Situated at a distance of 20 kilometers from the Jorhat town, the island of Majuli is often regarded as a natural and cultural heritage site, harboring a number of rare and endangered migratory birds like the Pelican, Siberian Crane and the Greater Adjutant Stork. Besides this, it is also famous for its handicrafts and handloom products, like masks, pottery, and weaving of the elusive muga silk. Then, there are the Vaishnava satras (Mahapuruxiya monasteries) of Majuli, which serve as the major tourist attractions of the state. Established by the great social reformer of the 16th century Srimanta Sankardeva, along with his disciple Madhabdeva, the satras of Majuli are a great medium for the propagation of ethics and socio-cultural principles of the state.
Under the influence of Sankardeva, a Neo-Vaishnavite movement started in the island and a number of monasteries or ashrams were built for the purpose. As a result, a new form of Hinduism called Vaishnavism evolved. The first Satra to be established in the area was the historic ‘Manikanchan Sanjog’. After this, a number of satras were set up for the purpose of spreading the ideals of the Vaishnavite culture. Today, only twenty-two of the original sixty-five satras have been left. Among them the most significant ones are the satras of Garmur, Auniati, Dakhinpat, Kamalabari and Bengenaati. These monasteries are the base point for the spread of the satriya culture. Let us explore them in detail.
Places to see in Majuli
This Satra was established by Lakshmikantadeva and preserves some unique ancient weapons like cannons (Bortop). An important form of dance called Raasleela is performed here with great enthusiasm. It is a depiction of the mischievous sport played by Lord Krishna with his Gopis, on the banks of the river Yamuna, in the historic town of Vrindavan.
This Satra was founded by Niranjan Pathakdeva and has thousands of followers and devotees all over the world. It is especially famous for the Paalnaam and Apsara dance performed here. Moreover, the Satra has a good collection of old Assamese articles, like jewelry, utensils, and handicrafts.
Founded by Banamalidev, the Dakhinpat Satra is renowned for the famous Raasleela that is enacted here with great pomp and glory. So much importance is given to this form of dance in the state that it has been declared as one of the major festivals of Assam.
Kamalabari Satra was founded by Bedulapatam Ata and is an important center for art, culture, literature and classical studies. One of its branches, the Uttar Kamalabari Satra plays a major role in the spread of Satriya art both in India and abroad.
Muraridev, the grandson of Sankardeva’s step mother, was the founder of this Satra. It is an important center of performing arts and has a rare collection of antiques. Among these, the royal robes of the famous Ahom King Swargodeo Gadadhar Singha and the royal umbrella, both made of gold, are worth mentioning.
Samaguri Satra is renowned for the traditional masks that are made here. It is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of Majuli. The satra is renowned as a core for classical and cultural studies.