When I signed up for Assam travel, I did not know we have the world’s largest river island Majuli, Assam in India! This blog gives a sneap peak on Majuli and things to do this river island over a period of 2 days!
From trees, birds, animals, tribes, and culture unique to Majuli, this blog will show you a different side of offbeat India. Meeting the indigenous tribes, monks from
Tibetan monasteries, seeing women hand-weave their cloths, consuming a satvik meal, and living in bamboo huts – didn’t I tell you Majuli will sweep you off your feet?
Satras and religion
Neo – Vaishnavite tradition and culture is practiced in Majuli Island.
Sri Sankaradeva’s visionary philosophies were implemented and passed on in ways of art, religion, and culture to create a harmonious living conditions.
Neo- Vaishnavism is a philosophy where enlightenment of the human conscience is done through universal love. It began in Assam, focussing on eradicating the caste system of untouchables. Therefore, this made easier for everyone in the village to participate in all the art forms and festivals, thereby growing as a community.
The imparting of knowledge and culture was done by creating Satras (or Xatras) which are Majuli’s Ashrams.
Reaching Majuli Island, Assam
On an October early morning in 2018, I found myself at a train door hearing the screeching of the wheels as the train halted at Johrat Station in Assam.
I lugged my suitcase out of the train to meet our driver who was to drop us at the ferry point which was at the mouth of the mighty River Brahmaputra!
and thus began my journey to Majuli Island.
Things to do in Majuli Island, Assam
Crossing the mighty Brahmaputra!
As a city dweller and a lover of geography as a child, this was the most awaited experience of my entire life!
I cannot explain my happiness after seeing this river! Having heard the voracious stories of the mighty Brahmaputra all my 25 years of life, the river was alive and roaring in front of me!
Once on the ferry ride of mere INR 15, I have ogled River Brahmaputra for our entire ride of 40 minutes!
Visiting the only Bamboo Mask Makers
A few hours’ scooter ride away is Samuguri Village, humble abode of the famous Bamboo mask makers.
Carving a niche for art and craft, there are a handful of bamboo makers left on the island who are trying to protect and revive their art.
We saw the stupendous mask-making process from scratch. There were paper maches lying around, colours in bottles, and drying masks. There were some ready pieces ready for sale lying idle around (do buy at-least 1-2 to help the local economy).
Happiness was oozing out from our faces when a few artists performed a live dance for us! The artists dressed themselves up as monkeys and enacted a Kshatriya drama!
Satvik lunch at Aounati Satra
We stopped at Aounati Satra with our guide for satvik lunch prepared by the monks. Having a guide with us the entire time who told us the importance and the history of this monastery was a brilliant idea.
We sat on the mats provided by the monks to sit on. With legs folded and leaf plates in front of me, I was salivating for this satvik meal.
I could not wait for the monks to come and serve us. As soon as they did, I gobbled down the fresh meal and could feel the freshness in every morsel I ate.
The meal consists of 2-3 green leafy vegetables, roti, and rice. The spiritual and tranquil ambiance in the satra completed our satvik meal.
Meet the ‘Mising Tribe’ of Majuli Island
This single biggest tribe in North East India is scattered over the world’s largest river island Majuli, Assam.
This tribe gels with you easily since they are too curious about our lives (and gadgets) as we are of their lives!
You can meet them on the island or can make a visit to the nearby villages.
Exploring Majuli’s countryside
We explored this small village of Majuli while living the unruly contryside!
While wandering on a scooter, we visited a few secluded water bodies, saw a beautiful sunset on a river where the boats were really narrow and wobbly (a fun experience, indeed!), saw traditional houses, met the locals, and more importantly lived the countryside of the island.
Drink Apong in Majuli Island
“Assam ka log non-veg nahi khayega toh mar jayega” (If Assamese stop consuming nonvegetarian food, they will die), commented Manmeet, owner of the pond house. Since he was surprised to see how vegetarians (me) survive without consuming meat!
I was introduced to Apong (rice beer), while dining together. It tasted like homeopathy medicine but the taste does grow on you and can’t stop loving it!
I drank Nogin Apong which is whitish in colour. Another type of Apong is Poro Apong which is dark green in colour. All apong is made by
- Crushing the rice and by mixing it with medicinal plants and flowers making it healthy for the body.
- Crushed E’bop is added to the cooked rice.
- This entire mixture is transferred into a drum for fermentation of 4-6 days.
- The mixture is filtered with help from bamboo basket and the waste is used as a fodder.
I was so thrilled to see the entire placid process of Apong making!
Since all the locals back then was into a continuous labour-intensive work, they consumed Apong regularly. Because consuming apong is said to give strength to the body and helps in preventing and curing UTI, fever, cold etc.
Biking/cycling around the village
Majuli Island has a very unruly raw, countryside, forest-y vibe to the entire island. Imagine a wind of fresh non-polluted air hitting your face while you are swooping past dense trees for straight 2 hours! Refreshing, isn’t it?
Moving around on cycle/bike is a best way to meet the locals and to witness the daily lives of people in Majuli.
Staying in a house on a pond!
How would you fancy a stay in one of the rooms made of ENTIRELY of bamboo in an ingenious way?!
All the rooms, floors, furniture, and roofs were made from bamboo and moreover, the entire house was hovering over a pond!
Apart from tonnes of mosquitoes, this was a stupendous way to soak in the cultural experience.
The Mising Tribe and the other locals still prefer living in their idyllic traditional way in Bamboo huts. Which, trust me, is a sight to behold.
Exploring Uttar Kamalabari Satra
We learned about another Vaishnav Monastery from our same guide. Here we met kid monks. They had long hair and in case they touch anyone, even accidentally, they need to cleanse themselves by taking a bath.
These kids are devoted to God, reading scriptures, cooking from a tender age and reside in the Satra itself.
Cost for exploring Majuli Island
I went on this trip with ChaloHoppo and it was NOT a collaboration. In spite being a little expensive, I would still recommend them.
After spending 2 days in Majuli, I left for Mon, Nagaland. Read more about my 9 unbelievable experiences of Nagaland and to meeting the only surviving headhunters of India!
I hope this blog “things to do in Majuli Island, Assam” helps you plan your travel easily. Shared the blog with your friends yet?
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- Meeting the only surviving headhunters of India!
- Offbeat Meghalaya – Mawsynram, Mawlynbna, and Mawphlong.
- 7 days in Meghalaya under INR 10K