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South India offers a diverse and fascinating variety of textile related experiences. This educational journey offers an opportunity to work with raw materials and textiles from the various regions with the guidance of like-minded and passionate specialists.
A colourful journey across South India from arrival in Chennai on the East Coast and traversing the country rich with agriculture and lush green Tea plantations to Calicut on the West Coast, stopping in both ancient cities and rural farmlands to experience first-hand the long tradition of textile related industries.
Educational workshops offer a strong focus on hands on experience and in-depth interaction with local textile experts covering embroidery, natural dying, weaving and silk productions using both traditional and contemporary methods.
An opportunity to further engage with locals during a relaxing farm stay Experience the life of farmers on a working spice and coffee plantation, see how their crops are grown, harvested and processed.
Day 1 Pondicherry
You will be met and welcomed upon arrival at Chennai airport and transferred to your hotel in Pondicherry. The journey time is around 3 hours. Check into your hotel in Pondicherry and the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Pondicherry is a city that has a fascinating history closely tied to the French and their imperial aspirations in India. It first came under French rule in the mid-18th century, but over the years repeatedly became a battlefield and on many occasions changed hands. In 1954, Pondicherry was restored to India. The French connection has survived its union with the Indian republic through its town planning – its streets aligned at right angles make it unlike any other Indian town – as well as through language, food and the many visitors and residents of French origin
Day 2 Pondicherry
This morning commence your discovery of Pondicherry with a sightseeing tour of the French Quarter by cycle-rickshaws. Afterwards continue with a visit to Atelier Shanti to view their weaving and embroidery. This afternoon visit the Cluny Convent to partake in a short workshop on embroidery.
Atelier Shanti, peace in Sanskrit, is a rehabilitation centre that helps and provides jobs to local women engage in various textile related activities including dying yarn, weaving and embroidery. Atelier Shanti provides workshops for the ladies on handloom weaving, in a safe place where they can live and work creating colourful fashion and lifestyle pieces out of cotton fabrics. The techniques, the machines they use and their weaving movements are mesmerizing! They also produce high quality cotton materials at very reasonable prices which are gorgeous souvenirs with a story.
Day 3 Pondicherry
Today visit the “Colours of Nature Textile” Workshop at Auroville, around a 40-minute drive from Pondicherry.
Set up as a research unit in the experimental township of Auroville in 1993, The Colours of Nature has revived the ancient traditions related to natural dyes. A long search led the Founder, Jesus Ciriza Larraona, to a small village and a family that had used their knowledge of natural indigo fermentation dyeing for generations. Most of the team remains today. They continue to explore the cultivation, harvesting and processing, adding natural elements such as sea shells, to improve the process. Key parameters are colour palette, fastness and eco‐friendliness.
The Colours of Nature is one of the only few remaining natural dyeing units in the world who are entirely focused on an environmentally friendly, vegetable dyeing process. You could experiment with painting on fabric with natural colours. The fabric and raw materials required for the workshop are provided. You will have an opportunity to stitch Shibori designs, a traditional Japanese textile art, and also prepare samples for tie dyeing and clamping prior to dyeing in indigo vats.
Day 4 Chennai
This morning depart for the drive to Chennai. The journey is around 4 hours.
Chennai Situated on the eastern coast of India, Chennai (earlier called Madras) is the fourth largest of the Indian cities, after Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. It used to be one of the bastions of the British Empire and a trading post for the East India Company. Today, this metropolis is a microcosm of ancient traditions and cultures co-existing with modern day industry and commerce. Chennai is a fascinating city with ancient temples and unique culture, golden sandy beaches merging with the breakers of the Bay of Bengal and a marvellous tradition of music and dance.
En-route you could stop to visit the monuments at Mahabalipuram and also visit the Dakshin Chitra Living Museum where they promote crafts through hands on activities and conduct interactive programs and workshops on crafts and textiles.
Dakshin Chitra began as an effort to bring the hidden wealth of South India to light – to set up an institution to celebrate the myriad cultures of the numerous people of Southern India. In an era when the old and traditional are vulnerable and challenged, this nucleus of an idea triggered a cultural journey. Inspired by the artisans and folk artists of the villages, Dr. Deborah Thiagarajan, set out to found the Madras Craft Foundation (MCF) in 1984.
Madras Craft Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization and DakshinaChitra was conceived as its main project. With the support of like-minded board members and volunteers and financial support from the Madras community, Dr. Thiagarajan and all others associated with MCF pursued the dream with perseverance and determination.
MCF received a Ford Foundation grant for research and education in 1988, a long lease of land from the Government of Tamilnadu came in 1991, followed by grants from the Development Commissioner Handicrafts (Government of India) and by the Ministry of Culture for the building at DakshinaChitra. Matching donations came from industry. The Museum slowly became a reality and opened to the public in December, 1996.
Laurie Baker – the renowned architect, graciously donated his services to the Foundation. The spatial conceptualization at DakshinaChitra and his building techniques and process breathe his philosophy of empowering masons and craftspeople in the building process. Architect Benny Kuriakose who designed the public buildings and supervised the conservation and reconstruction of the heritage buildings, has also provided continued service to the Museum.
Today DakshinaChitra successfully showcases the rich cultural heritage of South India. It reflects the beauty, traditions, innovations and the continuing evolution of South Indian arts and culture.
Day 5 Chennai
This morning visit Kalakshetra for a Kalamkari workshop, around a 45 minute drive from your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Spread over almost 100 acres by the seashore in Chennai, the Kalakshetra Foundation, is an arts and cultural academy dedicated to the preservation of traditional values in Indian art and crafts, especially in the field of Bharatanatyam dance and Gandharvaveda music.
The Craft Education and Research Centre (CERC) at Kalakshetra which is located across the street from the main campus have a handloom weaving unit and also printing and dyeing units, known as Kalamkari. The colours from nature and the creativity of artists go to make Kalamkari one of the most beautiful forms of expression and a valuable part of textile heritage. The once thriving craft form is now confined to a few areas in the country like Kalahasti and Masulipatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Salem and Sikkinaickenpet in Tamil Nadu.
Day 6 Bangalore
Early this morning you will be met at your hotel for a transfer to the Railway Station for your journey to Bangalore. Depart Chennai at 0600 on the Shatabi Express with arrival in Bangalore at 1055. This is a comfortable fast train mainly for tourists with only a couple of stops. Upon arrival in Bangalore you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure to enjoy the facilities at your hotel.
Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, is the centre of India’s computer industry; a calm, clean and cosmopolitan city, it has a lively bar and café culture.
Day 7 Bangalore
Today participate in a hands on Block Printing workshop at Tharangini.
One of the last heritage block print workshops surviving in the city, Tharangini has been spreading the love for textile arts with endless bolts of hand-printed fabrics and through workshops. Tharangini prides itself as being part of a heritage block print industry. Here, each print is eco-friendly, from the dye making to the binding process, and the workshop is vocal about its fair-trade policies. At their rustic studio see the intrinsic, painstaking process that goes into making every stretch of fabric.
In order to preserve the hand-block printing industry, Tharangini holds workshops to learn how to create Shibori, Tie-and-Dye, crush dye and block printing techniques.
At the full day workshop at Tharangini learn about the history and types of block printing from around India, a review of techniques, including what you need to know on how to print at home; colour preparation using natural gum resin and vegetable dyes and a review of discharge (reactive) block printing using resin paste. You can also print on an indigo dyed pure silk stole with discharge natural resin paste (reactive/discharge printing) which is a unique 12-step process.
Post lunch, you will print on silks with natural dye. Here you can use various layouts and explore multi-colour block prints, after printing the stoles are rolled in newspaper and cooked in steam for several hours overnight.
Day 8 Mysore
This morning depart for your drive to Mysore. The journey is around 5 hours. En-route visit the Government Silk Cocoon Market at Ramnagara.
The Ramanagara Silk Cocoon Market is situated 40 km from Bangalore towards Mysore in an area that has a historical background as a traditional area for the silk industries. It is a major commercial centre for Silk and thousands of families depend on the silk industry for their livelihoods.
The Ramanagara Silk Cocoon Market is one of the largest cocoon markets in Asia where an average of 40,000 to 50,000 kg of cocoons are sold each day. Whilst the trading starts at midday, the farmers arrive early to start sorting their produce. It is fascinating to see the various types of cocoons. The market is a hive of activity and is well worth spending some time here. After your time at the market you will also visit a local village where they extract the silk thread from the cocoons.
Day 9 Mysore
The day is dedicated to the complete study of silk. Mysore is famous for its silk industry and from the days of the Maharajas. Drive to a village on the outskirts of the city to see silk farming using the traditional methods. You will be shown the process right from the hatching of the worms to the production of the fabric. In the afternoon visit the Government silk factory to see how it is now commercially produced.
Day 10 Mysore
A full day of sightseeing around Mysore. This morning set out on a tour of Mysore. This afternoon visit the Mysore Palace and then the Devaraja Market.
With more than a hundred years of history, Devaraja Market is well knitted into the heritage of Mysore. A good example of a traditional Indian market place – colourful, noisy, vibrant and a tad chaotic – it is also a perfect place to get a taste of the daily life of the locals.
You will find a generous mix of retailers selling vegetables and fruit, incense, traditional household tools, conical piles of kumkum (coloured powder used for bindi dots), beetle vine, banana leaves, local flowers and seeds. There are even some souvenir stalls here.
Typically, business begins well before the sun rises when truckloads of vegetables, fruits and flowers arrive from farms located in and around Mysore, from the neighbouring districts and even from other states. There is no concept of ‘cold storage’ here, everything is raw, straight from farm to market to home! This is a photographer’s delight and best visited in the evening when it’s busy!
Day 11 Wayanad
This morning depart for the drive to Wayanad. The journey is around 5 hours. Upon arrival check into your Plantation Farm stay.
Afterwards enjoy a walk in the plantation where you can get see how the various crops are grown, harvested and processed. It is also a great place for birding as it borders the Nilambur forests.
Day 12 Wayanad
This morning visit a not for profit bamboo based developmental organisation that strives for rural empowerment through sustainable solutions to participate in a workshop. Afterwards return to your homestay. For those interested, a visit to a local tea factory can be arranged.
Uravu Bamboo Grove is an eco-friendly community tourism project located on the elevated and picturesque mountain plateau of Wayanad, Kerala. Situated just outside the peaceful Thrikkaipetta Bamboo Village and surrounded by rice fields, the stunning Uravu Bamboo Grove encircles a beautiful pond and a bamboo grove.
The main objective of the Uravu Eco links tourism project is to develop and run a sustainable, eco-friendly tourism venture by involving and benefitting the local community. The villagers are taking part in the management of the project, which features innovative building designs based on the latest environmental standards, locally sourced materials and include the ideas of local artisans. The homespun designs have been paired with local knowledge of sustainable construction and an enthusiastic team of international and local experts in the areas of architecture and design, engineering, innovative water and energy management, tourism and craft.
Uravu, a not for profit bamboo based developmental organisation that strives for rural empowerment through sustainable solutions. Established in 1996, Uravu works with people, governments and businesses to facilitate initiatives with the prime motives of sustainable development and implements focused end to end programs in bamboo sector.
A workshop will be arranged where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the way they work and partake in hands-on experience.
Day 13 Calicut
This morning depart for the drive to Calicut. The journey is around 3 hours. Later this afternoon venture out to visit Kerala’s oldest spice bazaar and local markets.
Visit the local market in Calicut, famous for its local produce. Visit Kerala’s oldest spice bazaar. Take a walk to the legendary Mithai Theruvu or Sweet Meat Street, one of the busiest streets in Kozhikode and the best place to buy Kozhikodan Halwa, made in coconut oil and seasoned with dry fruits.
Sweet Meat Street (SM Street), a market area teeming with small shops selling everything from bangles to brass lamps. Row upon row of stalls, peppered with sweets and savouries and other delights, make it among the busiest streets in the entire district. The region is as popular for its local handicrafts such as rosewood and coir products. Clothes, both muslin and handloom, are also available at the main market areas.
Day 14 Calicut
Two Full days to engage in workshops at Tasara, an Institution dedicated to creative weaving, situated In Beypore, a short drive from your Calicut hotel.
The Centre endeavours to deliver a contemporary touch to this age-old form of art. Tasara provides innovative training in weaving, dyeing (chemical and natural printing) block and screen printing, eco-printing, shibori, batik etc. for both beginners and the advanced. Your workshop will be mainly on multi Batik. The Batiks produced at Tasara are well known in textile circles.
Day 15 Calicut
A second day to engage in the workshop at Tasara, dedicated to creative weaving, situated In Beypore, a short drive from your Calicut hotel.
Day 16 Calicut
Depart Kozhikode (Calicut)
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