Sandwiched between the Subansri River to its north and the mighty Brahmaputra River to the south; lies the world’s largest river island, Majuli. The island has been recently declared as ‘The Largest River Island in the World‘ by the Guinness Book of World Records. Present in the Indian State of Assam, the island is far away from the hustling urban crowds making it an excellent tourist destination for nature lovers.
The island covers an area of 352 sq.km (as of 2014) and houses 144 villages with 1,50,000 peoples inhabiting. Prior to the 21st century, the island covered more than 1000 sq.km which was significantly lost due to erosion. Ferry services (running six times a day) are the only mode to transport from Majuli to the outside world. The island is the cradle to the Assamese Neo-Vaisnavite culture dating back to the 15-century.
Majuli is known for its pristine beauty and is pollution free due to lack of factories and heavy rainfall it receives. The island is a home to various endangered species of flora and fauna. The southern part of the island is a paradise for bird lovers. Eco Activist Jadav Payeng single handedly planted a 550-acre woodland (over a period of 30 years), the Molai Forest which is a dwelling place to various plant and animal species including the Bengal Tiger, Indian Rhino.
Farming is Majuli’s main industry with more than 100 rice varieties grown without any dependence on fertilizers and pesticides. The most popular rice varieties include the Komal Saul, Bora Saul and Bao Dhan. Aside from cultivation, Majuli’s are experts in hand-loom with excellent weaving skills and elaborate usage of color textures. Most its inhabitants are excellent boatmen and brilliant river navigators.
Despite its complex terrain, Majuli harbors well-established medical centers, educational institutions and concrete dwellings. The island is on the verge of extinction due to heavy erosion by the rivers, predominantly the Brahmaputra. A survey conducted indicates the island would gradually disappear in the course of next 15-20 years. With various initiatives from the government to save the island, its a million dollar question “Will Majuli stand the test of time?”
To reach Majuli:
Majuli is 20km from the city of Jorhat. From Jorhat one need to Nimati Steamer Ghat from where Ferry services ply to Majuli. One can hire a taxi or utilize bus services to reach the Ghat from Jorhat. Overall travel time takes 3 hours.
MAJULI’S CULTURES AND TRADITIONS: