Gujarat Textile Tour 

Day 01. Arrive in Ahmedabad – Assistance on arrival and transfers to the hotel. Day at Leisure.

Day 02. Today morning visit the Calico Museum of Textiles {10.00 am – 1.00 pm - Closed on every Wednesday & Public Holiday}. This museum is undoubtedly one of the foremost textile museums and a celebrated institute in Indian textiles around the world. Its remarkable collection of fabrics spanning varied and remote regions of India exemplifies handicraft textiles across five centuries. The textiles were collected with a vision to conserve, build awareness and empower the vast and deep textile heritage of India. Over the years the collection has grown into an outstanding repository of fabrics based on colours, pattern, weave, and embellishment and has become a recognized centre providing Indian and international scholars with an opportunity to study and draw in-depth knowledge on this extraordinary range of Indian ethos.

After the Calico Museum, you will be visiting Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram was the centre of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle against the British for the independence of India. His aura still lingers here and one can travel back in time to get a sense of his ideology and remarkable life.

As per historical sources, after returning from South Africa, Gandhi Ji established his first ashram at Kochrab Bungalow, which belonged to his barrister friend, Jivanlal Desai, on May 25, 1915. Back then, it was called Satyagraha Ashram. However, Mahatma Gandhi had plans to begin various activities like animal husbandry and farming so he needed a larger space. On June 17, 1917, the ashram was relocated to an area of 36 acres on the banks of River Sabarmati and thus came to be known as Sabarmati Ashram.

Later you will be visiting the artisans engaged in Mata Ni Pachedi - The painting usually has a set pattern, with the mother Goddess dominating the central area in her mighty form, surrounded by deities and commoners worshipping her with equal reverence.

Mata Ni Pachedi is also known as the “Kalamkari of Gujarat”, owing to its similarity to the Kalamkari practised in Southern India and the use of pens (kalam) fashioned out of bamboo sticks, for painting. To quicken the process and meet the demands of villagers, who would commission paintings to offer to the mother goddess on fulfilment of wishes, the painters started using mud blocks for printing. These blocks were large and coarse, and after using a few times, would be thrown in the river where they returned to the soil. Over time, wooden blocks replaced mud blocks, facilitating the use of finer motifs. Yet, the craftsmen still often make the entire painting with the bamboo “kalam”, using blocks only for printing the borders.

In a small locality in Ahmedabad, artisans make these paintings using the same methods followed 200 years ago. Cotton fabric is first de-starched and then treated with Harada paste, to prepare it for absorbing the colour. Outlines of the figures are painted first, with black colour prepared from Jaggery and iron. After this, red colour, extracted from tamarind seeds, is filled in and the areas supposed to be white are left blank. After the application of each colour, the fabric is boiled in an alizarin solution, to bring out the colour, and then washed. For washing, the craftsmen go to Sabarmati River as the cloth must be washed in running water only, so that any excess colour flows away, instead of staining the cloth.

Day 03. Today early morning post breakfast reach Swami Narayan Temple by 7.30 Am. to enjoy a Guided Morning heritage walk in Ahmedabad. This walking tour offers an opportunity to see the old quarters of Ahmedabad lined with the beautifully carved wooden facades of Havelis. This walk ends at Jumma Mosque by 10.00 am…. Walkthrough the old walled city via the Teen Darwaja area and Bhadrakali Temple. Arrive at GreenHouse for Tea / Coffee and Snacks. Later visit Siddi Sayed Mosque Situated in the heart of the 600-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad, the design of the mosque is entirely in the arcuate system of construction, involving arches, domes, squinches, and vaults. The mosque is set up like a theatre without a fourth wall, celebrated for the intricately carved filigree work on its jaalis. The ornamental latticework adorns the 10 nearly semicircular windows of the mosque, with some displaying complex geometrical designs and others carved in the manner of intertwined trees and foliage. The most impressive of them all is the Sidi Saiyyed Jali, located to the right of the central walled arch. Sixteen feet in size, the carvings on this Jaali represent the Tree of Life motif, which is an artistic representation of a tree believed to grow in paradise according to Islamic mythology. This finely wrought motif has become an unofficial symbol of Ahmedabad, India’s first UNESCO World Heritage city.

Lunch at Local Restaurant and you will be visiting Hutheesingh Jain Temple, and Adalaj Stepwell. Stepwells are common in the arid and semi-arid regions of India, especially in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The term used for step-wells in Gujarat is Vav while in Rajasthan they are called Baoli. They are similar in form and function but have unique architectural characteristics that can help differentiate the two. It is believed that about 200 such step-wells survive in the Gujarat region itself, so it is easy to imagine their numbers in the bygone era. However, step-wells have always been a part of the history in this region - the oldest step wells (or even cylindrical wells) are believed to have been built at Mohan Jo Daro during the Indus-Valley civilization. The structure is built in Solanki style of architecture, with Islamic influence, and consists of five stories, each of which is uniquely designed with beautiful carvings all over the walls and columns.

Return to your hotel for Dinner. If not tired today late evening visit Manek Chowk - This bustling open square near the centre of the city functions as a vegetable market in the morning and a jewellery market in the Afternoon, the second biggest in India, at an apparently 3 million rupees of annual turnover. It is most famous, however, for its food stalls that start to emerge around 8 in the evening, with various local street snacks and goodies. Return to your hotel. Overnight in Ahmedabad.

Day 04. Early breakfast today at Hotel drive to the North of Gujarat Patan Town to the Patola weavers - Patola is a double ikat woven sari, usually made from silk, made in Patan, The word patola is the plural form; the singular is patolu. The Salvi community involved in the creation of Patan Patolas are the residents of Patan, Gujarat. They were brought to the region by the Rajput nobility who captured various parts of the region and invited the skilled weavers of the region to Patan, under their patronage. The community successfully flourished as traders in Gujarat and beyond, even after their supporters, the Rajputs, ceased to exist. Later you will be visiting the Patan Stepwell – ‘Rani Ki Vav’ – One of the nicest monuments of Gujarat. Intricately built Step Well of Patan called Rani Ki Vav was built by Queen Udayamati in the 11th century in memory of her husband Kind Bhimdev. This stepped monument has marvellous sculptures of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Your next stop would be Modhera Sun temple constructed in 1026-27 AD, the complex has a shrine hall, assembly hall, and reservoir. The pillars and exteriors of the halls are intricately carved, there are many beautiful small shrines in & around the reservoir and has numerous steps to go down the bottom. Continue to Little Rann of Kutch – Dinner, and overnight at The Eco-Friendly Wildlife Resort.

Day 05. Early morning Safari in Little Rann of Kutch to spot the Asiatic Wild Ass and other mammals - This area is also good for spotting migratory birds. Post Lunch you can also do a village safari to see communities like Mir, Bharwad, Rabari, and Bajanias. Return to your Lodge for Wash and change, Continue to Bhuj - This is a photographic journey where you can see the Banjara communities travelling on camels, Wind Mills, and Salt Pans, You can also visit the Salt Pans. Continue to Bhuj - Visit Ajrakhpur Village for Blocking Printing - Ajrakh printing is a distinguished form of woodblock printing that originated in the present-day province of Sindh, Pakistan and neighbouring Indian districts of Kutch in Gujarat. Ajrakh printing is embedded into the culture of the Sindhi people owing to the traditions of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation. Just as block printing, the process of Ajrakh printing begins with designs expertly hand-carved into wooden blocks before being dipped in dye and printed on fabrics primarily of cotton and silk. Later visit LLDC Museum – Living and Learning Design {Closed on every Monday and Public Holiday} - LLDC is a place for preserving, promoting and celebrating the crafts. It is also a place where the skill and potential of practising and aspiring kaarigars (craftsperson) are enhanced To enable them to earn a dignified and prosperous livelihood. The museum complex celebrates not only past glories but also the mastery and creativity demonstrated by the living legends of the crafts. Drive to Bhuj evening at Leisure. Stay at Hotel in Bhuj or at a 4 Room Parsi Family Run Heritage Home Stay.

It is said that Kutch embroidery was brought about by ‘Kathi’ cattle breeders who later settled down and created some new needlework that displayed a variety of elements, designs, themes, patterns, and moods. Kutch embroidery has been there for centuries and in the 16th and 17th centuries

Day 06. After breakfast a day Trip to Bhujodi today - In the villages of Kutch, tradition is like a seamstress and an unswerving one at that. It runs between the threads of the warp and the weft going up and down, in and out, hither and thither, giving form to a weaver’s imagination. In this, the humble handloom — a complex and laborious system sustains many artisan families in Bhujodi who live and breathe their craft. One amongst those is Chamanlal Siju, an eleventh-generation artisan and the recipient of the National Award. For Siju and his family, it has been their livelihood for as long as they can remember. The ancient relationship between artisans and pastoralists of the Kutch region of Gujarat is a classic example of harmonious coexistence. In the days of yore, Vankars or weavers of Bhujodi would make hand-spun blankets for the herdsmen, known as rabaris (the original customers of the artisans), to the sheath and protect them out in the open. Later drive to Dhaneti Village to meet the Ahir community artisans. Where the Women of the Ahir community do needlework when they get time from the work. This embroidery resembles Rabari stitches but only round mirrors are used with geometrical and oral motifs. Their dresses are embellished with embroidered articles. Return to Bhuj for late lunch. Today evening you will meet with the Textile expert Mr Wazir - who has an outstanding collection of vintage textiles amassed over many years and he will share his in-depth knowledge of Kutchi and Indian textile production. There will also be the opportunity to purchase pieces from his collection. Evening free to walk in the local market of Bhuj City. Dinner and overnight at Hotel in Bhuj or a 4 Room Parsi Family Run Heritage Home Stay.

Day 07. Post breakfast Drive to Nirona Village is where you can find three very unique local art forms — one of which even made its way to The White House. Yes, I’m talking about the popular Rogan art, a legacy art form that has been taken forward, for the past 300 years, by the Khatri family of Nirona. Resembling the characteristics of embroidery, Rogan art is when you paint on fabric using a thick brightly coloured castor seed oil (castor is commonly grown in the Kutch region of Gujarat). To prepare the paint, castor oil is heated for more than 12 hours until it catches fire. It is then mixed with cold water and vibrant colour to give a thick residue called Rogan. The artist then uses a six-inch thick-metal needle to paint with a fine thread of Rogan on a piece of cloth. Even the simplest design takes days to complete.

The Khatri family, in Nirona village, gives you a free demo, before showcasing a variety of different Rogan fabrics, should you wish to make a purchase. Simply walk-in.

Next on the list is The Luhars of Nirona and their popular Copper Bell art. Preserving it for the last 10 or so generations, many families in Nirona get their livelihood totally out of this. Copper Bell art has mainly originated from Sindh, and even today many villages around the border area inside India and Pakistan make it.

Just like the Khatri family of Rogan art, if you visit any Copper Bell artist in Nirona, he will show you how it was done. I ended up at Lohar Haji Saddiq’s shop in Nirona and was given a small demo of making a bell. Ali the artisan - He will personally come to escort you to his workshop and even give you a demo.

Once done with Copper Bell, meet the artisan of Lacquer. Practised by a semi-nomadic tribe called Wada, in the Banni area in and around the villages of Nirona and Bhrindiyara, Lacquer art turned out to be yet another distinction. This art is being practised and it is the by the original migrants from beyond Sindh, before partition. Obtained from the sap of the Rhus Tree which changes colour from white to brown upon exposure to air, Lacquer is a simple reflection of Zigzag patterns creating waves of colours mixing and adorning the simplest of the products like wooden spoons, bread rolling pins, containers, toys, utensils, etc. If the lacquer work starts to lose its shine, just apply some oil on it and it will look new.

 

If lucky you can even listen to a Meghwal Musician cum singer in the compound if he is not travelling overseas or in India for concerts. Drive to Hodka – Dinner, and overnight at Community-Driven Resort.

Day 08. After having breakfast, visit the Tribal village to see the Jat community and Pathan community village. After lunch, drive to see the Karo Dungar or Black Hill is the highest point in Kutch, This is probably the only place in Kachchh from where a panoramic view of the Great Rann of Kutch is possible. Later visit Khavda for Pottery works. Evening visit Dhordo to see the breathtaking views of White Rann. Return to Hodka – Dinner, and overnight at Community-Driven Resort.

Day 09. Drive to Mandvi, which is a tie-and-dye centre, and stay at a luxury beach resort. Post Lunch visits the Vijay Vilas Palace and Dhow-building yard to see ocean-worthy vessels being hand-built. You can buy some handmade ship models from Sagar Ship Model Shop. Stay at the Beach Resort.

Day 10. After breakfast drive to Bhuj or Gandhidham for an afternoon flight to Mumbai or after early breakfast drive to Ahmedabad to catch the next day early morning/midnight international flight.