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DISCOVERY THROUGH THE LAND OF GANDHI : GUJARAT (19 Days / 18 Nights)

 

Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, is one of its least visited and most colorful. Birthplace of Gandhi, stronghold of Jainism and Hinduism, its history is intertwined with the earliest civilizations of India. Here where the Indian desert meets the monsoon lands of peninsular India, the great civilization of the Indus Valley flourished as early as 3500 BC. The process of spinning cotton into yarn and weaving it into cloth was developed by the Indus people and became an important item of trade from the ancient ports along the Cambay coast to distant cities of Mesopotamia. At every turn in this itinerary we will confront evidence of Gujarat’s long history, the vibrant colors of village life, its music, dance and crafts and the welcoming smiles of the Gujarati people..

 

Tour Highlights

Highlights of the tour include the palace-filled cultural center of Vadodara, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Krishna’s capital at Dwarka, Palitana’s 863 elaborately ornate Jain temples, the ancient Indus cities of Lothal, as well as a relaxing day at Sasan-Gir Sanctuary, where one might see the nearly extinct Asiatic lion. Lastly, we visit the walled city of Bhuj in Kutch, the most remote and charming area of Gujarat. Bhuj, with its narrow alleys, carved balconies, old palaces and royal mausoleum will be our base for visiting the many colorful villages of the Rann of Kutch. At every turn we will confront evidence of Gujarat’s long history, the vibrant colors of village life, its music, dance and crafts and the welcoming smiles of the Gujarati people.

     

DAY 1 MUMBAI

Arrive Mumbai’s International Airport this evening. You will be met at the airport by our representative who give you a warm welcome with fresh flower garlands and transfer to your landmark hotel by air-conditioned Car/Coach. Your room is availabe for immediate occupancy. Overnight stay at the hotel in Mumbai.

DAY 2 MUMBAI

The "City of Gold," Mumbai (Bombay), surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. We explore this legendary city and visit the Gateway of India, the entrance to the port of Mumbai and then cruise towards Elephanta Island (Monday closed), a UNESCO World Heritage site, this island originally known as Gharapurti was renamed as Elephanta after the Portuguese found the carved elephant there. The main attraction of the island is the four rock cut temples dating back to 5th-8th century AD. The most renowned is the cave sculpture of 'Trimurthi', a three headed figure almost 20 feet in height, of Lord Shiva as a creator, preserver and destroyer. Afternoon either relax in the hotel or cover some more attractions of the city including the Prince Wales Museum (Monday closed), India's finest museums and houses treasures, artefacts, paintings and sculpture from the many periods covering India's history, including the Indus Valley Civilization. Dhobi Ghat, the city’s open-air municipal laundry where thousands wash clothes brought daily from around the city. Also see the memorial at Mani Bhawan, once the residence of Mahatma Gandhi. Tonight there will be a private cocktail and welcome dinner. Overnight stay at the hotel in Mumbai.


DAY 3 FLY MUMBAI / VADODARA (9W349, 1025/1115HRS)

Our morning flight takes us to Vadodara, is a graceful city of palaces, parks, temples and museums and considered by many as the de-facto cultural capital of Gujarat. Once the capital of the Gaekwads, the former rulers of Vadodara, it is also known as Baroda and rises from the banks of River Vishwamitri. Vadodara is also the industrial capital of Gujarat.
Afternoon sightseeing include the Palace museum & the prehistoric collection at the University Museum.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Vadodara.

DAY 4 EXCURSION CHAMPANER-PAVAGADH ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK

We leave for a day excursion and spend a day visiting Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, A concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Vadodara.

DAY 5 VADODARA / AHMEDABAD (115KMS / 02HRS)

This morning we will visit the Jumma Masjid, one of the earliest mosques in Gujarat, and the bead-makers’ quarter, where beads are still shaped and drilled using ancient techniques. We then continue to Ahmedabad, Founded in 1411 by Ahmed Shah I (King of Gujarat), Ahmedabad had a royal citadel with extensive fortifications. Its city walls had 12 gates, 139 towers and nearly 6,000 battlements, required due to constant wars with the Rajputs. The city has a long tradition of excellent craftmanship, particularly in textile manufacturing and trade. It is from the austere habitat of Sabarmati at Ahmedabad, that the 'Father of the Nation' - Mahatma Gandhi took on the mighty British Empire, and gave human race one of its most remarkable ways to fight oppression - non-violence.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Ahmedabad.


DAY 6 AHMEDABAD

Our tour of the city includes the 15th-century Bhadra fortress, Rani Sipri Mausoleum and Mosque, where we find extraordinarily delicate pierced-stone windows in typical Gujarati style, and the Great Masjid Mosque, housing Ahmed Shah’s mausoleum. We will also visit the Calico Textile Museum (Wednesday closed) and Gandhi’s Ashram. Overnight stay at the hotel in Ahmedabad.


DAY 7 EXCURSION TO SUN TEMPLE IN MODHERA

Today’s excursion brings us to Modhera, The shrines and chapels of the 11th-century Surya Sun Temple form an impressive complex, which is a forerunner of the famous Sun Temple at Konarak, built 200 years later. The nearby ancient Hindu capital, Anahilavada, has been replaced largely by the 16th-century Jain city of Patan. We will see the older district’s beautifully carved wooden houses as well as some of its 108 Jain temples. Time permitting, we will find examples of the legendary patola weaves produced by Patan’s master weavers. Overnight stay at the hotel in Ahmedabad.


DAY 8 EXCURSION TO STEPWELL & MUSEUM

Most typical for Gujarat and Ahmedabad in particular are the step-wells known as baoli, elaborately constructed subterranean monuments centered on water. They not only supply water but serve as resting places with pavilions, galleries and richly decorated rooms. We will visit India’s most beautiful step-well at Adalaj, a few kilometers out of the city, and complete today’s touring at the Shreyas Folk Museum (Monday closed), which houses traditional mirror work as well as tribal clothes and decorations. Overnight stay at the hotel in Ahmedabad.


DAY 9 AHMEDABAD / LOTHAL / BHAVNAGAR (250KMS / 05HRS)

Leaving Ahmedabad, we travel southwest to Lothal. Dated to the end of the 3rd millennium BC, Lothal is one of the five most important Indus culture cities. Excavations have revealed large-scale public and private buildings, a well-ordered grid of paved streets, granaries and a gigantic water storage tank, testifying to the city’s high level of organization. After visiting the excellent on-site museum (Friday closed), we continue to the port city of Bhavnagar.Overnight stay at the hotel in Bhavnagar.


DAY 10 EXCURSION TO PALITANA

An early departure for Palitana, from which we will climb the more than 3,000 steps (with the help of our doolie swing chairs) to Shatrunjaya, one of Jainism’s holiest pilgrimage places. Over a period of 900 years, 863 white marble temples have been built here, giving their benefactors great merit. Some of the larger temples, such as Adinath and Chaumukh, are veritable cities within cities, each with its own protective walls. This fabulous experience will be enhanced by white-clad pilgrims circumambulating the mountain in solemn processions.Overnight stay at the hotel in Bhavnagar.


DAY 11 BHAVNAGAR / SASANGIR (300KMS / 07HRS)

We drive south inland to the Lion Safari Camp, a perminent tented camp with en-suite bathrooms, in the Sasan-Gir Lion Sanctuary (Closed from June to October). We will have several safaris, in hopes of seeing some of the nearly extinct Asiatic lions and leopards as well as the four-horned Indian antelope and many bird species unique to India. Overnight stay at the Jungle Camp.


DAY 12 SASANGIR

Morning and afternoon jungle safari in Gir sanctuary, 11,412 sq km, a hilly tract of mixed dry deciduous and teak forests interspersed with grasslands and home to the Asiatic Lion. One can also spot leopards and other animals like the chital, sambar, nilgai, chausingha, grey langur, hyena and birds like the painted sandgrouse, peacocks and paradise flycatchers. The Kamleshwar dam reservoir is habitat to the crocodiles. (The park is closed between 15th June - 15th October).
Overnight stay at the Jungle Camp.


DAY 13 SASANGIR / GONDAL (85KMS / 02HRS)

We drive towards Gondal enroute visiting Junagadh, where archaeological finds have established its early history to pre-Indus times. We will see edicts, similar to those found in northern Pakistan, inscribed on a boulder by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, as well as ancient Buddhist caves dug and carved with the image of Buddha at least 1,500 years ago. The Mahabat Maqbara mausoleum, with its lovely silver doors and intricate architecture, and the old fort from which the city took its name, can be viewed from the outside. At the end of this very full day we continue to Gondal. Overnight stay at the hotel in Gondal.


DAY 14 GONDAL / JAMNAGAR (125KMS / 03HRS)
We drive to Jamnagar and spend the afternoon visiting the city, including the collection of Saurashtran sculpture and pottery at the Lakhota Palace, the unusual Manekbhai Muktidham cremation grounds covered with statues of Indian gods, goddesses and saints and the bustling bazaar renowned for silver and nutcrackers. This evening we will visit the lively Bala Hanuman Temple, where there has been continuous devotional chanting 24-hours a day since 1964.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Jamnagar.


DAY 15 EXCURSION TO DWARKA

Today we visit Dwarka, one of the seven most ancient cities in the country. The legendary city of Dwarka was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna. It is believed that due to damage and destruction by the sea, Dwarka has submerged six times and modern day Dwarka is the 7th such city to be built in the area.
In Dwarka we visit Dwarkanath, one of the four most holy Hindu pilgrim shrines in India and the site of Krishna’s capital after he fled from Mathura. We will see the Temple of Dwarkadheesh and the Temple of Rukmini, Lord Krishna's wife. Overnight stay at the hotel in Jamnagar.


DAY 16 JAMNAGAR / BHUJ (300KMS / 06HRS

A fascinating drive brings us to Bhuj, a walled city that until recently locked its gates at night. On route we will stop at the largely unexcavated Harappan site of Shikarpur, which is situated on the edge of the ancient coastline. During our stay here we will have ample time to explore Bhuj’s maze like streets and alleys, overhung with elaborately carved balconies, as well as the Kutch Museum (Closed on Wednesdays and every 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month), renowned for its large collection of Indo-Scythian inscriptions. We will also visit the old palaces and richly decorated temples, and comb the bazaars for the best Gujarat bandhana embroidery and silver.

Upon arrival at Bhuj, proceed to DSP/Collector office to obtain the permit (Please all foreign tourist need to obtain the permit for Banni village visit.) ** Note 2nd and 4th Saturday & public holiday are closed at DSP/COLLECTOR office hence set the dates accordingly. We will spent the next three nights at Bhuj. Overnight stay at the hotel in Bhuj.


DAY 17 EXCURSION BANNI TRIBAL AREA

Today we set out to visit the Banni villages, where we see the traditional art and culture of Gujarat. The dwellings are made of round mud huts called `bhungas' with a single central support pole and a thatched or tiled roof, all surrounding a large community courtyard. The women tend to be shy with male visitors, but are hospitable and welcome guests in their homes.

They have exquisite personal collections of embroidered quilts and garments. Walls, shelves, grain containers and cupboards are fashioned in mud with decorative designs washed with lime paste and embedded with mirrors which throw back hundreds of shimmering reflections. You will also see a variety of handicrafts, including textiles like tie and dye, vegetables color dye printing, `Rogan' art, glass bead work, woollen shawls, leather articles and more. We will also drive to Sumarsar village, famous for Scoof Embroidery done by the Harijan Community. Nirona Village has `Rogan' art & bell making by the Muslim Community. Lace is also produced by the Harijan Community. Later, drive on to Mundra Village, to see the making of sheep wool, including wax printing. Overnight stay at the hotel in Bhuj.


DAY 18 EXCURSION BHUJODI VILLAGE / MANDAVI

Morning local visit of Tie & dye craft with special appointment of award winner craftsman to see live demonstration. Later we proceed to Bhujodi, a weaver village to see various cotton & woolen weaving. After lunch, excursion to Mandvi port to visit ship building yard, beach and Vijay vilas Palace and later we drive to Tunda wandh Rabari village to experience a completely different life style with an excellent specimen of mud architecture in its own style. Overnight stay at the hotel in Bhuj.


DAY 19 FLY BHUJ / MUMBAI (9W348, 1520/1630) / DEPART

After a morning at leisure, we fly back to Mumbai, with time for farewell dinner before transferring back to the airport for our flights home.

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