In this travel blog, I’ll be talking about the top things to do on Majuli Island — the largest river island in India. So if you’re looking for that information and the reason why you should visit this place in place, this blog is for you.
But before I discuss Majuli, I want to share a few blogs I have written about Bodoland in Assam. I happened to travel to Bodoland during my recent blog trip with Assam Tourism to attend their annual Dwijing Festival and totally loved it. From Bodo culture to food to villages to places like Manas National Park (popular for one-horned rhinos) Bodoland, in Assam, is my new favorite.
Now let’s discuss Majuli Island…
I remember back in the summer of 2015, I fell in love with things to do on Majuli Island — the largest river island in India. It is a 450 sq km of untouched land that appears to have been forgotten by today’s new-age influence and technology.
Here, people still pedal old-school bikes to work. Hand-manoeuvred boats are still preferred over motored ones. What is often termed the largest river island in India, Majuli Island, at least to me, revealed itself as a no man’s land where a simmering mat of yellow rice fields is still more in mass and number than there are men. So yea, there may not be many things to do in Majuli Island for an adventurer, but for an intrepid, there are enough.
More than two years later as I revisited this place in December 2017, to meet a friend and I figured that everything was still the same. If the rest of India was developing at a rate of 6, on a scale of 10, the largest river island in India, Majuli Island, was still somewhere in decimals below 1. Roads were still deprived of any concrete. A chai and a samosa still cost less than 10 Rupees. The only increase in any number that I noticed anywhere was of indigenous Mishing tribal people’s homes that were now lined adjacent to the road connecting Kamlabari Ferry point. So yea, I was certainly looking forward to things to do in Majuli Island during this visit.
Fact: As per Wikipedia, it is the largest river island in India. It became the first island to be made a district in India in 2016. It is also been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest river island.
A River Island In India
After backpacking in Nagaland for nearly three weeks, and visiting towns like Pfutsero, when the idea of finding refuge in a place where I can unwind myself and write about my recent travels, struck my mind, revisiting this place seemed like a perfect option — for I knew what it had to offer when it came to things to do in Majuli Island.
Its open rice fields and old-world charm let you seek inspiration within you. With more bicycles on the road than anything with a motor, this river island in India assures a tranquil experience.
So I booked a taxi from Nagaland, stepped onto the ferry and to the peaceful ground of the island.
You can read more about my first visit to this river island in India in a photoblog here: Majuli Island Photos.
If there was something different about this visit (than the previous one) it was that I knew where I was going to stay — Ygdrasill Bamboo Cottage. Run by a friend and a local philanthropist, Ygdrasill Bamboo Cottage, is an ideal place to stay on the island. I remember how the owner, Beda, helped me explore the top things to do on Majuli Island the last time.
I had three days to spare during this visit to the river island in India before I had a flight to catch for Chennai, and no part of me wanted to spend them anywhere else in Majuli than the Ygdrasill cottage.
I knew how mornings cannot be more surreal at any other place than this. I recalled as I made my way to Kerala Gaon (the place where Ygdrasill Cottage is located) how during my previous visit to this largest river island in India, Majuli Island, I would wake up to the sound of the birds as the first morning light would peek into my bamboo cottage.
Outside, and at a distance, a flock of the birds was regularly found sunbathing on the green pastures and chilling with the grazing cows — a kind of setting that would pull out the poet in you.
In the month of January, when fog dominated the expansive boundaries of this river island in India, there were even fewer things to do on Majuli Island other than relaxing. And with sunset at 5 in the evening, everything felt even more beautiful.
The best time to visit Majuli island is between November and March. This is when the temperature remains moderate, with the minimum temperature falling as low as 15 degrees Celsius, promising easy movement outdoors.
Things To Do On Majuli Island
If anything, this river island in India is a place to find stillness in life. It is a place meant to relax, laze around and be in harmony with nature.
Yet for first time visitors, here’re some top things to Do on Majuli Island:
While Majuli’s biggest charm is relaxing and unwinding, it also acts as a spiritual abode for many people. Majuli Island is a hub of neo-Vaishnavite culture, initiated around the 15th century by the revered Assamese saint Sankardeva and his disciple Madhavdeva.
With over 30 recognised Satras (or Hindu monasteries) Majuli Island represents a colourful ancient Assamese culture and helps its followers not only gain the first few lessons in Hinduism but also enhance their skillset and learn one or many arts.
Among the many Satras, a few prominent ones which should be on the list of travellers visiting this river island in India are Kamalabari Satra, Dakhinpat Satra, Auniati Satra, Samaguri Satra and Garamurh Satra.
Meet Mishing Tribe
Majuli Island is home to one of the biggest tribes in Northeast India.
According to what I was told, some people believe that Mishings primarily hailed from Cambodia hundreds of years ago, with a small minority of them settled in Arunachal Pradesh and the majority settled in and around Majuli Island.
According to some people, however, the Mishings belong to the great group of Tani people, which comprises 5 sister tribes namely, Adi, Galo, Nyishi, Tagin and Apatani. They all speak languages of the Sino-Tibetan family, hence the connection.
From what I’ve experienced, Mishing people are highly friendly and hospitable, and any chance of being invited to their house for some rice wine should not be missed during your trip.
Getting closer to the life of Mishing people is certainly one of the top things to do on Majuli Island.
Speaking of their house, imagine it as a big room standing on bamboo stilts with no walls or temporary partitions inside. At one corner you’ll have the kitchen, and at the other, a sleeping mattress (or a bed if the family can afford to). The entire family would eat and sleep together with no definition of personal privacy whatsoever. If someone has a bigger piece of land or a massive house, it’s only going to be a larger room from the inside, with still no partitions. Indeed, you can find some interesting forms of architecture on this river island in India.
Ride A Bicycle
Because a majority of people still ride a bicycle to work, renting a bicycle and feeling like a local is certainly one of the top things to do in Majuli Island.
Just rent an old school bike for 100 Rupees a day (sometimes even 50) and you will come across beauty unparalleled — with sometimes gilded rice paddies and rolling meadows keeping you entertained, and sometimes a rickety river bridge, as a tributary of the Brahmaputra.
Enjoy Local Life
Everyday life in Majuli Island takes you back in time — with everything around having its own slow and careful pace. And that’s one of the top things to do on this river island in India.
A fisherman taking his boats out at sunset for the day’s last catch. A group of cyclists harmoniously pedalling together home. Wide-open grasslands with a shepherd tending his cows and goats together. A paddy field worker seemingly carrying a stash of liquid gold. All these may appear like different life stories, but if put together, they all speak of the time of yesteryears.
So yea, among other things, watching local life is one of the things to do in Majuli Island.
In Majuli, everything conspires to restore your faith in the beauty of the world.
I hope you find this travel blog useful. If you’ve more ideas on things to do in Majuli Island or any recent news on this river island in India, please share them in the comments below.