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Kerala Looms and Lores Tour

Price

£3100

per person
Based on two people travelling together. Includes all workshops and most meals.

Discover Textiles, Tea and Tradition in Unknown North Kerala

Explore this region of outstanding natural beauty and its wealth of traditional textiles and culture. A land of tea and coffee plantations, small fishing ports, bustling cities, pristine beaches and sleepy backwaters.

Criss-crossed by coconut palms and rice paddies, this region is rich in traditional hand weaving, village industries and culture. We’ll give you a taste of traditional Kerala and its performance and village rituals which still flourish here.

On this tour you’ll experience authentic Kerala and be welcomed by her friendly, hospitable people.

Itinerary

Thursday 5th January

Welcome on arrival at Kochi International Airport and transfer to your hotel for a four night stay in historic Fort Kochi. Kerala enjoys a tropical climate, with temperatures around 32C in January.

After a late breakfast and introduction to the tour, the rest of the day is free to rest, acclimatise and to explore the atmospheric old streets of Fort Kochi.

The glorious faded architecture is evidence of the various European trading nations who occupied Kochi in the 17th and 18th centuries. The trading port of Cochin remains a spice hub, with aromas of ginger, cardamon and cinnamon drifting out of the ancient warehouses by the harbour. There’s so much to discover here. In the evening, we invite you to an inclusive welcome dinner at one of Fort Kochi’s excellent waterfront restaurants.

Friday 6th January

 Our first textile expedition takes us by ferry from Fort Kochi to Vypin Island followed by an hour’s drive to a Gandhian Khadi weaving centre and hand-loom weaving co-operatives. This area was once the home of the weavers to the Rajah of Cochin, now providing an income for a small community of artisans, producing hand woven cotton saris, dhotis and household linens. A knowledgable handloom expert who is working with the weavers to revitalise the local handloom industry, will be your guide for the day. Enjoy an inclusive Keralan lunch and an opportunity to buy Khadi and handloom fabric in the afternoon.  Return to Fort Kochi for dinner at a recommended

Saturday 7th January

Today we offer you a choice of activities. Explore more of Fort Kochi and its fascinating history, and culture or take an optional six hour rice boat trip on the serene local backwaters south of Cochin. Float silently through the lush vegetation of the lagoons in a sustainable, motor-less rice boat, and enjoy a delicious Keralan style lunch. In the evening discover the colour and skill of Kathakali Theatre with its intricate make-up, flamboyant costumes and subtle gestures, followed by dinner at your hotel.

Sunday 8th January

Experience a wonderfully scenic drive up into the mountains of the Western Ghats to the old British hill station and tea-growing centre of Munnar. Your hotel for three nights is set in the contoured greenery of the tea gardens. Enjoy an evening walk around the surrounding tea and spice gardens with a knowledgeable guide before dinner.

Monday 9th January

 The first day of your two day workshop with Aranya Natural at the natural dyeing and printing workshops of SRISHTI. Using natural dyes they create beautiful textiles and garments with decorative techniques such as wax resist block printing, clamp and tie dyeing.   Try your hand at some of these skills and learn some of the techniques of natural dyeing in our hands-on workshop. At the end of the day you’ll be able to browse bustling Munnar town bazaar where spices, teas and much more are sold, before enjoying dinner at our favourite Keralan canteen style restaurant.

Tuesday 10th January

Complete your creative natural dyeing projects at Aranya Natural today and share your results with the group. There will be a chance for you to ask any further questions with our host before a visit to their extensively stocked on site store. An inclusive dinner will be provided at your hotel this evening ready for an early start in the morning.

Wednesday 11th January

A stunning journey down through the Western Ghat mountains, to banana and coconut plantations, paddy fields and the small town of Cheruthuruthy, where you’ll see traditional crafts and experience a simple Keralan way of life. You’ll arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon for a three night stay where you can enjoy pre-booked Ayurvedic massages and treatments.

 

Thursday 12th January

Today you’ll experience ‘A Day with the Masters’ at the Kerala Kalamandalam, school of traditional performing arts, to gain insights into the fascinating eight year training that the students undergo to learn Kathakali theatre performance, Bharatnatyam classical dance, Kathakali make up, and other Keralan performance skills and to admire the intricate and elaborate Kathakali costumes in the school’s gallery. In the afternoon, a short drive to Kilimangalam to visit the traditional Pulpaya rush mat weaving workshop, awarded a UNESCO seal of excellence, where three remaining artisans dye and weave Kora grass into their own unique designs.  Return to our hotel for Ayurvedic treatments and dinner.

Friday 13th January

Learn how the complex gold and silver borders of the iconic Kerala sari are achieved on the Jaquard loom today on our visit to the famous weaving village of Kuthampully which has been devoted to weaving for the past 500 years.  These saris are much prized in South India for weddings and festivals.  There are also over a hundred sari shops in the village to visit if you have the stamina!

A short distance from Kuthampully is Varikkasseri Mana, one of the oldest traditional aristocratic Namboothiri family houses in Kerala with seventy four rooms, three temples and a bath house.  Enjoy a guided tour and possibly have the chance of a fish pedicure in the large temple pond! Dinner this evening is at your hotel.

Saturday 14th January

Travel five hours to stay at a remote and unspoilt beach resort for three nights. You’ll have time to unwind before we explore  the rich cotton weaving heritage of the Kannur area. On the way, browse through the many craft workshops at Sargaalaya Craft Village where artisans from all over India sell their handmade craft items. Enjoy an authentic Keralan ‘meal’, or thali for lunch. 

We hope to be able to experience the famous and unique north Keralan ritual of Theyyam during our stay in Kannur, where dedicated performers in magnificent colourful costumes and makeup, become the local Hindu gods.

Sunday 15th January

 A free day to relax and explore miles of unspoilt beaches, enjoy watching the sun set over the Arabian sea followed by an inclusive Keralan home cooked dinner. Ayurvedic massage and treatments are available nearby.

Monday 16th January

This morning explore one of Kannur’s thriving co-operative handloom workshops. The warping, winding, dyeing and weaving processes will all be explained to you as you tour the workshops. After Lunch at a nearby restaurant, explore the bustling old market area of Kannur and do a shop-hop to visit the best fabric and clothing outlets in Kannur including handloom suppliers. Travel back to our beautiful beach resort for an inclusive beachside dinner.

Tuesday 17th January

A morning in nearby Thalassery to discover traditional local products and how they’re made. The historic trading port of Thalassery, or Tellicherry, is famous for black pepper and other spices that were exported to Europe from here in the past.  Visit a copra mill where coconut oil is made the traditional way and marvel at the speed and skill of the women hand rolling tiny beedi cigarettes nearby. Stroll round Thalassery’s historic streets where you can buy Ayurvedic oils, beauty products and spices.  Enjoy lunch at a restaurant famous for biryani, one of the town’s specialities.,

In the late afternoon travel south to the bustling city of Kozhikode or Calicut, the original home of Calico. Enjoy an inclusive dinner at your hotel.

Wednesday 18th January

Day one of our two-day batik/wood block printing workshop at Tasara Creative Weaving Centre. You’ll be shown how to make your own batik brush pen before getting creative with cotton, wax and colour! Tasara has been running creative craft workshops and residential courses for many years as well as being the home of a family of master weavers of tapestry and handloom fabrics.

This evening we invite you to dinner at one of Calicut’s iconic institutions, The Beach Hotel. Built in the 1890’s as the Malabar British Club and turned into a hotel in the 1940’s, it retains its Art Deco character and is well placed to take in the lively evening beach scene, where families promenade and the beach is alight with the glow of brightly lit mobile stalls.

Thursday 19th January

The final day of our tour will offer a chance to finish our projects at Tasara Creative Weaving Centre in its spacious outdoor workshop and garden. Cotton fabric and all the necessary equipment is included in the cost of the workshop, as are drinks and snacks and a simple homecooked traditional Keralan lunch.

Final shopping in the late afternoon/evening for the die-hard shoppers in and around Calicut’s eclectic SM Street, famous for fabric and clothing shops. The surrounding bazaar of small streets selling everything from homewares to herbal potions are a must to explore if you enjoy a joyful assault on all the senses. Dinner is at a recommended restaurant prior to check out on Friday.

Friday 20th January

Free transfer to Kozhikode International Airport for return flights to all destinations. We hope this gentle introduction to Kerala will nourish and rejuvenate and we look forward to welcoming you back soon to explore more of Gods Own Country with us.

Accommodation

Highlights

Full details

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