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Indian woman spinning cotton in West Bengal

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Threads of Tradition – 25-Day Textiles Tour

25 days NZ$13240 NZ$11740 (US$7643/€7358) per person
Ahmedabad to Kolkata
Limited to 10 guests | Escorted by Joji Jacob
20th Sept to 14th Oct 2024 – NZ$13240 NZ$11740
28th Sept to 24th Oct 2025 – NZ$13940

EXPERIENCE

  • Authentic India
  • Culture & tradition
  • Meeting master artisans in their homes & workshops
  • Handlooms and hand-embroidery
  • Mouth-watering local cuisine
  • Boutique accommodations
  • Private vehicle, driver and guides
  • Guaranteed departure with just six guests; Max 10

Book both tours and get a discount of NZ$2000 discount.

Please contact us if you wish to customise this itinerary to suit your travel needs.

Threads of tradition

Join us on an extraordinary journey that combines farm-to-fashion exploration of textiles with a curated culinary and architectural experience. This adventure takes you off the beaten track to witness the incredible work of master artisans and showcase the finest traditional textiles industry in India’s Western, Central, and Eastern regions.

Our colourful ‘Threads of Tradition’ tour treks the geography of textiles as it has been since ancient times. This Farm to Fashion tour starts from India’s ancient and current centre of textiles in the west, Gujarat, continues to Delhi, and concludes in Kolkata, a yarn and textile hub of the pre-British era. Throughout this tour, we will witness the hearts and souls, traditions and beliefs woven and embellished into the textiles of India.

We embark on this fantastic and colourful textiles adventure from the heart and centre of Indian textiles from ancient times, Gujarat. The birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat is renowned for its indigo dyeing, handloom weaving, embroidery, handicrafts, mouth-watering vegetarian cuisine, natural beauty and colourful lifestyle. We will venture off the beaten track and visit villages where indigo dyeing, intricate embroidery (Rabari, Banni & Sindhi), double ikat patola saree weaving, wooden block making, Ajrakh block printing etc. are undertaken in a very traditional way. Along the way, we will stop and marvel at the architectural splendours of bygone eras, eat where the locals eat, meet and mingle with tribals and villagers in their natural surroundings and even visit some in their homes.

We will also visit various artisan campuses set up by NGOs to encourage and teach the next generation of artisans in an effort to revive and retain these ancient skills. A trip to Gujarat, with the longest coastline (1290 km) in India, will only be complete with a beach stay where we rest, relax, rejuvenate and reminisce.

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Delhi is a fascinating city made up of Old Delhi (a historic walled capital city built by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who also built the Taj Mahal) with its narrow, crowded, colourful and fascinating bazaars and New Delhi (a garden city designed by Lutyens during the British era) with its landscaped parks, boulevards, mini palaces and Government buildings. Being the capital city, it proudly hosts a craft village spread over 6 acres of reclaimed land, where all the various arts, crafts and textiles from all parts of India are on display and for sale. Here we will get to visually treat ourselves to beautifully woven and embroidered textiles (cotton & silk) and meet and talk to the artisans.

A visit to Delhi will not be complete without visiting Qutub Minar (a historically significant monument), doing a cycle rickshaw ride through the crowded streets of Old Delhi, visiting State Emporiums, enjoying culinary delights and commuting with the locals on the Metro.

The next leg of the journey takes us to one of the world’s most celebrated structures and an icon of India’s rich history – the Taj Mahal. A symbol of love that is not only beautiful and romantic but is also so graceful, majestic and deeply memorable. With wonderment in our eyes, we embark on a three-hour train journey to Lucknow, the city of the Oudh Nawabs. The Nawabs were great patrons of the culinary and other arts, particularly dance and music. Away from the tourist route, Lucknow is, to this day, a city of culture, gracious living and rich cuisine. It is the home of Chikan, a delicate and artful hand embroidery that embellishes a variety of textile fabrics like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. Historically of royal significance, it is now a fashion-centric form of needlecraft recognised the world over and sought after by international fashion houses. Lucknow is also famous for its zardozi (gold or silver metal thread) and Ari (stitching using the finest threads, beads and pearls) embroidery. Our culinary walk will entreat us to the famous and rich Lucknow cuisine.

We also get to witness metal crafts, artificial jewellery and edible silver foil being created by artisans in the bazaars. Staying in a beautiful Taj hotel, we round up our stay with a taste of the lifestyle of the princely Nawabs of Lucknow.

We fly over to Kolkata, the final leg of the “Threads of Tradition” tour, to marvel at her rich textile traditions. Fine muslins with superior designs, jamdanis, are their speciality here and so it is only apt that we pay a visit to a jamdani master weaver’s workshop in a nearby village. Here, we get to visit a cotton weaver in his home, a cooperative society of weavers and get a real taste of village life. Returning to Kolkata, we will not only visit Mother Theresa’s home but also observe clay statue making and visit Indian fashion designers who are working to revive the traditional textile arts. No visit to Kolkata will be complete without a tram ride, tasting the famous Bengali cuisine (street stalls visited by Rick Stein) and enjoying the majestic colonial architecture.

We bid our farewells, but only after we have had time to chill out, unwind and weave our rich and colourful experiences into yarns that we can take with us to share with family and friends.

Ahmedabad | Patan | Bajana | Surendranagar | Bhuj | Hodka | Mandvi | Delhi | Agra | Chambal | Lucknow |Itachuna | Kolkata
Ahmedabad to Kolkata route map - Threads of Tradition - ATI Travel NZ

Joji Jacob

Tour Director

Joji has designed this tour and has escorted groups since 2016. He shares his passion for textiles and anything hand-made during this tour. Read More >

ITINERARY

Day 1 & 2 – Ahmedabad - Arrival

Namaste! Welcome to Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat! Upon arriving at Ahmedabad Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (AMD), our team will warmly welcome you and accompany you to your heritage homestay.

We start our tour from the Gandhi Ashram and visit the Calico Museum, the National Institute of Design, markets, traditional eateries, and private museums. We also attend a hands-on tribal art workshop.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationThe House of MG

Day 4 – Patan

Embark on an exclusive journey beyond Ahmedabad, where cotton farms, block printers, brocade weavers, and Mashru artisans unveil their ancient crafts. Immerse yourself in Gandhi’s legacy at Sabarmati Ashram, witnessing handmade paper-making – a symbol of self-reliance. Marvel at Rani Ki Vav’s architectural splendour, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then witness the crown jewel of weaving – the intricate, centuries-old art of Double Ikat weaving in Patan.

Meals:   B | – | –
Accommodation The Grand Raveta

Day 4 – Bajana

Rise and shine with a delicious breakfast, then embark on a journey through time! Delve into the 10th-century marvel of Modhera Sun Temple, unravelling its secrets and marvelling at its engineering genius. Afterwards, settle into your charming safari lodge in Bajana, the gateway to the Little Runch of Kutch. Immerse yourself in local life by visiting a salt farm, meeting the welcoming tribal community, and swaying to their captivating music – an unforgettable start to your Kutch adventure!

Meals:   B | L | D
AccommodationThe Royal Safari Camp

Day 6, 7 & 8 – Bhuj

Over the next three days, we will have the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the colourful and diverse textile culture of the western region of India. Our accommodation will be in a traditional resort that reflects the local architecture, situated on the outskirts of Bhuj, a city that has a long history of being a hub for crafts and trade.

From this base, we will embark on daily journeys to explore the nearby areas of Kutch district. This region is home to numerous communities of artisans who specialise in various forms of textiles and crafts. We will witness how they use natural dyes, block printing, tie and dye, embroidery and patchwork to create stunning patterns and colours. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to interact with these artisans and learn about their unique stories, traditions, and the challenges they face. One of the artisans expressed, “Our crafts are our identity and our pride. We want to share them with the world and keep them alive for future generations.”

During our travels, we will also visit organisations and museums that aim to support and promote the textiles and crafts of Kutch. Examples include Kala Raksha, Shrujan, and Kutch Museum. These institutions showcase the diversity and beauty of Kutch’s textiles and crafts while highlighting their social and environmental impact. Kala Raksha’s founder stated, “We believe that crafts can be a source of empowerment and sustainability for the artisans and their communities.”

We will visit the Rann of Kutch, an impressive salt marsh that covers a significant portion of the Thar desert in northwestern India. This salt desert is among the largest in the world, spanning over 10,000 square kilometres. The Rann of Kutch is a unique environment that transforms with the seasons. During the monsoon, it is submerged in water and becomes a wetland that attracts millions of migrating birds, including flamingos, pelicans, cranes, and storks. In the winter, it dries up and becomes a vast expanse of white salt that sparkles under the moonlight. The best time to visit the Rann of Kutch is during the full moon when the salt marsh resembles a lunar landscape.

Meals:   B | – | D
AccommodationKutch Safari Lodge

Day 9 – Mandvi Beach

Trade Bhuj’s vibrant crafts for serenity at Mandvi Beach. Bask on the Gulf of Kutch’s pristine waters and white sand. Dive deeper into history at the ancient shipyards, where colossal vessels once took shape. Marvel at the 72 Jainalaya Jain Temple, a white marble masterpiece adorned with intricate carvings. Savour a traditional Jain lunch, experiencing their principles of non-violence firsthand. This unforgettable journey goes beyond the beach, offering a cultural immersion you won’t forget.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationVijay Villas Heritage Resort

Day 10 – Morbi

Farewell Kutch! Bid adieu with a scenic 4-hour journey back, soaking in coastal beauty and rural charm. In Morbi, witness women-led glass bead magic – skilled hands transform molten glass into sparkling stories, each piece imbued with generations-old artistry. Explore their transformation into intricate crafts and jewellery, then unwind at your hotel, cherishing memories of this unforgettable land where tradition shines as brightly as the beads themselves.

Meals:   B | – | –
Accommodation Regenta Inn

Day 11 – Ahmedabad

On the way from Morbi to Ahmedabad, we meet Babubai, a Tangalia Weaver, and his family in the Dedadara village. Tangaliya is an ancient craft from Gujarat that dates back 700 years. It was initially woven and worn by the shepherds, but it almost disappeared with the rise of cheaper machine-made fabrics. Luckily, a few Tangaliya weavers have kept this traditional art form alive and flourishing.

After this enriching cultural experience, continue our journey to the vibrant city of Ahmedabad, reaching our destination around 5 pm. The evening is yours to unwind, explore the bustling streets, or indulge in some last-minute shopping.

Meals:   B | – | –
Accommodation Lemon Tree Premier

Day 12 & 13 – Delhi

Welcome back to guests from the previous tour, and Welcome to India for all those new guests! We’re thrilled to delve into India’s capital city’s rich culture and history. Our itinerary includes visits to several sites such as The National Craft Museum, The Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases the architectural brilliance of the Mughal dynasty, the Jama Masjid, the textiles and spice market, as well as The Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. This Sikh temple provides free meals to thousands of people daily. Additionally, we plan to shop at Khan Market, which is home to some of the best boutiques in Delhi, such as Good Earth, Anokhi, and Fab India, all of which offer high-quality products with an ethnic touch.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationThe Park Delhi

Day 14, 15 & 16 – Chambal

We bid Delhi farewell and head towards one of the world’s wonders – the Taj Mahal. The white marble mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is considered one of the world’s most beautiful and romantic buildings and a symbol of India’s rich cultural heritage. We marvel at its intricate design and exquisite craftsmanship and learn about its history and significance.

Along the way, we will stop at Sheros Cafe, a unique place run by survivors of acid attacks. These brave women have overcome their trauma and stigma and created a space of empowerment and solidarity.

We continue our journey to Chambal. This region is known for its rich cultural and natural heritage and its notorious history of banditry and lawlessness. Our lodge is situated in a restored woodland area, where we can enjoy the peaceful green scenery and the birdlife from our unique cottages.

We have two full days to explore the Chambal Valley and its surroundings. We can visit the local village and interact with the friendly people, who will share their stories and traditions with us. We can also go on a bird-watching tour and spot some of the rare and endangered species that inhabit the area, such as the Indian skimmer, the black-bellied tern, and the sarus crane. One of the highlights of our stay is a river safari on the Chambal River, where we can see the unique wildlife that thrives in its pristine waters, such as the gharial, a crocodile-like reptile, the mugger crocodile, and the Gangetic dolphin. If we are feeling adventurous, we can also cycle around the village or relax under the shade of ancient trees. Every meal at our lodge is a culinary delight, prepared with fresh and organic ingredients.

Guests on 20 days tour will be transferred to Delhi in a private vehicle. A night’s stay in Delhi and airport drop-off are included in the package.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationMela Kothi – Chambal Safari Lodge

Day 17, 18 & 19 – Lucknow

We drive east on the four-lane highway to princely Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh and a city with a rich cultural heritage. Lucknow was once the seat of the Mughal Empire and later the Nawabs of Oudh, who left behind many splendid monuments and buildings that reflect their refined taste and grandeur. In the evening, we’ll indulge in the culinary delights for which Lucknow is famous. Its Persian and Awadhi-influenced cuisine blends aromatic spices and herbs, and we’ll walk through lively areas where the locals eat to sample delicious dishes like kebabs, biryanis, chaats, and kulfi.

In the old part of Lucknow, we’ll stroll through narrow streets and see the artisans who practice different types of embroideries, such as Chikan, Zardozi, and Aari, to adorn clothes and fabrics with intricate patterns. We’ll also witness block printing that uses wooden stamps to create colourful designs, metal crafts that shape brass and copper into utensils and ornaments, perfumeries that use local rose petals to make fragrant attars, and costume jewellery making that creates dazzling accessories with beads and stones. Whenever we feel like it, we’ll stop and taste the local specialities that vary from sweet to savoury.

Be the guest of the erstwhile royal family of Mahmudabad, who live an hour away from Lucknow in a splendid palace. We will also visit one of their projects that empowers local women who make beautiful embroidered materials using traditional techniques. We will hear their stories and skills and have an opportunity to buy unique souvenirs supporting their livelihoods.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationSaraca hotel

Day 20 – Kolkata

We fly from Lucknow to Kolkata, the cultural hub of West Bengal and the former capital of colonial British India. We arrive in the afternoon and check into our hotel, which is located in the heart of the city. After a short rest, we will explore the neighbourhood on foot and get a glimpse of the local life. We walk along the busy streets, admiring the colonial architecture and the vibrant markets, where we see a variety of goods and crafts. Stop at a roadside stall and sample some delicious street food, such as puchkas, which are crispy hollow balls filled with spicy water and potatoes, jhal muri, which is a mix of puffed rice, peanuts, onions and spices, and kathi rolls, which are flatbreads stuffed with meat or vegetables and sauces. We enjoy the sights and sounds of this lively city and feel its pulse.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationThe Astor

Day 21 & 22 – Itachuna

Our next destination is Itachuna, a charming village in rural Bengal that dates back to the 18th century. We will leave our hotel after having a delicious breakfast of luchi, aloo dum and sandesh, and drive through the scenic countryside to reach Phulia, a famous weaving cluster that produces some of the finest handloom sarees in India. There, we will meet a master jamdani weaver and learn about his craft and the history of this exquisite fabric that originated in Dhaka and was patronised by the Mughal emperors. We will also have a chance to see some of his creations featuring intricate floral and geometric patterns and buy souvenirs if we wish. After that, we will continue our journey to Itachuna, where we will stay in a stunning heritage mansion that has been restored to its former glory by the descendants of the original owners. The mansion is surrounded by lush greenery and offers a peaceful retreat from city life. It has spacious rooms, antique furniture, a library and a courtyard where we can relax and enjoy the breeze. In the morning and evening, we will explore the village and interact with the local people, who are very friendly and hospitable. We will also enjoy some authentic Bengali cuisine, such as ilish macher jhol, kosha mangsho and mishti doi, listen to traditional music, such as baul and kirtan. We’ll also visit the Kalna Terracotta Temple, which showcases exquisite terracotta sculptures and provides insight into the culture and history of the region.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationItachuna Rajbari

Day 23 & 24 – Kolkata

Our journey to Kolkata takes us through Saharanpur, a town with a Dutch colonial past. We admire the Dutch architecture and the culture of the town. We visit an artists’ colony where we see the amazing skill of clay idol makers who create idols of gods and goddesses for various festivals throughout the year. They demonstrate how they shape, paint and adorn the idols with intricate details. We enjoy a delicious lunch of Bengali delicacies at a local home. We also visit Weavers Studio, New Market, a social initiative that supports deprived women and then Mother Teresa’s home.

Meals:   B | – | –
AccommodationThe Astor

Day 25 – Kolkata - Departure

Today marks the end of our journey together, and it’s time to bid our farewells and part ways. We feel grateful for the opportunity to share with you the rich textile traditions of both ancient and modern India.

Meals:   B | – | –

Group Organiser Discount Available

A group organiser (4-10) can avail up to $2000 discount on a twin share package price. Please contact us for further details.

INCLUDED

  • Airport meet and greet with private transfers
  • Domestic airfare
  • Private air-conditioned van
  • Handpicked boutique accommodations
  • Meals as per trip note
  • English-speaking local guides
  • All entrance fees, tips & gratuity
  • Guaranteed departure with just six guests

EXCLUDED

  • International airfares
  • Visa fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Medical Tests & other medical expenses
  • Personal expenses

REQUEST DETAILED ITINERARY

Or call Joji on +64 (0) 21 505 713

"I travelled with ATI across the north of India...

The principal focus was traditional textile arts, but there was a marvellous balance of exposure to other arts and traditional crafts, music, design and architecture.

The food and varied accommodations were excellent. Joji, ATI’s owner, led the tour and his genuine care for his clients, as well as his deep knowledge of and love for India’s cultures, arts, food and people, were always evident.

While the itinerary was carefully planned, flexibility was part of its fabric, so we enjoyed several serendipitous adventures and meetings, which were really enriching. I would say that ATI’s tours are designed for the curious and culturally sensitive, and its itineraries take you off the heavily beaten tourist oaths and much further into the heart of India.

Now that its tours are starting up again after the Covid hiatus, I am planning my next trip with the ATI crew as I cannot think of a better way of seeing India again.”

Witness the hearts and souls, traditions and beliefs that are woven and embellished into the textiles of India. Meet master artisans and watch them at work.

Farm to fashion

Farm visit

Spinning

Dyeing

Indigo Dyeing

Ikat Weaving

Jamdhani Weaving

Tangalia Weaving

Tangail Saree Weaving

Brocade Weaving

Carpet Weaving

Ajrak Block Printing

Bandhani (Tie & dye)

Shibori

Kalamkari Workshop

Rogan Art

Zardozi Embroidery

Aari Embroidery

Kantha Embroidery

Suf Embroidery

Chikankari Embroidery

Meet Master Artisans

Meet Designers

Visit Textiles Museums

Visit Boutiques

This tour has been designed not only to showcase Indian textiles but also to experience the local culture, tradition and lifestyles of these regions of India.

Other Highlights

Taj Mahal Visit

Arts & Crafts

Culinary Treats

Shopping

Village Walks

Folk Music & Dance

Attend Festivals

Market Visits

UNESCO Heritage Sites

Private Home Visits

Pottery Making

Community Initiatives

River Safari

Jeep Safari

Bird Watching

Serendipity

An ideal trip for:

Solo Traveler, Group of Friends, Couples

If you want a rich and truly authentic experience of the region(s) being visited in a slow and well-paced manner as part of a small group of like-minded people who appreciate the personal care and attention provided to them, then this is the trip for you. 

Safe Travels with ATI

Since 2013, ATI Travel NZ has been unsurpassed at delivering expertly managed small group and tailor-made boutique travel experiences.
We are uniquely qualified to ensure your well-being when travelling with us.

Our local partner offices work tirelessly with us behind the scenes

Our local suppliers and partners know our health & safety requirements, and our requirement to comply with all local regulations.

We follow the health and safety protocols required for your journey

All protocols involving physical distancing, vaccinations, masking, testing and other safety practices are communicated both before and during your journey. These protocols are carried out according to the latest local regulations and service provider requirements.

We facilitate in-country COVID-19 testing and provide round-the-clock support for any health-related matters

ATI’s network of local offices has the contacts and knowledge to support you throughout your journey, from coordinating COVID-19 testing (for travelling between countries and returning home) to answering any questions you have during your journey. Our local partners are experienced in handling any situation and have the contacts and knowledge to support guests 24/7.

ATI Travel will constantly monitor its safe travel plans to comply with global health and safety protocols

In the event that the tour director has to isolate, the tour will continue with the tour director remotely managing the tour in conjunction with the local team members.

If any of the guests have to isolate, all arrangements will be made to find accommodation and their medical support. This is not included in the package costs and must be covered by the individual’s travel insurance.

The guest can join the tour after the required isolation and clearance if the tour is still active. In the event that the tour has been completed, the guest will be supported to make their return passage home.

We Got You Covered

Something for everyone

Whether you are a first-timer or experienced traveller, our tours meet the expectations, needs and interests of each individual on the tour. Our guests continuously tell us that it surpasses all their expectations.

Active Tour

This tour is suitable for guests who do not mind travelling that extra mile in search of those unique experiences. If you are interested in culture, cuisine, architecture, people interaction and textiles, you will love this tour.  

boutique accommodation

Boutique accommodation, handpicked by us, for you to rest and rejuvenate in beautiful settings such as palaces, homestay, mansions, farm stay, business hotels and glamping is part of the travel experience we curate for you.

Travel in comfort

We provide airport to airport service, for your comfort and safety. Your private vehicle and the English speaking driver will accompany you throughout the journey. Check out the feedback we have received from our guests.

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