaishnavism culture. In these Satras which are actually institutions, young boys are taught to lead a disciplined life in the praise and dedication of the Lord Krishna. They are also taught art and literature as a part of making a scholar out of them. The songs and dances initiated by Srimanta Sankardeva such as Borgeet, Bhatima, Jumora, Chali, Palnaam, Sattriya etc. are taught and promoted here in the Satras. The Satras consist of a large prayer hall facing the simple shrine, surrounded by dormitories and bathing tanks for monks. Guests can stay over if they want where they can take part in the worship rituals and witness the traditional bhaona and other cultural performances.
The first satra was established by Srimanta Sankardev here in Majuli in the 15th century. Since then sixty-five satras have come up for the propagation of ethics and socio-cultural ideals. Out of all only twenty-two remain now, while others have been shifted to different places. The main reason being flood and erosion which takes a devastating toll during monsoon.
The main existing satras in Majuli now are:
- Auniati Satra
- Dakhinpat Satra
- Garamurh Satra
- Kamalabari Satra
- Bengena-ati Satra
- Shamaguri Satra
The Craft of Mask Making:
During the bhaona performances if the artists wore masks of the concerned character they are portraying, people could relate more easily. So taking this into consideration Srimanta Sankardeva started the art of mask making. But over time this art was losing its popularity until the Satradhikar of Samaguri Satra revived this art and took it to the global stage. Today this mask making art of Majuli is renowned worldwide and people come especially to study and document this.
Hemchandra Goswami, a master of the craft, added a new dimension to this mask. He introduced the movement of the jaws of these masks which moved in tandem to the movement of the jaws of the artists. This made the masks look more life-like. These masks are made of bamboo and a special type of clay. First the structure is made out of bamboo which is later filled with clay and then painted.
Raas Purnima and the Raas Mahotsav of Majuli:
Raas is an Autumnal festival celebrated in the Satras of Majuli on the full moon day of Aghon or Kartik month. Hence this day is popularly called Raas Purnima in Assam. Raas-leela, according to Hindu scriptures is actually the tandava dance of Lord Krishna performed with Radha and 1600 gopis. During this festival a host of cultural programs are arranged, along with dance and symposium, prayer sessions etc. but the main attraction being the Ankiya Naat, a type of one act play performed through dance. This festival attracts a lot of domestic as well as International tourists every year. Raas Mahotsav is the main festival of Majuli.
How to reach there:
Majuli is accessible from Jorhat via Neemati ghat. Ferry services are available from Neemati ghat, which is 14 kms from Jorhat Town and takes around 40 mins to reach. Take a bus or hire a taxi to reach the ghat and then board a ferry from Neemati ghat to Kamalabari ghat in Majuli Island. The ferry ride takes around 3-4 hours.
Majuli is accessible from Dibrugarh via Bogibeel Bridge which takes around 5 hours. Bus services are available from ASTC bus stand in Dibrugarh town directly to Majuli.
You can also book a cab from Dibrugarh to Majuli and the travel time would be almost same.
Where to stay:
All accommodation available in Majuli are eco-friendly, meaning they are either bamboo cottages or thatched houses. There are quite a few options to choose from. These accommodations are decent and comfortable but one should not expect the luxury of a hotel or a resort.
- La Maison de Ananda
- Okegiga Homes
- Enchanting Majuli Resort
- Dekasang Resort
- Hotel Srimanta Sankardev
- Ayang Okum River Bank bamboo cottage
- Ygdrasill Bamboo Cottage
- Risong Guest House
- Jonki Panoi Bamboo Cottage by WCH
- Mahabahu Bamboo Cottage
- Majuli Eco Camp
- River View Bamboo Cottage
Best time to visit:
October to March are the best months to visit Majuli. Most of the festivals and drama performances are organized during this time, especially the famous Raas Mahotsav of Majuli. The climate during these months are mild and moderate with temperatures ranging below 20°C.