So, Majuli got famous because it was among the largest river islands in the world. But what exactly are the things to do in Majuli? What are the main attractions to see here? Is it worth the effort?
I have seen questions like these often and while a few things are known to all, I think most people do not fully understand the scope offered by the Island beyond crossing the Brahmaputra on a Ferry. So, this is a quick list that helps you to make the most of the river island. Of course, you may not be doing all of them but pick a few things as per your interests and convenience.
However, I must also point out that Tourism in Majuli Island is good for “doing nothing”. You can simply find a good place to stay (Check the first point below) and relax. Internet connectivity is good in Majuli nowadays and so you can use it as a Workation destination and stay here for weeks!
What to See and Do in Majuli?
Stay at a Traditional Bamboo Cottage
During my visit back in 2017, I found 2-3 resorts in Majuli apart from the government accommodation and Satra stays (many of the satras have guesthouses). However, when I returned in 2020, I saw at least a dozen resorts, homestays, campsites, and some more under construction. The bulk of them are scattered along the Kamalabari-Garamur stretch but other areas also have a few. So, this is your best option to stay in Majuli and this itself is an experience. Most resorts and homestays follow this design which is actually a traditional Mishing design used in the villages. You can opt for other places too by these is the most popular form of stay here. Rates vary as per facilities from INR 500-2500 but most of them generally maintain different options for different budgets.
Go Cycling in Majuli
This is the greenest trend that has started to grow in Majuli. Last time also I cycled by borrowing one from the caretaker at the hotel. But now bonafide cycle rental shops have opened up at various spots. They also seem to have come to an agreement among themselves so rates are uniform everywhere. I talked to one guy at the store called Chitra Partha just outside Garamur. He is basically a cycle mechanic who repairs cycles but now the shop has a dozen cycles to rent to tourists, which is providing additional income. So, there are a couple of cycle rental spots just out of Garamur on the Northern side where you can get one for INR 150 a day.
Complete the Satra Trail
If you are planning to visit Majuli I am sure you have heard of the Satras (Neo-Vashnavite Monasteries). It is a good way to divide the days according to the Satras (Neo-Vaishnavite Monasteries) of Majuli because there are many Satras spread all over the island and other attractions can also be covered along the way. All you have to do here is to read up a bit and find out the main Satras and check their locations on the map. You can pick one area and cover 2-3 of them each day along with other attractions. Originally there were 64 of them although some had to shift due to erosion but still, there are 22 of them remaining. The most important Satras that you must have on your list are Garamur Satra, Auniati Satra, Uttar Kamalabari Satra, Notun Kamalabari Satra, Dakhinpat Satra, Notun Samaguri Satra, Bengenaaati Satra, Bhogpur Satra, and many more.
Attend the Majuli Raas Utsav in the Autumn
A lot of eclectic performing arts were developed over centuries and are still practiced in the Satras. In order to experience them, you need to time your visit right. The best time to do so is to do it in the time of Raas Lila, an annual festival performed on the full moon day (Purnima) in the months of October-November (Kati- Aghon) when the weather gets pleasant after the harsh monsoons. As the name suggests, Raas Lila is the story of various events of the life of Lord Krishna presented in the performing art form. Read this post about Majuli Raas for more details.
Meet the Majuli Mask Artists at Notun Samaguri Satra
You will see the masks everywhere in Majuli and you can also catch performances wearing them at various satras. You will have to ask around for timing. However, if you want to see the mask-making process, you need to go to the Notun Samaguri Satra, which is the hub of mask-making art. You can talk to artists at work here and also buy masks as souvenirs.
Get a Slice of Medieval History at the Auniati Museum
Most major Satras have their share of medieval relics but the best collection is the Museum at Auniati Satra. There is an entry fee of INR 10 and photography is not allowed inside. Nevertheless, do pay a visit here as it has a lot of interesting artifacts. There are Ahom era guns, swords, dresses and much more to be seen here. This was one of the major Satras patronized by the Ahom rulers and this explains the existence of these items here. It maintained its prominence even after that and that is why some colonial-era items are visible too, such as a chess set made of ivory.
Explore Local Villages
Majuli is primarily a rural area with a couple of town-like spots. Most of the resorts and homestays are also located inside the villages. So, you do not even have to opt for any specific type of rural tourism, it will happen anyway. These are also the best places for exploring local culture, cuisine, and lifestyle. If you are into photography, these will be the best options.
I have already mentioned the delights of spotting birds all over the island. Considering the river that surrounds it and all the water bodies within, the birding potential has not been fully recognized here. Especially in the winter, a lot of migratory birds also land here. You can see them everywhere and the easiest spot is the bridge over Doriya river between Kamalabari and Garamur.
Walk Along the Riverbank
The white “sand” on the river bank is actually the silt carried by the rivers. While in the rainy season they mostly remain underwater, in the winters they become pleasant and you can enjoy a lazy picnic on the bank staring at the white and blue expanses and exploring the riverine life of Assam. It is a landlocked region and riverbanks are the closest thing to the seashore (Do not litter the banks though).
Explore Local Cuisines & More
Until recently finding a good restaurant was difficult in Majuli but now new eateries cropping up all over the island due to the increasing tourist influx. Over the course of the next few days, I realized that this is the trend all over the Island and even locals are now eating out more often than not. You can consider this to be the first sign of urbanization in Majuli. More eclectic travellers who are only interested in local cuisine should not get discouraged either as I spotted one Mising Kitchen right in the middle of Garmur and another one run by Enchanting Majuli just 15 minutes ahead. Many more ethnic restaurants seem to be coming up.
Shop for Local Handicrafts
I spotted one government-supported handicraft shop (On Kamalabari Garamur Road), one handloom workshop run by a local women’s cooperative (On the Kamalabari-Samagri Road), and another apparel store run by a family inside Chitadar Village (Just ahead of Garamur). Last time I only found Majuli Masks being sold at Samaguri Satra (Which is definitely recommended). Those masks are now in high demand while these new additions are encouraging signs for those who like to shop.
Meet The Forest Man
You must have heard of the forest man of India. He is the one who single-handedly built a forest. A great conservational success story, this spot called Molai Forest is not exactly in Majuli but in a nearby spot which is not far from Nimatighat, from where you catch the ferry to Majuli. So, if you have time, you can take a detour to this one too.
If you are planning a visit read this blog for complete information on Visiting Majuli.