Textiles & Handcrafts of India
17 February – 3 March 2019
Exquisite embroidery, weaving, natural dyeing, woodblock printing, leather work, miniature painting, paper-making, stunning saris, gem-laden jewellery, enamelled goldwork, lacquer-wear, blue pottery, magnificent castles, opulent palaces, centuries-old step-wells, historic cities, fortresses, temples and mosques, colourful bazaars, iconic cultural sites, captivating tribal villages and intriguing traditional culture … plus much, much more!
Have you always felt drawn to India? A nation of contrasts, India is at once raw and exotic, confronting and alluring, distinctly earthy but riotously colourful, delicate and brutal, survivalist and decadent. The sights and experiences, handcrafts and textiles, traditions and architecture you’ll discover on this journey will leave you in awe. Join our small group of likeminded textile and handcraft enthusiasts for the experience of a lifetime.
Our journey through Rajasthan and Gujurat provides numerous opportunities to explore superb handcraft and textile museums, experience hands-on workshops, visit artisan studios and traditional handcraft villages, indulge in fabulous handcraft and textiles shopping at colourful bazaars and historic markets, witness magnificent natural scenery as well as ancient, stately architecture and experience the traditional culture of India’s diverse population.
This 15 day women’s textile tour is hosted by retreat|recreate and is fully escorted by a local Indian English-speaking guide. Our adventure begins in Delhi where we’ll be introduced to India’s incredible range of textiles and traditional crafts at one of the country’s premier craft museums and at an open air bazaar where craftspeople from across the nation demonstrate, display and sell their arts, handcrafts, cuisine and performing arts. We’ll weave our way via rickshaw through the bustling chaos of the city’s oldest market before heading to the tranquillity of India’s largest mosque, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jama Masjid.
We’ll spend several days in Rajasthan’s capital, the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, where we’ll visit the opulent City Palace and its acclaimed museum filled with lavish royal costumes, textiles and art. Our exploration of the history, materials and processes involved in both traditional block printing and blue pottery will take us to artisan workshops and include hands-on activities. We’ll visit a traditional handmade paper village and browse Jaipur’s old bazaars. Historic architecture is also on our agenda. We’ll pay a visit to a few of Jaipur’s most photographed landmarks: the Palace of the Wind; the massive Amber fort and a stunning historic step-well.
We journey by train to Jodhpur, the famous ‘blue city’ situated on the edge of the Great Thar Desert. Historically many of the buildings were painted blue to signify the home of a high caste Brahmin; today most of the city is blue as other castes have followed suit. We’ll explore a colossal fort sitting atop a sheer rock ridge in the middle of town and the old market, whose stalls radiate out in concentric circles from a central clock tower. A day trip out of the city takes us through several pottery and weaving villages where we’ll get a glimpse into local rural life.
En route to Udaipur we’ll stop at Ranakpur, one of the most important Jain pilgrim destinations and home to a number of beautiful carved white marble temples. Continuing on to Udaipur, known as the ‘Venice of the east’, we spend a morning at the bazaar where saris, shawls, tie-dyed fabrics, jewellery and camel leather goods abound. We’ll learn about Udaipur’s famous miniature painting and have the option to take a class.
Leaving Rajasthan, we fly to Bhuj in Gujurat. The Kutch Museum there has an excellent section devoted to the region’s tribal cultures. We’ll spend several days exploring the quaint tribal villages of the desert, meeting local artisans and craftspeople and gaining an insight into their way of life. Natural dyeing, lacquer-work, weaving, wood carving, block printing, leather craft and intricate embroidery are just some of the handcrafts of this region. We’ll enjoy a full day weaving workshop while we’re here.
On our way to Ahmedabad we stop at the village where rare Patola weaving (double ikat) continues to be practised. The exquisitely carved stone Modhera Sun temple and the nearby UNESCO-listed step-well are two of the most architecturally amazing ancient constructions you’ll ever see. Our tour ends in Ahmedabad – this city has been India’s centre of textile trade and industry since the 15th century. Highlights here include a guided heritage walk through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old city, a museum renowned for its rare antique textiles collection, and a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram.
We’re proud to visit and support several organisations that empower marginalised and disadvantaged women and/or provide vocational training to allow women to earn an income through the production of handcrafts.
The accommodation on this trip is a highlight. Venues include boutique heritage hotels with character and furnishings reflecting India’s history and attention to detail and a fortified medieval castle with its own museum and library housing a collection of rare books, where chandeliers, frescos and ornate tapestries adorn the ceilings and walls and 4-poster beds feature.
We warmly invite you to join us on this fabulous textile adventure. We do hope you’ll join us!
- 14 nights accommodation as per the itinerary
- meals as per the itinerary (14 breakfasts, 2 dinners)
- local English speaking guide throughout the tour
- all transport, sightseeing attractions (museums, galleries, etc) and excursions as per the itinerary
- hands-on workshops and classes as per the itinerary
- arrival airport transfer
- international airfares
- travel insurance (required)
- passports and visas
- early check in or late check out
- meals and drinks not included in the itinerary
- personal spending
- departure airport transfer
Things to note
- The tour comprises 14 nights/15 days and operates from 17 February – 3 March 2019. The itinerary is a full one to ensure value for money, however some free periods are built in. The opportunity exists to extend your trip by extra nights at our hotel in Delhi before, or Ahmedabad after the tour. Side trips to Agra (Taj Mahal) and Varanasi may also be booked through our tour operator. You are of course free to book your own pre/post tour accommodation and arrangements elsewhere. Note that the arrival airport transfer may not be included in the price if you book pre tour accommodation at a hotel other than our starting point hotel;
- Transport is by train, plane and private coach;
- Cultural, environmental and economically sustainable travel is important to us. To this end, we: engage local guides; use public transport where possible; patronise local women’s co-ops, social enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and associations where possible; include a carbon offset in the tour price;
- Accommodation – we stay in a range of accommodation to provide you with a sense of India’s history and traditions. All accommodation venues fall within the range of 3-4 stars. Please note that the single supplement is valid for all nights on this itinerary;
- Is this trip right for you? Please consider your mobility/fitness levels to determine if this trip is right for you. The tour includes travel on a private mini-bus, public trains and a domestic flight. To ensure that you’re able to make the most of this trip, you should be prepared to explore the sights and highlights on foot. Participants need to be able to manage their own luggage for short distances;
- our group size is approximately 12 women;
- the retreat|recreate host for this trip will be Susan Keeble
- retreat|recreate’s tour groups comprise women from all over the globe and embrace all ages, ethnicities and personalities. Flexibility and a sense of humour are encouraged when travelling as part of a group.
Here’s what our travellers had to say about this tour:
From the chaos of crowded cities to the quiet mudbrick villages dotted across desert plains, this trip surpassed all expectations. Every day was filled to the brim with adventure and excitement. Two weeks of history-soaked palaces, medieval forts, eating delicious Indian food and immersing myself in the traditions of Indian textiles was an outstanding experience. I’m already missing India with its colourful saris, masala chai, white marble temples, tuk-tuk rides, stunning embroideries and wood block textiles. retreat|recreate put together an incredible and varied itinerary that is not to be missed. Catherine – India 2019 (also Bali 2016 and Vietnam 2017)
The retreat|recreate India trip was an amazing experience and each day was packed with activities and new adventures. We were able to have access to a wide variety of artisans who are masters of their craft. From urban areas to rural villages we were welcomed into studios of working artists who were generous and gracious. Local guides with expert knowledge of historical sites and textiles were used in each of the regions we visited, which enhanced our experience. The intense colors, the people, the sounds and sensory experience of India will stay with me for a long time. It was fun to share this experience with other women who have a shared passion for beautiful textiles and handcrafts. Cathy – India 2019