The State of Meghalaya (meaning abode of Clouds) is a jewel in the crown of the Seven Sister States of North East India. With beautiful landscapes, hundreds of waterfalls and welcoming people, the capital of this State Shillong, has no wonder derived the name as being the ‘Scotland of the East’. Shillong is a city where you get to see a blend of the Modern and the Cultural World and music being the soul of the Khasi Tribal people of Shillong the city has also added to its kitty the title of being called ‘India’s Rock Capital’!
Just about 90 kms from Shillong city is Cherrapunji – ‘the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth’ where the clouds cease to clear the sky and drops of rains continue to fall on your windshield in the majestic three (3) hour drive from Shillong to Cherrapunji. The picturesque landscape on your way will surely make you fall in love with this drive across the misty hills and you will surely make your mind to visit Cherrapunji again!
Cherrapunji is located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya and is home to five of the most famous waterfalls of the State that has now turned into favorite tourist destinations. One noteworthy among these list of five is the Nohkalikai Falls, which is also India’s tallest plunge Waterfall standing tall at a height of 1115 feet (340 meters). As per the Khasi folklore an interesting story exists behind this waterfall’s name.
The name ‘Nohkailikai’ in the local Khasi Tribal language means the ‘Jump of Ka Likai’. This is linked to a legend about a local women Likai who jumped off the cliff next to the falls; According to legends, in a village called Rangjyrteh, upstream from Nohkalikai Falls, a woman named Likai resided but had to remarry after her husband died. Ka Likai (Ka is the prefix given for the female gender in Khasi) was left with her infant girl with no means of income. So she had to become a porter herself. Her work required her to leave her daughter unattended for long intervals but when she would be at home she would spend most of her time taking care of her infant. Ka Likai, who married a second time, couldn’t pay attention to her second husband. The jealous husband killed the infant and cooked her meat after throwing away her head and bones. When Ka Likai returned home, she saw nobody in the house but except for a meal that had been prepared. She wanted to go look for her daughter but she ate the meat as she was tired from work.
Ka Likai usually had a betel leaf after her meals but she found a severed finger near the place where she usually cut betel nuts and betel leaves. Ka Likai realized what had happened in her absence and went mad with anger and grief and started running as she swung a hatchet in her hand. She ran off the edge of the plateau and the waterfall where she jumped from was named Nohkalikai Falls after her.
Jungleideas welcomes you to India’s North East to witness the history and be a part of the folklore of the Story of the Majestic Nohkalikai Falls – India’s Tallest Plunge Waterfall, Cherrapunji, the State of Meghalaya, Incredible India!
Itinerary for your visit to Nohkalikai Falls, Cherrapunji, Shillong and Kaziranga National Park
Day 1: Guwahati
Arrive at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Guwahati and upon your arrival you will be received by our representative offering you a warm welcome in traditional Assamese style. From the airport we board our Innovas and drive to the Maa Kamakhya temple at the Nilachal Hills in Guwahati. Among the 51 Shakti Peethas in India, Kamakhya temple is the most revered temple shrine in North East India and was earlier known and revered for the Tantric practices and the Shakti cult here. At the Kamakhya temple we will be welcomed by a temple priest (Panda) who will guide us across the temple shrine and we will learn about the various mysteries surrounding the temple and why the Kamakhya temple is referred to as the temple of the Bleeding Goddess and its stature of celebrating womanhood and the ability of a mother to give birth to a new life. Our Darshan will start by cleansing of our hands and feet at the temple pond and later by taking an entry ticket to visit the Inner Sanctum of the Maa Kamakhya temple.
Every year in the month of June the temple hosts the Ambubachi Mela that is a grand congregation of devotes and holy sadhus from across India and abroad who come to the Kamakhya temple shrine to celebrate the spirit of womanhood as it is believed that the Goddess menstruates during this time for a period of three days and the temple doors are closed for worship and it is opened on the fourth day and all the devotees go inside to offer their Darshan and seek the blessings of Goddess Kamakhya. At the inner sanctum we will seek our blessings and touch the holy water and sprinkle it on our heads and complete our Darshan at the Kamakhya temple.
Later we check into our hotel at Guwahati at the Pan bazar area and later we travel to visit the Assam State museum at the Ambari area in Guwahati. A very detailed museum, the Assam State museum relives the history of Assam and has various sections depicting the life of the indigenous people of Assam and their customs and traditions and their various gifts of weaving out exquisite handicrafts and handlooms with hands. A section of statues dating back several hundred years all excavated from the region around Kamrupa and various parts of Assam are also to be seen at the museum along with a section dedicated to the relics of the Burma Campaign of World War II that was fought across Upper Assam between the Allied Forces and the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. Another section details the various relics of the Aryan and Dravidian era of India and relics are displayed here with the final section dedicated to the Ahom dynasty and the robes of the Kings and Queens of Assam.
We wind up our visit here and take time walking across the heart of the city and we visit the Emporiums of Handicrafts and Handlooms of Assam and pick up memorabilia of you visit to Assam here. We later take a stroll across the Dighalipukhuri lake that is a prime tourist attraction and you can enjoy a boat ride on this lake that is a symbol of old Guwahati. We wind up our day and later return tot eh Hotel.
Night Halt: Hotel Mayflower or Similar
Meals Included: NA
Day 2: Guwahati – Cherrapunji
We begin our day early and we ensure to beat the traffic at Shillong city to travel to Cherrapunji so we leaves early at 6.30 AM to Cherrapunji and we have our breakfast at Nongpoh at the Excellencia Dhaba that is a very nice and hygienic restaurant in the area. After our breakfast we drive to the Barapani area near Shillong and witness the beauty of the Umiam Lake here at Barapani. In the interest of time we will not halt here but will do so on our way back to Kaziranga National Park and we reach Shillong city at the Bara bazar area and continue to drive to Upper Shillong.
At Upper Shillong we make our first sightseeing stop at the Elephant Falls in Shillong. A three tiered waterfall of pristine beauty, the Elephant Falls is one of the prime tourist attractions in Shillong and sees hundreds of visitors every day in the tourist season. It was named as the Elephant Falls by the British because of the presence of the huge rock here that was in the shape of an Elephant’s head and hence the name Elephant Falls. The rock was however destroyed in the great earthquake of 1897. There is a well-defined pathway at the Elephant Falls in Shillong that directs the tourists from the first fall on the top guiding them downstairs where there are two other layers of the waterfall with the third layer being the grandest among them all. Once you reach the bottom of the stairway you can catch a glimpse of the waterfall from the front view and there are other rock formations here down as well. We admire the beauty of the Elephant Falls and later walk back to top and there are shops here where visitors can dress in traditional Khasi attires and jewellery and get their pictures clicked wearing them. In case you are interested you can try the clothes here or else we head back on our drive to Cherrapunji.
We cross the beautiful landscapes of Meghalaya and next up we make a stop at the Mawkdok viewpoint before reaching Cherrapunji that offers some of the very pristine valley view’s here in Meghalaya. You can have a tea break here as there are vendors setting up small stalls along the highway serving tea and snacks and one thing to look out for are the roasted whole maize corns that they roast over charcoal fire. After our stop here we continue on our drive to Cherrapunji and we reach Cherrapunji by early afternoon and we start by exploring the Arwah Caves in Cherrapunji that is a very majestic prehistoric cave that offers a unique caving experience to tourists here at Cherrapunji. We have to drive to the parking spot at the Arwah Caves that is located atop a hill and from there we need to walk for about 500 m to reach the cave entrance. We begin our exploration of the Arwah Caves in Cherrapunji and this is a wide cave so you can move easily and even a small stream flows inside the cave as well. The cave is well lit with lights and so once can navigate easily and spot the various stalactites and stalagmites and the numerous fossils inside the caves as well.
After exploring the Arwah Caves we go to have our lunch at the Orange Roots restaurant at Cherrapunji that serves hot and delicious vegetarian food and especially South Indian delicacies of Idli Vadas and Masala Dosas and a nice thali meal as well. After lunch we head to visit the Nohkalikai Falls at Cherrapunji – the tallest plunge waterfall in India. We drive across the verdant landscapes of Cherrapunji and the view of the drive reminds you of the picturesque views of Scotland and we arrive at eh Nohkalikai falls in Cherrapunji. The sounds of the water gushing down from an elevation of 340 m is a sheer treat to the ears and the view of the waterfall is a treat to the eyes along with the cloud cover that hovers across the Nohkalikai Falls. We admire the vast natural beauty around the Nohkalikai Falls and we take a stroll across the place where numerous vendors setup stalls and they sell produce like cinnamon sticks and turmeric all sources from the nearby forests and villages around Cherrapunji. There are also homemade pickles that are very spicy and delicious as well. The fresh fruits sold at the parking lot of the Nohkalikai Falls are some of the sweetest and the one fruit to try out is the pineapple that is one of the sweetest you will taste.
With this we wind up our visit at the Nohkalikai Falls and head to visit the next two sightseeing destinations of the day at the Mawsmai Cave and the Seven Sister falls. A short drive from the Nohkalikai falls will take us to the Mawsmai Caves that is another popular tourist destination in Cherrapunji area and sees hundreds of visitors every day during the tourist season. Another of the prehistoric caves in the area, the Mawsmai cave at Cherrapunji is only open for a small area for viewing to tourists unlike the Arwah caves but still it is a unique experience to view the various rock formations inside the caves along with the fossils and the stalactites and stalagmites. A short walk across the Mawsmai caves and we will understand the features of this cave and later we visit the Seven Sister falls at Cherrapunji. Said to the fourth tallest waterfall in India, the Seven Sister Falls is a group of seven waterfalls that slide down from a height of 332 m and is a real treat to the eyes especially during the monsoon season of Meghalaya. From the viewpoint here if there is no cloud cover one can view the plains of Bangladesh from here as well and the valley view is simply breathtaking.
We admire the wonder of the Seven Sister Falls and call it a day and we head to check into our place of stay at the Sohra Plaza homestay in Cherrapunji. A nice and cosy place to stay, the Sohra Plaza Homestay is located alongside the roads near the Orange Root Restaurant and is an isolated property that makes your stay more pleasurable.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 3: Cherrapunji – Nongriat – Cherrapunji
Today is our day of trekking to the Nongriat village from Tyrna to sight the grand Nongriat Umshiang Double Decker Living Root Bridge that is a unique sight to behold. We will start after an early breakfast to drive to the Tyrna village near Cherrapunji and it is a very picturesque drive across the tropical forest of Meghalaya. Along the drive you will get to view another beautiful waterfall in Cherrapunji as well and we drive crossing the Cherrapunji market area and an abandoned cement factory area to reach the Tyrna village. At the Tyrna village we will meet our local guide who will welcome us and we begin our hike to the Nongriat village from Tyrna village.
The trek to Nongriat from Tyrna is across a well-defined stairway and an adventurous one as well because there are 3500 stairs to the village downhill and the real challenge is when you need to climb back the steep stairway to Tyrna from Nongriat. Once the stairway ends there is a small village under the Tyrna Elaka and there are a set of two Single Decker Living Root Bridges here and the straight road leads you further across the virgin forests of Meghalaya to go cross a hanging bridge, a suspension bridge and a sacred grove to finally arrive at Nongriat village to the site of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge of Meghalaya. We start on our trek and what enthrals is the beauty of nature all around along with the continuous chirping of birds and insects across the dense forests. At the start of the trek there is a beautiful village of Tyrna and what surprises visitors in the cleanliness all around the place. We continue on the downhill hike and the beautiful forest cover greets us with a waterfall view as well. Once we reach the bottom of the stairway we take a short break and have some refreshments at the local stalls here and continue further towards Nongriat Village.
The hard working villagers who haul huge loads on their back from across the town of Cherrapunji to Nongriat and vice versa can be seen and it is said that they undertake this tiring trek twice a day to ferry goods and they do it with a smile on their faces. We cross the set of the hanging bridge and the suspension bridge to finally arrive at the Nongriat Village. At Nongriat we feel like the entire World is here because you get to see visitors from all across the World who come to Nongriat village and they stay here for a few days at the various affordable homestays and they spend their time close to nature admiring the beauty of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and the Rainbow falls and Mawshaw bridge that are located further ahead. We will purchase our entry tickets to the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and the bio engineering marvel will welcome us and visitors here are left spell bound with the beauty of the bridge. The huge roots of the rubber tree spans across the stream and it is a unique sight to behold. The waters of the stream are clear and once can take a swim in the waters here as well as a natural fish spa by just sitting on the waters and the small fish come and bite of the skin from your toes.
We admire the natural beauty of around the site of the Double Decker Living Root Bridge and later we go to have refreshments at a small stall nearby that serves some hot maggi noodles, omelettes and tea. The lady at this stall has been serving guests since many years and she cooks food over wood fire that imparts a unique taste to all here dishes and we savour a bowl of maggi noodles and tea here and later we start on our hike back to Tyrna village from Nongriat. The first half of the trek is easy as it is mostly a downward trek and hike across a flat surface up to the small village where we take a break and later start back on our hike across the fleet of 3500 stairs that take us to Tyrna village and further to Cherrapunji. We will take adequate breaks and we finally climb back to top by early afternoon. We board our vehicles and travel back to Cherrapunji market area where we break for lunch and later explore the traditional market area of Cherrapunji that is filled with various organic produce and that the trader’s source from the local villages and the bright colours of the fruits and vegetables are indeed a real treat to the eyes.
Later we travel back to the Wei Sadong and the Dainthlen falls that are located behind the area of the homestay and both of these are very beautiful waterfalls of Cherrapunji. At the Wei Sadong falls we get to walk down to the bottom of the falls and the front view of the waters falling from the top of the falls in a treat to the eyes. The Dainthlen fall is considered a very old waterfall in the history of Cherrapunji and the locals associate this falls with a unique story of a knight slaying a demon with a snake head and the place is very picturesque with various movies and video songs shot here. After this we wind up our visit for the day and head back to the Sohra Plaza Homestay and call it a day.
Night Halt: Sohra Plaza Homestay at Cherrapunji or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 4 – Cherrapunji – Dawki – Mawlynnong –Shillong
Today we head to two more places that are popular tourist attractions of Meghalaya and Dawki – the border of India and Bangladesh and Mawlynnong – the Cleanest Village in Asia before we head on our drive to Shillong city – the Scotland of the East. We start after breakfast and head towards Dawki from Cherrapunji. We will take a shorter route across a very picturesque location to travel towards Pynursla and at Pynursla we take a break for tea and start again on our drive to Dawki. We reach Dawki by around 10 AM and we head straight to the International Border where we disembark from our vehicles and travel to the border where we seek permission from the staff of the BSF to cross the Indian Border and travel to no man’s land at pillar 1275 where see the International Border of Bangladesh. We click our pictures here and we observe a lot of cross border trade happening and lines of trucks and dumpers awaiting their turn to cross the border to deliver boulders and other items to Bangladesh. Next up we head to the boating point at Dawki that takes visitors on a half an hour long boat ride on the waters of the Umngot River at Dawki. The Umngot river is a popular tourist attraction because of the crystal clear waters here and it is said that the waters are so clear that the boats plying on these waters are appear to be floating in air because the river bed is visible here. After our boat ride is over we travel to Mawlynnong – the cleanest village in Asia.
We will take an alternate route to Mawlynnong that takes us along the border of India and Bangladesh and here we will spot two more waterfalls that are not frequented by many tourists and the drive to Mawlynnong will take us about an hour. We will arrive at Mawlynnong in time for lunch but at first we head to visit the Riwai Living Root Bridge and the most popular Living Root Bridge among tourists because of its easy accessibility. A short 10 minute walk unlike the long hike to Nongriat will take us to the Riwai Living Root Bridge and we witness another amazing Bioengineering marvel of the Living Root Bridge. Later we head to the parking area at Mawlynnong where we break for lunch at a traditional restaurant here where food is cooked over fire and served in a Khasi menu. After a sumptuous lunch we explore the cleanest village of Asia at Mawlynnong. The village is a small one with a population of around 100 households and the place is indeed kept clean and tidy with no garbage disposed here and there. The villagers play an active role in keeping the premises of the village clean and they ensure to live in harmony with the environment by ensuring that the plastic and decomposable waster and the organic waste is used as fertilizers for their gardens and the plastic is collected and segregated and once in moth sent to a recycling plant.
Every house has a toilet and efficient plumbing system to protect the environment and prominent use of solar lighting can be seen across the village. This is what intrigues many visitors to Mawlynnong because the humble villagers were practicing such cleanliness activities since long and slowly the word of mouth spread and after the mention of the place in the Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech visitors have now started flocking to Mawlynnong during the tourist season in hundreds and today tourism is a sole bread earner for many families at Mawlynnong village. There is an old cathedral here as well and its structure reminds of the old British times and we explore this place and finally bid farewell to Mawlynnong to make a last stop at the outskirts at the site of the balancing rocks near Mawlynnong village that is a unique structure where a huge boulder rests on top of a much smaller rock and this structure had been standing like this since a long time and even great earthquakes have not been able to deter this structure.
After admiring the balancing rocks at Mawlynnong village we head on our drive across the picturesque landscapes of Meghalaya to head to Shillong – the Scotland of the East. We cross the beautiful landscapes of Meghalaya and arrive at Shillong in the later afternoon where we head to the Police Bazar area and we visit the Ward’s Lake in Shillong that is a prime tourist attraction in the city and it is a beautiful lake area that was dug out in the British time and today has a walking path and boating facilities on the lake as well. We explore the Ward’s lake and later head to the Police Bazar area in Shillong that is a prime market area where you get to see a blend of the traditional and modern markets of Shillong. We get to witness one of the unique betting games of Shillong called as the Shillong Teer where the players bet on certain numbers that gets the most number of arrow shots by the archers held at the Polo Grounds in Shillong and the winner gets an amount almost equivalent to eighty time the bet amount and this is a unique and renowned game across Shillong and Meghalaya as well. After this we wind up our visit for the day and head to our guest house at the Laban area in Shillong and we will cross the Madina Masjid in Shillong that is the only glass mosque in India and it gets beautifully illuminated with green lights across the glass structure in the evening. We check into our guest house in Shillong and call it a day.
Night Halt: Sunrise Guest House in Shillong or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 5: Shillong – Kaziranga National Park
After breakfast we will start our day to travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park after we visit the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong that is a detailed museum about the life and traditions of the Indigenous people of North East India. We will spend about an hours’ time at the Don Bosco Museum and explore the seven floors that explain about the region in detail with special focus on the various indigenous tribes. North East India is home to over 200 indigenous tribes and their sub tribes and all of these tribes have a rich history of migrating from far off countries in Asia and South East Asia and settling along the banks of the various river sand their tributaries across North East India thereby spreading across the region and creating their own unique identity. The museum has various models that are adorned with traditional attires and jewellery and one can get to sight videos of the life of these people in their villages in the unique interaction systems placed at the entrance of the rooms of the museum.
We head to the skywalk on the top of the Don Bosco museum in Shillong where we get an aerial view of Shillong city and later we start on our drive to Kaziranga National Park. We take a break at Nongpoh where we stop for tea and snack at the Jiva’s Veg restaurant at Nongpoh and continue on our drive to Jorabat where we enter Assam again and drive towards Sonapur, Jagiroad and Raha to the Nagaon Bypass where we break for lunch at the Anuraag Dhaba that serves some ethnic Assamese thali and a variety of meat, fish and vegetarian recipes as well. After a sumptuous lunch we drive to Koliabor and Jakhalabandha and finally arrive at the Burapahar range of Kaziranga National Park where we stop at a viewpoint to catch a glimpse of the pride of Kaziranga National Park and Assam – the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros specie. After this we reach the Bagori range where we will come tomorrow morning for our elephant safari ride and later we reach the Kohora area of Kaziranga National Park.
Before checking into our place of stay here at Kaziranga National Park we will visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park – the Largest Orchid Park in India because the place closes to visitors by 5.30 PM and we will not have time tomorrow as we will depart to Majuli Island post our safari rides end at Kaziranga National Park and so we have to explore this place today itself. At first we visit the green house at the Kaziranga Orchid Park that houses the various indigenous orchid species of Assam and North East India and many orchids can be seen in full bloom as well. This house has the orchids species beautifully spaced and arranged and the local names as well as the scientific names of the orchids clearly mentioned alongside each of the species. An able guide accompanies you across the green house and explains to you about the various species of orchids present here and later we move out of the green house to explore the section of handicrafts and handlooms. The vicinity of Kaziranga National Park is inhabited by the various indigenous people of Assam and one community is the Mishing tribe who are very adept in handicraft and handloom making. They use bamboo and cane as a base to weave out anything from baskets, stools, sofa sets, tables, wall hangings, windows binds, fish traps, musical instruments, etc.
These bamboo crafts of Assam are renowned across the World and people use bamboo as a source of timber as well in the villages to build homes and fences around the place. At this section we admire the various handicrafts on display and also there are traditional looms made with wood and the ladies can be seen sitting on these looms and weaving put some exquisite handloom products with hands. As the products are handmade they have a very nice texture and finishing and they last long as well. Next up we visit the rice museum at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and witness the various species of rice that are grown across Assam and North East India. The eastern region of India has rice as a major diet and a meal is incomplete without rice and hence various rice varieties are grown depending on the soil conditions. There is a sticky rice called as the Bora Saul that is had for breakfast along with milk or curd, the Aijong rice that is had for lunch and dinner and even a rice that doesn’t need cooking called as the Kumal Saul and you just need to add water to the rice and it softens up on its own.
All these varieties can be seen on display at the rice museum at the Kaziranga Orchid Park. The area across the Kaziranga National Park is filled with tea gardens and the cash crop of pepper corns that are grown on the trees that fill these tea gardens and hence you can be rest assured to get some of the very fresh and good quality Assam Tea and pepper and the same is available for purchase at eh souvenir section of the Kaziranga Orchid Park. There is a cactus garden as well and one can find various cactus species here and one is tall up to six feet as well. We will wind up our visit at the Kaziranga Orchid Park by witnessing the folk dance performances of the bamboo dance and Bihu dance that are performed at regular intervals at the stage area here. Young boys and girls dressed in their traditional attires take the area of the stage and they perform the traditional dances of the bamboo dance and the Bihu dance. The bamboo dance is a unique dance form where the young girls demonstrate their balancing act on moving bamboos and they sway their body in rhythmic movements along with the movement of the bamboo and a drum beat.
The Bihu dance is a very colourful and vibrant dance form of Assam where young girls and boys dressed in their traditional attires and the girls adorn themselves with the elegant Muga silk mekhela chadors and they enact this wonderful dance form that is characterized by brisk movements of hands and feet and the entire performance is a treat to watch. We finish admiring these dance forms of Assam and this completes our visit at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and also we wind up for the day and head to our place of stay at Kaziranga National Park.
Night Halt: Bon Habi Resort at Kaziranga or Similar
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 6: Kaziranga National Park – Majuli Island
Today is our safari day at Kaziranga National Park and our day starts early as the Elephant Safari rides at Kaziranga National Park are conducted very early in the morning at 5 AM and 6.30 AM slots and we need to travel to the Bagori Range (for Indian Nationals) that is about a 20 minutes’ drive from the Kohora area where we halt for the night. For Foreign Nationals the Elephant Safari rides at Kaziranga National Park are conducted at the Kohora range and it a short 3 minute drives from the place of stay. Anyways for both the conditions we need to start early and we drive to the respective safari zones and board the elephant backs and go for an hour long safari ride into the range. The elephant back ride provides a unique opportunity to sight the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros from up close and also you get a good aerial view of the interiors of Kaziranga National Park as well.
After our Elephant safari ride is over we head back to our place of stay and have our breakfast post that we go for a jeep safari ride at the central range of Kohora at Kaziranga National Park. For Foreign national we will travel to the Agoratoli viz. the Eastern range of Kaziranga National Park after packing our bags and loading them into the vehicles. Our jeep ride will take us deeper into the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park and we cover more area and thereby our chances of sighting more number of animals and bird species gets easier here and we get to sight various migratory bird species that come to Kaziranga National Park during the winter season. After our jeep ride inside the forest reserves of Kaziranga National Park we head out of the range and bo0ard our vehicles to travel to the Neemati Ghat near Jorhat where we will board our ferry to travel to Majuli Island – the largest River Island in the World and the hub of the Neo Vaishnavite cult of Assam.
The last ferry service from the Neemati Ghat to the Kamalabari Ghat is at 3.30 PM and so we have to ensure to reach mush ahead not to miss out on the ferry to be able to travel as per our Itinerary. The ferry ride would take us about an hour and we reach the banks of the Kamalabari Ghat where we disembark from the boat and travel to the main town area of Majuli and we check into our place of stay here. We spend time in relaxation and in the evening we travel to the Sri Sri Uttar Kamalabari Satra in Majuli Island to witness one among the eight classical dance forms of India – the Sattriya Nritya. We take our seats at the prayer hall and the male monks of the Satra dressed up in their traditional attires perform this unique dance form that illustrates the immense flexibility of the human body and this is basically a warrior dance and hence performed by the male members. We witness this wonderful and unique dance performance and call it a day and head back to our place of stay.
Night Halt: Enchanting Majuli at Majuli Island
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 7: Majuli Island
Today is our day of exploring the mysteries of the beautiful river island of Majuli. Nestled in the midst of the mighty Brahmaputra River, today Majuli is a top favourite backpacking destination in Assam where tourists from around the World come here to spend time in a village environment and learning about the history and traditions of the Mishing tribes of Assam. Majuli is a perfect holiday destination for visitors who want to come and spend their time at leisure enjoying the lush greenery around without the sounds of rushing vehicles, learn about the life of the indigenous people and taste some ethnic organic cuisine, hire a cycle and spend your time cycling around instead of sitting in a vehicle, visiting the various Satras and learn about the heritage arts of traditional mask making, handloom weaving, bamboo handicrafts, boat making, handmade pottery, etc. We will start our day after breakfast and we will head to the Sri Sri Auniati Satra in Majuli Island that is a prominent Satra in Majuli and imparts the various facets of the teachings of the Holy Saint reformer Srimanta Shankardeva.
The Holy saint was against the practices of the caste system that was prevalent across India in the mediaeval time and he preached the principle of ‘Eksarna’ that stated that all human beings are alike irrespective of their caste or religion. Along with his disciples he preached his discourses in the form of philosophical works, poetic works, drama, devotional lyrics, prayer works, etc. and he was successful in elimination the thoughts of the caste system from the minds of the people of Assam long before it got abolished during the time of the British Raj in India. These Satra institutions were setup across Assam by the Holy Saint and these Satras to a certain extent resemble the Vaishnavite Maths and Akharas in the other parts of the country. Young boys leave their families to stay in these Satras and they lead a devotional and unmarried life in these Satras following the orders of the head of the Satra who is called as the Satradhikar. The basic structure of any of these Satras across Majuli in the presence of a Namghar (prayer hall), Monikut (Girbha Griha), A Karapat (Gate), two big ponds and two or four rows of Hutis (huts where the Bhakats reside).
During the time of Assam in the 1600’s, these Satra institutions contributed immensely to the spread of education and learning among the people of Assam. Various books were published across these Satras and the art of writing on Sachi Paat (Bark of tree) was practiced in these Satras and the manuscripts stored carefully in the Satra library. To spread knowledge among the people various discourses were held at these Satras in the form of devotional lyrics, dramas and dramatic performances. In fact the concept of Bhaonas was popularized by Srimanta Shankardeva and to make a lasting impression on the people he introduced the use of handmade masks to be adorned by the artists enacting these plays so that people could associate themselves with the various mythological characters that were in these plays. The Satras also developed a school of classical dance, music and musical instruments and most of the musical instruments were made with hands with bamboo and cane by the Bhakats of these Satras. These Satras played a very important role in the socio-cultural life of the people of Assam and till today the religious discourses taught at these Satras are sung out across the various Namghars of Assam as well.
We will explore the various facets of the Auniati Satra and we visit the prayer hall that is a huge hall where the religious discourses are conducted. We light our lamps and offer our prayers at the Monikut of the Auniati Satra and later explore the area of the Auniatui Satra and also visit the museum here that has on display various relics of Assam including certain swords and instruments used by the Ahom Kings and Generals. The sword of the great Ahom General Lachit Borphukan is present in the museum of the Auniati Satra as well. With this we wind up our visit at the Auniati Satra in Majuli Island and proceed to the next place that is a very interesting and popular tourist spot in Majuli the Samaguri Satra – the Satra renowned for the art of traditional mask making with hands. At the Samaguri Satra we can witness the various artists engaged in the art of mask making where the process involves building a frame of the mask with bamboo and cane and later wrapping it up with a special cloth and later a mixture of a special mud and cow dung is smeared over the mask and it is allowed to dry in the sun. The final touch of the mask is the paint and it is an organic paint that is derived from the roots, barks and fruits of certain trees and this complete the masks if Majuli and at the display room we can see the various masks of the mythological characters all built with hands here at the Samaguri Satra.
A short enactment of how these masks are adorned and the charterers played is also demonstrated and we admire this unique art form of Majuli Island and later head on to visit a small village nearby that is not so renowned in the tourist sector of Majuli Island but is surely worth visiting because of the traditional art of pottery making with hands. When we think about pottery what comes to our mind is the pottery wheel where the wheels rotates at the artists put a lump of clay and mould it into a beautiful pot with their hands but in the Salmora village of Majuli the way of making the pot is totally different as the artistes do not make use of a wheel and instead they simply use their hands to mould the pottery equipment’s and they make pots and other utensils with their hands. A dying art as the demand of these pots has across the years decreased it is a unique opportunity to witness during your visit to Majuli. We will visit a local home where we will be surprised as the pottery is made by women folks here because in other parts it is a male dominated art form.
The lady will demonstrate this art form to us from scratch where she takes the clay and mixes it with water and later create a pot and certain other things as well. The day clay is a special one that is dug out from the banks of the Brahmaputra River deep inside the ground and the clay has a unique property of binding itself with the cow dung and making a strong bond. With this we wind up our visit and head to the main town area to have an ethnic Assamese lunch and we relax in the afternoon. Late afternoon we visit the banks of the Luit River to admire the vast natural beauty of Majuli Island and also visit a local Mishing village and learn about the way of life of the people here. We also visit a local home to savour some of their traditional rice beer/wine and a delicious meat retreat cooked with organic produce and later returns to the place of stay for dinner.
Night Halt: Enchanting Majuli
Meals Included: Breakfast
Day 8: Majuli Island – Dibrugarh
After an early breakfast we depart from Majuli Island to travel to Dibrugarh at the Mohanbari Airport (4 hours) to catch an afternoon flight to your onward destination. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!