This time next week I’ll be experiencing for the first time Air India’s non-stop flight to Delhi from Melbourne – 11.5 hours in the air, leaving at a reasonable 10:45am and arriving at an equally reasonable 5:40pm local time. On arrival, a visit to money exchange and to the Airtel counter to buy a local sim card. Then a leisurely drive (in Delhi traffic, maybe not so leisurely) to my bed for the night at a nondescript but convenient hotel near to the airport ready for an early morning flight to the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state.
And thus begins my solo two week Gujarat adventure before heading back to Delhi to lead the first ever Kasu Tour of India. My solo tour is research for the next tour to be available through Kasu Tours – the Cloth and Stone Tour.
Gujarat is in the western part of India with an area of 196,204 km2, a coastline of 1,600 km and a population in excess of 60 million. The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the north, Maharashtra to the south, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and the Arabian Sea, as well as the Pakistani province of Sindh to the west.
The state encompasses major sites of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, such as Dholavira and Lothal, believed to be one of the world’s first seaports. Gujarat was known to the Ancient Greeks, and was familiar in other Western centres of civilisation through the end of the European Middle Ages. The oldest written record of Gujarat’s 2,000-year maritime history is documented in a Greek book by a merchant in the first century AD.
Popularly termed as the textile state of India, Gujarat has one of the most flourishing textile industries in the country. But it is the villages of Gujarat that interest me most with their long tradition of embroidered textiles, and I will be visiting several traditional textile villages in the west of Gujarat, one of them over 500 years old and heritage listed as well as meeting up with some contemporary textile artists. I’ll be revisiting the famous Calico Museum which houses examples of textiles from all over India and other museums full of intriguing artefacts.
Gujarat is also the home of Mahatma Gandhi, and he is remembered in many ways: statues of the famous man abound in public places; a wonderful contemporary tile mural of snapshots from his life along a roadside; a ‘dry’ state (no alcohol); and his peaceful ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad.
So, dear reader, thank you for ‘following’ and I hope you enjoy reading my news from the road as I travel through cities, villages, mountains, deserts, beaches in all manner of transport. I’ll be posting lots of images too!