A small group immersive textile tour for the tactile traveler. Come indulge in a rich, diverse cultural journey, complete with historical context, wrapped with local interactions and cuisine.
This tour takes you off the beaten trail across salt plains and under the embroidered sky as we follow the threads of time and stories told in stitches of the many tribes who inhabit rural Gujarat. An interactive immersive travel India experience.
Woven Threads – A Textile tour of Gujarat
15 – 23 NOVEMBER 2016
Gujarat is a rich treasure chest of some of India’s most exquisite artisan products and more! Think of heart warming hospitality, immersive learning experiences with local tribal women and an insight into a culture that will leave you spell bound!
Join us on this informative and exciting textile tour to witness first-hand the mystery and splendors of textiles in this colorful and vibrant state. We promise to take you beyond the guidebooks into traditional textile centers for authentic, unique and interactive experiences with local artisans who carry on indigenous arts that are thousands of years old.
Day 1: Arrive Ahmedabad
Upon your arrival in Ahmedabad, you will be met at the airport by our representative and taken to the hotel (check-in after 12 noon). Ahmedabad, India’s old textile city, is a unique amalgamation of ancient heritage and vibrant present. The city’s prosperous and eventful past is embodied in its rich kaleidoscope of history, art and culture. It is also intrinsically linked to India’s independence movement; it is from here that Mahatma Gandhi launched his famous Dandi March, as a protest against the Salt Tax. During the British period, Ahmedabad rose to become one of India’s most important textile hubs and attracted the epithet ‘Manchester of the East’.
This afternoon we visit Calico Textile Museum (closed on Wednesday and Public Holidays). The Calico Museum of Textiles is the premier textile museum of the country, and one of the most celebrated institutions of its kind in the world for its distinguished and comprehensive collection of textiles and artefacts.
The dinner tonight will be at your hotel’s Agashiye restaurant. This beautiful restaurant is spread over two huge terraces are inter-connected by a smaller one that houses a small wooden cottage. Contemporary Gujarati food is served in a kansa Thali.
Meals Included: Dinner
Day 2: Ahmedabad
In the morning we visit the beautiful Jama Masjid that was built in 1423 and the small Sidi Saiyad’s Mosque which is noted for its beautiful carved stone windows, depicting the intricate intertwining of the branches of a tree.
Later we drive to Gandhinagar (45 mins one way) and visit – Akshardam Temple, and on the way back we visit Adalaj Step-well.
In the afternoon, we walk through the narrow streets of the old city and Juhapura areas of Ahmedabad, where we will come across men and women, chit chatting on their porches around the wooden frames, while their hands speak a language of their own. Aari embroidery is largely practiced in Ahmedabad through various organisations with craftsmen working from their households. A celebrated and much adored work of Gujarat, requires not just the perfect stitch but also the understanding of the innate technique by which it is created. The thread is held with a finger at the reverse of the fabric and the aari, an awl-like needle with a sharp point, is held on the top.
In the evening we enjoy authentic Gujarati dinner at Vishala Restaurant. Vishala is designed as a Gujarati village with mud huts, machaans (huts built on raised bamboo stilts), adorned with typical Gujarati colors and design motifs. The atmosphere resonates with the eclectic performances of folk musicians and dancers. The ethnic Gujarati food served on biodegradable leaf plates and pottery is a full throttle plunge into the old world charm of Gujarat.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Ahmedabad – Patan – Dasada
After breakfast this morning, we drive to Patan (3 hours) where we visit Rani-ki-Vav, a huge step well of tremendous architectural importance. The vav was constructed by Queen Udaymati in 11th century in the loving memory of her husband, King Bhimdeva I. The well is beautifully adorned with 800 stone sculptures and reliefs.
In Patan we also visit a master artisan of Patola silks. These weavers belong to the Salvi community and are believed to have come here from South India in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Salvis practise an intricate weaving technique called double ikkat which involves dyeing both the warp and weft threads according to the final design before setting them on the loom for weaving. The result is an extremely rich fabric. Only a few weavers in Okinava, Bali and Patan use the double ikkat techniques making the Patola a collectible.
After picnic lunch, we drive to Dasada (2 hours) in the Little Rann of Kutch. Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Dasada
The Rann of Kutch is a geographically unique landscape that was once an arm of the Arabian Sea. As the land separated from the sea by geological forces, it became a vast, featureless plain encrusted with salt that is inundated with water during the rains.
Enjoy an early morning safari across the Little Rann which visits the ‘bets’, islands on the ancient seabed that are now higher grounds covered with grass and scrub. These ‘bets’ support a variety of wildlife including the ‘Gudkhur’ (Asiatic wild ass) that is not found elsewhere.
After breakfast, we visit the pastoral settlements and villages of the area. There are about 16 different types of embroideries done in the Kutch region, each belonging to a different community. All of these communities have their own unique style of embroidery, different motifs, patterns that give them a visual identity. The most well known, with its chain stitches and countless mirrors, is the Rabari embroidery. We will visit the pastoral Vadiara and Kharapat Rabaris. The Rabaris are a wandering community known for their extraordinary capacity for survival and adaptation in the arid regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Many of the Rabaris live in circular huts, known as ‘Bhunga’. These have proven to be much resistant to earthquakes in the tremors that hit Kutch in 2001.
Lunch and Dinner at the hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Dasada – Bhuj
After breakfast this morning, we drive to Bhuj (6 hours). On the way we stop at Dhamadka for lunch and to view the famous Ajrakh block printing.
The walled city of Bhuj is the headquarters of the Kutch district. The princely citadel of Bhuj is named after its Bhujia fortress, which overlooks the city from a hill nearby. The region is also littered with a large number of sites associated with the Indus Valley Civilization. Bhuj is most famous for the wide variety of handicrafts, which includes Kutchi embroidery with mirror work, bandhani, hand printed textiles, and saris, etc.
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch
Day 6: Bhuj
This morning we visit Maharao Lakhpatji’s old palace, built in traditional Kutch style. It is a beautifully presented museum with collections of ornaments and paintings, and exquisite inlaid ivory doors. The main attraction here is the Aina Mahal or the Mirror Palace which has walls of marble covered with mirrors, separated by glided ornaments with shades of Venetian glass.
Across the courtyard from Aina Mahal is the new palace, an ornate Italianate marble and sandstone building which was constructed in the latter part of the 19th century. Part of it is now used for government offices but beautiful Darbar Hall and Clock tower here are open to the public.
Afterwards we will drive (45 minutes) to Kala Raksha Trust Centre. Kala Raksha means ‘Art Preservation’. The trust was established in 1993 as a registered society comprising artisans, community members, and experts in the fields of art, design, rural management and museums. Kala Raksha today works with nearly 1,000 embroidery artisans of seven ethnic communities and aims to preserve traditional arts of the region by making them culturally and economically viable. The Trust provides training as needed to make this possible.
You spend the day at Kala Raksha undertaking traditional Kutch embroidery workshop. Currently, Kala Raksha works with six distinct hand embroidery styles: the Sindh-Kutch regional styles of suf, khaarek, and paako, and the ethnic styles of Rabari, Garasia Jat, and Mutava.
Packed lunch at the workshop.
Meals: Breakfast, Packed Lunch
Today we drive a little further (1 hour 15 minutes) to Kala Raksha Vidyalaya, where Kala Raksha trust conducts classes for artisans and teach students the traditional crafts.
In its second decade, Kala Raksha Vidyalaya (or school) was launched as a design school for working traditional artisans of Kutch. This educational institution, whose environment, curriculum and methodology are designed to be appropriate for traditional artisans, is intended to model a new approach to the rejuvenation of traditional arts. It directly links working artisans of Kutch, conservatively estimated at 50,000. The focus of the school is on acquiring knowledge and skills that can be directly applied in the artisan’s own art to enable innovation appropriate to contemporary markets.
At the Kala Raksha Vidyalaya, today we have arranged for a variety of workshops all day which will include weaving, bandhani dyeing, and ajrakh printing.
After a day-long workshop, we return to the hotel in Bhuj. Meals: Breakfast, Packed Lunch
Day 8: Bhuj – Onward Journey
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.
Accommodation: Check-out 12 Noon
THIS IS A SMALL GROUP IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE. PARTICIPANTS ARE LIMITED TO 8.
We like small intimate groups of sensual travelers; our limit is just 8 people so you can be sure of getting a personal experience. We stay with interesting locals and have interesting conversations, we learn by touch and taste and feel. We interact, make friends and make meals. Sometimes we make other stuff. We make friends too. Sometimes we make heart connections.
We don’t want you to buy souvenirs. We want to give you something! A story of India where you play a major role!
Please note that these tours are FIXED DATE DEPARTURE and are priced for 8 participants which is our maximum. If we decide to run the tour for fewer people there will be a slight price adjustment.