Around 310km northeast upriver from Guwahati, Jorhat has an airport and road connections to Kaziranga, Nagaland and northern Arunachal Pradesh. The unique Vaishnavite culture of Majuli, reputedly the world’s largest river island, and Sibsagar, former capital of the Ahoms, are both close by. Further north, Dibrugarh is opening up as a gateway to northern Nagaland and eastern Arunachal Pradesh. There is good birdwatching at Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, while Digboi has an interesting oil museum and war memorial.
The most popular outing from Jorhat is to the World Heritage Site of MAJULI. It is often described as the largest inhabited river island in the world, but erosion in recent years has thrown that claim into doubt. Regardless of its precise status, Majuli is a fascinating place, largely because of its unique Vaishnavite sattras (Hindu monasteries), though it is also a haven for birdwatchers.
There are 22 sattras – institutions that contain elements of a temple, monastery, school and centre for the arts – on Majuli: each consists of a prayer hall (namghar) surrounded by living quarters for devotees, and ghats for bathing. In a day, you could visit Natun Kamalabari, and 1.5km away, Uttar Kamalabari. The monks will give you tea, and you can sometimes attend prayer meetings. Four kilometres further west at Auniati, another sattra keeps royal artefacts from the Ahom kingdom and has an interesting collection of Assamese handicrafts and jewellery. Bengenati, 4km east of Auniati, was built in the early seventeenth century, while Shamaguri, 6km beyond Bengenati, is renowned for its clay and bamboo masks. Bongaori, 8km beyond Shamaguri, and Dakhinpat, 5km further south, are also worth a visit.