DAY 01: AHMEDABAD
Arrival at Ahmedabad in the morning, airport of our local representative and transfer to hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Gandhi Ashram, SidiSaiyed Mosque, AdalajStepwell and Shreyas Folk & Art Museum .Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah, from whom it took its name. In the sixteenth century was celebrated as one of the most beautiful cities of India. Even today you can visit many palaces and mosques.
Characteristic of the old part of town are the "Pol", settlements that form a sort of small village has a square, the well areas to care for the animals and are surrounded by the Haveli, the ancient merchants' houses, lavishly decorated.
Gandhi Ashram : Here Gandhi started his struggle in favor of the Untouchables in 1917, when he founded the Sabarmati Ashram, where he lived for about 15 years. Today we are manufacturing spinning wheels, handmade paper and other craft products, unadorned rooms where Gandhi lived turned into a museum.
SidiSayed Mosque : One part of the wall in the old citadel of the mosque built by Ahmed Shah’s slave, SidiSayed, is celebrated the world over for its exquisite stone window tracery – a superb & peerless example of delicate carving that transforms stone into filigree.
Adalaj Step-well : It is situated 17kms north of Ahmedabad. The step well at the village of Adalaj is another fine example of this magnificent architectural form. AdalajVav is richly carved, every pillar and wall surface covered with leaves and flowers, birds and fishes and friezes of ornamental designs.
Shreyas Museum : Shreyas Folk Museum is an educational museum exhibiting folk arts and crafts of Gujarat. It is located 2.5km west of Sabarmati in the suburbs of Ahmedabad district. As the name suggests, the exhibits at the museum include art, craft, textile and clothing, coins, weapons, toys, costumes, masks, puppets and musical instruments. One of the highlights at this museum is a complete elephant skeleton (3.19m high). Photography is not allowed.
Museum remains open from Tuesday to Saturday: 3:00 to 5:30 pm
Sunday: 10.30 am to 1:30 pm, 3:00 to 5:30 pm.
Museum remains closed on: Mondays, (weekly holiday)
Nine public holidays: Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtmi, Dashera, Dipawali, New Year, Bhai Beej, Dhuleti, Uttarayan, Mahashivratri
Ten days around Diwali and fifteen days in Summer.
Later we visit the beautiful handicraft market at Law Garden.
Overnight at Ahmedabad.
DAY 02: AHMEDABAD-CHAMPANER-JAMBUGHODA
Breakfast, departure to Jambughoda (about 190 km, approx. 4 h). Champaner to stop along the way.
Champaner - This city, located at 47 K in the north-east of Vadodara, was conquered in 1484 by Sultan Mahmud, and he renamed Begara Muhammadabad. Named World Heritage Site by UNESCO, counts 114 monuments of historical and archaeological interest, among them stand the mosque of Jama Masjid, for its impressive interior courtyard, its porches, beautiful arches and slender minarets.
Worth a visit also Shahr Masjid, with its row of columns, domes and delicate mihrab (niche facing Mecca) and Nagina Masjid with a charming porch.
Beside the village is built on three levels of the Pavagadh Hill, a hill topped by the ruins of a fortress. According to Hindu legend, the hill would be a fragment of the Himalayas that the Monkey God Hanuman took away with him to Lanka in one of the episodes recounted in the epic Ramayana - hence the name Pavagadh, which means "quarter of a hill."
Later we drive to Jambughoda, hotel accommodations for dinner and overnight.
DAY 03: JAMBUGHODA
Breakfast at hotel. Full day excursion to the picturesque town of Chotta Udaipur and characteristic villages of the Bhil and Rathwa. Check in Chotta Udaipur hotel, dinner and overnight.
Chotta Udaipur – Chhota Udaipur was the capital of the erstwhile Princely State of Chhota Udaipur, founded in 1743 by Rawal Udeysinhji, a descendant of Patai Rawal of Champaner. This state was a second class state under Rewa Kantha Agency and merged with theUnion of India on March 10, 1948.
The Bhil, whose name means archer, are masters in the use of bows and arrows and kept alive to this day, fascinating traditions, displaying an innate resistance to modernization. The ornaments, tattoos and body painting, meet ancestral impulses and artistic decoration, tattoos besides being a personal decoration, have a specific religious and magical significance.
Bhil ethnic characteristic is the custom to dress in white: white turban, white pants. They are one of the most numerous ethnic groups living in different parts of Gujarat. Also known by the name of Kolis, are divided into subgroups: TadviBhils, ValviBhils, VasavaBhils, Bhil Garasia, Bhilala. They are organized into large groups called patrilineal Atak, Odakh, and Got Kul; Atak is a collection of groups that bear the same name and descended from the same mythical ancestor.
Overnight at Jambughoda
DAY 04: JAMBUGHODA-PATAN-MODHERA-POSHINA
Breakfast at hotel. Check out and departure for Poshina (ca. 290 km, approx. 5 h.) enroute visiting Modhera Sun Temple & Patan.
Patan : India has the rich & ancient heritage in fine textiles. (Double Ikat ) Patola from the area of Patan with its unique gem like qualities , gorgeous colours, designs & durability. Its very appearance lures the connoisseur of fine textiles. It has no reverse side. Both the sides have equal intensity of colour and design.
The peculiar quality has its origins in a very intricate and difficult technique of Tie dyeing or Knot dyeing known as Bandhani Process on the wrap & weft separately before weaving.
The Patola was traditionally woven in a sari length of 5 to 9 yards by 45” to 54” width.
The range now extends to include tablecloth border, scarves, handkerchiefs.
Design Element : Essentially the design in a Patola are based on traditional motifs called “Bhat”, These designs include “narikunj”, “pan”, “phulwadi”, “chowkdi”, “raas”, “chhabdi”, “chokha”, “navratna”, “panchphool”, “sarvariya”, “laheriya” etc.
Flowers, animals, birds & human figures form the basic designs. New geometrical designs using vegetable dyes were developed and displayed at the Festival of India held in Paris, London, Tokyo, Washington and Moscow.
Rani-ki-Vav - Patan : On the banks of the Saraswati river, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. Rani-ki-vav was built at the height of craftsmens’ability in step well construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality, more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5m by 9.4m, at a depth of 23m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10m in diameter and 30m deep.
Modhera: This small town has an ancient temple that is now partially in ruins: Temple of the Sun This dates back to 1027 and was built to commemorate a victory against a coalition Hindu Muslim Sultan who raided the area. The temple is characterized by rich decorations and panels carved with bas-reliefs. The shrines of Ganesh, Vishnu and Shiva's incarnation surround an artificial lake on three sides, while the main temple and complete the rectangle shows 52 columns in elaborately carved. It is architecturally similar to the "Sun Temple" of Konarak in Orissa.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
DAY 05: VISIT TO THE TRIBAL VILLAGES (Poshina)
Days entirely dedicated to the visit of tribal villages around Poshina. You will have the opportunity to discover the customs of ethnic groups and Garacia Bhil and visit the temple of Ambaji, dedicated to the mother goddess Amba.
Garasia - Contrary to other ethnic groups, living in the GarasiaPoshina, at the confluence of the rivers and Aakar Sabarmati, in north Gujarat, bordering Rajasthan. Among Garasia is generally widespread monogamy marriages are contracted between persons of the same clan, but not among members of the same village and among people with family ties. Can be combined or occur as a result of a leak. It 's customary for couples to escape for a trial period, in which case the bride's father is given as compensation a sum of money, if the union fails, the wife comes home with another sum to be delivered to its parent . Garasia I believe in Bhagwan, the figure of the supreme God, which is never personified. Their traditional offerings are small horses in red clay, which are usually placed under trees or near sacred rocks or water sources, elements that are associated with the strength of spirits. Little is known about these sanctuaries, religious observances and rituals related to the terracotta horses are given in case of need and help maintain peace in the life of the village.
Dinner and overnight at Poshina.
DAY 06: POSHINA-LITTLE RANN OF KUTCH
After breakfast, depart for Dasada.
The Little Rann Kutch is a depression that during the rainy season is first invaded by salt water and then the Indian Ocean and fresh water of the rains, becoming a pescosissima area of brackish water. With the end of the rains the waters recede, creating arid areas and wetlands, and the latter are to winter thousands of migratory birds including flamingos and cranes until the arrival of summer. These characteristics make it a unique ecosystem. The Little Rann and 'the last place where a few surviving specimens (three thousand) dell'onagro, the Indian wild ass (EquushemionusKhur), an ancient animal that the Sumerians used to pull carts. In the Little Rann has focused Agaryas ethnicity, dedicated to the extraction of salt from the desert during the period that goes from the end of the monsoon in early summer, then from October to April. After their take over of the fishermen, that during the rains, tweak their own networks and surf the brackish waters, especially shrimp fishing.
Dinner and overnight at Little Rann Of Kutch.
DAY 07: LITTLE RANN OF KUTCH
After breakfast at hotel, excursion to the little Rann of Kutch villages, the Indian province that lies between the deserts of Sind and Thar, near the border with Pakistan. Here, in remote villages in the desert of salt, interesting people live, the Rabari, Banni, the Koli, Harijan and the others, who live in round huts interior whitewashed and inlaid with many mirrors.
In the region of North Gujarat, especially in the region of Kutch one of the most interesting ethnic communities is Rabaris. Once a nomadic people, Rabaris follow an interesting lifestyle and customs. Today, most of the Rabaris are settled, though some still continue to be semi-nomadic, raising cattle, camels and goats in the arid deserts of Kutch and western India. Those settled live in small hamlets either in villages or in small towns, sometimes jointly with other ethnic communities and sometimes as a single ethnic unit. Rabaris can be easily identified by looking at their women folk, who are usually clad with long black head scrapes, distinctive heavy brass earrings which hang low, stretching the earlobes. Their jewellery is modest in comparison to other tribal women. There is an interesting myth about their black wearing.
Dinner and overnight at Little Rann Of Kutch.
DAY 08: DASADA-BHUJ
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Bhuj (280 km: 5 ½ hours), accommodation at the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Bhuj is the main town of Kutch, another example of a fortified town characterized by narrow streets and labyrinthine alleyways, walls within walls and imposing gates towers, old buildings from the wards and fanciful carved Hindu temples.
For a sightseeing tour of Bhuj city visiting Prag Mahal, Aaina Mahal & Kutch Museum.
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.
Aaina Mahal Palace : 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. Aaina Mahal remains closed on Thursdays & public holidays. ( Remain Closed on Thursday & National Holidays )
The Kutch Museum: Formerly known as the Fergusson Museum, was founded by Maharao Khengarji III in 1877 AD. Its the oldest museum in Gujarat. Constructed in the Italian style, the museum is located in picturesque surroundings on the bank of Hamirsar Lake. The museum has been a center of attraction for scholars due to its large collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, curious archaeoligical objects, fine collection of arms & specimens of various crafts of Kutch region. Other places of interest at Bhuj are- Cenotaphs of Kutch rulers, Snake Temple at Bhujiyo Hill Fort, Swaminarayan temple, Vegetable market, Hatkeshwar temple & Alfred High School
( Remain Closed on Wednesday & 02ND, 04TH Saturday )
Overnight at Bhuj.
DAY 09: BHUJ
Full day excursion to Banni Villages.
Amidst the Desert land of infinite dimensions, are suspended, quaint little villages. These are the last villages on the India-Pakistan border. Here you will come across master craft people' exposing their traditional art, turning our master pieces every day. Their ornaments, clothes, utensils, everything they use - will make you feel as if you have stepped into lifestyle museum leaving you spellbound.
The traditions of needlework and textile arts are preserved by almost every community and caste in the semi-arid regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. A full day exploring some of the Kutchi village communities offers an insight into the traditions and the daily life of the artisans whose work is integral to the culture of the region. The village of Nirona is the only place in the world where the tradition of Rogan art is still practiced (a method of producing dyes from natural resources and castor oil and creating intricate and long-lasting designs on silk and cotton). Nirona also offers the chance to see artisans making copper bells and practicing wood lacquering. The villages of Dhordo and Ludia provide an opportunity to see Bandhani (tie and dye,) block-printing and the intricate embroidery and embellished bead and mirror-work that encapsulates the folk culture of Gujarat.
Return to Bhuj for an overnight stay.
DAY 10: BHUJ-GONDAL
Today we drive to Gondal enroute visiting Ajrakhpur & Bhujodi.
Ajrakhpur is a new village established by the traditional Muslim Khatri hand block printers after the earth quake that struck in 2001. This is a craft village where you will find artisans practicing traditional hand block printing in the resist technique on cotton/silk fabrics using the age old Ajrakh prints as well as new design motifs. Visit Ismail Khatri, a master artisan who has been awarded an honorary ph.D. Degree by De Montfort University for his knowledge of natural dye practices. You can also visit a number of block printing units like that of Abdul Rahim, Abdul Gani Hasam, Abdul Raheman Buddha, and Adam.
Bhujodi : Nestled away in Bhujodi is a community of master artisans versed in traditional handloom weaving. You can see live demonstrations and buy hand woven products such as woolen and cotton stoles, shawls, blankets, carpets, bed and table linens directly from the weavers as you walk through the village and explore each household. Famous among the weavers are Vankar Vishram Valji and Vankar Nanji Bhimji, national award winners. The village is also home to a vibrant Nanji Bhimji, national award winners. The village is also home to a vibrant Rabari community that embroiders beautiful motifs and mirror work on the shawls made by the weavers. Their houses display traditional mud work and are well worth a visit. About a kilometre behind Bhujodi is the Hiralaxmi Crafts Park, a non-profit venture by the Ashapura Group of Companies to give artisans across Kachchh an open platform to display their skills and sell their products. The quality of products varies. On weekends, the park also organizes music and dance performances.
Gondal: The Riverside palace at Gondal, a Govt. of India classified heritage hotel, and the Orchard Palace in the same town, are two mansion guest houses opened as heritage hotels. The interiors of these properties are equipped with period furniture, antiques and artifacts reminiscent of the days of the Raj. The highlight of staying at these properties is that guests can see the Royal Garages, housing vintage & classic cars, and the Naulakha Palace, which is a festival of stone carvings & houses royal memorabilia including toys of the late 19th & early 20th century, silver caskets that carried messages & gifts for the Maharaja, elephant howdahs & royal portaits. It has a royal saloon suite, which has its own drawing, dining, bedroom & bathroom in a converted railway carriage.
Overnight at Gondal.
DAY 11: GONDAL-LOTHAL-AHMEDABAD
Today we drive to Ahmedabad enroute visiting Lothal.
Lothal: A perfect place to get an insight of the Indus Valley civilization. The most dominating site at Lothal is the massive dockyard spanning an area of 37 meters by 22 meters perhaps the greatest work of Maritime Architecture. Lothal was also famous for its arterial streets, microbes of gold, ivory and coppersmiths’ workshops, potteries and underground sanitary drainage. It is located at a distance of 78kms from Ahmedabad. NOTE : Museum of Lothal remains closed on Fridays.
Overnight at Ahmedabad
DAY 12: AHMEDABAD
Today we take a flight from Ahmedabad airport.