2nd March 2016, Wednesday…Day (12) Majuli, 45 km
Me: Po Okum, meaning Happy Home in local language, is an eco camp located at Chitadarchuck village in Majuli. The place is run by a mishing gentleman, Mr Haren Narah.
Build with thatch and wood, the camp has ten traditional bamboo cottages. All the cottages are built on raised platforms as the whole of Majuli gets flooded during the monsoon.
After well deserved sound sleep in the night, the first inside a room (a cottage, in fact), after having slept inside the car for ten previous nights during the trip, got up to an amazing morning in Majuli. Every thing around looked so wonderful.
White birds flying in the azure blue sky, aroma of light breeze filled with the scent of million flowers, vibrant colors and the green hue spread all around, it was such a joyous morning in Majuli.
Das, the man from Kolkata, brought a hot cup of tea. Sipping tea, while seated on a bamboo chair outside the cottage with amazing scenes all around was a moment to savour.
Thus energised with hot cup of tea, I went walking around the camp. Tucked away in quaint location and surrounded by mustard fields, the camp gave a feel of a small mishing village. In the golden sunlight and purple flowery foreground, the bamboo cottages looked so beautiful.
The eco camp was in total harmony with the surroundings. Effort has been made to use maximum natural material in building and upkeep of the camp.
Apart from regular cottages, there was a large cottage as well and like most Majuli homes, these were made from bamboo and placed on concrete pillars at a height of about two feet from the ground in order to prevent water from seeping in during the monsoon floods.
And then there was a large dining cum reception room, kitchen being on the back side of the camp, a nice place to hang around.
Another view of beautiful dinning cum hang out place at the eco camp.
A peek from the dining area, the thatched bamboo cottages looked like mising homes. I slept inside the middle one. Since the cottages are built on raised platforms, one has to climb a small stair to reach the room. The cottages are equipped with traditional beds, western style toilets, running cold water, a single light bulb, bamboo chairs and a mosquito net.
Mr Haren, who lives in the neighbourhood, arrived at the camp with a cute young girl. She is one of the two daughters of Mr Hiren. Mr Das is seen in the background in the picture. They really took good care of me.
Had a nice talk with Mr Haren. He advised me to have a walk along the river in the back side of the camp. A kutcha path lead to the river and it did not take much time when I saw the beautiful river and a host of colorful birds.
There was a bamboo bridge connecting the other bank of the river and people were seen using it for crossing the river on foot, bicycles and scooters. Since it was early morning a father is seen scootering to drop her daughter to the school.
A number of people and activity on the other side of the river meant there was a well populated village on that side. A boat was tied to a pole on the bridge as well.
The bridge was wide enough and since I had driven on many such bamboo bridges the previous night, it felt that the bridge was good enough for a light four wheeler as well.
Majuli is the largest riverine island and the first island district of the country. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra River in the south and the Kharkutta Xuti joined by Subansiri River in the north.
The island is accessible by ferries from the city of Jorhat and lesser known ferry from Baghora ghat on Bihpuria side. It is also accessible by road through North Lakhimpur.
The islanders use small wooden boats for fishing or to reach the mainland. They also use makeshift rafts, made by joining wooden planks together to fish as well as to ferry people, bicycles, cargo and more from Majuli on one side of the river to main land.
Majuli is a bird watcher’s paradise. In winters more than thirty thousand birds assemble here. Such assemblage is not very common in other parts of Brahmaputra Valley. In the picture, beautiful brahminy ducks are seen swimming in the blue waters of the river.
Fishing has been the traditional occupation of the people of the island. It plays a significant role in maintaining the natural cycle and sustaining the ecological balance. It is mainly practiced by Mishings and Deoris by employing various types of techniques.
While walking along the river I saw a number of fishing nets placed in the blue waters of the river. Since fishing is the staple diet of the people of the island, fishing nets are a common sight in the area.
Meanwhile the colorful birds were swimming merrily in the blue waters of the river.
And then it was time to have Selfie with the beautiful river, fishing net and colorful surrounding in the background.
Beautiful blue river, fishing net and the typical Majuli landscape, the colorful sight was a delight to the eyes.
An agile dog from the campsite accompanied me throughout the walk. When I got little tired and sat on the grass on the banks of the river, the dog jumped into the water and swam merrily.
While I was having a great time walking along the river and in beautiful surroundings, a soul had departed and was being cremated on the banks of the river.
The sight of white birds and blue river continued to amaze though.
and the surroundings were so colorful as well.
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. Owing to the lack of polluting industries and factories, the island is almost pollution free.
And now it was time for the dog to rest.
Nestled between the mighty Brahmaputra River’s ever-shifting sandbanks, Majuli is a beautiful island. Despite being ravaged by nature, it flaunts a vibrant culture and unparalleled scenic beauty.
Besides agriculture with paddy being the chief crop, fishing is among the main occupation of the people of the island. Dairy farming, pottery, handlooms and boat-making are other important economic activities.
The dwellers of Mājuli are mostly of the Mising tribes from Arunachal Pradesh who immigrated here centuries ago. Apart from them, the inhabitants are from the Deori and Sonowal Kacharis tribes. Languages spoken are Mishing, Assamese and Deori. The island has around 150 villages with a population of over 150,000 .
The island is under threat due to the extensive soil erosion on its banks. According to reports, in 1853, the total area of Mājuli was 1,150 square kilometer and about 33% of this landmass has been eroded in the latter half of 20th century. Since 1991, over 35 villages have been washed away. Surveys show that in another 15–20 years from now, Mājuli would cease to exist.
Local environmental activist Jadav Payeng, nicknamed the forest man, has planted a 550 hectare forest, known as Molai Forest to combat erosion on the island. The forest has become habitat for animals including elephants, tigers, deer, and vultures.
After having great time walking along the river and savoring the beautiful sights, I returned back to the camp. It was almost afternoon when I returned back. Took some rest, washed the car, washed the clothes, took bath and then drove to Kamlabari, the main town of Majuli.
The square in the picture is Kamlabari. The straight road in the picture leads to Garmur, the left to the place from where I had arrived on the island, the road in the backside lead to Kamlabari port, from where regular ferries connect it to Nimati Jetty on the mainland. The road to the right was unexplored, so I decided to drive on that road.
After exploring Kamlabari market on foot and then driving for few kilometers on the road to the right, I reached a large grassland filled with thousands purple moorhens and grazing cows. It was such an amazing sight.
While greater adjutant stork looked melancholy in its movement, the little stork bitten hopped cheerfully in the grassland.
After having nice time in Kamlabari and the grassland, I drove back to the camp. Haren bhai told me about a nice spot for viewing Sunset and Sunrise few kilometers drive behind the camp. I have heard that Sunsets at Majuli are pink and ethereal.
The road to the sunset point was an unpaved dirt trek all along the same river I had walked along in the morning. This time, Instead of turning to the right, I turn left as the sunset point was on the other side. Soon I reached the spot, which was very close to the river.
Sunset was little hazy that evening though and not the one I had expected.
There was a village across the river on the other side and I saw a boat ferrying people regularly to and fro. I parked the car on the shore and boarded the boat ferried by a very jolly boatman.
Two young girls joined the ride, who were very happy to be photographed.
Had a nice walk along the road and into the nearby village and since it was getting dark and fearing the boat might stop ferrying, I hastily returned back to the shore where Lalpari was parked. The boatman told me that he was about to call it a day and just waited for me.
Back in the camp, the evening came alive with the arrival of few more guests. Ms Daisy, the young manager at the camp, had ordered wonderful dinner, comprising smoked fish, fish curry, local rice, dal and mix veg for me.
Had fabulous time that evening, chatting with Haren bhai and other guests. A few drinks with sumptuous meals in the wonderful countryside environs is still lingering in my mind as I write these lines.
Since the cottage allotted to me the previous night was reserved for the new guests, I moved to the other, a bigger one. Despite wrapping mosquito net all over the bed, a few smart ones still sneak in and besides humming irritating music in the ears, were hard to find and seldom allowed a peaceful sleep.
So here I was sleeping inside the cottage, the 2nd night in Majuli, fighting with blood suckers throughout night….!!!