Gujarat Tribal & Cultural Tour

Cultural & ClassicalGujarat Tribal & Cultural Tour

Gujarat, like most of India, is something of a place of contradictions. On the one hand, it is perhaps India’s most modern and affluent state and yet its rural areas are known for the simple, semi-nomadic peoples of the pastoral groups who roam the desert and semi-desert region of Kutch in the northwest. There are also many tribal groups in the hills in the north of the state near the border with Rajasthan. In this itinerary you can also see examples of architectural styles and cultural influences from throughout the history of Gujarat.

  • Days: 10 nights / 11 days
  • Cost: Please enquire
Day 01: Arrive Ahmedabad
Day 02: Ahmedabad – Gondal (250kms/ 4hrs)
Day 03: Gondal
Day 04: Gondal – Junagarh – Gondal (65kms/ 1hrs one way)
Day 05: Gondal – Bhuj (270kms/ 5hrs)
Day 06 – 07: Bhuj - Tribal Village of Hodka (65kms/ 2hrs)
Day 08: Hodka – Mandvi (60kms/ 1hrs)
Day 09: Mandvi – Dasada (320kms/ 6hrs)
Day 10: Dasada – Danta (160kms/ 3hrs)
Day 11: Danta – Poshina – Ahmedabad (180kms/ 3hrs) 
Day 01: Arrive Ahmedabad
Arrive at Ahmedabad airport, meet and greet with our office representative assistance and transfer to hotel.
Ahmedabad was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411 AD and was graced with splendid monuments, mosques, pavilions and mausoleums, marking the beginning of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.  Modern day Ahmedabad, popularly known, as the capital of the State of Gujarat is the largest city and a leading industrial center in Gujarat.  It is also the sixth largest in India.
Popularly known as the Manchester of the East, Ahmedabad boasts of the largest denim production in the world. It is also home to several interesting museums. Many of Ahmedabad buildings bear the signatures of world-renowned architects like Le Corbusier, Louis Khan, Doshi and Correa. It is from the austere habitat of Sabarmati at Ahmedabad, that the 'Father of the Nation' - Mahatma Gandhi took on the mighty British Empire, and gave human race one of its most remarkable ways to fight oppression - non-violence. Overnight at hotel.
Day 02: Ahmedabad – Gondal (250kms/ 4hrs)
Breakfast at hotel half day city tour, visit the Shaking minarets, Calico textile museum, Sabarmati ashram, Vishala vichar museum and Kite museum. Later visit the famous Law gardens (for handicrafts) and C.J road for shopping.
Shaking minarets; are two minarets located at the Siddhi Bashir mosque. They are uniquely designed in a way that when one minaret is shaken the other one shakes too. Calico textile museum; is one of the finest textile museums in the world. Housed in one of Gujarat's famous carved wooden havelis, the museum displays a magnificent collection of rare textiles that date back to the 17th century. There is also an excellent reference library on textiles. Sabarmati Ashram; On a quiet stretch of the river Sabarmati, 7 kms north of the city, Mahatma Gandhi set up a simple retreat in 1915. This was his first Satyagraha Ashram and for many it was the nerve center of India's freedom movement. Hridaya Kunj, the cottage where he lived is preserved as it was in the Mahatma's lifetime. The Gandhi Ashram has a memorial center, library and a sound and light spectacle to offer its visitors.
Vishala Vichar museum; is a restaurant with traditional Gujarati food in village surroundings. It has Vichar Utensil Museum worth visiting. The museum houses a unique collection of utensils. Kite museum; houses a wonderful variety of kites that depict their colorful history and regional flavors.
Afternoon drive to Gondal, check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 03: Gondal
Gondal, the capital of the former princely state of Gondal, was ruled by the Jadeja Rajput clan, till the independence of India. Present day Gondal is a testimony to the great visionary ruler Sir Bhagwatsinhji, who introduced social reforms, planned the development of Gondal town and created a model state of Saurashtra in late 19th and early 20th century. Sir Bhagwatsinhji's high education and extensive tours to Europe enhanced his aesthetic tastes, which can be seen in the architecture and planning of public buildings, parks, bazaars and palaces built during his regime.
Navlakha Palace; One of the oldest and most beautiful of Gondal palaces, the Navlakha Palace complex, is situated on a riverbank, on a grand masonry base, rising to the monumental scale of at least 30 meters, above the riverbed. The palace is approached by the high gateway with the clock tower from the town side. The grand Darbar Hall, with a series of huge windows opening onto a long balcony supported by intricately carved brackets, overlooks the river. Darbar Hall has large chandeliers, stuffed panthers, gilt wooden furniture and antique Belgian mirrors. The private palace museum displays artifacts, gifts and messages received by Sir Bhagwatsinhji, on his 50th birthday.
Riverside Palace; The riverside palace is located at the edge of the Gondali river; built in colonial style of architecture, amidst a garden with huge trees. The living room is decorated in European taste, while the Indian room has brassware, beadwork and paintings in typical Indian style. The series of galleries and terraces of the palace building bring nature close to the visitors of this heritage hotel. Orchard Palace; The Orchard Palace was originally a State guesthouse, built in colonial style with an arcade of semi circular arches, set in the midst of fruit orchards. The garden in the front, a beautiful fountain with lily pond and marble statues en chances the beauty of the palace. The main sitting room has a collection of paintings, antique furniture, bird eggs and many interesting art objects.
Vintage Car Collection; The rulers of Gondal were great lovers of automobiles and one can see several vintage and classic cars in the royal garage. Two rail saloons of the Gondal State were renovated, keeping the original décor and are available for accommodation in the Orchard Garden Palace. The stay at saloons provides a unique experience: a nostalgia of the great days of the Indian railways combined with royal grandeur. Overnight at hotel.
Day 04: Gondal – Junagarh – Gondal (65kms/ 1hrs one way)
Breakfast at hotel, full day excursion to visit Junagarh an ancient fortified city rich in myth and legend, Junagadh lies at the foot of the temple-studded Girnar Hill. It derives its name from the 'old fort', which circles the medieval town.
The Girnar Hills that landscape Junagadh are a holy sanctuary to the Jains. The history of Mount Girnar dates back to the awesome empire of Ashoka, one of India's greatest emperors. Ashoka inscribed 14 edicts on a huge boulder en-route to Mt. Girnar peak. Junagadh's main feature is the Uperkot fort (upper fort), a somber and inaccessible fortress.
Ashoka's Rock Edicts; On the way to Girnar, there is a huge boulder, housed in a small roadside building, on which are fourteen Rock Edicts inscribed by Emperor Ashoka. As was the tradition of Kings of yore, in his quest to expand his empire, Ashoka fought fierce wars. After one of his most ferocious battles, a victorious Ashoka visited the battlefield of Kalinga. But the sight of mass slaughter of human beings had a catalytic effect on his mind. Remorse-stricken, he turned to Buddhism for absolution. He devoted rest of his life for the propagation and practice of Buddha's teachings.
The inscriptions carry Brahmi script in Pali language and date back to 250 B.C. The fourteen edicts of Emperor Ashoka are moral lectures. These edicts, preserved in the Girnar hills, bear testimony to the benevolent attitude and activities of the Emperor. On the same rock are inscriptions in Sanskrit added around 150 A.D. by Rudradama and in about 450 A.D. by Skandagupta, the last emperor of the Mauryas.
Uperkot Fort; is believed to have been constructed by the Yadavas (the clan to which Lord Krishna belonged) when they came to settle in Dwarka. Famous in bygone times for its virtual inaccessibility, the Uperkot or upper fort is girdled by a wall that is, in some places, over 20m. high. An ornate entrance gateway leads to the ruins. The fort has many interesting exhibits like the two guns placed on the western wall and believed to have been cast in Egypt. The bigger one is called the Nilamtope and the other one is known as Kadanal. In and around the fort one can find several Buddhist caves belonging to the 200 B.C. to 200 A.D era.
In the Uperkot is a two storied cave said to belong to the first century which is believed to be a Buddhist Chaitya cave. There are also Buddhist caves at Bava Pyara Math found below the Southern walls of Uperkot arranged in three rows. Scholars believe that they are Buddhist caves possibly belonging to the period between 200 B.C to 200 A.D. Overnight at hotel in Gondal.
Day 05: Gondal – Bhuj (270kms/ 5hrs)
Breakfast at hotel drive to Bhuj, stopping along the way in Rajkot to see the Watson Museum which has some excellent examples of Gujarati craftsmanship and at Rashtriya Shala, a co-operative where local people are working to revive hand-weaving styles indigenous to this area.
On arrival in Bhuj, check into your hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Bhuj is an ancient centre of trade and commerce with some interesting historical sites, but tragically the city was very close to the epicenter of the January 2001 earthquake which cost thousands of lives around the Kutch area. As a result there was a tremendous amount of devastation so many of the monuments are in a rather poor state. However the resilience of people who live in such an inhospitable environment shouldn’t be underestimated and they have bounced back with a wonderful hardiness of spirit and Bhuj is once more a bustling market town. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 06 – 07: Bhuj - Tribal Village of Hodka (65kms/ 2hrs)
First thing in the morning you will need to obtain the special permit which is required in order to travel to tribal villages and  border areas deep in the Rann of Kutch. Heading out of Bhuj the landscape changes rapidly to semi-desert with pockets of scrub and thorn bush cover- not surprisingly this area is mainly populated by camel and goat herders. However there are many villages scattered around the region, each with a specialty which enables them to eke out a living from this harsh region.Many of the villages specialize in the creation of beautiful traditional arts and crafts- you will be able to visit a number of these and see leatherwork, embroidery, painting, wood carving, fabric dying and mud-work.You may see traditional charcoal production, sweet making and more besides. At the end of each day of exploration in the Kutch region, you will have the opportunity to stay at a resort in the desert- Shaam-E –Sarhad. This is an unforgettable place with accommodation in deluxe tents and traditional style Bhungas- mud-walled huts which are similar to those in the villages you will be visiting (but with important extras like attached bathrooms!) To spend a couple of nights here, dine under the stars and be entertained by local musicians and dancers, is one of the most rewarding experiences on offer anywhere in India. Overnight at Shaam-E-Sarhad, Hodka District.
Day 08: Hodka – Mandvi (60kms/ 1hrs)
After breakfast depart from Shaam-E-Sarhad to Bhuj. En route you will be able to visit a village where the last surviving practitioners of an ancient painting style known as Rogan will beguile you with the brilliance of this art form. After leaving Bhuj, travel on to the coast at Mandvi and visit Rabari villages and the Mandvi Palace before checking into your accommodation for tonight- a deluxe tented camp virtually on the beach.
Free time in the afternoon and evening to relax and swim in the Arabian Sea on India’s longest private beach, overnight at hotel/ beach camp..
Day 09: Mandvi – Dasada (320kms/ 6hrs)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Dasada passing picturesque old towns and villages and the colourful sight of various semi-nomadic communities of Rabari people who traverse the deserts and plains of Gujarat with their camel carts. Upon reaching Dasada, check in at, an eco-resort designed using local materials and handicrafts to resemble a village. In the afternoon, you have the choice of visiting local craftspeople in their villages, or for a change of pace and emphasis, you can take a jeep safari to the edge of the Rann of Kutch- a vast salt-marsh which is home to large herds of Indian Wild Ass (Khur) and other desert animals. Overnight at resort.
Day 10: Dasada – Danta (160kms/ 3hrs)
After breakfast and optional morning safari in the Rann of Kutch to see the rich and diverse wildlife of this area, leave Dasada and drive to Danta via Patan. Patan is home to silk weavers who produce Patola fabric- one of the richest silk textiles in the world, woven using the rare double-ikat technique. Also at Patan you can visit the glorious 11th century Modhera Sun Temple complex and Rani-ki-vav, one of the most impressive step-wells in all of Gujarat.
Upon reaching the tiny town of Danta, check into Heritage Homestay, the ancestral home of the royal family of this former princely state. The welcome is warm and hospitable, and the views over the surrounding countryside expansive and peaceful. The Maharana will take you on an afternoon tour by jeep and you may be able to visit his horse stud. Dinner is a family affair here and accommodation comfortable and spacious. Overnight at heritage hotel.
Day 11: Danta – Poshina – Ahmedabad (180kms/ 3hrs)
A dawn walk is on the cards today – one of the estate staff will escort you through scrub and rocky landscapes around the Villa to see village life and ancient agricultural techniques at first hand. After breakfast back at the Villa, depart for Poshina (70km) and visit Garasia tribal villages and a tribal shrine where Bhil and Garasia people from about 90 neighbouring villages visit.
Later drive to Ahmedabad, direct transfer to airport to board flight for your onward journeys.