Sunday, 8 January 2012

Majuli Island

Majuli is the biggest freshwater river island in the world, covering a total area of 650 sq. km. It is a subdivision of the Jorhat district of Assam and has a population of about 1.6 lakh. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra River in the south and by the Subansiri and Kherkutia Xuti Rivers in the north. Majuli is the home of the Neo-Vaishnavite culture of the state and has often been called the cultural capital of Assam. Earlier, the island was called Majoli (land between two parallel rivers), as it lay between Brahmaputra in the north and Burhidihing River in the south. However, due to frequent earthquakes in the area, the present configuration of the state evolved and the name changed.

The island of Majuli is the main center of Vaishnavism in Assam. This culture was propagated by Srimanta Sankardeva, a great social reformer of the 16th century who is credited with starting the Neo-Vaishnavite movement started in Assam. He also constructed a number of monasteries for the purpose, which later became famous as Satras. There were around 65 satras in Majuli at the time of construction, but only twenty-two out of them have survived. The island is also famous for its rare bio-diversity and has a matchless collection of flora and fauna. Thousands of rare migratory birds, like the Pelican, Siberian Crane and Greater Adjutant, come here every winter.

Apart from the satras founded by Sankardeva and natural beauty, Majuli Island is also famous for its unique handmade products, like masks and pottery. Weaving is also a specialty of the place and intricate fabrics are made here, using a variety of exquisite patterns and colors. There are a number of islands within Majuli and the shape of the landmass keeps changing every summer. In the evenings, flocks of ducks and geese fly to far off destinations, presenting an exclusive sight to the onlookers. It is this incomparable natural beauty and the pristine innocence of the native people living there that makes Majuli an ultimate travel destination for tourists and nature lovers............

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