THREADS AND FESTIVALS OF RAJASTHAN
A unique small-group journey designed to enrich your experience and satisfy the soul.
THREADS AND FESTIVALS OF RAJASTHAN
CELEBRATE DIWALI ∙ PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR ∙ EXCLUSIVE WORKSHOPS ∙ HERITAGE HOTELS
15 Days 26 Oct - 09 Nov 2019

Explore the timeless nature of life in rural Rajasthan and the energy  and romance of its princely culture, brilliantly complemented by  superb traditional textiles. This unique, escorted, small-group  journey is designed to enrich your experience and satisfy the soul.

Pushkar Camel Fair is an epic spectacle held over 14 days during the Kartik Purnima full moon. It is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the colour, spectacle and carnival of one of the last great traditional meals, which brings over 400,000 camels, farmers, traders and travellers from all over to Rajasthan.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and one of Hinduism’s most popular  festivals. It symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”. Over 5 days, revelers adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate their homes with lamps and candles, and offer prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.

Our accommodation… so much more than a place to sleep.
Many of the palaces and mansions of the former royal families have been transformed into luxury and boutique, heritage accommodation. These palaces, lodges and houses abound with elegance and atmosphere, providing peaceful respite from the bustling cities outside. They are an essential part of our journey, immersing us into the culture, history and heritage of India.

Tour Highlights

Our special program highlights:
Celebrate magical Diwali – the Festival of Lights
Exclusive visits to traditional weaving and embroidery villages
Revel in the fascinating Pushkar Camel Fair
Experience hands-on tie-dye and block-printing workshops
Stay in heritage havelis and boutique accommodation

Tour Information
  • Where
    :

    INDIA

  • WHEN
    :

    OCTOBER, NOVEMBER

  • WHAT
    :

    HISTORY AND CULTURE, NATURE

Meet Christina Sumner OAM, your Tour Escort

Christina Sumner OAM, former principal curator at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, will escort the tour. Sharing her knowledge and passion for India and its ancient textile history, Christina will aid you in discovering the enduring beauty of Rajasthan and its centuries old traditions.

Itinerary

Arrive at Delhi International Airport late evening. After clearing Customs and Immigration, we head to the arrival lounge where we are welcomed with garlands, then transferred to our waiting vehicle. At our hotel, we have assisted check in.

We take a morning flight to Bikaner at 9:45. On arrival, we check into our hotel, the enchanting Narendra Bhawan.

Bikaner is a vibrant city in northwest Rajasthan. Founded in 1486, it’s surrounded by the Thar Desert, boasts the fabulous 16th century Junagarh Fort, and has an energising outpost feel. Although surrounded by desert, Bikaner has spring water and was a welcome oasis on the trade route between Central Asia and Gujarat.

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After lunch we visit the impressive Junagarh Fort where, in a quiet corner, we find the Prachina Museum which is dedicated to preserving Bikaner’s rich cultural heritage and the collection includes royal costumes and textiles. Time permitting, we also visit the magnificent 400-year-old Rampuria Havelis, whose architecture is a mix of Rajput, Mughal and Victorian styles.

Today is the first day of Diwali – India’s spectacular Festival of Lights. In the evening, we take part in a traditional Diwali celebration, followed by a welcome dinner at our hotel.

Today we immerse ourselves in the superb textile traditions and craft culture of northwestern Rajasthan. Practised in this region for generations, these traditions embody long-established wisdom expressed in the form, structure, colour and motifs of embroidery, and in their way of life.

We drive about 80 kms towards the India-Pakistan border to visit one of the villages where refugee Sindh communities have been resettled. The women’s main style of embroidery is called mukke, and they also stitch pukka, soof, sindhi and kharak embroidery. We meet the artisans, and the organisations who work with them.

Rajasthan is also known for patchwork quilts known as ralli, made from stitching layers of old fabric together, metal thread embroidery called gota or kinari work, and embroidered wool namdas (carpets).

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After breakfast we drive to Jaisalmer (approx. 3.5 hrs), stopping at Bap for lunch at the charming Barasingha Villa. We continue our journey to the golden desert city of Jaisalmer (approx. 4 hrs), where we check into the stunning Suryagarh.

A remote and spectacular outpost in the Thar Desert, Jaisalmer was founded in the 12th century and was once a flourishing trading centre on the busy overland caravan route from Central Asia. By the 16th century, Jaisalmer was peaceful and prosperous and wealthy traders competed happily with each other to create the most beautiful sandstone palaces and havelis.

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This morning, we visit the massive Jaisalmer Fort and see some of the city’s fairytale traditional mansions or havelis in the town…

Known as the Golden Fort, Jaisalmer’s breathtaking fortress was built in 1156 and stands high on a hill in the heart of the city. Its great walls are a tawny yellow during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, camouflaging it against the golden sands of the surrounding Thar Desert. In medieval times, the city’s entire population lived within the walls of the Fort. Today, some 1000 people still live inside it in the havelis.

The façades of the highly ornate Jaisalmer havelis are remarkable for the delicacy of relief carvings on windows, jali screens and small balconies called jarrokhas. Steps lead up to the door of a haveli; through this, family apartments are arranged around a central courtyard.
We have lunch at a local restaurant and the afternoon is free for shopping at some of Jaisalmer’s excellent handcraft outlets. In the late afternoon, an optional sunset camel ride into the desert can be organised.

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After breakfast we drive to Jodhpur (approx. 6 hrs), stopping en route at Pokhran, from where a 2 hr jeep safari takes us to weavers’ villages to see the Rahasthani tradition of pattu weaving which is practised around Barmer and Jaisalmer. Using camel and sheep wool, extra weft ornamentation creates complex patterns on shawls and blankets. Prince Param Vijay Singh is patron of the pattu weaving project at Fort Pokhran, where we have lunch. We arrive in Jodhpur late afternoon and check into heritage Ratanvilas with its legendary Rajput hospitality.

The second largest city in Rajasthan, romantic Jodphur was founded in 1459. Situated on the edge of the Thar Desert, it was, like Jaisalmer, strategically located on the overland trade route and flourished as a trading centre. Jodphur is also known as the Blue City because of the indigo-washed houses in the old town.

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After breakfast we visit Jodphur’s majestic Meherangarh Fort. Later, in our own hands-on session, we learn the Rajasthani resist-dyeing art of leheriya, whose name comes from the word leher, meaning waves. Traditional to Rajasthan, leheriya is distinguished by rippling diagonal stripes in striking colour combinations.

Rising some 120 m above the city, Meherangarh Fort’s forbidding exterior conceals delicately latticed and decorative interiors. Once the home of Jodhpur’s royal family, the Fort is widely regarded as the finest palace museum in Rajasthan, featuring spectacularly ornamented rooms, rich and varied art collections, and a conservation centre.

We enjoy a stroll through the old city bazaars, noted for their silver jewellery, lacquer ware, tie-dyed fabrics, puppets and the popular and highly decorative juttis (shoes). Jodhpur is also known for its antique warehouses where visitors can browse their tempting collections.

After breakfast we drive to fairy-tale Udaipur (approx 5 hrs), stopping on the way at Ranakpur to explore the Adinath temple, one of the five great Jain holy places.

Adinath is spectacular. Built of white marble, its distinctive domes, turrets and cupolas rise from the hillside, supported by marble pillars; carved in exquisite detail, each one is unique. Four entrances lead through ornamented halls to the central sanctum to Adinath, who is believed to be the first tirthankara or guide to assist souls’ migration to the next life.

Lunch is arranged at nearby Mountbatten Lodge gardens. We continue on to Udaipur, where we check into the exquisite Mughal style Amet Haveli.

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Without doubt one of the most beautiful cities in India, the medieval town of Udaipur is set around a patchwork of lakes and ringed by low hills. Founded in the 16th century, Udaipur was a stronghold of the fiercely proud Rajputs as they fought to hold onto their independence from the Mughals.

We spend the morning exploring the City Palace, rising above the old town on Lake Pichola’s eastern shore. Its interconnected palaces are a fascinating combination of Rajput architecture and Mughal decorative techniques. We see its dazzling private apartments, airy gardens, paintings and portraits, crystal and vintage cars. We hear tales of the exploits of the Maharanas.

In the late afternoon we enjoy a boat cruise on serene Lake Pichola and take in the lovely lakeside vistas. We visit Jag Mandir Island with its lush gardens and marble chambers, whose coloured stone inlays are said to have inspired Shah Jahan’s vision for the Taj Mahal. We have dinner at the lakeside restaurant Upre.

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After breakfast we set out on a 2 hr walking tour of Udaipur’s old town, exploring its laneways and markets, visiting workshops of potters, painters, puppet makers and other artisans. After lunch at the hotel, we drive to the village of Narlai (approx. 3 hrs), where we spend one night in the beautiful heritage resort of Rawla Narlai.

In the late afternoon we can take one of the many nearby walks. Or we can venture further, with a walk up to a viewpoint above Narlai for a memorable view of the sunset. We have dinner at the hotel.

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This morning is free to relax and perhaps indulge in a spa. The adventurous may opt for a 2.5 hr Jeep tour of the countryside, or a 3 hr leopard sighting expedition (prior booking required and supplementary charge applies).

After lunch we drive to Pushkar (approx. 4 hrs). Our visit is timed to coincide with the Pushkar Mela (Fair), a traditional Indian festival attended by a vast number of camels and traders, pilgrims, visitors and, according to Hindu belief, 33 million gods. On arrival we check into the art deco splendour of the Jagat Palace. (B,L,D)

Situated on the edge of the Thar Desert, the holy town of Pushkar is one of the oldest in India, its white-washed temples sprawled around the pink-blue waters of the lake. Hindus believe the lake formed when a lotus petal slipped from the hand of the god of creation, Lord Brahma.

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After breakfast, we go to the Mela for the day. Pilgrims, villagers and visitors mingle in a vibrant and colourful pageant typical of Rajasthan. Besides being a global attraction for its spectacular camel fair, the Pushkar Mela has great religious significance.

There are camels everywhere, each with its own unique personality, while their minders show off brilliant turbans and imposing moustaches and their womenfolk bright clothing and heavy jewellery. We watch street magicians, performers and fortune tellers selling their services; and we walk down to the lake to visit the ghats along the waterfront, and observe pilgrims taking a ritual dip in the holy water.

In the late afternoon, we join the pilgrims at the ghats to witness the 5:30 pm Maha aarti, the evening ritual. As the chanting begins, the fragrance of incense fills the air and bells ring at the temples surrounding the lake.

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This morning we drive to Jaipur (approx. 3 hrs). On arrival, we check into our exclusive heritage retreat, the Narain Niwas.

Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan since the 1700s, lies on the eastern edge of the Thar Desert. It is often called the Pink City because of the rose-hued wash on some of its fabulous buildings. A vibrant and exciting blend of feudal past and modernity, Jaipur is one of the finest examples of urban planning in northern India. The city is based on a grid of nine rectangular areas, connected by a series of streets, which reflects the nine cosmic divisions of the universe.

After lunch, we visit the renowned Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing to see its fabulous collection of block printed textiles, the characteristically colourful traditional dress of Rajasthan, and outstanding examples of contemporary fashions. A trip to Jaipur has to include visiting this famous museum, reminding us that textiles are both a livelihood and a living and evolving art and culture.

Jaipur’s renowned textile arts are mainly block printing, bhandhej, leheriya and quilt-making; other crafts include blue pottery, meenakari or enamel work, stonework, leatherwork and paper stencils.
Later we visit Amer, the ancient capital that preceded Jaipur. Founded in the 11th century and expanded by succeeding dynasties, Amer is a fortress town of great majesty. We ride up to its imposing hilltop location and explore the wondrous maze of corridors, pavilions, ornamental gardens and ramparts.

In the evening, we enjoy an elephant safari followed by a private dinner in a forest clearing at Dera Amer, situated behind the hills of the Fort. We are hosted by a local Rajput family, using their beautiful home and camp as base.

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This morning we visit Sanganer, 16 kms south of Jaipur, to see the printed textiles for which this area is famous. Typically, Jaipur prints feature floral motifs and patterns.

We visit a local block printing workshop where the printers give us a fabulous hands-on block printing experience, providing us with practical insight into the technical side of Indian prints. We also meet a traditional block maker and see his exquisitely-carved blocks whose intricate sharpness helps us appreciate the painstaking effort involved in each stage of the process.

After lunch, we visit the textile museum section of Jaipur’s fabulous City Palace, a superb blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Still home to the royal family, the Palace is known for its excellent private museums in which royal treasures, art, books, memorabilia, armaments and costumes are displayed. This evening we’ll have our farewell dinner.

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This morning is free. Later, we transfer to the airport for our 16:55 flight to Delhi and our onward travel.

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A three-day adventure taking us from tiger-spotting in gorgeous Ranthambore National Park to a women’s craft initiative at nearby Dastkar, to the architectural wonders of Mughal India. From Ranthambore we travel to Agra, stopping enroute to visit 16th century Fatehpur Sikri, capital of Mughal Emperor Akbar. In Agra, we visit both the Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, and the superb Agra Fort.

We drive to Agra, stopping on the way to visit magnificent Fatehpur Sikri, founded by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1571 but inhabited only briefly. On arrival in Agra, we visit the Agra Fort, a masterpiece of design and construction. In the morning, we enjoy a sunrise visit to the incomparable Taj Mahal, in which Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan placed the remains of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and now acclaimed as one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

Pricing and Inclusions
Pricing and Inclusions
    Prices per personTwin ShareSole Use
    15 day trip$9,469$11,564
    Extensions
    Ranthambore$1,642$2,142
    Agra$695$985
    minimum 2 people required for extensions

    PRICE INCLUDES:

    • Services of Australian textile expert Ms Christina Sumner escorting the journey
    • Services of an Accompanying Tour Leader throughout the trip
    • Flight from Delhi to Bikaner
    • Flight from Jaipur to Delhi
    • Accommodation for 14 nights
    • 35 Meals, daily Breakfast, 12 x Lunches and 09 X Dinners
    • Private land Transportation
    • Mineral water in the vehicle
    • Services of local English speaking guides
    • Porterage fees at the hotels/airports
    • Entrance fees throughout the itinerary
    • Tipping for included services and meals
    • All currently applicable taxes

     

    PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:

    • International airfares
    • Visas
    • Optional arrangements on free days
    • Personal expenses
    • Anything not mentioned as ‘INCLUDED’.

    FLIGHTS TO INDIA
    Our experience tells us everyone wants something different with flights and often visit other places as well, so we will talk with you individually about the best options.
    Airfares from Syd/Mel to Delhi start at $989pp with Singapore or Thai Airways.

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