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INDIA: Kolkata & West Bengal: Textile & Tribes Tour

INDIA: Kolkata & West Bengal: Textile & Tribes Tour with Nagaland Extension Tour
25th November - 5th December 2019 : 5th - 8th December 2019 Places Available

Destinations: INDIA: Kolkata & West Bengal: Textile & Tribes Tour: 11 days

Tour Grading Moderate: Suitable for travellers with an above average level of fitness and mobility

Tour Commences In: Kolkata

Number of Days: 11 days / 10 nights & 4 days / 3 nights

Accommodation: 4 & 3 star & Boutique Hotels

Leaders: Australian Textile Specialist & local Artisan guide

Tour Concludes In: Kolkata

Tour Style: Deluxe Escorted Small Group Tour

Meals: Breakfast; 10: Lunch; 3: Dinner; 1 . & for Naagalan Breakfast; 3: Lunch; 1:

Transportation: Deluxe private chauffeur driven air-conditioned vehicles

Tour Summary

Kolkata & West Bengal

West Bengal has a long and proud history with a fine arts and craft tradition.  Here’s a little taste of what awaits you on your journey beginning in Kolkata, “the cultural capital of India”, such a creative and energetic place.  Walk its streets and lanes to absorb the density and enjoyment of culture felt by the locals about their city.   Take time to share an early morning tea before the city wakes up as there are many unmissable sights to see, places to explore, artists and designers to meet.  Once in the villagers and towns of West Bengal it will feel good to relax a little and enjoy a driving holiday with a difference as you move through the villages and towns seeing a wide range of traditional arts of the region and meet outstanding masters of their craft.  In north Kolkata you will visit the workshop of a master in painting with natural dyes.  In Kalna you will meet an outstanding weaver of Muslin/Jamdani – ‘woven gold’ in air; the finest cotton weaving in the world valued at the price of gold by the Romans. In Murshidabad you will visit with silk weavers and explore this ancient city of the Nawabs of Bengal.  In the university and arts city of Shantiniketan you will meet with potters and textile artists and reflect on the extraordinary influence of such thinkers as Tagore and his colleagues.  Bishnipur is a wonderland of ancient terracotta temples and home to the magnificent Baluchari silk saree weavers.  Meeting the Patuas, losing yourself in the magic of them singing their scrolls will be an experience that lasts with you always and a fine way to end, and knowing that the artist remains the traditional storyteller and wanderer.

Nagaland and the Hornbill Festival

The annual Hornbill Festival provides a vibrant platform for the many tribes and tribal subgroups to come together in a fabulous display of traditional costumes and weeklong celebration of a diverse indigenous community.  Weaving is a traditional woman’s activity of the Nagas and the  Loin loom Festival is held at the same time and is an empowering experience for the women weaver’s and unique, soulful experience for visitors. Hold dear the privilege of meeting with the communities and gain understanding of their distinct customs, languages and beliefs.

Tour Highlights

  • Allow yourself to be immersed in a wonderland of textiles and crafts as you travel off the beaten path in West Bengal and Nagalan
  • Discover Kolkata’s colonial past.   See iconic monuments
  • Be impressed by the priceless collection of art from undivided Bengal at the Gurusaday Museum
  • Give way to the senses in the colourful and aromatic Flower Market
  • Watch Kolkata come to life on an early morning walking tour
  • Visit a renowned natural dye artist at his residence and workshop
  • Visit a master weaver of the finest muslin/jamdani  cloth responsible for bringing this lost art back to life
  • Explore the old city landmarks including Hazar Duari and Kathgola Palaces in Murshidabad; a city as great as London in its day 
  • Meet the village women who have built a successful cottage industry hand-stitching kanthas.
  • Explore the literary and arts city of Shantiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore
  • Visit an organic farm for a memorable “farm to table” lunch experience.
  • Enjoy a guided tour of the Bishnupur terracotta temples
  • Be in awe of the master weavers of Baluchari silk sarees 
  • Meet a community of master Patuas;  painters and bards who will sing for you the stories of their scroll paintings
  • Share the magic of tribal Nagaland and the awesome view of all the tribes coming together for the annual Hornbill Festival
  • Purchase your own collection of the finest quality, individually crafted textiles and artworks directly from the makers
  • Bring home your own stories of the rich layers of culture and traditions of this ancient land

 

 

Tour Inclusions

  • International & domestic airport arrival and departure private transfers for all guest
  • 4 & 3 star modern & boutique accommodation - twin sharing / single supplement basis
  • Chauffeur driven luxury / deluxe air- conditioned private vehicles for all transfers & sightseeing
  • Meals as indicated in Itinerary; B = Breakfast: L=Lunch: D=Dinner:
  • Australian Tour Manager & local Professional textile specialist guide
  • Admission fees to all Monuments and activities as per the program
  • 1 Litre Bottled water during overland transportation. 


For Nagaland Extension Tour 

  • Domestic Flight Included 
  • – Economy.  Kolkata – Dimapur Return

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1     Monday 25th November 2019:    Arrive Kolkata:
  • Day 2     Tuesday 26th November 2019:    Kolkata:
  • Day 3      Wednesday 27th November 2019:    Kolkata:
  • Day 4      Thursday 28th November 2019:    Kolkata – Kalna – Maheshganj:
  • Day 5      Friday 29th November 2019:    Maheshganj – Murshidabad:
  • Day 6      Saturday 30th Novemner 2019:    Murshidabad:
  • Day 7       Sunday 1st December 2019:    Murshidabad – Kuli – Shantiniketan:
  • Day 8      Monday 2nd December 2019:    Shantiniketan:
  • Day 9      Tuesday 3rd December 2019:    Shantiniketan – Bishnupur:
  • Day 10     Wednesday 4th December 2019:    Bishnupur – Pingla – Kolkata:
  • Day 11:   Thursday 5th December 2019:    Depart Kolkata
  •  

Continue on to the Hornbill Festival - Extra Cost 

  • Day 11     Thursday 5th December 2019:    Kolkata – Dimapur: To Nagalan Hornbill Festival
  • Day 12     Friday 6th December 2019:    Dimapur – Kohima:
  • Day 13     Saturday 7th December 2019:    Kohima – Dimapur
  • Day 14     Sunday 8th December 2019:    Dimapur ~ Kolkata ~ Onward Journey

Country Information

Accommodation:

All our hotels are excellent 5 and 4/3 star boutique hotels. We highly recommend our hotels as they have excellent services and facilities. All rooms have modern facilities, private bathrooms with double or two twin beds.

Climate & Clothing:

The climate in India is warm to hot all year around. The rainy season is June till October. The general rule is to bring comfortable clothing including lightweight cottons. Comfortable walking shoes are essential as is a light waterproof jacket. We provide a detailed packing list to all our guests prior to departure.

Currency & Money Matters:

The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de changes. It is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATM’s are not generally available.

Electricity:

The electrical current in India is 250 volts AC. 50Hz. A variety of power outlets are used in India, but most plugs have two or three round pins.

Insurance:

You must obtain Comprehensive Travel Insurance as a condition of travelling with Boutique Tours & Travel. We recommend that you purchase insurance at the time of Booking.

Language:

Hindi is the official language. English is fast becoming the language of the younger generation.

Meals:

Our hotel offers a variety of dishes at their buffet breakfasts with a wide variety of both menu and venue for lunches and evening meals.

Medical Services & Facilities:

Our hotels have access to a doctor if required. They can also assist guests with purchasing of medicine. The international hospitals in India are very good and have western trained medical and surgical specialists. Dental care is also available.

Passports & Visas:

To enter India you require a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry and with at least two blank pages. A visa is required for most guests and will be organised prior to departure.

Pre & Post Tour Accommodation:

Boutique Tours & Travel suggests that you may like to arrive a day before the start of your tour to allow time to relax and refresh. You are also very welcome to linger longer after the tour is completed. Boutique Tours & Travel has negotiated special overnight rates at many hotels for both pre and post tour accommodation. Please request when booking.

Time Zone:

Despite the size of the country, the standard time throughout India is GMT +5.30.

Tipping:

We know that some of our guests are not familiar with tipping customs, so any gratuities (eg to waiters, porters etc) are already taken care of as part of your fee. A tip from you to the guides and drivers is always a goodwill gesture.

Tour Group:

Our small group tours provide you with a good balance of group activity and personal discovery.

Transport:

Most of our road journeys between major cities are longer than 3 hours so we include modern Luxury sedan cars or minibuses for this tour. They are spacious and comfortable so we can all enjoy the journey.

Water & Beverages:

Some of our hotels offer bottled water in your room,  and bottled water is provided when travelling in our transport. Most teas are available with most meals. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of this tour. 

Full Itinerary

Day 1:    Monday 25th November 2019:    Welcome to Kolkata:
On arrival you will be met at the airport and driven to your simple but well-appointed homestay at Park Circus in central Kolkata. On arrival you have the opportunity to rest and relax or start to explore the nearby places of interest of this culturally rich and diverse capital of West Bengal.


Day 2:   Tuesday 26th November 2019:    Kolkata: (B/D)
Enjoy breakfast with your fellow travellers at the hotel before leaving for a guided tour of Kolkata’s colonial past. See iconic monuments from that time and walk through the areas of central Kolkata that have shaped the cities distinctive character.  After the tour have lunch at a nearby restaurant and then be driven to the Gurusaday Museum – where one of the finest collections of textiles and other art objects can be seen. After the visit to the Museum you will be driven back into the city with time to explore some of the well-known boutiques of Kolkata (with your guide). This evening enjoy a welcome Bengali dinner at the homestay.

Day 3: Wednesday 27th November 2019:    Kolkata:    (B)
Today, after breakfast, enjoy an early morning visit to the colourful and aromatic Flower Market situated beside the Hoogly River.  A short drive to the north of the city will get you to the starting point of our  popular walking tour led by Calcutta Walks which traces the origins of the many and varied cultures that make this city such a dynamic place. Gain insight into the fascinating parallel lives led by the different communities of Kolkata. After the tour stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Following this you will drive to the residence and workshop of natural dye artist, where you will be shown the process for making natural dyes and the steps for the preparation and painting of the cloth by him and his daughter.  His paintings are all made using vegetable and mineral colour and can be found in a number of international collections.  You will get ample time to view the art work and the current textile collection. Afterwards, you will be driven back to your lodge to relax and enjoy a free evening.

Day 4: Thursday 28th November 2019:    Kolkata – Kalna – Maheshganj:    (B)
Moving on by car from Kolkata to Kalna (3 – 4hrs drive to the north), a small town with an impressive terra-cotta temple, we visit an exceptional master weaver of muslin/jamdani, one of the finest of woven textiles considered by the Mughals to be as valuable as gold. Muslin weavers were heavily exploited during British domination and their livelihood destroyed once cotton became cheaper when imported back as machine woven cloth from British mills. The situation deteriorated to such a degree that a ‘firman’ was issued threatening any weaver continuing to weave Muslin with the chopping off of his right thumb.  This resulted in destroying the livelihood of the large volume of weavers and the subsequent loss of knowledge of this highly skilled process. In recent times one weaver in Bengal was instrumental in reviving this skill successfully and you are privileged to visit this artisan and see some of the process in action.  Time flies in his workshop and the opportunity to buy his exceptional textiles is irresistible.  After lunch and depending on time, it may be possible to visit the temple or another weaver’s workshop before continuing on to Maheshganj.  

Day 5: Friday 29th November 2019:    Maheshganj – Murshidabad:    (B)
After breakfast, you will be driven for about 5 hours to Murshidabad, the last capital of undivided Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and once one of the richest towns of India. It was littered with palaces and mansions that are still around in a more dilapidated state today. The history of Murshidabad dates to the 17th century when Murshid Kuli Khan was appointed ‘Diwan’ of Bengal, shifting the capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad. Soon the glory of Murshidabad spread all over Mughal India becoming known as one of the best Silk producing centres. To put it into perspective, Robert Clive reported in 1757 that Murshidabad was as prosperous as London.  At that time, the Baluchari saree, now woven in Bishnupur used to be made in a village called Jiaganj. After Murshid Kuli Khan, Murshidabad was under the rule of Siraj-ud-daulah and then Mir-kashim. However one of Mir-kashim’s generals Mir Jafar joined hands with the British and in a historical fight at a place called Palashi the British Forces finally defeated Mir-Kashim and took over the reins of government from the Nawabs of Bengal. Today, Murshidabad continues as a centre of silk weaving and also an important place to visit for history & architecture lovers. On reaching Murshidabad you will check in at the well-appointed Hotel Fame.  In a short while enjoy a tour of the magnificent Hazar Duari Palace, the Kathgola Palace and cross over the Bhagirathi River to visit the grave of Siraj-ud-daulah. Post visit – you will be driven back to your hotel.

Day 6: Saturday 30th November 2019:    Murshidabad:    (B)
After breakfast you will be taken to a silk-weaving unit to see the way the silk is processed and woven. Travelling on then by car to see the Katra Mosque. Visiting a market is always fun. After the tour of the mosque you will be driven to a nearby village to enjoy a walk in the local market. From there it is a short drive to an interesting small palace in Kashim Bazar. Later, enjoy some free time to relax in the hotel or alternately take a boat ride on the Bhagirathi River.

Day 7: Sunday 1st December 2019:    Murshidabad – Shantiniketan :    (B/L)
We leave the city after breakfast, stopping on our journey to Shantiniketan to visit a collective of village women who have built a successful cottage industry hand-stitching kanthas.  One woman’s vision, strength and determination has enabled many disadvantaged, untrained women to be economically secure through their making of these beautiful kantha saris, covers and quilts. They proudly display their work and what they have achieved.   The well-kept school attached to the property is part of their success story built to provide subsidised education to their children.  After a lunch provided by the ladies you, will be driven for about 3 hours to your enchanting “mud – house” accommodation in Shantiniketan.  Once you are comfortably settled in, it is just a short walk to a nearby ceramic studio to meet the artist and look around her gorgeous studio built by her architect husband.  Take time to enjoy good conversation over coffee/tea, served of course with the artists’ lovely ceramics. Relax and enjoy the evening.

Day 8: Monday 2nd December 2019:    Shantiniketan:    (B/L)
This morning you will be treated to a natural-dye workshop in the hotel where you will learn how to extract natural colours and use them on cloth. It is then a short drive to nearby textile studios in Shantiniketan to see the products of these slow fashion processes.  Afterwards, drive into the countryside to an organic farm for a memorable farm to table lunch experience.  Post lunch you will enjoy a village walk before driving back to the lodge with a stop at the university established by recipient for the Nobel Prize for Literature, poet, musician, artist and adored citizen - Rabindranath Tagore and his peers.

Day 9: Tuesday 3rd December 2019:    Shantiniketan – Bishnupur:    (B)
After breakfast depart Shantiniketan for (3 hours) driving to the terra-cotta temple town of Bishnupur, the ancient capital of the Malla Dynasty, first established in the 7th century.  You will enjoy a privately guided tour of the Bishnupur terracotta temples followed by a short visit to the museum nearby.  The hotel is just minutes away. Bishnipur is also famous for its Baluchari silk weaving and you will see sarees of exquisite quality.  Once focused in Murshidabad, the weavers were forced to relocate when their livelihood was destroyed there under British domination.

Day 10:    Wednesday 4th  December 2019:    Bishnupur – Kolkata:    (B/L)
After breakfast, there is an option to make a short stop at Panchmura village, the making hub of the famous Bankura terracotta horses, a symbol of devotion and courage in Indian folk art of the Malla rajas.    From there we move on to a village in Medinipur district, the home of a community of bards who tell their stories through song and painted scrolls - “pats”.  Patuas, ancient painters and storytellers traditionally travelled from village to village singing their stories of the scrolls that are completely hand-made using natural dyes painted on a surface built up from old sarees. We are privileged to be invited into their homes to have a private viewing of the scrolls and enjoy their song.  This is a rare opportunity to purchase directly from artists whose works are held in international collections and are sought after for their interpretation of international and local events as much as for their interpretation of traditional themes.  Think of them as the precursor of the graphic novel. After this you will enjoy lunch with in the village and then be driven to Kolkata (3 hours’ drive). On reaching Kolkata you will check in at hotel.   

Day 11:     Thursday 5th December 2019:     Kolkata – onward journey.   (B)
After breakfast farewell fellow travellers leaving us here. You will be transferred to the airport to connect with your onward or homebound flight.

For guests joining us for our next adventure to experience dramatic and remote Nagaland and the spectacular annual Hornbill Festival and more fabulous textiles.


Day 11/1:    Thursday 5th December 2019:    Kolkata – Dimapur:    (B)
Take the morning flight to Dimapur, the largest town in Nagaland, a state of rolling forested hills and multiple tribal communities. The word Naga is derived from the Burmese word ‘No-ka’ meaning pierced ear-lobes, their lands stretching from Myanmar into India and even now there are areas which lie in both countries where people freely move between the two countries. The Naga people are tough forest dwellers who had until recently been living in an animistic society with very little education and scant regard for the outside world and the rest of India. Known as fierce warriors, some of their tribes participated in the macabre cult of head-hunting from enemy villages until this practice was discontinued during the last century through the influence of American evangelists who gradually baptized them and managed to convince them to accept a more settled life within villages. The tour to Nagaland will take you through the beautiful villages and allow you to experience first-hand their culture and meet the people. You will see various tribes including the Konyaks, the Aos, and the Angamis and the Chakesangs at the Hornbill Festival grounds.
After lunch at the hotel it’s time to explore beginning with a walking tour in the Dimapur markets. Be prepared for some unfamiliar food items as the local people eat a lot of bush meat.  A dynamic and busy market is proof of the varied culinary traditions that are practised in these areas.  After the tour you will be driven to a near-by village to experience rural life and see the local women weaving at their back-strap looms. Enjoy an evening of relaxation and good conversation at your homestay.

Day 12/2:    Friday 6th December 2019:    Dimapur – Kohima  – Dimapur:    (B)
After breakfast you will be driven (2 hours approx) to the Hornbill Festival grounds in the Kisema village. The Hornbill Festival is a vibrant celebration of statehood and a coming together of the multiple tribal communities inhabiting the state.  It is held annually at Naga Heritage Village, Kisema where you will be treated to diverse cultural performances, be captivated by tribal groups dressed in their fabulous traditional attire, witness indigenous games and competitions, search for textile treasures in the crafts bazaar, taste the traditional cuisine and join in the festivities. The whole day will be spent at the festival grounds before returning to our homestay for the evening.

Day 13/3:    Saturday 7th December 2019:    Dimapur – Khonoma Village – Hornbill Festival- Dimapur.    (B/L)
Post breakfast we visit the Loinloom Festival in Dimipur.  This initiative of the rural women of Nagaland has grown in popularity resonating strongly with traditional textile and slow fashion lovers locally and abroad. Afterwards, you will be driven (2hours) to Khomena village, home to the Angami tribal community for a tour of the village observing that all the crafts are an integral part of the daily fabric of life.  In every household; tools, clothing and craft items are shaped by hand, on demand.  Head back to enjoy a final visit to the Hornbill Festival at Kisema before returning to Dimapur.

Day 14/4:    Sunday 8th December 2019:    Dimapur – Kolkata – Onward:    (B)
After breakfast, it is time to return to Kolkata for your onward or homeward journey.

Tour Hotels

 

Kolkata:   Amiya Bhavan  
Maheshganj:   The Hotel Haveli  
Murshidabad:   The Fame  
Shantiniketan:       The Garden Bungalow  
Bishnupur:       The Annapurna Hotel  
Kolkata:       The Pride Plaza  
Dimapur:         Longchen Homestay 
       

 

Start Date End Date Luxury Deluxe Boutique Availability
400 25 Nov 2019 5 Dec 2019 $3,350.00 Space Available Book Now
100 5 Dec 2019 8 Dec 2019 $1,660.00 Space Available Book Now

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