Crafts And Culture Of Rajasthan And Gujarat
Since India is rich and abundant in its natural resources, most of its arts and craft forms derive raw materials and design influence from nature. Almost all the ancient art forms are eco-friendly and mostly celebrating nature. From vegetable dyes, natural fabrics, nature-inspired patterns and design, its products are ecologically natural.
Art, history, music, culture form a wondrous matrix that is the cultural exuberance of the people of the state. The people of Gujarat and Rajasthan are gregariously friendly, inviting and will entice you to come again and again. Aavo Padharo are words of welcome in India. The Gujaratis and Rajasthanis certainly believe that ‘Guest is God”.
Here are communities living side by side, at peace and expressing their differences through colour, textiles, art and crafts.It is here that Mahatma Gandhi, in his struggle to achieve independence from the British, seized upon the idea of using the domestic weaving industry as a symbol to bring home to people the implications of commercial domination by foreign rulers. ‘Khadi’ (cloth that was hand woven from indigenous hand spun cotton) was the symbol of independence and self sufficiency. The Khadi program reinvigorated the handloom industry of India. It inspired use of traditional weaving, organic printing and painted textiles.Women cooperatives belonging to such groups as the shepherds, gypsies and farmers use traditional embellishments, fine embroidery and imaginative appliqué techniques as part of their everyday life. The tradition of cloth manufacture and organic printing here continues to develop and the production of handmade textiles is growing.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi
Meet on arrival and transport to hotel.
Day 2: Delhi
Full day a guided tour of Old Delhi, the 17th century walled city of Shah Jahanabad, visiting the great Jama Masjid, the principal mosque of Old Delhi. Built in the year 1656 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the largest & best known mosque in India. Later take a rickshaw ride through Chandi Chowk, the old marketplace of Shah Jahanabad now a picturesque bazaar to reach Red Fort, built in the year 1648 by Shah Jehan.
In New Delhi, visit Raj Ghat, memorial to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It is a simple black marble platform that marks the spot of his cremation on 31 January 1948. Further we drive past India Gate, memorial built in the year 1931 to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I & the Afghan Wars. The names of the soldiers who died in these wars are inscribed on the walls. President’s House, the official residence of the President of India, built in the year 1931. Until 1950 it was known as Viceroy’s House & served as the residence of the Governor-General of British India. We will also visit Humayun’s Tomb, memorial of Mughal Emperor Humayun, built in the year 1562. The complex is a World Heritage Site & the first example of this type of Mughal architecture in India. Qutub Minar, built in the year 1206 by Qutub-ud-din Aibek. It is the tallest (72m) brick minaret in the world, an important example of Indo-Islamic Architecture.
Day 3: Delhi – Agra (240 km / 5hrs)
After early breakfast drive to Agra. Afternoon visit the incredible architectural excellence of Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (Friday Closed). Next we visit Agra Fort, built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565. The red sandstone Agra Fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan’s time. This massive Fort is 2.5 km long & is considered as predecessor of Delhi Red Fort.
In the evening we will visit a centre for exquisite art of setting semiprecious stones in marble known as ‘Parchin kari’ was first introduced in India in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. For centuries this traditional art has been handed down from one generation to another within the families of the great master craftsmen, who gave the world the magnificent ‘Taj Mahal’.
Day 4: Drive Agra – Jaipur (260 / 4hrs) .
After early breakfast drive to Jaipur, enroute visit Fatephur Sikri, built in 1571, one of the world’s most perfect ghost cities and a marvel of design andconstruction. It is a synthesis of the flourishing styles of the Persian courts and the prevailing Hindu-Islamic trends. Fatehpur (town of victory) Sikri was built by Akbar, the third and greatest of the Great Moguls. It is over 400 years old and today its pristine red sandstone buildings are as perfect as when they were first chiseled.
The town was erected after a holy man, Sheikh Salim Chisti, decreed the births of three sons to Akbar after all his children had died in infancy. There are three sections to the City: The Royal Palace (notable for the Emperor’s throne), the outside of the Royal Palace and the Jami Masjid (the location of the Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a masterpiece in brilliant white marble). The centerpiece of this remarkable monument is the Jewel House of the Diwan I Khas. Architecturally extraordinary, the four doorways lead into a single-story room where a huge central pillar supports a seat reached by mid-air walkways.
Afternoon: city tour including the City Palace, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Jantar Mantar Observatory, bazaars.
Known as the Pink City, Jaipur was founded by Sawai Jai Singh II (1700-1743). It has 7 gates into the city–one for each of the 7 planets (which were the number of planets known at the time of the city’s founding).
At the heart of Jaipur is its City Palace which houses an extensive collection of rare manuscripts, Mughal and Rajasthani miniatures, Mughal carpets, costumes and textiles, arms and weapons, royal buggies, chariots and palanquins and a remarkable carriage -the indiraviman – that was drawn by four elephants. At the center is Chandra Mahal, the seven-tiered moon palace where the present Maharaja still resides. The City Palace complex also contains the Govind Devji Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Just outside the gateway of the City Palace is Jantar Mantar, the Yantralaya of Sawai Jai Singh II, the last great classical astronomer in India. The modernistic structures known as Yantras are the unique creations of this astronomer-king, designed by him and built by experts to observe the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. This is the largest of five observatories founded by him in various parts of the country. Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) is Jaipur’s most-photographed building, a honeycomb palace with 953 latticed windows overlooking the bazaar and busy streets of Jaipur. Built in 1799 by the poet-king Pratap Singh, this extraordinary building was used by purdah-bound women to watch the grand processions that were a regular feature of the city.
Day 5: Jaipur – Bagru – Jaipur
Morning drive to Amber, the name of the ancient kingdom of Jaipur and also the name of its ancient capital, situated 7 miles away. Its history can be traced backed to the 12th century. Amber Fort is superbly located, protected by the wild Arrival Hills on all sides. Originally built in the 11th century, it was expanded by Raja Mannish in the late 16th century. The ascent to the Fort will be on elephant backs.
Later drive to Bagru (30 Km / 1 Hr)
Thanks to the interest in ecofriendly printing practices, the village of Bagru now hums with much activity: stamping, printing, dyeing and supplying the exquisite art form to different corners of the world.
In spite of poor living and working conditions, the expert craftsmen of Bagru have kept the three-centuries-old tradition of block printing alive in India. Thanks to them, we now get to witness and ancient art form that shows how man lived in symphony with nature without harming the environment and oneself.
Day 6: Fly to Ahmedabad
Connect flight to Ahmedabad .
Later in the afternoon see Mr.Manubhai’s rare and magnificent collection of embroideries from all over Gujarat.
Evening enjoy a traditional Gujrati vegetarian dinner with local dance and music at Vishala, an authentically created Gujrati crafts village complete with traditionally decorated mud huts where potters and weavers are at work. Here we visit the ‘Vechaar’ Utensils Museum. It is one of its kinds in the world of museums as this is the only museum in the world portraying such precious collection of utensils.A walk around the hut-like museum makes one’s heart skip a beat watching at the irrevocable beauty of the utensils. They speak of the unmatchable genius of mankind during the old days when they did not have the modern facilities of our times. But for Vechaar our rich heritage would have been lost under the smoldering fire!
Day 7: Ahmedabad.
Morning visit Calico Museum of Textiles, (pending availability; it is private museum and restricted to very limited number of entrances per day and they do not allow advanced booking). The museum exhibits spectacular antique and modren textiles including rare tapestries, wall hangings and costumes from all the regions of Gujrat as well as the rest of India. See a variety of textiles ranging from incredibly long, colorful embroidered wall hangings to Zari saries embroidered in gold and weighing 9kg. Also on display are old weaving machines.
Afterwards: visit the Sabarmati Ashram, situated on the western bank of the Sabarmati River. This ashram, founded in 1918 by Mahatma Gandhi, who revitalized the textile industry here, became the headquarters during the struggle for Indian Independence.
Day 8: Drive Ahemdabad – Patan – Bajana (225 km / 7hrs)
Morning drive to Patan to visit some of its 100 Jain Temples including the Sun Temple in Modhera and Rani Kava Steps. We then visit the Salvi family, master weavers of the colorful Potala silk including the ancient art of double Ikat.
Day 9: Bajana.
Morning safari to view wildlife including the wild ass. Return to resort for lunch and free time. Late afternoon/early evening excursion to the ‘Rann of Kutch’ to visit Kutchhi Tribes. Among others, we visit Banni settlements to see the traditional handicrafts of these Abyssinian settlers, who migrated to India from Abyssinia around the 10th Century. Their work is the famous glass embroidery.
Day 10: Drive Bajana – Bhuj (280 kms / 5-6 hrs)
Enroute we visit Dhamadka the block printing ‘Ajrakh’ village and Bhujodi Village to meet the nomadic Rabari who weave camel wool on pit looms into blankets and shawls.
Day 11: Bhuj
Bhuj, the major town of Kutch, is an old walled city. There are walls within walls, attractive gateways, old palaces with intricate carvings, and striking brightly coloured Hindu temples. This is India before the tourist invasion. Morning visit various fascinating tribal villages surrounding Bhuj. Each tribe can be identified by its traditional attire and specializes in a different form of handicraft. The Banni tribal dwellings are made of round mud huts called `bhungas‚ with a single central support pole and a thatched or tiled roof, all surrounding a large community courtyard. The women tend to be shy with male visitors, but are hospitable and will welcome you into their homes. They have an exquisite personal collection of embroidered quilts and garments. Walls, shelves, grain containers and cupboards are fashioned in mud with decorative designs washed with lime paste and embedded with mirrors that throw hundreds of shimmering reflections. You will also see a variety of handicrafts, including textiles, vegetable colour dye printing, Rogan art (wax printing), glass beadwork, woolen shawls, leather articles and more. We also visit some local weaving families in Sumarsar village, famous for Soof Embroidery, Nirona Village with its fabulous Rogan art (wax printing) & bell making and Ludiya (aka Ghandi Gram) village. Return to Bhuj for the overnight. Traditional Thali dinner at Hotel Prince.
Day 12: Bhuj – Bombay
Fly to Bombay. Transfer to hotel by airport, room for wash/change till 10 pm. Transfer to international airport for flight home.