Majuli Island, India

Mājuli or Majoli is a large river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam, India.

Majuli has shrunk as the river surrounding it has grown. The island had a total area of 1,250 square kilometres (483 sq mi) some time ago but having lost significantly to erosion, it was an area of only 421.65 square kilometres (163 sq mi) in 2001.

The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north. Mājuli island is accessible by ferries from the City of Jorhat. The island is about 200 kilometres east from the state's largest city Guwahati. The island was formed due to course changes by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, mainly the Lohit.

Mājuli is the home of the Assamese neo-Vaisnavite culture. Krishna, the popular Hindu god is supposed to have played here with his friends. While this is speculative, the locals speak in the Assamese language. However, what is certain is Mājuli has been the cultural capital of Assamese civilisation since the 16th century.

Mājuli has a rich and diverse agricultural tradition, with as many as a hundred different varieties of rice grown, all grown without pesticides or artificial fertilisers. Among the fascinating arrays of rice produced are the Komal Saul, a unique type of rice that can be eaten just after immersing the grains in warm water for fifteen minutes, and usually eaten as a breakfast cereal; the bao dhan, that grows under water and is harvested after ten months and the Bora saul, a sticky brown rice used to make the traditional cake known as pitha. Fishing, dairying, pottery, handloom and boat-making are other important economic activities.

Mājuli has been the cultural capital and the cradle of Assamese civilization for the past five hundred years.

A wetland, Mājuli is a hotspot for flora and fauna, harbouring many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season. Among the birds seen here are: the Greater Adjutant Stork, Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Whistling Teal. After dark wild geese and ducks fly in flocks to distant destinations. The island is almost pollution free owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories and also the chronic rainfall.

The island is under threat due to the extensive soil erosion on its banks. The reason for this magnitude in erosion is the large embankments built in neighbouring towns upriver to prevent erosion there during the monsoon season when the river distends its banks.

General Information:

Population: 153,362 (2001)
Language: Assamese (with many dialects)
Currency: Indian Rupee

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