Treasures of Gujarat

Gujarat has a long tradition of cottage scale textile production and artisanal craftsmanship. This itinerary focuses on the many small communities who are keeping such traditions alive. Mahatma Gandhi, a native of Gujarat, made cottage industry – particularly textile production – a cornerstone of his drive to establish economic independence from Britain. Separately, Gujarat is home to diverse ethnic and semi-nomadic tribal groups, who have their own craft traditions. As a result, Gujarat is home to some of India’s most exquisite hand-embellished crafts, which, along with cottage textile production, are the bedrock of the rural economy. Kutch is known for its fabulous embroideries, Wadhwan for itsbandhani tie-and-dye and Jetpur for block printing. Some techniques that are unique to Gujarat include the double ikat Patola weaving of Patan and the rogan painting on fabric of Nirona village. This tour will lead you to an understanding of these traditions and an insight into the communities that maintain them.

Blue Bull

Tag 1Arrival Ahmadabad

On your arrival at international airport in Ahmadabad early morning and after clearing customs&immigration,our representative will receive and escort you to your hotel. Ahmadabad is the largest city in the whole state of Gujarat. From the year 1960 to 1970, it served as the capital city of Gujarat. However, later on, the capital was shifted to the Gandjhinagar city. It was founded in the year 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah. It is owing to this reason that, sometimes, it is also referred to as the city of Ahmed Shah. Ahmadabad is the hub of trade and commerce in Gujarat. The commercial importance of Ahmadabad makes the city an important travel destination in India. Besides being home to a number of important industries, Ahmadabad also has a number of majestic monuments, which remind us of the great historical and cultural past of the city.Ahmadabad was incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during the British rule but remained the most important city in the Gujarat region. Over a period of time, Ahmadabad established itself as the home of textile industry and earned the nickname of "the Manchester of the East." A rising centre of higher education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmadabad continues to remain one of the important cultural and commercial centers of western India. Meet upon arrival & transfer to hotel. After early lunch will proceed to Calico Museum of Textiles. Calico museum of textiles in Ahmadabad is one of the finest museums of the world. Founded by Ms. Gira Sarabhai, the museum exhibits an enormous collection of fabrics, which are collected from all over the country. Situated in the vicinity of Shahibaugh Palace, the museum is bordered by lush green gardens and fountains that provide an enchanting view. Read further to know more about Calico museum of textiles at Ahmadabad in Gujarat. Established in the year 1949 AD, the museum has a large variety of woven fabrics. A wide array of clothing is available, ranging from religious clothes to the ones that are worn in the royal court rooms. Differing in quality and price range, there is something for every visitor. Popular works include sequins, mirrors, beads, silk threads etc. The unique feature of this museum is that, here you can even find the fabrics that can be traced back to the times of seventeenth century. Though, the name in itself is suggestive of the fact that the museum houses textiles, but in reality, it also contains furniture and various kinds of crafts gathered from different parts of the country. Images made from sandstone, marble and bronze that can be found here are always in demand. The museum has two separate sections for textiles, one is meant for the religious clothing and the other section consists of the historic textiles. The Calico museum of textiles is definitely worth a visit. After visiting museum, check in at hotel. Later proceed to Gandhi Ashram & also visit Siddi Syed ki Jali Gandhi Ashram which was set up in the year 1915. Sabarmati ashram was the central point from where the struggle for India's Independence was started. Till the year 1930, the ashram at Sabarmati was the home of Mahatma Gandhi. Bordered by shady trees, the atmosphere over here is very tranquil and peaceful. During the Indian struggle for independence, it was also referred to as the Satyagrah Ashram. Read further to know more about Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmadabad, Gujarat. The ashram houses a museum, library, auditorium and photo galleries. The museum exhibits the life of Mahatma Gandhi. There is an archive of letters written by Gandhiji. Also, the museum contains the manuscripts of his articles. Several films composed on the life of Gandhiji & India's freedom struggle etc. There are plenty of books in the library that will give you a valuable insight into the life history of Mahatma Gandhi. Anyone can come and visit the Gandhi ashram located alongside the Sabarmati River. It is open from 8.30 am to 6.00 pm everyday. Amidst the mad rush of the city, Sabarmati ashram serves as a great retreat. Sabarmati Ashram of Ahmadabad has a lot of significance for people of India, as our great freedom fighter Gandhiji lived here for quite a long time from 1917 to1930. For people interested in knowing about the freedom struggle of India, this is just the perfect place. Infact, it is a storehouse of useful piece of information. Siddi Syed ki Jali located near Lal Darwaza in Ahmadabad, the mosque of Sidi Sayed is one of the most prominent mosques in the Ahmadabad city. Constructed in the year 1573, the mosque was established by Sidi Sayed, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. Sidi Sayed mosque in Ahmadabad consists of ten semi circular windows, the appeal of which is accentuated by the splendid mesh covering them, which is more popularly known as 'Jali'. This monument has gained a worldwide recognition, due to its splendor. This skillfully carved mosque is truly the one of its kinds in the whole world. The Jali screen windows represent the Indo-Saracenic styling, which is admired by people all over the world. Consisting of delicately carved windows, the mosque is known for its stone tracery. The construction work of the Sidi Sayed mosque was taken up in the last year of the Sultanate rule in Gujarat. Stay overnight at Ahmadabad. (B,L,D)

Tag 2Ahmadabad- Vadodara

After breakfast drive to Vadodra (110 Kms/02 Hours), on arrival check in at hotel. Afternoon excursion to Champaner & Pavagadh. Champaner exhibits some of the finest examples of fusion architecture, sculpted by mellifluous architects from different culture and civilizations. Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Champaner is scattered over an area of 6 sq km around the foothills of Pavagadh. The main monument is the Jumma Masjid, which was built in 1513. A satellite mapping of the area, has revealed large tract swhich are yet to be excavated. The old fort just 11 km away is still intact with its rocky defenses. Pavagadh, with its temples, wells and numerous religious monuments, is an important religious place for Hindus and Jains and a charming getaway for just about anyone who is interested in history. The Maa Mahakalika temple, located 945 metres above sea level is so old that it is claimed to have been in existence even in Bhagwan Ram's time. You may reach the temple either by climbing the stairs or through the ropeway. Pavagadh is also a popular picnic spot for its scenic location. The Pavagadh hill offers excellent rock-climbing and trekking opportunities for the more adventurous tourists. Stay overnight at Vadodara. (B,L,D)

Tag 3Vadodara

Full day excursion to Chhota Udepur. Chhota Udepur, the capital of a tribal district where Bhils and Ratwas live in secluded hamlets. Visit the tribal museum which has interesting examples of wall paintings and collections of folk costumes, artefacts, weapons and handicrafts. Afterwards explore the Ratwa tribal villages around the town featuring picturesque houses with painted walls and terracotta horses. Later return back to hotel. Stay overnight at Vadodara. (B,L,D)

Tag 4Vadodara-Gondal

This morning you will be driven (about 5 hours) to Gondal, the heart of the small former principality of the same name. The royal family of Gondal, which ruled this area until independence, was committed to education and the modernization of the city. This was one of the first parts of India to have widespread use of electricity and a good rail and road network. The esteem in which the royal family (particularly Maharajah Bhagwat Sinhji) was and still is held by the local populace is evident throughout the town. Later in the day visit Khadi Plaza, one of Gujarat’s major handloom weaving units. You might also like to visit the Bhuvaneswari Ayurveda Pharmacy, one of the first and largest Ayurvedic pharmacies in India. The father of the present owner was said to have bestowed the title “Mahatma” on Gandhi, and a plaque in the courtyard marks the spot where Gandhi was honoured. The present owner lectures all over the world on the subject of Ayurveda, and is training his son to run the pharmacy. Here you can see how different ayurvedic remedies are prepared according to ancient practices. Stay overnight at Gondal. (B,L,D)

Tag 5Gondal-Bhuj

This morning you will be driven (about 6 hours) to Bhuj. Bhuj is a beautiful little town in Kutch district, Gujarat. It was founded in the year 1510 by a local ruler, called Maharao Hamir. The place was laid siege and take control of by Rao Khengarji I, another ruler who made the town the capital of his kingdom in the year 1549. Some of the parts of the old Bhuj were ruined during the course of the time. The place assumed the role of a self-governing state during the British reign in India. Bhuj, the former capital of Kutch, is now the headquarters of the district. The town actually had a rich and vibrant history. Since it was a walled city, at its prime in history, there were 35 feet high walls and towers that surrounded the city with 51 guns to boot. There was a hill for that was strategically located in such a manner, that the soldier would be able to espy on enemies and alert their defenses. Bhuj has got its name from the fortress called Bhuia that overlooks the city from this nearby hill. Bhuj has over a period of time witnessed so many events and calamities that have left a huge impact on Indian civilization. Alexander the Great's invasion has significance with Bhuj; the town finds its mention even in the story of the exile of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Stay overnight at Bhuj. (B,L,D)

Tage 6 und 7Bhuj

After breakfast full day sightseeing of Bhuj visit Cenotaphs Complex, Kutch Museum, Prag Mahal, Aina Mahal Palace. The Kutch Museum, formerly known as the Fergusson Museum, was founded by Maharao Khengarji III in 1877 AD. This museum was built by the state engineer Sir Ferguson, and thus named after him. This museum remained a private exhibit for the Maharaos till independence and was renamed as the Kutch Museum. The Kutch museum is the oldest museum in Gujarat. This museum is built in the Italian style and located in picturesque surroundings on the banks of the Hamirsar Lake. The museum has a large collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, various archaeological objects, arms and specimens of various crafts of the Kutch region. The Cenotaphs Complex or Chattardi was built of red stones. These tombs were ruined by the successive earthquakes since 1819. The complex built for Rao Lakha in 1770, is one of the largest and finest complex. This complex is in the shape of a polygon with balconies and an intricately carved roof. Some other cenotaphs belongs to Rao Rayadhan, Rao Desai and Rao Pragmal. These cenotaphs served as memorial grounds for the royal family. Prag Mahal was constructed by Rao Pragmalji II (1838-76 AD). Rao Pragmalji appointed a famous architect, Colonel Henry Saint Wilkins to design Prag Mahal, who had earlier designed Deccan College, Sasoon Hospital, Ohel David Synagogue. Prag Mahal took about 10 years to get built at the cost of 20 lakh rupees. Aina Mahal Palace was built by Rao Lakhpatji in 1750 AD. Aina Mahal is a part of a large palace complex. It is a two storey building with Darbar Hall, hall of mirrors, and suites for royal family. In the 18th century, the Rao Lakhpatji sent a local craftsman Ramsingh Malam to Europe to perfect his skills in glassmaking, enamelling, tile making and iron founding. After he returned back, he constructed the Aina Mahal with the hall of mirrors of Venetian glass. The Hall of mirror has white marble walls which are covered with mirrors and gilded ornaments and the floor is lined with tiles. The design and decoration of the Aina Mahal was due to the efficiency of Ramsingh Malam. The platform above the floor is surrounded by a series of fountains operated by an elaborated system of pumps below a Venetian chandelier. Aina Mahal is a unique example of an Indian palace built in the mid-eighteenth century with European influence. Stay overnight at Bhuj. (B,L,D)

Tag 8Bhuj-Dasada

After breakfast drive to Bhuj (300 Kms/06 Hours) enroute visit Bhujodi & Ajrakhpur. Bhujodi, a small town just 8 km southeast of Bhuj. Bhujodi is a major textile center of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft production. Here you can meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of whom belong to the Vankar community. Many will let you watch them work, just ask around. The Ajrakh block printing of Kachchh : Against the dull canvas of the Kachchh desert the rich and bold colours of the textiles are strikingly displayed. The millennia old tradition of weaving and dyeing textiles originated in this Indus Valley region in the North West of India, and is still in abundance today. For a typical Kachchhi man or woman, their cloth is an essential everyday commodity and decoration as well as a symbol of their identity. Whether woven, embroidered, printed or tie- dyed, the textiles worn by a person in this area can reveal a multitude of details about their caste, gender, age, religious affiliation, marital status and economic standing. The highly skilled and patterned ajrakh block-printing came to Kachchh from Sind 400 years ago when the Muslim Khatris (artisans who ‘apply colour to cloth’) settled in the village of Dhamadka. In 2001 a devastating earthquake severely damaged Bhuj, Dhamadka and other villages and towns all over the Kachh region. In the wake of this tragedy, the Khatris were brought closer together and a new village was created to rebuild their lives and their craft production, aptly named Ajrakhpur (‘place of Ajrakh’). Today there are Khatris living and working in both villages. Almost the whole village takes part in the block printing, and on entering, this is immediately obvious, with bright indigo, green and mustard yellow cloths drying out in one area and men whacking wet cloths at the washing ghats at another. Continue drive to Dasada. On arrival check in at hotel. 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. The safari across the Little Rann 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. The wild ass is a handsome chestnut brown member of the equus genus (horse family). Capable of reaching high speeds when galloping across the Rann, the wild ass is usually seen in small herds. The elegant blackbuck (Indian antelope), nilgai or blue bull (India's largest antelope) and the graceful chinkara (Indian gazelle) are other mammals seen at the bets. The main carnivores of the Little Rann of Kutch are the endangered Indian wolf, desert fox, Indian fox, jackals, desert and jungle cats, and a few hyenas. Smaller mammals like hares, gerbilles and hedgehogs, and reptiles like spiny tailed lizard, monitor, red and common sand boa, saw-scaled viper, cobra, dhaman (Indian rat snake), etc. could also be seen during the safaris in the Rann. Stay overnight at Dasada. (B,L,D)

Tag 9Dasada

Take an early morning safari to the Little Rann of Kutch. Though a bleak landscape, it is rich in biodiversity and is an ecologically important area for wildlife and many local and migratory water birds. However, the Little Rann is best known as the world’s last refuge of the Indian Wild Ass (Khur). After lunch will proceed to village safari to visiting Rabari & Mir comunity. Myths and legends haunt the history and origins of the Rabari in Gujarat, as mysterious as any other tribe, whose lifestyle has intrigued many researchers. Related to Shiva, which according to legend, descended through their ancestor Sambal, are one of the last nomadic peoples of the world. Even today, ancient routes traverse through the arid plains of the Thar Desert, in northwest India in search of pasture for their flocks. Ethnicity from Afghanistan, is the largest pastoral community of Kutch. The men, tall, thin, often with long moustaches, their heads wrapped in turbans predominantly light in color, wearing white pants tight at the ankles and a jacket, also white, tight and pleated chest. Ear, as a distinctive sign, a gold earring filigree (tolyia). While men lead their flocks to pasture, the women always treated with great respect within the family, dealing dell’allestimento of huts and children wearing colorful damask coats and baggy trousers. The women, who wear beautiful clothes elaborate, are very skilled in embroidery fabrics and blankets and even leather, while the men inlay work on wood and silver and copper crafts is a very rich, whose techniques were passed down generation to generation, making the famous Kutch. Each village has its specialties: Hodka to the Harijan work the leather in the Koli Nerona produce beautiful works of lacquer and dye the fabric with the technique of “rogan”. Characteristic of Rabari are colorful, embellished with embroidered waistcoats, men and women wearing jewels of gold and silver finely crafted, rings, bracelets and earrings of various forms. Often men who are less vain women, than women in the ornaments themselves. On the periphery of Dasada lives a community of 15 families of nomadic Mirs. Their dress is Rajasthani. Their homes are temporary. Traditionally they kept the genealogy of Rabaris. The Rabaris would pay them in kind – goats or sheep- to record their births, marriages and deaths. The Mirs used to also draw what was given in exchanges between Rabari families. Mirs migrated with Rabaris, keeping relations with them according to Rabari lineages. Each Mir was in charge of a particular lineage or sakh. Today, some 10,000 Mirs live all over Gujarat – all the way to Mumbai, Sattarbhai declares. They no longer live in Rajasthan but live particularly in Vagad, eastern Kutch, and north Gujarat. Women wear aniyo (a short, backless blouse), kurti (a front closing sleeveless jacket) ghagharo (a 20 meter gathered skirt), and chundadi (a 5 meter veil). Most striking are their ornaments: copious necklaces and tassels fashioned from beads, coins and trinkets, and in particular their white bangles from wrist to armpit. Mir men wear white pachedo (a wrapped lower garment) and kamiz (a shirt). Though Muslim, each Mir has both a Hindu and a Muslim name. Today Mirs do manual agricultural and construction labour. The women are expert in beadwork and in Dasada they have started making beaded bangles. Stay overnight at Dasada

Tag 10Dasada-Modhera-Patan-Ahmedabad

After breakfast drive to Palanpur enroute visit Modhera & Patan. Situated at a distance of 102 kms from Ahmadabad on the bank of the river Pushpavati, the Modhera sun temple was constructed in the year 1026 AD. It was established by the King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty in the dedication of Lord Surya. It is one of the finest architectures of the eleventh century. One of the best features of the temple consists of the carved torana arches. Read further to know more about the Sun temple at Modhera in Gujarat. From the point of view of structural designing, the sun temple at Modhera is truly the one of its kinds. The Modhera sun temple encompasses three main chambers, namely Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap. Surya Kund is basically a beautifully carved stepped tank that was named after Sun God. Sabha mandap is the hall, where people gather for discussions on religious topics. Guda Mandap is the sanctum sanctorum, also known as the main temple. Continue drive to Patan, on arrival visit Rani ki-Vav & weaving of Patola sarees. Another fine example of the Solanki period architecture can be seen at Anahilwada Patan, the capital of Gujarat from the 8th century till Ahmed Shah moved his seat of power to the larger and more impressive citadel of Ahmadabad in the 15th century. It saw the The greatest reminder of the golden period of Gujarat under the Solanki kings can be seen at the Rani-ki-Vav step well some distance from the town centre. Built in the 1050s and named for Rani Udamati, wife of Maharajah Bhim Deva and daughter-in-law of Mulraja, founder of Solanki rule in Gujarat, the stepwell is the oldest and perhaps the grandest among the 120 plus step wells in Gujarat. It's massive size can best be measured by comparism with the tourists who descend the steps and seen from above look little more than ants swarming an anthill. The stepwell was silted up for centuries, and only a major excavation and restoration work in the 1980s, which has helped resuscitate something of its former glory 7 storey’s down to the water level. Steps are string-coursed by sculpture of the Avatars of lord Vishnu, Hindu Goddesses, Jain idols and beautiful apsaras. Behind the water are sculpture of lord Vishnu. Chambers, where the royal families came to rest in summer, the water from the well skimming some of the heat from the breezes, the whole acting as a natural airconditioning There is talk now of excavating the surrounding areas, because there must have been palaces and other royal residences in the vicinity, which used the stepwell as a water source of aircooling system. Sahasra Linga talao, a large lake surrounded by beautiful temples, but these shrines are no longer in good condition, and this form of architecture can be better appreciated at the Musar tank in Viramgam, an hour away from Modhera, where another string of temples was erected by the same family. Hindu temples like the 12th century Maheshwara mandir, Kali mandir and Panchmukhi Hanumana mandir and the Jain temples like Doshiwar mandir and those in Kapur Mehtano pol follow the Solanki architectural tradition. The location of Patan on the banks of river Saraswati, one of the 3 holy rivers of India alongside the Ganga and the Yamuna, and its tributary the Chandrabhaga, has contributed considerably to its religious importance, and this explains the number of temples in this region, besides the fact that it was a major centre for learning and business in medieval times. After visiting Rani ki-Vav will proceed to visit the Patola sarees. Patola saris are a double ikat woven sari, usually made from silk,made in Patan, Gujarat, India. Patola saris are very expensive, once worn only by royalty and the aristocracy, they are popular and in demand from those who can afford them. Velvet patola styles are also made in Surat. Patola-weaving is a closely guarded family tradition. There are three families left in Patan that weave these highly prized double ikat saris. It can take six months to one year to make one sari. After visiting drive to Ahmadabad & check in at hotel. Stay overnight at Ahmadabad. (B,L,D)

Tag 11Ahmadabad-Out

After breakfast transfer to airport & board flight to onward destination.This is the end of your booked journey.

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