Road Trip to North East from Chennai – Part III (Dec’ 2016)

Day 8-Day 9: December 17: 325 kms / 7 AM to 2 PM

Majuli: Biggest River Island in the World.

From Bhalukpong, we had an option to take Ferry at North Lakhimpur, but we decided to take the road to reach Majuli via Ghilamora, India’s biggest river island between the mighty Brahmaputra. It was an amazing scenic route, saw Kameng River joining Brahmaputra enroute. Roads were good till Ghilamora and from there on to a single lane with occasional bad roads, but the landscape was amazing throughout the drive. Had Assam Chai, and a tasty lunch with Roti/Chowmein costing us just Rs. 150/- for three (with two water bottles purchased as well) near North Lakhimpur.

The whole route had lovely milestones with lovely messages, captions, and I was waiting to click one pic with the most apt one, found one that said “LIFE IS A JOURNEY; COMPLETE IT” and was so happy posing.

Majuli, a place we never wanted to skip irrespective of anything that could obstruct. Anyone with a taste for art, culture, passion for photography cannot miss this beauty in many ways. It was just a photographers’ paradise and we kept clicking anything and everything enroute. One can see ART living in any form in the place. People are so talented. “Aaya Kalaigal 64” is what we call in Tamil Nadu for a mastering 64 forms of ART, but we were surprised to see the numbers became countless as there were as many satras. Not to miss mentioning a tasty Assamese thali in Ural, a home type restaurant, for food from natural herbs, veggies. Not sure if everyone would like it, but we just loved it though the rice wasn’t that same one we have.

The place we stayed, was like a natural paradise, La Maison De Ananda. We got a bamboo cottage and a tent for our accomodation. Bamboo hut had a half footed steps to climb to reach the upper deck and the rooms are tastefully done. A very scenic place to stay. It was too early but too dark by 4.30 PM, and we just wanted to have a walk for some shopping, but unfortunate again as the shops were all closed having only some bakeries, and tea shop open. Had tea and got some snacks for the next day. I tried some cycling on the streets of Majuli and all 3 of us happilly roamed the street for almost an hour. Though, the stay has an option to order tribal food, we skipped it as we had a late lunch and had some snacks and retired for the day.

More About Satras: 33 + 2 Sattras are recognized by the Majuli Cultural Landscape Region Act, 2006 out of 64 + 2 original Satras of Majuli island

Day 9: Dec 18: 236 kms / 2 PM to 6.30 PM (text by co-traveller)

We went to Dhakshinpat Satra, but a little early before the temple inside were open. Met guruji there and learnt from him about the art taught. Got to know they have over 8 lakh students till date. The place had a lot of paintings in the form of half sculptures on walls, had their disciples of different age groups, small kids were so enthu, running around, doing their activities.

We then went to old Samaguri Satra, but unfortunate to not meet the artist, and then came to the new Samaguri Satra and met the living legend Sri Sri Hem Chandra Goswami. We were awestruck by the variety of his art work. The pictures drawn by him, dolls made by him, the animated faces, the giant God / Goddess models OMG, we were just seeing how passionately the master himself kept explaining everything about how they make it and how many days it takes to etc. I still wonder how a person of such a versatile talent, who is so popular, who is the master for so many lakhs of students, can be so calm, polite, down to earth, so friendly, live in such a small village, in a small house, OMG! He is simply a living legend. Hats off to you Sri HEM CHAND ji!!!

The ferry was at 1.30, so we had to rush. The village roads are too confusing as even if we miss a left or right, you may have to go far to even take a u turn. Some roads were very narrow, some have steep sides. We somehow found a small hotel and had roti, and rushed to ferry. Found out that the ferry was already blocked for three existing cars of some foreigners who visited Satras after we did. Also, that ferry at 130 PM was a small one accommodated only 3 cars. When enquired, the booking officer said there is another ferry at 3 PM which can accommodate 6 cars. We were late by 10 mins to miss out a space in the 130 ferry. But to our surprise, 3 PM ferry came at 2:15 itself and ours was the first car, and it started at 245 PM itself.

Mohan decided to sit inside and we both came out to click some pics. But it was way too crowded with a lot of bikes and 6 cars, that we couldn’t move around. Hari went to sit on top but I stayed inside. Had a good chat with the local villagers. Surprised with their way of life, amazed to see how they depend on ferry for every day work (like buses and trains here), how they share their food, bring chocolates and distribute to all friends in ferry, how kids enjoy seeing us, speaking with us etc. Typical female moment to cherish when I enquired about their sarees and they started explaining with pride as I told them they were looking awesome, I was told not to buy from local shops and suggested to go to Guwahati where I would find a lot of wholesale shops having sarees.

Note: Popular varieties were “Mekhela chador” worn by all women of all ages except kids. There are three major types of native silks—golden Muga, white Pat and warm Eri silk.

I also made my time to step out of the ferry and have some view of the giant Brahmaputra river, stood next to our car. To everyone’s surprise, they were seeing me and was waiting to speak with me. I realizing it started the conversation with how long it would take to reach sort. That’s it, one started giving me suggested places to visit, that includes Shivpuri, one told to go to Kaziranga (which was already the place where we were heading to). I stayed calm not to react and kept nodding, but was so pleased to see how each one was happy for us visiting their place all the way from South. They were equally surprised how we took our cycle so well packed, and tried shaking it and witness it was well fit in our car.

Note: The ferry would take some 1.5 hours from Neamati Ghat to Jorhat. Roads to Kohora are good. Ferry has a small stall selling black tea, and some biscuits and you would not miss it if you are a tea lover.

After the ferry it was a straight drive to reach the beautiful ECO Nature Hunt Resort at Kaziranga. For dinner we tried their tribal food & traditional Assamese thali which was very tasty.

Next up is Kaziranga.

Road Trip to North East from Chennai – Part III

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