The Guinness World Records has officially designated Assam’s Majuli island as the largest river island in the world. It is situated in the Brahmaputra river, covering an area of 880 sqkm. Majuli toppled the previous record held by Brazil’s Marajo island.
Majuli is formed by the Brahmaputra river system. It is surrounded by Subanisri River in the North, main Brahmaputra River on the South and kherkatia Suli, split channel of Brahmaputra River in northeast.
The island has total 144 villages with a population of over 160,000 and a density of 300 individuals per square km. Majuli island is mostly inhabited by Mishing tribal people.
Majuli island has a rich and diverse agricultural tradition. As many as 100 varieties of rice grown organically i.e. without pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
It is the nerve centre of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture initiated by saint-reformer Srimanta Sankardeva in 15th century. The island had some 65 satras (monasteries adhering) to Vaishnavism. But large numbers of them were relocated to the mainland after being washed away.
The main surviving satras include Garamurh, Dakhinpat, Kamalabari, Auniati and Bengenaati.
Majuli island is a rich environmental hotspot harbouring. It is home of many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds. Due to erosion of river-bank, the island has lost around one-third of its area in the last 30-40 years caused mainly due to frequent flooding of the river.
In June 2016, Assam Government had officially declared the island as the district making it India’s first island district. The island has been nominated for the World Heritage Site status. It has been included in the tentative list by UNESCO.