This is an opportunity to explore architecture, craft and wildlife in the state of Gujarat. Enjoy the rich and diverse architectural treasures of Champaner-Pavagadh and the capital Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad’s multilayered Hindu, Muslim and later modern influences brought in by its textile industrialist class make it an Indian city like no other. Also on the tour are craft villages in Kutch, the wildlife sites of the Little Rann of Kutch, the fringes of the Great Rann of Kutch, finally, Gir National Park. Gujarati cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian fare as well as robust meat dishes.
Arrive Mumbai today where accommodation is held today from 12 noon.
Drive out of the city to visit Gujarat’s twin UNESCO World Heritage sites of Champaner and Pavagadh. Spread over 300 acres the complex consists of some of the most beautiful buildings created by Sultan Begada in the 16th century and Rajput Hindu temples. Time permitting, visit the Chellawada Adivasi village.
Day trip to tribal villages of the Bhils and the Ratwas.Time your visit for the colourful weekly markets in the area. Visit Ranpur village and the Dabhoi Fort, a rare surviving example of Hindu military architecture.
Drive to Ahmedabad, an hour and a half away. Ahmedabad’s ancient buildings are representative of the Indo-Saracenic style, which evolved from a blending of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. The medieval walled city has a cornucopia of sites. Contemporary architecture too is represented here, in the buildings housing the National Institute of Design, the Indian Institute of Management and others created by Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn among others.
Visit the Calico Museum of Textiles. This afternoon, take a walking tour of the Old City to see the elaborately carved merchants’ houses, Jain and Hindu temples among them, and beautifully carved pigeon feeders.
Early this morning, visit Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram. Later, visit the Adlaj Vav stepwell and the tomb of Sufi saint Gunjbaksh. Ahmedabad’s enterprising industrial class have created several high quality private museums with collections ranging from miniature paintings to rare folk art.
Drive to Dasada. Stop enroute at the sleepy town of Patan to see the increasingly rare craft of double ikat weaving and the Rani ki Vav stepwell. Explore the striking 11th century Modhera Sun Temple.
The Rann of Kutch is a salt desert – an expanse of salt flats and grasslands in northwest Gujarat. It has a stark and unforgettable beauty – in sunlight the salt crystals in the sand glitter like diamonds, while at night they bathe the landscape with a blue haze.
Explore the wild ass sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch.
Visit the Rabari and Bharwad tribes that live in the area. They are nomadic herders and the most striking feature of the community is their rich and colourful embroidery.
Drive to Bhuj, around 5 hours away.
Bhuj was the capital of the princely state of Kutch and remains the region’s headquarters. This evening, absorb the local flavour at the Shroff Bazaar. Milling with local shoppers the narrow lanes are packed with tiny shops selling a variety of textiles – quilts, embroidered fabric, items for religious use and clothes.
This is a long but rewarding day as you depart Bhuj for a full day excursion to the craft villages in the northern Banni, the vast stretch of semi-desert land area. The multifarious communities that live in Kutch have their own dance, craft and dress, all shaped by history, clan tradition, economic necessity and the landscape.
Kutchi embroidery was traditionally done by women in summer time and the skills are passed down generation to generation. These items also formed part of the girl’s dowry. The embroidery includes Rabari embroidery, Ahir embroidery,Aari work and Soof embroidery. These were transformed to women’s dresses, caps and even accessories for bullocks and camels. You will also visit the Mutva community famous for its quilts too and those that work on leather.
Full day excursion to the craft villages in the northern Banni, the vast stretch of semi-desert land area.
You will also visit the Mutva community famous for its quilts too and those that work on leather.In addition you will also visit Kala Rakha, an NGO that has played a key role in finding contemporary applications of their embroidery. At Dhordo you will also pass a checkpost into the salt desert. The display here includes beadwork, embroideries, utensils, religious objects and even a collection of bullock cart accessories!
Drive to Rajkot, 3 hours away, stopping by at Ajrarakhpur where the Khatri family has successfully revived a traditional block printing technique.
Visit Gandhi’s old home, now converted to a simple museum, and his old school (subject to permission).
This morning, drive on to Gir, 2.5hrs away.
Gir Forest National Park comprises of a rugged terrain of low hills and tracts of deciduous forest interspersed with areas of grassland. It is most famed for its lions . Enjoy morning and afternoon safaris into their habitat. The range of the latter once extended as far as Greece, but habitat destruction and hunting gradually diminished its population until today, when a mere few hundred remain in the Gir Forest.
Continue your explorations at Gir.
After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Palitana 2.5 hrs away. Though Buddhism and Janism developed in India at roughly the same time, Buddhism declined in the country while Jainism thrived. Jainism traces its roots to a succession of 24 Jinas. Jinas are ‘those who overcome’ and the last Jina was Mahavira (the great Hero). Jainism advocates deep asceticism and renunciation as the path to salvation. Ahimsa or non-violence towards humans, animals, insects and even plants is at the core of this faith, a precept that greatly influenced Mahatma Gandhi.
Gujarat is one of the main strongholds of Jainismand the intricately sculpted temples on the sacred hills of Shatrunjaya are one of their most important piligrimage sites.
You may also visit HengarPir. Often overlooked by tourists this is the tomb of a Muslim saint who is said to have protected the site from invasion by other Muslims. It is now associated with fertility miracles and many childless couples visit here.
During puja (worship), no food of any sort is eaten by anyone on the sacred hill.
After breakfast, drive to Ahmedabad airport 5 hours away for your onward journey.
We look forward to welcoming you to slow travel in the Indian subcontinent,
imaginatively and meticulously designed just for you.