Possibly the most beautiful place I’ve travelled to in India, Majuli is the largest river island in the Brahmaputra River, and in the world. Accessible via Jorhat in Assam by a public ferry, it has an almost surreal, magical old world charm; we intended to stay here two days, but ended up staying six, and can’t wait to go back. Why? See for yourself.
1. CYCLING ON MAJULI ISLAND
along rolling meadows, often interspersed with rice paddies and glimpses of the river.
2. FINDING VILLAGES IN ASSAM
that once lived remotely across a tributary of the Brahmaputra River. Now that the river bed has completely dried up, they have access to the relatively more developed mainland of Majuli Island. They still run on solar power though, with mainstream electricity only a distant promise by the government.
3. BIRDWATCHING BY THE BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER
where flocks of birds live by the river, sunbathe on the green pastures, and chill with the grazing cows and goats.
4. GETTING LOST IN THE WILDERNESS
of Majuli, to arrive at wide open grasslands where a shepherd is tending his cows or goats; a scene from the stories of yesteryears.
5. SPOTTING MORE CATTLE THAN PEOPLE
on the rolling meadows of Majuli Island, and forgetting that civilization can exist in a form less beautiful than this.
6. MEETING FRIENDLY ISLAND BOYS
who would swap life stories with us, promise to show us the even more beautiful parts of the island, teach us conversational Assamese, and invite us to meet their family over tea.
7. WITNESSING THE CONSPIRACY OF NATURE
to create moments like these when all nature – the birds, the cattle, the rice paddies – conspires to restore our faith in the beauty of our world.
8. MEETING TRIBES FROM NEARBY VILLAGES
keen to have their picture taken, and delighted to see it on the camera screen, reminding you of life’s little joys created by technology!
9. DISCOVERING INGENIUS INNOVATIONS
like this, with two fishing boats joined together by wooden planks, to ferry people, bicycles, motorbikes, cargo and everything else, from Majuli on one side of the river to Lakhimpura village on the other. No time wasted rowing this heavy carriage, it is drawn by pulling on the rope that connects the two ends of the river!
10. CYCLING ACROSS RICKETY RIVER BRIDGES
on tributaries of the Brahmaputra River, surrounded by serenity on all sides.
11. WITNESSING GORGEOUS ISLAND SUNSETS
in Majuli, at a point where the river bed has dried up to create the impression of a beach, and fishermen take their boats out at sunset for the day’s last catch.
12. CRUISING ALONG THE BRAHMAPUTRA
on the public ferry, spotting fishing boats stop along deserted islands that could very well qualify among the world’s best-kept secrets, with not even a hint of civilization. Unfortunately, erosion is highly prevalent in the region, and many of these islands will cease to exist with time, unless urgent anti-erosion measures are put into place.