Majuli, among the largest freshwater riverine island in the World, is surrounded by mighty Brahmaputra and hence the name Majuli meaning ‘in the middle’. This is where the 15th Century saint and fountainhead of Assamese culture, Srimanta Sankardeva, first established a Satra or Neo Vaishnavite monastery.
Apart from that, this island is also home to the Mishings, the Deoris and the Sonowal Kacharis and other Assamese races. A walk through the villages of Majuli is highly recommended to savor the warmth of the people and their simple way of life. Most of them practice agriculture, fishing and weaving. Majuli also has exciting bio diversity. If the visit timed right, one can spot many rare and endangered avifauna species here. The treasures of Majuli are undoubtedly its Vaisnavite Satras. The first satra was set up by Sankardeva and Madhabdeva together but now no longer extent. Subsequently, Majuli became the centre of 65 such Satras. Of these, 31 survive today.
Distributed in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Upper Assam, there is still presence of some tribes which belong to Buddhists who are believer of the Hinyana sect of Buddhism. Though their population is very few but they are still maintaining their own ethnic cultures and other rituals.
Khamti Tribe: The Khamti tribe is a sub group of the Shan people found mainly in Burma and Arunachal Pradesh. However a small number of this community can be found in Assam (Tinsukia District) also. They pray every morning in their rooms and provide offerings of flowers and food. Like any other Buddhist they are peace loving people.
Singpho Tribe: Though major hubs of Singpho tribe are exist in China and Myanmar, it is seen in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and near about 25,000 numbers is still seen in Tinsukia district, Upper Assam too, presently known as Dehing Patkai region. This Mongoloid tribe was the first to discover the process of tea cultivation in India. They taught the process to the British, who then grew the Indian tea trade exponentially without giving the Singpho community their due credit. Like Khamti they also follow Buddhism and Animism is also widely followed in this community. Agriculture is main source of income and tea is widely planted.
Tai Phake Tribe: Tai-Phake is among the 6 Tai races residing in Tinsukia Districts of Assam, who migrated to Assam during year 1775. From then, for around 75 years, they were roaming for a permanent settlement. Ultimately they settled in Dibrugarh district, near Naharkatia on the bank of river Burhi dehing river and established ‘Namphake village’ and ‘Tipam Phake village’ and rest settled in Tinsukia district near Margerita sub division. From then they have been living permanently there and their literature, culture and society started flourishing in various aspects. Tai Phake people are strict followers of Buddhism and falls under the category of Hinayana sect. In each village they establish a Buddha Bihar where Buddha images made of brass are installed and regular prayers are offered by monks (known as Chow Moun) and the villagers.
A sleepy village in Assam, The Sualkuchi, where the entire population weaves magic with silk, is textile centre of Assam. One of World’s largest weaving villages, it is situated around 30 kms from Guwahati city. The Golden Muga, White Pat and Warm Eri which are three unique varieties of Silks of Assam are grown all over the Assam, brought over here for weaving.
Ruled around 600 years in Assam, the mighty Ahoms came to Assam in 1228 AD from South East Asia with a leadership of King Sukapha who was a Shan prince. During their regime, that Assam saw a kind of cultural renaissance; in areas of arts, religion, literature, music, drama and philosophy.
Sivasagar was the Capital of this dynasty. Before Sivasagar, Charaidew was the first Capital of Ahom dynasty where around 42 burial mounds of Ahom kings is observed. The practice of burying the dead was common amongst the Shan people from whom the Tai-Ahoms traced their descent.
Sivasagar, got its present name from Sivasagar Tank, literally, big lake, excavated by the Ahom queen Ambika. Main attractions in Sivasagar are: Shiva Dol (Temple, one of the loftiest Shiva temple in India), Vishnu Dol, Devi Dol, Tai Museum which houses textiles and other artfacts like swords, manuscripts, goblets etc belonging to Ahom kings and their people. Next is Jaisagar Tank, covering 318 acres, the largest man made tanks in India.
Rang Ghar, is a unique amphitheatre from which the Ahom kings and nobles witnessed games like buffalo fights specially during Rongali Bihu. Close to Rang ghar, on the banks of river Dikhow is Talatal Ghar and was the defence headquarter of those days. Another Ahom palace is located at Garhgaon, about 15 kms from Sivasagar town which was four storeyed for the royal families.