Cultural india


The State of Gujarat overlooks the Arabian Sea, joining the coastal area immediately north of Mumbai to the almost lunar expanses of the Kutch, bordering the Indus delta, which during the monsoon season turns into a sort of island separated from the rest of the mainland. Despite being rich in cultural, ethnic and artistic heritage of great value, Gujarat still remains today a region that is not touched by tourist itineraries: a land of conquest over the centuries, a melting pot of cultures and commerce, where the inhabitants have developed of tolerance which in the past allowed the birth of a comfortable middle class made up of merchants and craftsmen. The ancient capital Ahmedabad is still today one of the major industrial and commercial centers of India, rich in monuments and buildings of Islamic architecture; but there are many other archaeological and pilgrimage sites of great religious and cultural importance such as the wonderful temples of Palitana. In the Kutch region there are semi-nomadic communities dedicated to sheep farming for centuries. A trip to Gujarat will be a journey through time. An excellent spirit of adaptation is required for the long journeys on roads that are not always in excellent condition, for the commitment of the visits, and for the food which can sometimes be very spicy.

1st-day ITALY – MUMBAI 

Departure from Italy with a scheduled flight to Mumbai.


Arrive early in the morning. After the entry and customs formalities, meeting with the local guide and transfer to the hotel: rooms available on arrival. Breakfast. Short orientation tour of the city: the  India Gate ,  the Janist temple , the  Hanging Gardens  on the slopes of the Malabar Hills, a magical and peaceful place that offers a splendid view of the Marine Lines and Chowpatty Beach, for a little relaxation and the Kamala Neru Park with its colorful decorations in the shape of animals. We will continue with the  Mani Bhawan, a small museum where Mahatma Gandhi stopped during his travels in Bombay, which collects documents belonging to different historical periods, up to the Dhobi Ghat. Finally, stop at the Afghan Church, the Floral Fountain, the colorful Crawford Market, and Marine Drive. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight.


Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to airport for flight to Bhavnagar. Upon arrival, meeting with the local guide and continuation (km 56) to discover one of the wonders of Gujarat: the temples of Palitana;  the complex of Jain temples which is located on the top of Satrunjaya hill at 600 meters height. To reach them you have to climb 3750 steps; those who are not a penitent or do not feel like facing the demanding climb with a modest expense can use the  “Dholi” and with these sedan chairs in just over an hour he is on the top of the hill. Faithful Jains aspire to visit the hill at least once in their life and religious sentiment aside, they are right about it. The top of the hill is a true city of temples of exquisite beauty, with architectural lines that outline their profile towards the plain and which give the impression of being the kingdom of fairies. In total there are 836 temples and 11,000 deities. The most important are the temples of Adishwara, Adinath, Vimalsha and Choumukh, open to all during the day from sunrise to sunset when the imposing entrance gate to the locality is closed and a peaceful silence envelops the hill. Inside the temples the statues of the 24 thirtankara predominate, the apostles who over the course of time would spread the teachings then dictated by the last apostle, The Mahavira, a contemporary of the Buddha. At the end of the visit continuation of the journey to Gondal and upon arrival accommodation in the hotel. Overnight.


Breakfast. The journey continues leaving behind Saurashtra (once known by the ancient name of Kathiawar) and crossing the  peninsula of Kutch , traveling north, we visit the  Wankaner Palace , the residence of the former Maharaja. Continue to  Bhuj, the capital of the Kutch peninsula. A squat and massive peninsula that represents the extreme southern extension of the Sindh and Thar deserts. In the centuries in which traffic was more intense in the great geographical area that goes from Persia to Arabia, Kutch, with its maritime traditions and the ability of its merchants, had been able to carve out a significant role for itself: its ports collected African ivories, Omani incense, Malabar spices and Persian handicrafts which then, across the Great Rann, continued on camel back towards the Rajput states of present-day Rajasthan and further north towards the great metropolises of Punjab and Central Asia. Upon arrival check in at the hotel. If time permits, it is possible to contact the local authorities to obtain the permit that allows you to make an excursion to the villages in the border area. Overnight.


Breakfast. Day to discover the tribal villages north and south of Bhuj. It is a memorable experience because this area can only be visited with a special permit. Here the populations live in small communities. The interior of their huts is embellished with colorful tapestries embroidered and decorated with mirrors and heavy jewels. Coming into contact with the Ahir, the Tunda, and the Koli you will be able to admire their great skill as craftsmen and their ancient traditions handed down through the centuries and still so alive. Overnight.


Breakfast. Onward journey to Dasada at the edge of the  Little Rann of Kutch and accommodation in a typical ethnic resort. The Word Rann means “desert” and in fact one is found southeast of the Great Desert of Kutch. Kutch is a very large district (8750 sq km) almost never included in tourist itineraries and many visitors only learn of its existence when they arrive in India. It is a flat expanse of arid and saline land which, during the monsoons, is covered with water up to two meters high and in the hottest period of the year, it takes on an almost unreal appearance. The salt crystals shine on the surface of the sun-scorched earth creating an unparalleled spectacle. Little Rann is home to the Asiatic wild ass, fox, wild boar and countless birds. Overnight.


Breakfast. In the morning visit Banjara and Bharwad ethnic villages  . Women, often intimidated by the presence of male visitors, are very hospitable and display their heritage of quilts and embroidered dresses. In the afternoon departure on camel-drawn carts to visit the  Rababri villages,  “the last nomads”, with their typical way of dressing: the chromatically effective contrast between the black of the female shawls and the white of the male clothes, their style of life symbolized by camels and has remained unchanged over the centuries, one has the very clear sensation of coming into contact with a past that for us Westerners is lost forever. Overnight.


Breakfast and the journey continues by private car to Ahmedabad, with a stop along the way in Patan, famous for the hand-woven “Patola” saris according to the ancient technical “ikat” and for the Rani ki Val,  the great stepwell from 1056 built by the Solanki dynasty. They are called  Baoli ,  Baori , Kund  or  Vav , depending on the region and in English  Stepwell. They are the magnificent wells and cisterns of western India, which for centuries have ensured the water supply and survival of these dry regions. Building from the bottom up, the walls of the wells were paved with huge blocks of stone and the slopes equipped with stairways. The second stop will take place in  Modhera, famous for the temple to the sun god of Modhera which would have been built by King Solanki Bhimen I around 1025, part of which is in ruins: it is among the most beautiful monuments of Indian art and architecture. It consists of the assembly hall, the sanctorum and the inevitable Kund (swimming pool). The profusion of sculptures that embellish the exterior with figures of divinities, human beings, animals and scenes of love and battles is astonishing. At the end of the visits, departure for Ahmedabad, upon arrival check-in at the hotel. Overnight.


Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning visit of Ahmedabad  which is characterized by narrow streets and alleys overlooked by refined (but dilapidated) buildings with richly inlaid balconies. The city, located on the west coast of India, overlooks the Gulf of Cambey. Among its places of interest we remember the lively market; the Jama Masjid, a striking example of Islamic art, whose roof, formed by 15 domes, is supported by 260 columns the interesting stairwell of Adlaj which was once a resting place for pilgrims and eventually the home of Mahatma Gandhi. In time transfer to Ahmedabad airport for flight to Mumbai. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. Overnight.


Breakfast. In the morning meet with the local guide and excursion by public boat to the Elephanta caves (closed on Mondays). It is worth visiting this set of temples with beautiful courtyards, halls, pillars, and sanctuaries, which date back to the period from 450 to 750 AD Afternoon at leisure.


Departure in the early hours of the morning with a scheduled flight to Italy.

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