Colorful India: Textiles, Crafts and Beyond – ITINERARY

Dates: October 2nd – 18th, 2021 An immersive small group journey highlighting cultural exchange, hands-on creative experience and sheer wonder in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Delhi – Ranthambore – Bundi – Udaipur – Bhuj/Kutch – Ahmedabad – Delhi
ITINERARY Oct 2nd: DELHI / ARRIVAL DAY Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to our hotel by a private driver and a member of our team will be there to greet you.The remainder of the day will be yours to rest and recover from jet lag and meet your fellow travelers. We’ll then have a tour orientation in the evening followed by our welcome dinner. Oct 3rd: DELHI The tour begins with a visit to the wonderfully welcoming Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple, a beautiful holy shrine where we encounter Sikh pilgrims from around the country. Over 5000 meals per day are provided, free of charge, to anyone who visits the temple. We’ll take a unique behind-the-scenes look at the massive communal kitchen where volunteers prepare the meals. After a traditional South Indian lunch, we’ll wander around the extensive Dilli Haat market where you’ll enjoy your first glimpse of Indian textiles as well as handicrafts from all over the country. As evening rolls around, we’ll head to one of Delhi’s best restaurants for a group dinner. Oct 4th: DELHI / RANTHAMBORE Boarding our fast 1st class train, we’ll embark on a five-hour journey into the state of Rajasthan. Upon arrival in Ranthambore, we’ll check in to our hotel nestled in the serene countryside near Ranthambore National Park. We’ll head over to an impressive local collective for a tour, presentation and time to interact with the talented men and women who create an enormous array of impeccably finished textiles. Making the most of this unique opportunity, we’ll have the entire afternoon to spend at Dastkar observing their craftsmanship and sharing ideas and skills with the artisans of this inspiring collective. Oct 5th: RANTHAMBORE Early this morning, we’ll head straight into Ranthambore National Park for a two-hour tiger safari led by a professional guide and naturalist. Considered one of the best locations in India for tiger spotting, we’ll also be on the lookout for endless varieties of colorful birds and other wildlife. After lunch, we’ll then return to the Dastkar collective for a 2 hour block printing demonstration and time to make our own shawls with the help of our welcoming hosts. From here, we’ll take a short drive to visit one of the villages where many of the men and women at the collective actually live. We’ll learn about their culture and traditions and have time to interact with their families. There will also be time to visit the magnificent Ranthambore Fortress for those who wish to walk through this imposing historical monument. Oct 6th: RANTHAMBORE / BUNDI After a quick two-and-a-half-hour drive, we’ll arrive in Bundi, where we’ll get situated in our centrally-located heritage hotel. After lunch, we’ll walk up to the ruins of the grand Bundi Palace, towering over this magical blue town. Our walk will take us through narrow lanes, past ancient homes and mansions and bring us into contact with friendly families, shopkeepers and more. We’ll also stop for a special chai demonstration with a local vendor who will serve up some of the most amazing masala tea on the planet. Our day will finish with dinner overlooking the palace and fortress high above the town. Oct 7th: BUNDI Our local contacts in Bundi have arranged the kind of incredible day rarely experienced by tourists. We’ll drive to a remote village where brilliantly colored saris are woven using indigenous techniques. We’ll tour the village, engage with artisans, learn about both their craft and their lives. We’ll then visit a local school to give both the teachers and the children a chance to do something they never have a chance to do – interact with and ask questions to foreign visitors. Following lunch, we will enjoy a private puja (traditional Hindu ceremony) with a local priest at a 1000-year old temple. After this unique experience, there will be free time to relax, wander the streets and alleys of Bundi, shop or check out some of the beautiful stepwells. Oct 8th: BUNDI / UDAIPUR Today we’ll drive approximately six hours to Udaipur across the vast plains of Rajasthan. We’ll pass the imposing fortress of Chittogarh, and stop to take in the vistas and eat lunch along the way. Once in Udaipur, we’ll check into our hotel near the edge of stunning Lake Pichola. After a rest, we’ll go for an afternoon wander to watch the sunset over the lake. We’ll have dinner on the roof of our hotel, with a stunning view over the water and of several sprawling palaces dotting the landscape. You’ll quickly see why Udaipur is considered India’s most romantic city. Oct 9th: UDAIPUR The day begins with a guided visit to the famous City Palace, one of the best preserved in the entire country, where we’ll wander through the courtyards, audience halls, bedrooms, antique textile exhibitions and more. From here, we’ll stop by one of the city’s most impressive Rajasthani textile shops to learn about the various techniques used, the different regions that produce each style and the influences behind such impressive work. After our tour, you’ll have free time to explore the rest of the old town, continue shopping, enjoy an ayurvedic massage or visit one of the famous local tailors who can quickly create custom-made garments to your specifications. (Udaipur is the best place in India for excellent tailor-made clothes at very affordable prices.) Oct 10th: UDAIPUR Today the animal lovers among us will hop into our vans for a short drive into the countryside to visit Animal Aid Unlimited, the groundbreaking organization caring for Udaipur’s sick and injured animals. After a tour of the grounds, that includes interaction with the animals, we’ll stop by the beautiful Saheliyon ki Badi Royal Gardens that was designed specifically for the royal ladies of this prestigious city. Later in the day there will be an optional cooking class scheduled with a local family for those who wish to learn about the ingredients and cooking styles required to create India’s vast and complex cuisine. Oct 11th: UDAIPUR / BHUJ (KUTCH) Departing Udaipur, we’ll head off in our vans to the town of Bhuj, situated in the remote corners of the state of Gujarat. This is a spectacular region of the country, with a diverse terrain that includes the Rann of Kutch, a salt marsh in the middle of the Thar Desert. You’ll also interact with an ancient culture that few people get to learn about. The drive will take up most of the day but upon arrival at our hotel, we’ll meet our local guide and settle in with a nice welcome dinner. Oct 12th – 15th: KUTCH As one of the largest salt deserts in the world, the Rann of Kutch offers the few visitors who travel to this remote region a chance to spend time among the welcoming people and isolated communities that have been carrying on their traditional culture, made visible in their unique styles of craft, for centuries. During our four days in this fascinating region, we’ll explore as much as we can, visiting remote local villages and meeting the artisans involved in various textiles and crafts. These can include block printing, tie-dye, Rogan painting, embroidery, sari weaving, wool felting as well as other local specialties. A visit to one of the impressive local textile museums will also be on the schedule. At each village, we’ll participate in authentic, hands-on workshops or demonstrations that will focus on education. You’ll be invited to share your own skills as well as learn new ones from local artisans. We’ll have time to genuinely interact with these amazing craftspeople and the local organizations that help them share their art beyond the state of Gujarat. As a group, we may later choose to consider ways in which we might actively support the continued growth and development of these small communities of artisans in a meaningful way. We’ll also enjoy the best of Kutch’s historical and natural highlights as we travel around, from the enigmatic rolling hills and rock formations to the abundant wildlife and of course, to the mesmerizing salt marsh. We’ll see it all! Our comfortable accommodations in this region will include a well-appointed hotel in Bhuj and traditional bungalows in the countryside, where we’ll be surrounded only by silence and a sky full of stars. Oct 16th: KUTCH / AHMEDABAD Bidding farewell to the spectacular Rann of Kutch, we’ll make our way to Ahmedabad today. This trip will involve a 7-8 hour van journey, with stops along the way. Once in Ahmedabad, we’ll transfer to our hotel for a good night’s rest. Oct 17th: AHMEDABAD / DELHI After a quick 1.5 hour flight back to Delhi, we’ll check-in to our hotel, relax and have lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the gorgeous Akshardham Temple, considered the largest religious complex in the world and one of the most impressive temples in the country. From there, you can return to the hotel or visit one last textile market before we sit down for our final group dinner in the evening. Oct 18th: DEPARTURE DAY You’ll be transferred to the airport by private driver depending on the time of your departing flight.
INCLUDED – Small group (max 12 participants) – Wandering Earl Tours Group leader throughout – Local guides in each destination – All accommodation (16 nights – 3* hotels, heritage properties, traditional bungalows) – Breakfast every day, 7 lunches and 13 dinners – Transportation in India (vans, train, internal flight) – All activities, workshops, lessons mentioned and all entrance fees – Gratuities at hotels/included meals – Bottled water throughout the trip – All airport transfers NOT INCLUDED – Flights to/from India – Passport/visa fees – Meals and activities not mentioned – Travel insurance (mandatory) – Gratuities
TOUR COST $4645 USD per person, single room (there are 6 single rooms available on this trip) $3995 USD per person, twin-share room (solo travelers will be paired together in a room with two beds) *BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: To reserve your spot on a tour, a $500 deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be 100% refundable until 6 months prior to the trip start date.
IS THIS TRIP RIGHT FOR YOU? The physical demands are moderate. While the activities on our tour itinerary are not very strenuous, please note that this trip can involve the following: 
  • Somewhat long days, walking tours in crowded, chaotic cities and dusty villages, a local cuisine that may not be suited to restrictive dietary requirements, potentially warm, sticky weather and early morning wake-ups. 
  • Due to the remote and widespread destinations on our itinerary, there are a few long drives, a train ride and a domestic flight included on this trip offering you the chance to enjoy the diverse scenery and become better acquainted with each other. Although we travel comfortably in large vehicles with wonderful drivers to cover most of our overland travel, we will likely use a variety of transport to get around that may include rickshaws and trains. Packing light is recommended and will simplify moving from place to place!
Of Special Note: It’s especially important that you consider any pre-existing health conditions you may have to determine if India is an appropriate destination for you personally. In small group travel, it’s important to remember one woman’s health and well-being while on the road, has the power to impact us all.
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