Please join me on this special adventure - and relish my team’s top-class service.
Gujarat has an energy that belies its quiet desert setting. This most western part of India, with its long port-straddled coast and low-lying, often-flooded land, has its own stark beauty. It also has its own wildlife, flora and fauna, its own traditions and sought-after textiles, and its own delicious yet restrained cuisine. Trading has brought wealth since ancient times - plant-dyed cotton was exported to Egypt and to South-East Asia (the legendary ikat weaves). This rich history inspires contemporary textiles, architecture, design, fashion and entrepreneurship.
We begin our journey in Ahmedabad city which has two distinct stories, medieval and modern. Sultan Ahmed Shah I crushed the Hindu Solanki rulers and founded the still evocative walled city in 1411, where elaborate mosques, tombs and elaborate stepwells survive. Later, Mughal emperor Akbar annexed Gujarat’s abundant wealth and set up the royal indigo factories there. In the 19C, the Sarabhai family and other visionary textile industrialists used their new wealth to introduce modernity. Mahatma Gandhi chose forward-looking Ahmedabad as his headquarters for freeing India; Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn found patronage here; enlightened collectors established museums and education institutions such as the renowned National Institute of Design.
From here, we journey west onto the vast bleached flats of the Rann of Kuchh. From our eco-friendly - but deluxe! - accommodation we soak up the serenity of this haven for wildlife and nomadic cultures. Next stop is Bhuj, for visits to entrepreneurial textile projects - dyeing, woodblock printing, weaving, embroidery and more. We complete our journey by meeting the lively desert communities of Holka (that's me in the photo above, at the nearby sunset that suffuses the whole sky), and the global traders of Rajkot’s ikat-creating households. At every stop, we meet people making a difference.
This trip has three big bonuses: several nights at Ahmedabad and at Bhuj reduce the hotel-hopping of some tours; you will meet and spend time with many remarkable people, from craftspeople and naturalists to curators and conservationists; and you travel by spacious, comfortable car rather than bus.
In Ahmedabad we experience the multilayered carved stepwells created by medieval rulers and their queens....
..... and see contemporary design from architecture to fashion - indigo is everywhere in Gujarat, even lovingly wrapped around trees.
In the great expanse of the Rann of Kuchh we meet the people preserving this fragile land inundated each monsoon, protecting nature, persevering with their cultures, their stories, their astonishing textiles.
Around Bhuj, we visit about ten entirely different projects, from fine bead embroidery to block-printing and and ikat-weaving to brass-making and weaving soft heirloom cotton, seeing each within its social context - the family, the village, and continuing the historic global trading.
We eat very well! Gujarat cuisine is distinctive, vegetarian, and will impress you with its freshness, lightness and unusual ingredient combinations. Be it the foodie banquet on House of MG's rooftop in Ahmedabad or a 5-star road stop, you are in for a string of treats.
To start planning your trip or join a small group tour