This tour is designed take guests to the source of some of India’s best traditional textiles as well as a variety of architectural styles from ancient cities and caves to more recent palaces and havelis. Hence the name: The Cloth & Stone Tour.
Cloth and stone are two important elements that map human history.
The first use of textiles, dates back to the late Stone Age, roughly 100,000 years ago. The earliest instances of cotton, silk and linen begin to appear around 5,000 BC in India, Egypt and China. India played an important role in what is now known as The Silk Road – the trade routes between China and the west. Textile traditions have defined cultural identity throughout history, and this process is a living reality in places like Kachchh (Kutch) in Gujarat, where the distinctive styles of textile decoration tell the stories of the communities they come from.
The diversity of Indian culture is represented in its architecture. It is a blend of ancient and varied native traditions, with building types, forms and technologies from West and Central Asia, as well as Europe. On our tour, we visit (and sometimes stay in) a variety of structures including carved limestone caves, an old Portuguese fort, an ancient ruined city, wattle and daub bhungas (conical cottages), old city neighbourhoods, walled cities with elephant-deterring gates, water harvesting architecture, Indo-European palaces, sacred buildings, havelis and faux Art Deco.
The tour begins in the city of Ahmedabad – our base for several days while we have adventures in and around the city. Whilst there, we will visit the famous Calico Museum of Textiles, meet with a contemporary embroidery designer in his studio, have a walking tour of the fascinating old city, visit a magnificent step-well, indulge in some shopping as well as sampling some of the best Gujarati cuisine.
Then we head out of town to continue our adventures. We will visit practitioners of various weaving techniques, both traditional and contemporary (including some rare and endangered styles), natural dyes, block printing, single and double ikat, bandhani (tie and dye), batik block printing, shibori and tribal embroidery styles. We will meet traditional artisans in their villages and the fair trade organisations supporting them. We will have the opportunity of hands-on workshops with some of the artisans and see demonstrations of the work that makes this area so famous for its textiles and other crafts.
Along the way, we will visit a national park to see if we can spot the endangered Asiatic lion, the rare Asiatic ass, flamingos and many other animal and bird species (pack the binoculars!), and the spectacular white desert – a dry inland sea of salt. A trip to India would not be complete without visiting a few important archaeological sites: we will visit a ruined Indus Valley city (c 4500 years old), some ancient step-wells and some other carefully selected monuments.
There will be a wealth of inspiration for students of architecture or anyone interested in making or collecting textiles. India is an artist’s paradise, and this tour presents a rare opportunity to see landscapes, animals, villages and people not often visited by tourists, so pack your sketchbooks and cameras!
The trip is planned for January 2018 – late winter in India – when the weather is cool and pleasant. Most of the places we go to are off the beaten track and away from the maddening crowds. We will stay is a variety of accommodation including heritage hotels, luxury tents, former palaces and traditional dwellings.
There will be a maximum of 6 people on the tour travelling in our own comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, so we can stop at will to take in the sights and experience the wonder that is India at ground level. The landscapes we will pass through include villages, cities, grasslands, vast salt deserts and beaches.
Click here for the full itinerary and cost including discounts.
Check out the blog on the right side of the page and the GALLERY page for some stories and pics of the tour.