Please contact us for a detailed itinerary and current price Trip Code: WV20WBTT
A textile journey commencing in the Bay of Bengal, travelling north through rural country side and the fertile farmlands of West Bengal, high into the cool fresh air and forested mountains of the Himalayas. Visiting bustling cities and small villages seeking out the history and traditional methods behind weaving and textiles in this region.
Silk has a long and rich history in West Bengal, traditionally worn by Mughal nobility. On this private tour, visit textile villages, local textile shops, outlets and weaver’s studios; meet, engage and learn from these crafts people their traditional techniques and weaving methods.
Murshidabad is the centre of trade and production of silk weaving in this region. Along the way see Terracotta Temples, historical sites and museums, and farmers going about their everyday life. As this program is intended for textile enthusiasts, there are several long drives in order to reach the real artisans and learn traditional techniques.
Unique food and dining experiences add another layer to this tour. Your accommodation at each point presents the finest regional cuisine, while you have the opportunity during the days’ explorations to sample local specialities at small restaurants and street food stalls (with guidance from your guide, of course). The foodie focus can be taken a step further with cooking demonstrations/classes and behind the scenes experiences should you wish.
Travellers with a healthy spirit of adventure will be amply rewarded. Local passionate guides will accompany you throughout the itinerary for introductions and explanations.
As this is a private tour we can customise the itinerary to meet your particular interests and time frame – please be in touch to receive a tailor made itinerary.
Day 1 Kolkata
You will be met upon arrival at Kolkata airport and transferred to your hotel.
Kolkata is the city of Joy, contrast and culture. Once the capital of British India – now the capital of West Bengal. Kolkata now is a combination of a rich 400 years old heritage, vibrant modern life and different cultures. This evening enjoy a dinner cruise on the river Ganges.
Day 2 Kolkata
This morning visit the Flower Market, a unique wholesale market of flowers which is situated in the bank of river Ganges near the famous Howrah Bridge.
Visit Panchla in Howrah where you can witness artisans in Zardosi workshops – creating beautiful designs with golden and silver threads on fabrics. Later drive around the Heritage Buildings of Dalhousie Square, Visit the Mother Teresa’s House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity followed by Victoria Memorial, Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
This afternoon continue on to see various workshops and outlets like Sokhiya and The Weaver’s Studio, a shop for makers of high-end, handwoven saris and scarves.
Day 3 Kolkata
This morning drive to Phulia- a weaver’s village around 90 kms from Kolkata.
The artisans here are famous for making the Tangail sarees. The Tangail Saree contains tiny repeating patterns, giving the feel of embroidery work. Its borders are adorned with designs depicting temples and the patterns seen on the ‘rudraksha’, a bead used for religious purposes. This saree usually come in two varieties; one is a made from cotton while the other from silk. The cotton saree is a light colour and is worn mostly in summer. The silk saree features dark shades and is mostly worn on special occasions.
Explore the village and later drive to Krishnanagar, a must visit place for art lovers, famous for Idol Makers who have been living here for some time.
In the locality of Krishnagar called Ghurni, there is a colony of artists who work with clay. These artists produce images of Hindu gods and goddesses for traditional worship throughout the year, as well as clay models of human figures and real-life objects. The open studios and shops of the artists are an important attraction for visitors.
This afternoon return to Kolkata, the drive being around 3 hours.
Day 4 Bishnupur
This morning an early departure from the hotel with a packed breakfast and drive to Bishnupur. The journey is around 5 hours.
After light refreshment in Bishnupur proceed for a tour of town which was once the Kingdom of Malla dynasty for almost a thousand years. Bishnupur is now renowned for its temples with exclusive terracotta craftsmanship. Is a seat of crafts and culture. “Terracotta” or “Baked Earth” is synonymous of Bishnupur.
Apart from the temples, terracotta pottery, artefacts and even jewellery made of terracotta are widely available and makes Bishnupur all the more famous. The potters here derive their inspiration from the glorious history of kings, soldiers and wars.
Bishnupur is also known for its silk (tussar), particularly the Baluchari Sarees. Woven on unusual punch-card looms, these sarees have episodes from the Mahabharata woven into the border and pallu. Bellmetal ware and conch-shell jewellery is also available here. Another exquisite craft found here are Dashavatar Cards – a special type of playing card named as the “DASHAVATAR TAS”, which represents the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Day 5 Shantiniketan
This morning drive to Panchmurah, the village of Terracotta artisans, then continue to Shantiniketan.
Shantiniketan literally translates to “abode of peace”. Originally a small village inhabited by Santhal Tribes.
Later with the development of a world class university with the vision of the Rabindranath Tagore, the education system developed and led to the establishment of Vishwa Bharati University attracting people from all parts of the world to congregate here.
This evening enjoy a traditional Baul performance, a Bengal Ballad Singer.
Day 6 Shantiniketan
A full day of Shantiniketan local sightseeing. Visit the museums, local textile outlets and the Amar Kutir Society for Rural Development, established to sustain the livelihood of traditional West Bengali arts and crafts and its artisans.
Highlights include the Uttaryan Complex of five houses from the time of Rabindranath Tagore, named Punascha, Shyamali, Konarka, Udichi, and Udayan. A house called Bichitra is now a museum that houses several of Rabindranath’s personal belongings.
Also see the Visva Bharati University Campus, and the fine arts faculty of Kala Bhavana, The Rabindra-Bhavana museum, and the Chhatimtala meditation site.
The Saturday afternoon “Haat” market is a colourful and vibrant event where the locals meet to sell their handicrafts.
Day 7 Murshidabad
This morning transfer to Murshidabad. The journey is around 4 hours.
The last capital city of independent Bengal was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It is situated on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. A city of splendours and famous for its silk, was made the capital of Bengal in 1717. The British shifted the capital to Kolkata in 1773.
Day 8 Murshidabad
A full day of Murshidabad local sightseeing. Visit the Hazarduari Palace, also known as the Palace with a Thousand Doors, the premiere attraction of Murshidabad.
This three-storied palace was built in 1837 by Duncan McLeod for the Nawab Najim Humaun Jah, descendent of Mir Zafar. It has a thousand doors, among which only 900 are real, 114 rooms and 8 galleries, built in a European architectural style.
It is now a museum and has an exquisite collection of armouries, splendid paintings, exhaustive portraits of the Nawabs, various works of art including beautiful works of ivory (Murshidabad School) of China (European) and many other valuables.
The Armoury has 2700 arms in its collections of which only few are displayed. Swords used by Shiraj-ud-Daulla and his grandfather, Nawab Alivardi Khan, can be seen here. The other attractions in this floor are Vintage Cars and Fittan Cars used by the Nawabs and their families. Between the palace and the Imambara is a small mosque, ‘Madina’, with colourful tiled verandas.
The Mosque has an ornamented replica of Hazrat Muhammad’s tomb at Madina. Around the palace are other attractions like the Imambara, Wasef Manzil, Katara Mosque, Jahankosha Canon, Jafarganj Cemetery, Khosh Bagh, Katgola, Nasipur Palace, Footi Mosque, Moti Jheel and Nimak Haram Deori, The Traitor’s Gate.
Explore nearby Tanti Para, a small village of handloom weavers to experience the age-old art of weaving the famous Murshidabad silk for the finest of silk sarees known as Garad and Baluchar
Day 9 Maldah
This morning transfer to Malda through the beautiful rural countryside of Bengal. The journey is around 3 Hours.
Malda is a base for visiting Gaur and Pandua. Gaur, capital to three dynasties of ancient Bengal; the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas and the Muslim Nawabs which has seen three distinct eras of glory.
Pandua, once the alternate seat of power to Gaur, has the third largest concentration of Muslim monuments in Bengal. Historical monuments include the mosque Jami’ Masjid (1566) and the landmark Nimasari tower across the river.
During the 18th century it was the seat of prosperous cotton and silk industries. Mulberry plantations and mango orchards occupy large areas of land. The mango trade and silk manufacturing are now the main economic activities. Visit a cotton handloom village in the area.
Day 10 Siliguri
Today local sightseeing of Malda including Gaur, located on the Indo-Bangladesh border which is one of the most important Historical places of 14th and 15th century Bengal, with immense archaeological importance.
The relics particularly worth seeing are the Bara Sona Mosque, Dakhil Darwajah built in 1425, the Qadam Rasul Mosque, Lattan Mosque and the ruins of the extensive fortification. There are colourful enamelled tiles on the Gomti Gate and Firoz Minar. Gol Ghar, Chika Masjid, Qutwali Gate, 12 gated Mosque and Qudm-e-rasul are the other points of attraction.
This afternoon proceed to Pandua, north of Malda, another important archaeological site which has some impressive Muslim architecture including the vast Adina Mosque built by Sikander Shah in 1369. It is one of the largest mosques in India, built over a Hindu temple, and has 378 small domes.
This evening board a train to New Jalpaiguri Junction, the journey is around 4 hours. Upon arrival met and transferred to your hotel in Siliguri.
Day 11 Darjeeling
This morning transfer from Siliguri to Kurseong, the journey is around 2 Hours
Kurseong locally known as “Kharsang”, which in Lepcha means ‘the Land of White Orchids’, referring to the small white orchids prolific here. The serenity and tranquillity of this place is what attracts people. Visit the famous Makaibari Tea Garden, note production does not take place in winters.
This afternoon drive to Darjeeling, a journey of around 3 hours.
Darjeeling is a land of infinite variety and charm. Dorje, the mystic thunderbolt of the Lama-Religion was the origin of the name Darjeeling, which was first discovered by a British Captain Lloyd in the year 1829. Surrounded by Tea gardens; this little town faces some of the highest peaks of the Himalayas and used to be the summer retreat of the European Officers in Bengal
Day 12 Darjeeling
A half day of local sightseeing in and around Darjeeling Sights include Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Garden. Established in 1958 the Zoo specializes in breeding animals adapted to alpine conditions.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, the oldest mountaineering Museum of the country established in 1957.
The Tibetan Refugee Self-help Centre, established in 1959, following the dramatic escape of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and when thousands of Tibetans fled into the neighbouring countries to live free. The production of Tibetan handicrafts and textiles is the centre’s main activity.
You might also experience the famous Toy Train joy ride. This unique Mountain Railway’ project was first started in 1878 with the initiative of Sir. Ashley Eden and is now a World Heritage site. This evening enjoy a short walk across the Mall and visit the local market.
Day 13 Gangtok
Today transfer from Darjeeling to Gangtok, a journey of around 4 hours.
The capital of the state of Sikkim is a beautiful and clean town promising monasteries and landscapes. This evening walk around the city to appreciate the local culture.
Day 14 Gangtok
Today sightseeing in and around Gangtok. This morning drive to Rumtek Monastery, one of the largest Monasteries of the Eastern Himalaya. It was constructed by His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in 1960. It is the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim, “The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa.” A Golden Stupa contains the relics of the 16th Karmapa. Opposite this building is a college, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies.
Continue to visit the quaint ethnic Lepcha village of REY MINDU nestled below the Fhambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, where traditional farming and its age-old cultural practices still continue. Enjoy a slow walk across the lush paddy fields and the village and re- discover the 100 years old Traditional Lepcha houses along with the Karma Karthen Namgayling Monastery and The Lyakhyang (Medicinal water pond). You might enjoy a traditional Lepcha Dance by the local artists.
Later visit the Chorten or Stupa built by the venerable Truslshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism, in 1945.
The Institute of Tibetology established in 1958 it is a treasure trove of vast collection of rare Lepcha, Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts, statues and rare Thankas and has over 200 Buddhist icons.
Also visit the Institute of Handloom and Handicraft to view their exhibition.
Day 15 Bagdogra
Today transfer from Gangtok to Bagdogra Airport, a journey of around 5 hours. Connect with your onward flight.
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