Dec 28, 2022 - Jan 12, 2023
16 days
$8,990per person, twin share (land content only). $1,895 supplement for sole use of a hotel room.

Tour Leader

Judy Tenzing
Dec 28, 2022 - Jan 12, 2023

Tour Leader

Judy Tenzing
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Leader
  • Hotels
  • Inclusions

Overview

Textiles form an integral part of India’s history, faiths, ethnicities and daily lives. Through weaving, embroidery, tie-dyeing, block-printing and fabric painting, Indians express identity and belonging.

This tour is for textile enthusiasts and those who see the arts as the mirror of a culture. Our tour explores Bengal and Gujarat, two regions where the textile and crafts heritage has flourished for generations, and where nearly lost arts are being lovingly nurtured back to their former glories.

We will dine in outdoor organic farm restaurants, visit ancient step wells and see the vast landscapes of these two very diverse regions – the lush subtropics of Bengal and the deserts and salt flats of Bhuj in Gujarat.

Quintessential India, it is a journey not to be missed.

COVID-19? Book with confidence
If Government imposed COVID-19 restrictions mean that we cannot run a tour, or that you cannot travel to join a tour, then you will be given a 100% refund of all monies paid to Academy Travel for your tour.

Vaccination requirements
Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.

Highlights

  • Discover Kolkata, India’s cultural and literary heart and hub for Bengali textiles and crafts. Explore architectural splendours and visit textile artists and design studios for insight into the region’s rich artistic heritage.
  • In the remote villages and towns of Bengal, find treasures like India’s finest pottery, indigo-dyed textiles and the ancient art of weaving the world’s finest muslin.
  • Explore the magnificent Terra Cotta Temples of Bishnapur with their terra cotta tiles and walls with intricate stories from the ancient texts of Hinduism, which continue to inspire the designs of local Baluchari Sari weavers.
  • Ahmedabad, visit Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi’s home for over 13 years, and see the world-renowned textile collections of the Calico Museum.
  • Enjoy Gujarat’s vibrant colours and stunning mirror work, the embroidery of the Rabari nomad people, and the town of Patan’s woven double ikat fabric – all a wonderful contrast to the region’s arid, desert environment.

Start & Finish

The tour begins on December 28 at Kolkata airport with individual transfers to the hotel. The tour ends on January 12, with a transfer to Mumbai airport for your onward journey from Malta.

Qantas offers the best connections between Australian cities and India. Contact us for bookings and quotes.

Detailed Itinerary

Included meals for each day are indicated with B, L and D.

Wednesday 28 December – Arrive Kolkata

When you arrive in Kolkata, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Overnight Kolkata

Thursday 29 December – Weavers and block printers

We get an early start this morning with a visit to the old colonial heart of this great city – St John’s Church, Dalhousie Square, the old East India Company’s Writers’ Building and Government House. After breakfast, we visit the wonderful Rangeen Weavers’ Studio and Study Centre to witness some of India’s best weavers and block printers at work. In the afternoon we visit a centre for Kantha, the ancient art of using old saris to make new ones using the simple running stitch. Known as the “stitch painters of Bengal” these artisans have resurrected a unique and almost lost art. Overnight Kolkata (B, L, D)

Friday 30 December – Textiles of Kolkata

Today begins with a walking tour of one of Kolkata’s most interesting areas – a rich blend of the city’s history that encompasses the stories of the Muslims, Armenians, Portuguese, French, Danish, English and Chinese, who have all contributed to Kolkata’s great past and present. This afternoon we may visit local design studios where you can purchase some exquisite garments or textiles. The remainder of the day is free to wander along Chowringhee Rd and perhaps visit the Indian Museum and Asiatic Society. For those wanting to venture out further, take the slightly longer walk to the extraordinary South Park St Cemetery. Overnight Kolkata (B, L)

Saturday 31 December – To Shantiniketan

We’ll travel by coach for the 3-4 hour journey to Shantiniketan, a town famed for its rich artistic and cultural heritage as well as its university, founded by the family of poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. In the afternoon we will visit the wonderful Saturday market at Bolpur to meet the rural artisans and grass roots craftspeople showcasing their own produce, arts and crafts: musical instruments, wood carvings, jewellery made of terracotta or seed and beautiful Kantha embroidered sarees and scarves. Overnight Shantiniketan (B, D)

Sunday 1 January – Pottery and Batik

This morning, we visit the stunningly designed workshop and ceramic pottery studio of Lipi Biswas, a local resident of Shantiniketan. We will then move on to the natural dye studio of Papri Basak. Here you will also be able to see block batik – essentially “writing in wax” – and its multiple dyeing and application processes.  This afternoon, we will take a short walk into the Viswabharati University campus, which was set up by Tagore. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries this place was the heart of Bengal’s rich literary, historical and artistic renaissance – and is still today a magnet for artists, writers and philosophers. Overnight Shantiniketan (B, L)

Monday 2 January – Bishnapur

Today we move on to Bishnupur, which served as the capital of the great Malla dynasty for over one thousand years. The Malla rulers were Vaishnavites (devotees of the Hindu god Vishnu) who endeavoured to build a city with great archaeological strength and deep cultural values. We explore these breath-taking terracotta temples that were built in the 17th and 18th centuries with locally quarried laterite stones. The well-preserved front fasciae of the temples are richly ornamented with terracotta tiles illustrating mythical stories from the sacred texts. Bishnapur is also the centre of Baluchari, one of India’s most iconic weaving traditions. In this classic style, stories from Hindu mythology are woven into the pallu (end piece) of each sari. Overnight Bishnapur (B, D)

Tuesday 3 January – Maheshganj

Today we drive through lush Bengal countryside where we may see weavers drying their fabrics by the side of the road, having starched them with “saboo” to make them crisp. En route we stop in at the village of Fulia, where weavers create the famous Tangail jacquard from what is now Bangladesh and excel at beautiful jamdani fine muslin work. We will observe the full story of “tant” – from yarn to dyeing, colouring, drying and finally weaving into the finest sarees. Overnight Maheshganj (B, D)

Wednesday 4 January – Majeshganj – Kalna – Kolkata

We stop in Kalna this morning for a very special visit to see the work of Jyotish Debnath, a jamdani muslin weaver who is reviving the old art of super-fine muslin weaving. A fifth-generation weaver whose grandfather came to Kalna in 1939, Jyotish started with cotton and muslin weaving, gradually moving into ‘jamdani’. He has been weaving for more than 35 years. We will visit his home where the family has lovingly restored the muslin jamdani weaving looms and created masterpieces that enrich Bengal’s textile heritage. We will see some of the finest pieces from Jyotish’s family collection. This afternoon we drive back to Kolkata. Overnight Kolkata (B, L)

Thursday 5 January – To Ahmedabad

This morning, before heading to the airport for the flight to Ahmedabad, we will take the time to visit the studio of Ajit Kumar Das, the famed natural dye artist. His exquisite paintings on cloth, using all natural dyes, are unique and we will have a chance to watch his process and see a collection of his work. Later today, we cross the great subcontinent to Ahmedabad in the far western state of Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi’s home state. Ahmedabad is one of the fastest growing cities in India. It is a city with a vibrant living culture and has many classic examples of the provincial style of architecture developed under Sultan Ahmed Shah dating back to 1411 CE. The city is artistically rich – from centuries-old mosques and mausoleums to cutting-edge contemporary design. Overnight Ahmedabad (B, D)

Friday 6 January – Calico Museum of Textiles

This morning we visit one of the finest textile museums in India, if not the world. The Calico Museum of Textiles houses an outstanding collection of Indian fabrics and hand-crafted textiles spanning five centuries. The Museum has become a major reference centre for craftspeople and for the Indian machine-textile industry. This afternoon we will visit Sabarmati Ashram, Gandhi’s home for 13 years. It was from here that Gandhi launched the famous 1930 Salt March in defiance of British law. The complex includes the cottage where Gandhi lived as well as a museum with three galleries designed by Charles Correa. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Ahmedabad (B, D) 

Saturday 7 January – to Dasada

This morning we depart by coach for Patan, the ancient capital of Gujarat, famous for its complex and now rare double ikat patola weaving. Patola saris are some of the finest handwoven saris produced in India and are famous for the great precision and clarity of their patterns. We end the day with a visit to Rani Ki Vav – an intricately constructed stepwell situated near Patan. Rani Ki Vav was built as a memorial to an 11th-century king and was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014.  After a very busy day we will drive to Dasada, Bhuj and spend a relaxing evening at our hotel. Overnight Dasada (B, D)

Sunday 8 January – Kachch

After breakfast today we commence the 6-hour journey to Kachch, a semi-arid desert area that is home to a large number of indigenous communities. Kachch has a rich tradition of sea trade from the ancient port of Mandvi. A river system was shared between Kachch, Sindh and Rajasthan, hence it has long absorbed cultures from the north, west, and east. Kachchi motifs can be traced to the ancient Harappan civilization, yet its craft is developing and growing with the innovative and entrepreneurial drive of its modern and spirited artists. The final stages of this interesting drive to Bhuj take us within sight of the Great Rann of Kachch, a vast plain of salt flats which extends into Pakistan. Overnight Bhuj (B, D)

Monday 9 January – Ajakhpur

This morning we visit Ajrakhpur and the community of Ajrakh traditional block printers who still practice one of the oldest forms of block printing on textiles in India. We will meet Dr. Ismael Mohamed Khatri, a world-famous master of the traditional Ajrakh block printing process, continuing a craft that can be traced back nine generations in his family. His sons Sufiyan and Juned now continue the legacy. Overnight Bhuj (B)

Tuesday 10 January – Banni Villages

Today we visit Banni villages including Dhordo, a tiny village located in northern Kachch. It is home to the Mutwa, whose intricate mirror-studded embroidery has been widely praised, represented in international museum collections and featured in numerous exhibitions and publications. The Banni are renowned for the most exquisite mirror work, a technique which their girls learn from an early age.  Later in the evening we will visit the Bhuj market. Overnight Bhuj (B)

Wednesday 11 January – Bhujodi

Today we head to the village of Bhujodi to visit Shamji and his family of weavers. Bhujodi is a major centre for woven cotton and woollen textiles and Shamji is arguably its most famous resident, overseeing Vankar Vishram Valji Weaving, a multi-generational weaving and dyeing business. In the afternoon we will visit the Khamir Craft Centre, a platform for the crafts, heritage and cultural ecology of the region. Here we will see the indigenous black cotton weaving that has been revived with the persistent effort of Khamir. Overnight Bhuj (B, D)

Thursday 12 January – Depart

After breakfast, depart by coach to the local airport for the flight to Mumbai. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before this evening’s flight. (B, L)

 

Judy Tenzing

An historian with a passion for and deep knowledge of the history, music, textiles and literature of South Asia.

Judy Tenzing is a historian with a passion for all things South Asian – India, the Himalaya, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Her deep knowledge and love for the history, music, textiles and literature of these regions adds a rich dimension to the tours she leads.

Judy has a degree in South Asian History as well as post graduate qualifications in secondary teaching. She has taught at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education – offering courses in the histories of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Myanmar, as well as courses on the religions and cultural traditions of these regions.

Judy’s main passions are India of the Raj as well as the Mughal period in India. This naturally leads to a deep interest in the histories of surrounding cultures and nations, notably Tibet, Myanmar and Bhutan – all of which are intricately entwined with that of India. In addition, Judy had taught World Religions at senior secondary level for over a decade and this enables an even deeper understanding of the great subcontinent, where faith and history are inseparable.

Judy led her first tour for Academy Travel in 2012 and has been a regular leader since then, accompanying groups to India, Myanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Judy is also a regular presenter for Academy Travel at the Nicholson Lectures at the University of Sydney.

We asked Judy, what do tour members take away from travelling with you?

“I think the one element most people enjoy about the tours I lead is my passion for the places we visit. Nothing is more infectious and my groups seem to absorb this love for the people and places we encounter. I love travelling and I love teaching – what better way to share this than guide a tour for a company like Academy.”

View Bio & Upcoming Tours

Hotels

The accommodation for this tour has been very carefully selected and booked well in advance. However, the vagaries of the booking/business system in India means that sometimes (rarely) we must offer an alternative hotel. Be assured it will be of equal standard to the one envisaged.

The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata
(4 nights)

The Garden Bungalow, Shantiniketan
(2 nights)

Hotel Annapurna, Bishnapur
(1 night)

Hotel Haveli, Maheshganj
(1 night)

The House of MG, Ahmedabad
(2 nights)

Rann Riders, Dasada
(1 night)

Regenta Royal Orchid, Bhuj
(3 nights)

Tour Inclusions

What is included in the tour price? 

Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:

All tours

  • All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
  • Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
  • All breakfasts
  • Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
  • Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
  • Services of tour leader throughout tour
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local guides at some sites
  • All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals

On international tours only

  • Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
  • Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
  • Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
  • Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway

What is not included in the tour price?

Our tours do not include the following:

  • Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
  • Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
  • Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
  • Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
  • Airport Transfers on international tours
  • Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers

Airport Transfers

Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.

Travel Insurance

We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.

  • For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
  • Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
  • For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.

Tour Details

Fitness Requirement

Grade Two
i

A Grade 2 tour is appropriate for travellers in good health with good mobility, who can comfortably participate in up to 3 hours of physical activity per day on most days.
More Details

Bookings

A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed below if you wish to make a booking.

Hold a Place Download Booking Form

More information?

The consultant for this tour is Hannah Kleboe. For further information or to have the consultant call you, please email.
Email Hannah Kleboe

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