North East Diary | Day 17 | Kaziranga to Majuli – the River Island
Neil had asked us to be ready by 7 am, so that we can have breakfast and leave for Majuli by 8 am. We came to know later that he had not done his planning correctly. But I am going to tell you that story later on.
We reach Jorahat by 11 am, and take a left turn towards Majuli. The road from NH37 to the ferry point took us nearly one hour. The distance is not much, but there was no road at all. It was driving in some cross country race. And to make the matters worse, the mud road was on a bund. Actually this bund is constructed to prevent the flooding water of Brahmaputra entering the villages. And the road is too narrow.
So we reach the ferry point, Neamati Ghat (Jetty) at 12 noon. And we see hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people there. So initially we were really worried about our onward journey. But then we learnt that today being the New Year day, these people have come to enjoy and celebrate. We also learnt that there are only two ferry services – one in the morning at 8.15 am and the other at 2.45 pm. So we wait till 2.45 pm.
In this mean time I observe lots of shops and shacks. Everyone is selling the packaged items at MRP only. This is big news for me, because I have seen throughout India, in tourist places, the shopkeepers loot the tourists by charging more than the MRP. They are really honest people, I thought. I also observe some workers manufacturing concrete columns. These columns will be used as pillars in building construction. As there is a constant threat of flooding; people construct the houses on raised platform. So the ground floor of all the houses is left vacant. Above that, people build houses using bamboo sticks etc.
Then at 2.30 pm the ferry arrives and we learn that, because our Tempo Traveller is a 16-seater, its length does not permit it to be loaded on the ferry. So we leave the Tempo Traveller there and board the ferry along with our luggage. It takes around 40 minutes to reach our destination, Aphalamukh Ghat. There are few more ghats, namely, Kamalabari, Dakshinapath, Lakhimpur Ghat etc. As the island is too long, there are many ghats at several places.
Here the crossing distance of the river is around 5 – 6 km. The Majuli Island is at 200 feet above mean sea level. And it has to travel nearly 1000 km before it joins the sea. So it is around 9 to 10 km wide in these plains!
We reach the Majuli Island around 3.30 pm, and two Tata Sumos were waiting for us. And we move on to Do:nyi Po:Lo Okum (House of the Sun and the Moon, in French) lodge. This is a bamboo hut, built by French architects Jim Chouvin and Maka Korbaa in Assam’s local “Missing Tribe” style. (Contact: 09435205539, 09707082243; firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is a decent lodge and I would love to stay in such places. (In fact, this hut’s rent is around Rs 600/day, where as a much inferior hut at Mawlynnong was charged at around Rs 3000/day).
We took lunch cum dinner on the way. After freshening up here, we go to Namghar Satra in the night. There “Bhavana 2012”, a cultural fest is being held from today till 15th Jan. We watch a local play on mythological “Bhakta Prahlada”. The play is similar to Coastal Karnataka’s “Yakshagana”. Even though it is in local Assamees language, we could follow the entire story, as we already know about it.
We return to the lodge and go to bed around 11 pm.