Essential Gujarat, Oct 23 - Nov 4, 2016
with Jeremy Woodhouse & Herb Leventon
This itinerary offers varied photographic opportunities, and being in India during Diwali (the Festival of Lights) will certainly be a real treat. The itinerary was carefully crafted to provide you with maximum time photographing and less time traveling. Our hotel in Ahmedabad, “House of Mahatma Gandhi”, is a classic heritage hotel that itself is worthy of a photo shoot. Our home stays in the Rann of Kutch at the “Rann Visano" are as unique as any place that you will ever stay in your travels.
Day 1: October 23—New Delhi
Upon arrival at the airport in New Delhi you will be met by a company representative and driven to our hotel which is close to the airport. The group will meet in the lobby at 6pm for a trip orientation and then have dinner.
O/N Ibis New Delhi Airport Hotel
Day 2: October 24—Ahmedabad
After breakfast the group will be driven to the airport for our flight to Ahmedabad. Gujarat is a dry state and those wishing to drink alcoholic beverages can easily get a permit in the airport. A copy of your passport and 15 minutes of your time is required. The alcohol permit office is located in the airport at the Police Department office. We will meet our local guide Pravin Dangera who will be with us for the entire trip. He is the president of the Kutch guiding association, a social activist, owns a Royal Enfield motorcycle, has connections with everyone and will be our translator. After check-in we will proceed to the Gandhi Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived begining in 1916. Later on we will go to a large seasonal market where they will be selling fireworks, oil lamps, sweets, and small lanterns—plus decorations for Diwali.
O/N House of Mahatma Gandhi
The House of MG is the only boutique heritage hotel in Ahmedabad that is centrally located and has 38 luxuriously appointed rooms offering all modern amenities in a grand but homely ambience. Awarded ‘ Travelers’ Choice’ by Tripadvisor.com almost every year, staying in this restored 20th century property is a unique experience. Although it is a colonial style mansion, replete with courtyards and verandahs, it is centrally air-conditioned and has free wifi everywhere. All its rooms and suites are located at three levels around two courtyards.
Walking through the meandering corridors, there are pleasant surprises around every corner. The House of MG has been lovingly and tastefully restored, with all its furniture and fixtures designed and sourced from local artisans practicing around the hotel itself. There is a lot of greenery and light everywhere and domesticated cats may cross your path. You will be served by a team of staff who are all from neighboring villages and trained to cater to a modern international traveler. The House of MG serves as an excellent example of the contemporary lifestyle and sensibility of an affluent fourth generation, well educated, modern Indian family.
Its architecture is a confluence of different styles. An ornamental façade with a Baroque influence, Italian mosaic and marble flooring, stained- glass windows and passages spread over multiple levels leading to different rooms. The green courtyards, verandahs and bubbling fountains will both surprise and welcome you to different nooks of this gorgeous building.
Day 3: October 25—Ahmedabad
In the morning we will do the heritage walk in the old section of Ahmedabad. Photographic opportunities include the washer women, the booksellers, tuk-tuk drivers washing their vehicles, and the Swaminarayan Temple. These narrow lanes are better shot with a wide angle lens. In Manek Chowk bazaar we will shoot the spice merchants, clothing, jewelry shops, as well as the colorful winding streets of the old market at Lal Darwaja. Lunch will be at Lucky Restaurant—the only restaurant in the world where food is served on the tables which are surrounded by graves. In the afternoon we will visit the revered Sarkej Rouza—the mausoleum of Sufi saint Mohammad Ganj Khatu Baksh. Many easily-photographed pilgrims will be worshipping in this large shrine.
O/N House of Mahatma Gandhi
Day 4: October 26—Dasada
After breakfast, we will drive 130 kms to Patan where we will photograph the world-famous step well—Rani Ki Waw (1075 AD). It is an UNESCO world heritage site. Patan is also famous for silk ikat weaving which is known as Patola Saree. It is the only place in the world where the Salvi family practices this unique art of weaving. We will have lunch with this family at their workshop-cum museum. Then the group will drive 35 kms drive to the Modhera Sun temple. It is a beautiful temple built in 1926 AD by King Bhimdev Solanki. It is divided into 3 parts and known as poetry on stone. Our next stop will be at the Bahuchraji Temple, 25 kms from Modhera. It is dedicated to the Goddess Bahuchraji who is worshiped by all Hindu communities as well as the Hijra—a eunch community. Photographing the hijra people is subject to our approach, their mood and what is respectful. These cross dressing men/women are considered the third sex and socially ostracized. We will continue to our eco-lodge. Some charismatic tribal children will be waiting for us to photograph them upon arrival. Colorful garb, silver jewelry and earrings will be in abundance.
O/N Rann Riders Lodge
Day 5: October 27—Dasada
We will have an early morning jeep drive to the Wild Ass Sanctuary at Little Rann of Kutch. This is the largest wildlife sanctuary in India and home to flamingos, pelicans, cranes and emus. We will also photograph the Agariya people who harvest salt. We will have another photography opportunity in the late afternoon in the neighboring Bharwad tribal village. The clothing worn by Bharwad women are traditionally made from coarse wool woven by members of local communities. In addition, they embroider their own open-backed bodices.
O/N Rann Riders Lodge
Day 6: October 28—Muli
After breakfast we will drive for 2 hours until we reach Muli. It is an absolutely wonderful small rural village that has great architecture, extremely friendly people and real ambiance. The doors, windows, colors and textures in this village make for amazing photographic opportunities. Our lodging is a short 5 minute walk from this quaint Indian village. In close proximity is the picturesque old wooden Swami Narayan Temple which we will photograph in the afternoon. We will attend the Aarti ceremony in the Hindu temple; incense, drumming and much spiritual energy. We will be spending the night at a recently renovated palace which featured in a well-known Bollywood soap opera.
O/N Ambika Niwas Palace
Day 7: October 29—Muli
Early morning drive to Gautamgadh—a small, unelectrified, very basic hamlet of Dharwad people. We will photograph them making the first cup of tea of the day, milking their buffalos, cows and then boiling the milk. We will return to the palace for breakfast and a break. After lunch we will drive to Wadhwan. This photogenic town is famous for brass utensils workshops, decaying homes and a photographically compelling main street. The sound of hammer on brass emanates throughout the side streets where the workers form brass cooking pots.
O/N Ambika Niwas Palace
Day 8: October 30—Bhuj
After breakfast we will travel for 250 kms to Bhuj which is the heart of Kutch and home of the white desert. Along the route we will stop to photograph the salt workers as they rake the ponds and carry the salt in buckets on their heads. Arriving late afternoon we will check into our hotel and start celebrating Diwali. The evening photo shoot will be at the Swami Narayaan Temple which will be adorned with hundreds of lamps burning ghee and oil. The people will be shooting fireworks and women will be in their best attire.
O/N Prince Hotel
Day 9: October 31—Bhuj
Morning photo shoot in the local temples where people come to welcome in the new year. The group will then travel 8 kms to Bhujodi which is a traditional weavers village. Because it is Diwali (the annual Festival of Lights) it will be very colorful as the 140 families will be in their finest clothing and the women in their new saris. Continuing onward to Ajarakhpur we will photograph some of the finest block printers in India at work. We will witness them printing and washing the indigo fabrics. Back to the hotel in the late afternoon the group will be free to wander. Dinner will be in a local chicken tandoori restuarant.
O/N Prince Hotel
Day 10: November 1—Hodka
We will be having a home stay at the compound of a Marwada family. The round, cube shaped, simple mud brick rooms are called Bhunga (the origin of our English word bungalow). The intricate artwork, carvings and detail are astounding. We will have the compound to ourselves. We will photograph the adjoining Hodka village and local Banni communities. In the evening we will have local musicians entertain us.
O/N Rann Visamo
Day 11: November 2—Hodka
After breakfast we will photograph in a traditional Muslim Patan hamlet. These people have strong features and are of Afghani origin. They wear bright and one-color Pathani suits, have long and sharp noses as well as chins, some men have red henna-dyed beards. They live in thatch roofed homes and are easily engaged. The men are considered the best buffalo herders in Gujarat. On the way back to our home stay for lunch we will stop at a Marwada village. During the late afternoon we will photograph the great expanses of Rann of Kutch. Much of it consists of the world's largest salt desert, measuring around 10,000 square kilometers. What makes it even more amazing is that the salt desert is underwater during the main monsoon season. For the remaining eight months of the year, it is an enormous stretch of packed white salt. Sunset photo shoot will be an amazing way to end this photography tour.
O/N Rann Visamo
Day 12: November 3—Bhuj
After breakfast we will return to Bhuj to catch our flight back to New Delhi. Once in Delhi we will check back in the Ibis Hotel and have a final lunch together. Airport transfers will be provided to those taking late evening flights.
Dates: Oct 23 - Nov 4, 2016
Maximum Group Size 12
2 SPOTS OPEN
Jeremy Woodhouse & Herb Leventon This trip is limited to 12 participants.
Cost does not Include
Paying by check
If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:
605 Rouen Drive,
McKinney TX 75070