This is an exotic odyssey through Gujarat in Western India for adventurers, collectors and photographers. Art of Living has designed this tour for guests who will enjoy an imaginative itinerary, wish to share Marieke’s enthusiasm for roads less travelled and are eager to explore a region not much visited by Western tourists.
- beautiful heritage hotel in Ahmedabad
- interaction with tribal communities in their traditional villages
- a cornucopia of exquisite hand-crafted textiles
- the exceptional collections at the famed Calico Museum
AT A GLANCE
Now in its 10th year
LENGTH: 10 Days
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate
TYPE: AoL Escorted | Small Group Tour | Bespoke
STYLE: culture | anthropology | photography | collectors |textiles
START | FINISH: Ahmedabad | Mumbai
A mix of luxury, heritage, resort and best available in Bhuj city
All meals, guide, entrance fee, porterage
Luxury mini coach and internal airfares included
29 January– 7 February 2019
from USD6000 twin | double share
Minimum 4 guests, maximum 10 guests
Arrive into Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat – a city rich with 500 years of architectural styles and many mosques, step wells and temples. Accommodation for the first three nights is at the incomparable and very lovely House of MG, the former elegant mansion of the prestigious and wealthy Muslim Mangaldas Girdhardas family who have reclaimed it and converted it into a most personable boutique hotel, and one of my favourite places of respite in India.
There is much to be accomplished in the city today, not least seeing the exceptional collection of Textiles and bronzes at the Calico Museum, paying tribute to Gandhi at his original ashram, touring the Shreyas Museum of Folk Arts, the architectural marvel that is the Adalaj-ni-Vav stepwell, and picking up exceptional art books from the wonderful Arts Centre bookshop.
The morning begins with a heritage walk before breakfast. This remarkable city is a treasure trove of architecture from crumbling mansions, to mausoleums, mosques and nunneries, to buildings created by le Corbusier. Later, visit the Lalbhai Dalpatbhai Museum that houses ancient and medieval Indian art treasures, sculptures, bronzes, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, miniature paintings, woodwork and bead work. Lunch today is at Vechaar, a quirkily interesting village-like environment with a museum of old utensils.
Today is a feast for the senses visiting the 1026 A.D. Sun Temple of Modhera, a de Esch like structure. Rani-ki-Vav is one of India’s most astounding stepwells discovered in almost pristine condition in the 1980’s and boasting many storeys of very beautiful classical sculpture; Patan, a beautiful old town with Jain Temples is the famous home of Patola (double ikat) silk saris.
This evening arrive at your lodge bordering the Little Rann of Kutch – a vast salty desert that feels quite surreal; where mirages abound and the parched earth unfolds endlessly in all directions.
Today cross the State to reach the old walled city of Bhuj, capital of the Kutch (“Kachchh”) region known as the “Jaisalmer of Gujarat.” Bhuj is a medieval maze of tight, winding streets, flurried marketplaces, ancient palaces (now museums), and Hindu temples decorated with gaily painted gods, abandoning themselves to the joys and terrors of all their incarnations. Someone described it as “stepping into a Salman Rushdie world of mystery and intrigue”.
Settle into your comfortable inner city hotel before we visit the private home of a collector of museum-quality traditional textiles.
Whilst hand-embellished textiles are the bedrock of the rural economy of Kutch, the region has equally fine terracotta, metal and wood crafts.
Meet directly with artisans in their homes and workshops to meet experts who will illuminate your appreciation of historic and contemporary textiles – fine wool weaving in Bhujodi village, outstanding bandhani (tie+dye) created by Jabbir and his talented family, silk single ikat, and the village of Ajrakhpur where the Khatri family have revived the ancient tradition of block printing with natural dyes.
Today’s highlight is the new museum dedicated to the artists of Kutch. Also visit QASAB, a phenomenal rural enterprise project engaging over 1200 women in embroidery production.
Afternoon tea with a designer who relocated from Sydney several years ago and is now based in Bhuj where she creates one–off contemporary clothes incorporating traditional textiles and old embroideries.
Later this afternoon spend time in the wonderfully colourful bazaars of the old city and visit the night markets.
Today, venture north to the wonderful tribal regions of the barren and inhospitable Rann of Kutch’s vast salt plains that separates the state of Gujarat from Sind in Pakistan to experience the various facets of tribal life.
Visit the villages of Khavda, Hodko and Dhordo. Meet Sufiya in her village home where you can learn the intricate art of mirror-work (shisha embroidery).
Accommodation for the last two nights is a small lodge resort in the peaceful countryside.
Known as the ‘Melting Pot of Tribes’, the Rann of Kutch region is home to many unique tribes (communities), known for their fascinating and colourful culture and traditions. The major tribes of the region are the Megwar, Samma, Jat, Mutwa, Ahir and Rabari whose traditional lifestyles are increasingly under pressure from modernisation.
Visit nearby villages where they create metal and lacquer work.
This morning, for the energetic, there is the opportunity to trek up the hills to a fascinating temple.
Your rooms are reserved until you drive back to Bhuj to take your flight to Mumbai and home or onward directions.
SUGGESTED TOUR EXTENSIONS
- Jaipur Literary Festival
- Rajasthan by Road
- Mumbai and the Ajanta Caves
CUSTOM TRAVEL OPTIONS
Your Tour Leader, Marieke Brugman.
For over twenty years, Marieke has been leading tours to the Subcontinent that enthral guests. The exotic vibrancy of India, its explosion of colour, thronging bazaars, amazing stillness in even the largest crowds, elegant and hospitable people, whether from regal lineage or simple, dignified rural-dwellers, and their arts and crafts, their rich spiritual traditions, the commonplaceness of the unexpected and the surprising, and a vast and complex cultural and culinary history of immense variety and diversity of landscape captivate and beckon year after year. Marieke brings to her tours a meticulous sense of planning, passion, engagement and humour.
Your Tour Leader, Thakur Durga Singhji. Durga has worked with Marieke in India for over two decades and he is without compare when it comes to guiding guests in India. An exceptional guide and host, he is a proud, aristocratic Rajput, Durga brings his culture and country vibrantly alive. A rare Renaissance man with interests as diverse as philosophy, religion, contemporary politics to farming, tribal culture, music, poetry, Durga sports not only a grand moustache but also a wonderful sense of humour. A marvellous and engaging raconteur, his insights will leave a lasting impression.
Our Man on the Ground in Bhuj, Pravin Dangera. Pravin was a disenchanted lawyer who turned to tourism because of his love of meeting people and his dedication to his local communities, especially after the tragic earthquake that decimated much of the region in 2001. The sweetest of souls, a keen photographer, Pravin seems to know everyone in Kutch and speaks all the local dialects. He has worked with documentary and film crews, photographic expeditions, conservation groups and textile scholars and aficionados from all over the world. For Pravin, nothing is ever too much trouble.
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