| A sketch by artist Hem Chandra Goswami of the bridges being built in Majuli. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, July 25: The Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority is hoping that it will be fourth time lucky for Majuli as the river island readies to make another attempt to enter Unesco’s World Heritage Site list.
As the deadline for submission of a new report by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in this regard draws nearer, the authority is working on all fronts to ensure that Majuli does not miss out this time. Upper Assam commissioner Syed Iftikar Hussain — who is also the chief executive officer of the authority — said GSV Suryanarayan Murthy — the conservation architect deputed by the ASI to prepare and update the heritage dossier of Majuli — has been asked to extensively interact with experts on Majuli’s culture and history before submitting the dossier on September 30.
“This time we would like to see the heritage and culture of Majuli properly presented, and Suryanarayan Murthy has been asked to incorporate everything, which represents the ethos of the freshwater island after talking to the people and discussing with experts,” Hussain said.
“After going through the dossier there are still many things which have not been put in and this gives the impression that (the dossier) does not reflect the immense composite culture that makes Majuli unique in itself,” he added.
According to Hussain, the island is strewn with treasures. Lying buried among the treasures at Dakhinpat Xatra — one of the oldest xatras in Majuli — is a wooden contraption, which tells time. It consists of a wooden bowl filled with water, which seeps down in drops. A class of people selected by the king would tell the time using this device. This water in the bowl would last for two months.
“Similarly, there is an earthen lamp that is said to be burning in the sanctum sanctorum of the Garmur Xatra for more than 300 years now and there is an array of kharams (wooden slippers) made of marble or wood worn by the xatradhikars and heads of the monasteries. All this and more reflects the culture and heritage of the island and should be brought to light,” Hussain said. Hem Chandra Goswami — the renowned mask maker of Samaguri Xatra — has proposed to adorn the pillars of all the under-construction bridges on the island with figures from Hindu mythology. This proposal will also be forwarded to the government. Goswami has been asked to compile or make miniatures of all the artefacts and elements that reflect the essence of Majuli. Before the dossier is submitted a meeting will be held with experts on the culture and heritage of Majuli and the people of the island so that nothing is missed out, Hussain said.
Murthy, the man who is preparing the dossier, represents the Hyderabad-based consultancy firm M/S Kshetra, which provides consultancy services in matters of preserving heritage sites/buildings and architectural planning. He had made a case for Majuli in June this year at Unesco’s 36th session in Russia, but the largest river island of Asia was denied the World Heritage Site tag for the third time.