Mājuli or Majoli is a large river island in the Brahmaputra river, in Assam, India. Mājuli had a total area of 1,250 sq km (483 sq mt), but having lost significantly to erosion it has an area of only 421.65 sq km (163 sq mt) in 2001. Majuli is the largest river island in the World. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north. Mājuli island is accessible by ferries from the City of Jorhat. The island is about 200 kms east from the state's largest city -Guwahati. The island was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit. Mājuli is also the abode of the Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture.
The main industry is agriculture, with paddy being the chief crop. Mājuli has a rich and diverse agricultural tradition, with as many as a hundred different varieties of rice grown, all grown without pesticides or artificial fertilisers. Among the fascinating arrays of rice produced are the Komal Saul, a unique type of rice that can be eaten just after immersing the grains in warm water for fifteen minutes, and usually eaten as a breakfast cereal; the bao dhan, that grows under water, and is harvested after ten months and the Bora saul, a sticky brown rice used to make the traditional cake known as pitha,.
Fishing, dairying, pottery, handloom and boat-making are other important economic activities. Hand-loom is a major occupation among the distaff population of the villages. Although largely a non-commercial occupation, it keeps many of the inhabitants occupied. Weaving is exquisite and intricate with the use of a variety of colours and textures of cotton and silk, especially Muga silk.
The dwellers of Mājuli are mostly tribal folk. These tribal are the Mising tribes from Arunachal Pradesh and who immigrated here centuries ago. Apart from them, the inhabitants are also from the Deori and Sonowal Kacharis tribes. Languages spoken here are Mising, Assamese, Deori. The island has one hundred and forty four villages with a population of over 150,000 and a density of 300 individuals per square km. The only mode of association to the outside world is through a ferry service which operates only twice a day. Despite inherent drawbacks faced, modernism has touched this island, with the setting up of medical centers and educational institutions. Housing too, has segued from traditional bamboo and mud construction to ones made of concrete.
The heart of all villages is the Namghar, where villagers episodically gather to sing and pray. It is the most important public place for the villagers. After the rituals are complete, villagers decide here on issues concerning the village such as auctioning of fishing rights, what to do with money raised, and other topics of significance to the community as a whole. The inhabitants are expert navigators by boat; their expertise is most visible during the monsoon season when they navigate the turbulent waters of the Brahmaputra.
Mājuli has been the cultural capital and the cradle of Assamese civilization for the past five hundred years. The satras set up preserve antiques like weapons, utensils, jewellery and other items of cultural significance. Pottery is made in Mājuli from beaten clay and burnt in driftwood fired kilns in the same mode carried out by the peoples of the ancient Harrappan Civilisation. Sociologists have stressed on the preservation of these unique peoples, whose culture and dance forms are untouched by modernism. The hand-loom work of these tribes is also internationally famous.
Virtually every single person on the island is involved in the three-day long raas festival, depicting the life of Krishna. People from hundreds of kilometers away come to celebrate this festival including a number of expatriate members of community. The satras have also honed certain art and craft traditions, which can now be found only here. In Natun Samuguri Satra for example, one can still find the craft of mask-making; and in the Kamalabari Satra the finest boats are made.
The island has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture, initiated around 15th century by the revered Assamese saint Srimanta Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdeva. Many Xatras or monasteries constructed by the saint still survive and represent the colourful Assamese culture. The saint took refuge in Mājuli and spent a couple of months at Beloguri in West Mājuli, which was a place of grandeur for the historic and auspicious, 'Manikanchan Sanjog' between Shankardeva and Madhavdeva, this was the first satra in Mājuli. After the "Manikanchan Sanjog", sixty five satras were set up. However, today only twenty-two of the original sixty-five still survive. Sixty-five out of the six hundred and sixty-five original Satras in Assam were situated in Mājuli. The main surviving Xatras (Satra) are:
- Dakhinpat Xatra
- Garamurh Xatra
- Auniati Xatra
- Kamalabari Xatra
- Benegenaati Xatra
- Shamaguri Xatra
A wetland, 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 Stork, Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Whistling Teal. After dark wild geese and ducks fly in flocks to distant destinations. The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.
Mājuli is situated at a distance of 20 km from Jorhat. One can take the bus or a hired taxi to the Nimati Steamer Ghat from where ferry services ply. The distance takes over three hours to cover, with three bus rides and two ferry rides. On the north-bank is the river Subansiri and on the South bank, the mighty Brahmaputra has excided the island from the main land. Lakhimpur town is to the North and Golaghat
is to its southwest. The town of Sibsagar
is on the southeast and Jorhat is to the south. On the extreme east is Dibrugarh
- The Vaishnava Satras founded by Sankardeva
- The colourful culture of the tribes
- Migratory birds
- The Ali-ai-ligang festival in Feb-March
- Pottery making
- Mask making
- Paal Namm festival in the end of winter
- The sunset in winter
- Exotic homespun masks crafts
Majuli is an Island,it is always wet place.The southern part of the Island is worlds largest riverine Island so it is bird lovers paradise,Between November and March is the best time to visit this place. There are 3 locals for bird watching:
- The southeast of majuli Island
- The southwest of majuli Island
- The northern part of majuli Island