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Kerala’s Woven Heritage Tour

Price

£2750

per person

Discover North Kerala

A rarely explored region of outstanding natural beauty with a wealth of traditional textiles and culture for you to enjoy. From the mountains of the Western Ghats, the tea and coffee plantations flow down the hillsides to small fishing ports, bustling cities, pristine beaches and sleepy backwaters.

The region is crisscrossed by coconut palms, rice paddies and tapioca. It’s against this backdrop that our tour will take you to meet the artisans who continue the ancient heritage craft of handweaving cotton.

On this tour you’ll experience authentic Kerala through its rural artisanal practices and traditional Keralan performance skills. You’ll be inspired by the richness of Keralan textiles and culture and welcomed by its friendly and hospitable people.

Itinerary

Wednesday 23rd November

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.

Thursday 24th November

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 restaurant.

Friday 25th November

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. Enjoy a delicious Keralan style lunch while floating silently through the lush vegetation of the lagoons in a sustainable, motor-less rice boat,

Dinner of your choice this evening.

Saturday 26th November

A day free in picturesque Fort Kochi for shopping and sightseeing.  Sustainable clothing stores such as Anokhi and FabIndia are a must! Browse the eclectic art galleries and design emporia of Jew Town in Mattancherri or take our optional excursion to Kerala Foklore Museum with crafts, folk art, tribal art and examples of traditional architecture. In the evening continue the folkloric experience with a traditional Kathakali performance, followed by dinner at our hotel.

Sunday 27th November

A leisurely drive through paddy fields, banana and coconut plantations to the small town of Cheruthuruthy where you’ll see traditional crafts and experience a simple Keralan way of life. On the way sample a Keralan ‘meal’ for lunch, a vegetarian thali dish, served on a banana leaf and eaten with the fingers. In the afternoon enjoy a guided tour of Varikasseri Mana, the most famous filming location in Kerala. It’s the largest of the old Brahmin Namboodiri family houses, with 74 rooms, three temples and a bath house. Try a fish pedicure in the large temple pond!

Monday 28th November

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 the Kora grass is dyed before weaving their own unique designs.  Return to our hotel for Ayurvedic treatments and dinner.

Tuesday 29th November

A day in the famous heritage weaving village of Kuthampully where the iconic Kerala saree has been woven for centuries by weavers originally from Karnataka. Join our flying shuttle taster weaving workshop and weave a Kuthampully dhoti between our group, on the traditional floor standing loom. You’ll also visit other homes and workshops in the village to see the experts at work and have a chance to do some browsing at the many handloom stores in the village. Lunch will be provided from a Ladies co-operative restaurant nearby and an inclusive dinner will be at our hotel.

Wednesday 30th November

A three-hour drive north takes us to the old trading port of Kozhikode or Calicut, its European name and where the name Calico for unbleached cotton originates. Now a bustling, vibrant city where high tech and plate glass malls jostle with the old bazaar area selling everything from spices and sweets to hardware, pottery, clothing and coffee. Enjoy a free afternoon exploring Calicut. Take a city tour by auto rickshaw, browse the old bazaar area or just relax by the hotel pool.

Thursday 1st December

Today we start our three-day weaving taster workshop at Tasara Creative Weaving Centre. 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. Whatever you create is yours to take home and treasure.

In the evening browse Calicut’s eclectic SM Street, famous for fabric, haberdashery 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. Enjoy an inclusive dinner at a recommended restaurant.

Friday 2nd December

Day two of our three day mini weaving workshop where you’ll be able to weave between three and six table mats, depending on your speed! A wealth of colours are available to choose from.  If you’d rather create in another medium such as natural dyeing or block printing with khadi cotton bought at Chendamangalam, then this is also possible. The choice is yours! This evening we invite you to dine at one of Kozhikode’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 still retains its Art Deco character. After dinner take in the lively evening beach scene opposite the hotel, where families promenade and the beach lights up with the dazzle of mobile market stalls.

Saturday 3rd December

The last day of our mini weaving and craft workshop will show you how to finish your pieces ready to take home. A simple home made lunch is included on each day of the workshop.

Return to the city centre for evening shopping  and dinner.

Sunday 4th December

Today we travel three hours to a remote and unspoilt beach resort for four nights. From here you’ll be able to explore the rich cotton weaving heritage of the Kannur area and have time to unwind. On the way, we’ll call in at Sargaalaya Craft Village, where artisans from all over India create beautiful handmade craft items and hand woven textiles for sale. An authentic Keralan ‘meal’, or thali, is included for lunch.

Monday 5th December

A free day to relax in this idyllic spot. Explore miles of unspoilt beaches, enjoy a head massage or reflexology session at the resort before watching the sun set over the Arabian sea followed by an inclusive dinner. Full body Ayurvedic massages and treatments are available nearby.

Tuesday 6th December

This morning we’ll take you to explore the Kannur heritage of handloom weaving at a thriving co-operative handloom workshop. 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 Khadi suppliers. Travel back to our beautiful beach resort for another sunset stroll and inclusive beachside dinner.

Wednesday 7th December

Discover traditional local products and how they’re made in the historic trading port of Thalassery, or Tellicherry, famous for the black pepper trade in the past. See how coconut oil is made the traditional way at a copra mill and watch the marvellous speed and skill of the women hand rolling tiny beedi cigarettes nearby. Enjoy a traditional lunch at a restaurant famous for its Biryani, one of the town’s specialities. In the afternoon, take a stroll round the historic streets of Thalassery including its 18thC  British fort and browse for Ayurvedic oils, beauty products and spices in the authentic old stores.

Alternatively, enjoy a day at leisure in our idyllic beachside resort or visit a nearby small weavers workshop and treat yourself to some handwoven bed linen.

Thursday 8th December

Inclusive transfer to Kozhikode International Airport for return flights to all destinations. We hope you enjoyed this gentle introduction to Kerala  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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