3rd March 2016, Thursday…Day (13) Majuli, 105 km
Haren bhai, the man who runs this wonderful eco camp Me:Po Okum (Happy Home) in Majuli offered to accompany me to a bird watching and visiting a Mishing home in the morning. He arrived very early, a cup of tea later we were off to the mishing home.
with Mr Haren Narah, the man who runs the eco camp (in the picture above). Ms Daisy, the cheerful manager at the camp (in the picture below).
On the way we saw a mishing woman being lead to the other shore by a swimming dog.
A biker was riding fast on the unpaved trek along the river in order to drop his daughter to the school.
Fishing net put up in the river, a very common sight in Majuli.
A farmer ploughing the field with bullock cart, a women is seen helping.
We drove for about 3-4 kilometers on an unpaved village road until the road ended near a mishing home tucked in a forest. We parked the Lalpari near the home and walked through a beautiful flower decked path to reach yet another beautiful part of the blue Majuli river.
There were large number of migratory birds flying all over the place. Wild geese were flying in flocks over the river.
A herd of big horned Buffaloes were seen crossing the river in large numbers.
Large groups of asian openbill storks were perched high up on the tops of many trees along the river.
The path leading to the river bank was so colorful that it is hard to describe.
After having nice walk through the fields and watching hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, we returned back to the mishing home. The lady of the home was a distant cousin of Haren bhai. She very kindly invited us to her kitchen perched up on the bamboo machan and offered us tea.
Her young granddaughter kept watching us with lot of curiosity and felt good when photographed.
After having nice time at the mishing home and the walk around the river, we returned back to the camp driving on the beautiful unpaved kutcha road.
Although I had great time at the camp and Haren bhai did not charge me for lodging for two days at the camp and even offered to stay further still true to my habit, I decided to take leave and explore Majuli on my own, staying inside the car as I had done earlier. Haren bhai asked me to return back to the camp if I felt any difficulty.
So after paying the food bill for two days, I left Happy Home eco camp with a heavy heart and drove towards Jengraimukh without any specific destination in mind. The road was narrow, just okay but very scenic and beautiful. I crossed many small bamboo homes on the way. Going by the many boards on the way, It felt that there was a road route to the island as well. Later I came to know that there is a road route to Majuli though a bit longer via Gogamukh-Ananda Bagan-North Lakhimpur.
The beautiful colorful road to Jengraimukh passes through many rivers, water bodies with fishing nets and large group of cows grazing on the vast grasslands.
The town of Jengraimukh looked very busy. It was schools closing time and lot of young boys, girls and teachers were seen hurrying back to their homes.
Water bodies and fishing nets a very common sight all through Majuli.
Their was a kind of small fair cum marketplace near the road and many traditionally dressed women were seen buying and snacking.
Children on their way back home to a nearby village.
There was a beautiful beel near the road. After driving along the road, I reached close to the beel. A large number of water birds were having nice time flying, swimming and hunting.
Another beautiful water body in Majuli.
A small river with overgrowth of water hyacinth. Two fishermen are seen boating in the river.
Instead of the main road I decided to drive through the internal lane to Samaguri Satra. With lots of greenery around, Majuli homes looked in sync with the natural surroundings and almost every second home had women weaving handlooms. Next to agriculture and fishing, weaving is a very popular activity with tribes such as Mishing, Deori and Sonowal Kacharis in Majuli.
Beautiful inner lanes of Majuli.
The island has been the hub of Assamese neo-vaishnavite culture from the 15th century. Many satras or monasteries were constructed by the saints representing the colourful assamese culture. Sixty five satras were set up during the course of time but out of which only twenty-two are operational today.
Mask-making is one of the oldest traditional arts in Majuli, which is mainly practiced in Chimoguri and Samaguri Satras, but the artists of other Satras have continued this tradition too. Shri Kushabanta Dev Goswami is one such artist, who has pursued this art. He has been bestowed with the Sangeet Natak Academy for his art.
I drove to Samaguri Satra and met Shri Goswami and his family at his home. They showed me various masks and also a workshop where the art is taught to new disciples.
Since Dakhinpat Satra was closer on the same route from Samaguri Satra, I drove through the Majuli wilderness to visit the satra.
Dakhinpat Satra is a treasure house of various assamese dance forms and is also a storehouse of antiques of cultural importance and an advanced centre for the performing arts.
While I was walking through the large premises of Dakhinpat Satra, I saw a solo European lady walking the Satra as well. It was good to know that I was not the only outsider roaming through Majuli. She was accompanied by a local guide.
Lalpari posing at the gates of Dakhinpat Satra.
Dakhinpat Satra was very close to the river bank. Evening was setting in, so I decided to drive a little further hoping to see Sunset over the mighty Brahmaputra. The road was an uneven potholed dirt trek. While the mighty Brahmaputra was on my left, on the right were large marshlands full of submerged wild buffaloes and migratory birds.
Soon I reached near the embankment built to prevent flooding. I parked the Lalpari on a side and walked over the embankment hoping to see Sun setting over the vast sea like Brahmaputra. Due to haze, there was no sunset that evening, as it could not emerge from the haze. Still had a nice gazing at the vastness of the river and horizon.
Drove back to Kamlabari and had a nice evening. Since I was on my own that evening, with no accommodation and plan to sleep inside the car, I kept walking and driving in all directions of Kamlabari. Finally, finalised a suitable place near a petrol station on the Jengraimukh road for the night.
There were a number of shabby looking eating places in the Kamlabari market but not even one to my liking. While roaming in the market, I noticed a Bihari rehri wala frying boiled eggs in besan with chutney being assisted by his wife. I tried one and liked it instantly. I asked for one more and liked it too. A little stroll later, I asked for yet another one and liked it again. The last and 4th one that evening was all I had in dinner which cost me just Rs.20-.
By that time, the market was almost empty. Most of the shops were closed and people had gone indoors. I drove my car to the place I had already chosen, near the UBI ATM, near the Petrol Station.
Parked the car and took a little stroll, a cool breeze began blowing. Walked to the car, slipped inside, pulled the covers over, locked the car from inside.
It was my first night sleeping inside the car at the largest riverine island in the World, Majuli, yet another dream come true…….!!!