Assam, India, majuli

Northeast Indian adventure part seven: Satras, masks and rhino, Majuli Island and Kaziranga National Park, Assam

July 20, 2016

Majuli_Assam-50Right. Let’s pick up where we left of.  Another day, another Satra.  This time we visited the much larger Kamalabari Satra which has been a centre of art, cultural, literature and classical studies for centuries.  This was more of a complex and there were several different areas for us to explore, including a small museum.  We arrived to the most beautiful singing reverberating around the sparse hallway where monks were sitting on the floor, pigeons flapping about among them.

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How’s that for a drum machine!

We were also lucky enough to spend some time with the resident Guru who had been at the Satra for 40 years.  He told us about his plans to visit London at the end of the year.  As much as we would have loved to have him over for tea, we explained that we wouldn’t be home for a good while yet.

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The monks at the Satra made sure that we were well fed and watered and brought us tea and some sweets made from rice flour and jaggery.  Unfortunately these were some of the most horrendous tasting snacks we had encountered and after giving up trying to ingest what tasted like farm, we smuggled the remainder out in our pockets so as not to seem rude.

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The monk on the left had the haircut of a warrior.

 

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Artwork of one of the former Gurus on display at the museum.

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Our wonderful Tums seemed to enjoy himself

Next on the agenda was a visit to a mask making workshop.  Masks are a huge part Assamese culture and are an integral part of the state’s handicraft industry.  Masks or “Mukhas” are used by tribal people in performances during festivals and on special occasions.  They are made from natural materials like clay and bamboo and depict mythological characters or deities.  We headed over to Chamaguri Sattra to meet one of the island’s most renowned mask-makers and to view (and try) some of these insanely cool pieces of art.

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The master mask-maker

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Guess who…

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We had such an incredible time in Majuli.  It felt like the real deal. We were totally immersed in the local culture and surrounded by friendly faces for the entirety of our stay.  We could easily have stayed longer and soaked up more of the culture and beautiful sights…

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…but it was time to head to the final destination on our adventure around Northeast India.

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Have I mentioned how fond we all were of Tums?

Although closed for the rainy season, we headed to Kaziranga National Park.  We weren’t able to take a safari inside the park, but we were still able to drive through the area and there was the chance we would be able to spot some wild one-horned rhinos!

But first, we had to get back on the boat.
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Our boat was delayed and it was hot hot hot, so this nice man let us take refuge in his shop.

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When we reached the other side and started to make our way to Kaziranga, we began to see more and more houses which were being torn down in preparation for a new road that would connect Myanman to India and Thailand. Huge!
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We stayed in the beautiful Wild Grass Lodge.  The place was huge and we were the only ones there.  Goats grazed the lawn and huge geckos hid in the corners of the rooms.
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Oh and let’s not forget to mention those rhinos!  In total we spotted (I say we, it was mostly Tums who spotted them first) 15 wild rhinos from the side of the road!  We felt so lucky to be able to see these guys in the flesh.  Completely unforgettable.

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Next stop, Delhi…Majuli_Assam-3

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1 Comment

  • Reply MummaChris October 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Please go back and get us a mask x

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