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Mar 31, 2018
Slow Cloth Tour of India
Delhi Bhuj Dasada Ahmedabad Jaipur Agra
4 - 17 April 2015
Slow ClothA Textile Tour of IndiaFor thousands of years, traders from all over the world have clamored to India for its luxurious handcrafted textiles. From the dazzling mirror work on the fabrics of Rajasthan to the ancient Ajrakh prints of Gujurat, each region has evolved its own signature style and in certain remote areas these traditional skills are still in practice today. Through a specially tailored journey, Slow Cloth takes you off the beaten track to discover these fascinating living art forms and see how they are reinvigorating contemporary rural communities.
On this two-week guided tour you will also gain exclusive access to some precious Indian textiles through a pre tour briefing with your tour leader, broadcaster Nell Schofield. With many trips to the sub-continent under her belt, Nell will take you into amazing world of luxurious silk saris and delicate hand-spun cottons, and help you explore the exotic textile terrain that is India.
TourLeaderYour host is broadcaster and fabric fancier Nell Schofield who first travelled to India in 1986 on a mission to source textiles for Australian fashion icon Linda Jackson. In the mid 90s, Nell returned to India to present a documentary on an Australian/Indian cultural exchange program for ABC TV called Delhi Dreaming. She has since journeyed back to the subcontinent on several occasions, strengthening her knowledge of its remarkably multi-dimensional culture.
A long-time friend of the Powerhouse Museum, Nell hosted DFactory, a series of monthly design focused forums, and presented the popular hypothetical Through Indian Eyes. With her passion for all things sustainable, Nell will guide you through the world of Indian textiles on an unforgettable, socially responsible tour.
Day 01 Arrive Delhi
Day 02 Delhi
Day 03 Delhi
Day 04 Fly Delhi Mumbai Bhuj
Day 05 Bhuj (Explore Kutch Region)
Day 06 Bhuj (Explore Kutch Region)
Day 07 Bhuj Ajrakhpur Dasada
Day 08 Dasada Patan Dasada
Day 09 Dasada Ahmedabad
Day 10 Ahmedabad
Day 11 Fly Ahmedabad Jaipur
Day 12 Jaipur
Day 13 Jaipur Agra Taj Mahal
Day 14 Agra Delhi and departure
Day 1 Arrive Delhi
Delhi is a fusion of ancient and modern. Standing along the Western side of the Gangetic Plain, the capital and the third largest city of India paints a picture rich in culture, architecture and human diversity. Upon arrival you are escorted directly to your hotel to rest up for the adventure ahead.
Day 2 Delhi
This morning we explore Old Delhi starting with the Red Fort and Mumtaz Mahal Museum which has on exhibition rare examples of clothing that give an intimate insight into Mughal culture. Next, we visit Chandni Chowk, the oldest heritage marketplace in Delhi and wander through the bustling lane where they sell colorfully embellished wedding trousseau.
After lunch, we head off to the Crafts Museum which showcases fabrics from many different parts of India including some amazing tie-dye work from Rajasthan and Islamic costumes worn by Mughal royalty. There will be an opportunity to browse through lanes with saree and salwar kameez shops before returning to the hotel.
Day 3 Delhi
This mornings tour starts with New Delhi, the imperial city, designed and built by the British in the 1920s with beautiful trees shading spacious streets and imposing government buildings. We visit Qutab Minar and India Gate before proceeding to the house where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last days. Gandhi encouraged people not to use machine-made goods which threatened the survival of weavers, but to use hand made textiles instead. He led by example using a spinning wheel to spin yarn for his own clothing and this simple act revolutionized the Indian textile industry. A small section of the house has been reserved for teaching spinning, weaving and tailoring to women so that they can sustain themselves while working from home.
After lunch we visit a design studio in the city, and later in the evening we meet a textile expert for a lecture on the history of Indian Textiles followed by a sumptous welcome dinner.
Day 4 Fly Delhi - Mumbai - Bhuj
This morning we take a flight to Bhuj, the geographical centre of the remote district of Kutch in the western state of Gujarat. This semi-desert area, situated on the border of Pakistan, is a unique environmental phenomenon surrounded by the salt marsh Rann, the gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea. Kutchis maintain traditional dress called Chania choli and each piece is intricately embroidered with remarkable mirror work.
Day 5 Bhuj
This morning we visit Kala Raksha, a grass roots cooperative of traditional embroiderers in Sumrasar Sheikh, 25kms north of Bhuj. Kala Raksha was conceived in 1991 as a new model for social development through handicrafts, preserving age-old traditions to help generate income for communities. Comprising artisans, community members and experts in the fields of art, design, rural management and museums, the organisation works hand in hand with the meticulous suf embroiderers.
After lunch here, we visit the Banni villages and explore their specialised crafts of patchwork and gotadi quilts. The Banni are also renowned for the most exquisite mirror work, a technique which the girls learn from an early age making extravagant covers, tunics and scarves.
Day 6 Bhuj
Early this morning we visit Ali Mohammed Isha, Master Artisan of the ancient craft of bandhani, also known as shibori or tie dye. The Kachchhi Bandhani is renowned for its extremely fine dots and sophisticated sense of composition. Ali Mohammed will demonstrate his art and you can try your hand at Bandhani too, if you wish. We continue our journey south to the old port of Mandvi where we see ship building as it has been done for generations. These hand-made wooden dhows are still used for transporting cargo, including textiles, to and from Africa and the Middle East. On the pristine beach of the Gulf of Kutch, we enjoy lunch at The Beach, a tented resort at Vijay Vilas, the summer palace and current residence of the Maharao and Maharani of Kutch. Next we pay a visit to Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, an educational institution open to the working artisans of Kutch (conservatively estimated at 50,000). Here we meet last years graduates from the nomadic Rabari tribe and visit their nearby village which is world famous for its traditional round mud huts. Bold mirrored work nearly replaced the Rabaris repertoire of delicate stitches but Kala Raksha has thankfully helped to revive it.
Day 7 Bhuj to Dasada
This morning we drive towards Dasada, stopping at Ajrakhpur just outside Bhuj to explore the crafts of block printing and natural dyeing. Ajrakh prints are among the oldest textiles in the world, traceable back to the Indus Valley civilizations. This is the signature cloth of the Khatri families and it has been at the heart of their community for over nine generations. The patriarch, Siddique, led the family back to the use of natural dyes, and each of his three sons has continued and strengthened these traditional techniques.
We will spend time with these master craftsmen before arriving at Dasada village near the Little Rann of Kutch wildlife sanctuary. Check in to our traditionally-designed eco-resort where there is a special space provided for weavers to demonstrate Ikat and Tangalio.
Day 8 Dasada Patan - Dasada
This morning we will drive to Patan, the ancient capital of Gujarat, famed for its now rare double ikat patola weaving. The patola sari is one of the finest hand-woven saris produced today, famous for extremely delicate patterns woven with great precision and clarity. A patola sari takes 4 to 6 months to make, depending on the complexity of the design. The weaving is done on simple traditional handlooms, and the dyes are made from vegetable extracts and other natural colours, which are so fast that there is a Gujarati saying that the patola will tear, but the colour will not fade. Late in the afternoon we drive back to Dasada.
Day 9 Dasada - Ahmedabad
This morning we visit the women of the Rabari & Dherwad tribes who are noted for their exquisite embroidery. Dasada is also the perfect base from which to explore the Rann of Kutch, the last refuge in India of the Asiatic Wild Ass. We enjoy a slow-paced camel ride through the desert here before our drive to Ahmedabad.
(7 Hours drive)
(2 Hours drive)
Day 10 Ahmedabad
In Ahmedabad we take a tour of the famous Calico Museum of Textiles, a pilgrimage site for textile lovers. The Museum is justly regarded as among the foremost textile museums in the world and an important Indian institution. Its outstanding collection of Indian fabrics exemplifies handicraft textiles spanning five centuries. Most significantly, it has become a major reference for surviving handicraftsmen and also for the Indian machine textile industry. In the afternoon, we visit Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi, lived for twelve years, pursuing his search for truth and fearlessness. Then we meet the Mata Ni Pachhedi painters of the Vaghris, or wandering caste, who make beautiful shrine cloths. These pachedi are an expression of the divine cosmic energy of the mother goddess and the unified manifestation of the creative and the destructive principles in her person.
Day 11 Fly Ahmedabad Jaipur
Today we fly to Jaipur, known as the Pink City because of its many pink sandstone monuments. Jaipurs vibrant culture is on dazzli