Majuli Island is said to be the largest river island in the word. The population of this island is roughly 150,000. It is situated in the Brahmaputra River in the state of Assam near Jorhat. This island came to be so around 400 years ago. The main town is called Kamalabari. Over the years, as the Brahmaputra goes into a spate every year, the island too gets inundated in certain areas, which has reduced its land mass due to constant erosion. At this rate, there is a concern amongst the experts that this island could cease to exist in the next few decades! However, the floods are nothing new to the locals, because when this occurs they promptly create bamboo bridges which help them in crossing different parts of the island. The locals are known as Mishing, and there are many tribes living here. They are self-sufficient in almost every way possible. Stunning sceneries greet you as you make your way via the ferry. Filled with wildlife and thick vegetation; the raw beauty of this place truly captures your heart. The locals even find wild edible plants that are found here on this island. The islanders live a simple life. They use small wooden boats if they want to go fishing or want to reach the mainland. The ferry is used commonly. They make use of bicycles mainly if they want to go to different parts of the island. One can see small children using crude fishing rods to catch fish on the banks of the island. The locals live in thatched huts which are simple but have their own charisma.
A visit to the the many satras is a must. A satra refers to a socio-religious centre. Dakhinapat Satra is an enlightening experience. This centre will reveal to you the religious traditions of Assam which have been safeguarded for eons. Another satra is the Garmur Satra. This is where many weapons of olden days are displayed. The Rasleela is held here which would enthrall many visitors. The Uttar Kamlabari Satra is where the traditional Satriya dance is held. The Shamaguri Satra is known for its famous masks. The Majuli Festival is held here every year in the month of November which showcases the culture and cuisine of the islanders and Assam. There is a village where potters make clay pots without using the potters wheel; an art they have mastered brilliantly. They use their deft hands to make the pots into shapes. Many of these satras uphold the religious traditions of Vaishnavism and have maintained old manuscripts. Daily rituals and prayers are held every day. These are just some of the many satras in this island. The local food is delicious and simple. Meat, seafood and vegetable dishes are prepared. There are many places to eat and satiate your appetite.
Another very interesting thing about this island is a forest campaigner who has been honoured with the title of The Forest Man of Majuli Island. Jadev Payeng was born and brought up in Majauli. He realized the constant threat that the island faced because of the constant floods and erosions. In 1979, he walked over to the most barren part of the island and started planting trees and plants. There was no looking back after that. This man has single-handedly converted barren lands to thickly forested areas which span over 550 hectares. Experts from abroad say that this is larger than the Central Park in New York. Each and every plant grown there has been through the painstaking efforts of Jadevs determination to save the island. Today, this part of the island is filled with elephants, deer, rhinos and tigers. He ensures that the locals and mainlanders do not cut down the trees. His constant efforts have brought him recognition in India and the world, but he remains unaffected by it. His only wish is to ensure that many more trees are grown so that future generations of Mishing can live peacefully on the island. Jadev has even imparted his wisdom to many across the world. His knowledge of how to grow flora and look after them is exceptional. His story has inspired many across the world, some of whom have even made documentaries on his lifes work. He hopes that the government and other organizations across the world will pay heed and follow the advice he gives regarding the flora grown on this island. If you can squeeze in a chance to meet him, you will walk away inspired. Recently, it was discovered that high arsenic levels were found in the waters which the locals use for drinking purposes. It is sincerely hoped that the government makes an effort to raise the standard of living for the Mishing by taking care of the basic needs such as providing clean and hygienic water to them.