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A textile journey through Odisha, an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, known for its tribal cultures. This itinerary has a focus on the rich diversity of craft textiles in Odisha and the variety of techniques that have been used for generations.
Traverse the terrain of Odisha from the coast of sea swept temple town Puri, to Baliguda in the tribal heartlands and onto Goudaguda to meet India’s most ancient indigenous communities.
This is where many weavers are colonized in isolated villages residing with age old customs, creating brilliant workmanship on cotton, silk, and tusser textiles. The weavers of every region work in their own unique style.
As this program is intended for textile specialists, there are several long drives over bumpy country roads and authentic accommodation stays when off the beaten track, in order to reach the real artisans and learn traditional techniques. Travellers with a healthy spirit of adventure will be amply rewarded.
For those with a more casual interest in textiles, we suggest an 11-day program excluding Bargarh and Baliguda and including an overnight train journey.
As this itinerary is tailor made it can be customised to meet your particular interests.
Day 1 Puri
You will be met upon arrival in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha and transferred to your hotel in Puri. The journey is around 2 hours.
Day 2 Puri
Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrim centres for Hindus in India, and is also referred to as Jagannath, Lord of the Universe, owing to the famous Jagannath Temple.
Situated along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, the holy script of the Skanda Purana describes Puri as the resting place of Lord Vishnu. The city is a hub for art and architecture, with silver work on historical and cultural edifices dating from the 3rd century B.C. to 17th century A.D.
Discover the old city of Puri by cycle rickshaw. Explore medieval by-lanes, drop into Hindu monasteries and behold the awesome Jagannath Temple from an ancient palm leaf library
Day 3 Puri
Today visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Sun Temple at Konark. Located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal and bathed in the rays of the rising sun, Konark is a monumental representation of the Sun God “Sury’s chariot. Just as the sun measures time, the chariots 12 wheels, each 3 meters high, mark the monthly cycle of each year. Each wheel has 16 spokes that work as giant sun dials, measuring the hours of daylight in each day and the 7 horses that draw the chariot symbolize the 7 days in a week. Built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty, the Sun Temple, also known as the Black Pagoda is also a salute to procreation and fertility and has a plethora of erotic sculpture adorning its walls.
Continue to the Heritage Crafts Village at Raghurajpur, located around 12 kms from Puri. This is home to around 500 Chitrakars; artists who are experts in Pattachitra painting. Meet the village craftsmen skilled in the hereditary craft of traditional painting.
Patachitra is traditional painting on cloth carried out by a dynasty of painters depicting religious scenes from local legends and Hindu epics. Organic vegetables and minerals are crushed, boiled and filtered to obtain bright natural colours. The cloth is treated before being brought to life in the evocative miniature painting style
Day 4 Bhubaneswar
This morning drive from Puri to Bhubaneswar, stopping enroute to visit Hirapur and Dhauli the ancient Ashokan edict. In Hirapur see the Chausathi Yogini Temple and at Dhauli, where Ashoka’s rock edicts are preserved.
Upon arrival in Bhubaneswar, visit the Museum of Tribal Arts and Artefacts, established in 1953. Odisha has over 60 tribal communities and the display here is an insight into a tribal life in the region which includes their attire, traditions, ornaments and diet. The museum also displays replicas of tribal dwellings and artefacts.
Day 5 Bhubaneswar
A full day visit to Olasingh located around an hour’s drive from Bhubaneswar, one of the smaller textile villages in Odisha specialising in cotton saris and dhotis. Explore and discover the Weaver Village on a walking tour, visiting the handloom unit with the village leader
Day 6 Dhenkanal
Today drive from Bhubaneswar to Dhenkanal via Nuapatna, an Ikat weaving village and nearby Maniabandh where you will meet master craftsman.
Nuapatna is famous for silk and cotton single-ikat “weft-ikat” textiles. The weavers here produce a striking range of sarees with a brilliance, glaze and texture.
Maniabandh is also well known for its beautiful ikat textiles and traditional charm. This region has a heavy concentration of weavers making wonderful ikat textiles, mostly in cotton and few in silk.
Afterwards continue to Dhenkanal, making a stop at a Dhokra village to see Bell Metalwork. Dhokra is non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years. In Odisha, this is a typical tribal craft in bronze with its mesh like features giving it a distinctive beauty. The tribal families of Sadeibareni, a village near Dhenkanal town produces this very unusual craft.
Day 7 Dhenkanal
Rise early this morning for a leisurely jungle walk from your hotel, accompanied by a trained forest guard. The jungle trails offer an opportunity to see small game and bird watching. Much of the wild life viewing is at the only water hole in the region and strategically placed a few minutes from the hotel. Return to the hotel for a late breakfast.
This afternoon set out on an excursion to Joranda to witness ancient temple rituals at the Monastery where at sunset there is a devotional prayer ceremony.
Day 8 Bargarh
This morning drive from Dhenkanal to Bargarh, a journey of around 6 hours.
Upon arrival visit a silk production centre and explore the local market to discover textiles such as cotton tie-dye, silk and coarse cotton among other things.
If you are in Bararh on a Friday, visit the “Balijodi Haat” a weekly weaver’s market. This famous market starts after midnight on a Thursday and runs until around midday on Friday.
Day 9 Bargarh
A full day excursion to the surrounding villages including Sambalpur specialising in the intricate hand-made double ikat.
Sambalpur is renowned for its textile bounded patterns and fabrics locally known as Baandha and hand loom textile work popularly known as Sambalpuri textile famed for its unique pattern, design and texture.
Day 10 Baliguda
Today drive from Bargarh to Baliguda into Odisha’s tribal heartland. The journey is around 5 hours. Enroute visit villages specialising in weaving silk and cotton Bomkai.
Signified by the intricate thread work beautifully woven on a handloom, the Bomkai Sarees are weaves that bear stories depicted in sophisticated motifs from Odisha.
Day 11 Baliguda
Today visit a local market. Explore neighbouring indigenous villages inhabited by the Kutia Kondh with tattoo faced ladies, Harijan and Pana. Witness their unique culture and traditions. The Kutia Kondh women are marked with beautiful geometric facial tattoos. It is said that these identifying marks ensure that they will recognize each other in the spirit world.
Day 12 Goudaguda
Today drive from Baliguda to Goudaguda, the journey is around 5 hours.
Visit the weekly Wednesday Chatikona Market and see where the highly ornamented Dongaria Kondha community of the Niyamagiri area bring their produce to buy and sell.
This afternoon continue to the surrounding Paroja and Kondh villages, meeting the tribes to witness a way of life relatively unchanged throughout centuries. Explore their handcrafted terracotta pottery.
Day 13 Goudaguda
Today visit the colourful Onukadelli Market where we will meet India’s most ancient indigenous communities; the Bonda and Gaddava, visiting a typical Gaddava village. Soak up the festive vibe and you may wish to try your luck in the ancient art of bartering.
Day 14 Goudaguda
Today an excursion to Kotpad where the craftsmen and women specialise in natural cotton dying, using colours sourced mostly from the forest. The source of the colour is the root of Indian Madder Tree, commonly known as ‘Aal.
Day 15 Visakhapatnam
Today drive from Goudaguda to Vizag (Vishakhapatnam) airport for your departure flight. The journey is around 6 hours.
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