Arrive at Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is a major centre of traditional and contemporary textiles, and many crafts thrive here like Mata-ni-pachedi narrative cloth paintings and block-printing.
Stay at House of Mangaldas Girdhardas, a heritage hotel owned by a former textile industrialist family.
Visit the Calico Museum of Textiles, one of India’s leading specialized museums. The collections include textile swatches of Indian origin found at archaeological sites of Egypt, silk sarees from across India, double-ikat silk sarongs made in Patan for the Indonesian market, chintz and curtains made from Dutch, British and Portuguese colonial powers in Gujarat, floral embroidery from Punjab, shawls from Kashmir, 18th century tie-and-dye, richly embroidered Mughal tent of Shah Jahan whose palace is nearby, royal wardrobes of Rajasthan, cloth paintings and manuscripts, religious narrative cloth paintings like Pichwais and Kalamkaris, etc. Also visit the other museums of Ahmedabad strong on folk art collections.
Day-3: AHMEDABAD –GONDAL (251km)
Drive to Gondal, a princely town of considerable importance and affluence. Visit the 1748 AD Naulakha Palace which houses the erstwhile ruling family’s private collection of beadwork, textiles, brassware, hand-painted toys and silver crafts, the centre promoting weaving at Gondal, and the historic buildings of Gondal.
Evening visit to Khadi Plaza, one of Gujarat’s major handloom weaving units.
Stay at Riverside Palace/Orchard Palace, both of which are decorated with textiles from the former Maharanis’ collections.
Day-4: GONDAL – JETPUR – JUNAGADH – GONDAL (150 km total)
Drive to Jetpur, known for its screen and block printing workshops, and a yarn-dyeing centre, and then to Junagadh where you can see gem-encrusted carpets, wardrobes and tapestery of the Nawab at the museums. A historic city, Junagadh has 3rd century BC Buddhist relics, medieval fort, mausoleum complexes, palaces, etc.
Return to Gondal.
Day-5: GONDAL –BHUJ (259km)
Drive to Bhuj calling in on the way at Rajkot to see the Watson Museum which has good examples of Gujarat’s craftsmanship skills, and Rashtriya Shala working to revive hand-weaving.
Stay at Hotel Prince.
Day-6: VILLAGES AROUND BHUJ
Visit villages around Bhuj known for their distinctive styles of embroidery and other handiwork like weaving, block-printing, rogan-painting, etc. Stay as on day-6 OR at Shaam-e-Sarhad, a rural resort.
Day-7 BHUJ – MANDVI (60km)
Drive to Mandvi, which is a tie-and-dye centre, and stay in a/c tented comfort of the royal resort by the private beach in the palace estate. Visit the dhow-building yard to see ocean-worthy vessels being hand-built. Stay at the palace estate.
Day-8 AROUND MANDVI
Visit villages near Mandvi known for their picturesque houses called bhungas and Rabari embroidery. Stay as on day-8:
Day-9 MANDVI-WADHWAN (310km)
Drive from Mandvi to Wadhwan. This historic walled town is a centre for bandhani tie-and-dye, weaving and metalcrafts. Stay at Rajmahal, the palace hotel of Wadhwan which has beautiful tapestries.
DAY-10: WADHWAN - DASADA (73km)
At Dasada, watch Rabari women at work on their distinct embroideries. Evening safari in the Little Rann of Kutch. Stay at Rann Riders, an eco-resort designed using local materials and handicrafts to resemble a village.
Day-11: DASADA-PATAN – DASADA
Morning safari in the Little Rann of Kutch. Day trip to Patan to watch the Salvis at work on the Patola, one of the richest silk textiles in the world, woven using the rare double-ikat technique. You will also see 11th century monuments at Modhera’s Sun Temple complex and in Patan. Return to Rann Riders at Dasada.
Day-12: DASADA – BHUJ (267km)
Drive from Dasada to Bhuj passing good wetlands and dryland bird habitats. Stay at Hotel Prince/equivalent.
Day-13: BHUJ – MOTI VIRANI (52km)
Drive from Bhuj to Moti Virani. Stay at CEDO Camp, a basic facility run by a conservation organization. Visit the roost of the Grey Hypoculius at Fulay, one of the few sites where this bird is seen in India.
Day-14: BANNI GRASSLANDS
Tour the Banni region, India’s largest grassland area. This is one of the important bird areas with a great concentration of aquila and other eagles. The water bodies here are known for their large flocks of waterfowl. Stay as on day-4:
Day-15: LALA BUSTARD SANCTUARY
Day trip to the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary near Naliya. These grasslands are the habitat of the endangered Indian bustard, white-naped tit, stolickza’s bushchat, and a variety of other birds. Chinkaras are likely to be seen and there are chances of seeing Indian wolf. Return to CEDO camp.
Day-16: MOTI VIRANI - MANDVI
Drive to Mandvi. Tour the coastal areas for birding. Enjoy the evening at the Mandvi beach.
Day-17: MANDVI – JAMNAGAR (350km)
Drive to Jamnagar. Evening visit to Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, a possible site for the Indian skimmer. This sanctuary is a breeding area for many species of birds that do not nest elsewhere in peninsular India. Great-crested grebe, black-necked stork, Caspian tern and many other birds can be seen besides most of the species recorded in the Little Rann area. Stay at Hotel President.
Visit coastal areas along the Gulf of Kutch, one of the finest birding stretches along the Indian coastline. You are likely to see crab-plover, Kentish plover, oystercatcher, ruddy turnstone, broad-billed sandpiper, sanderling, dunlin, curlew sandpiper, black-headed gull, Pallas’ gull, temmincks stint, lesser-crested tern, gull-billed tern, common tern, little tern, black-bellied tern, whiskered tern, whiskered tern, darters, western reef egret and other birds could be seen on this route.
Stay at Hotel President.
Day-19: JAMNAGAR – GONDAL
Travel to Gondal and check-in at the Riverside Palace/Orchard Palace. These heritage hotels are good for birding with many species coming in to the orchards and on the river-shores. Drive to the grasslands where there are chances of seeing Eurasian eagle-owl, Montagu harrier, short-eared owl, rock bush quail, ashy-crowned sparrow-lark, southern grey and rufous-tailed shrike, pipits, pied bushchat, among other birds. The lakes of Gondal attract large flocks of demmossile and common cranes, white pelicans, ducks, and other birds.
Day-20: GONDAL - GIR
After breakfast, travel to Gir and take a mini-bus tour of the Interpretation Zone, an enclosed cross-section of Gir habitats. Dinner and overnight in a private orchard of Gir with a forest view.
A tapestry of dry deciduous forests, acacia scrub and grassland, fed by rivers and reservoirs, Gir is the last abode of the Asiatic lion and has a thriving population of panther (leopard), sambar, chital (spotted deer), nilgai (blue bull antelope) and wild boar. Gir is also one of the major habitats of chousingha (the world’s only four-horned antelope) and chinkara (Indian gazelle) that are hard to spot in the teak forests along the game drive trails. Among the many birds of Gir, changeable hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, Bonneli’s eagle, shaheen peregrene falcon, laggar falcon, shikra, painted sandgrouse, quails, black-hooded and golden oriels, marshall’s and common iora, Asian paradise flycatcher, tickell’s blue, red-throated, verditer and Asian brown flycatchers, yellow-crowned, brown-capped pygmy, black-rumped flameback woodpeckers, green and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, coppersmith barbet, common, lesser pied and white-throated kingfisher, blossom-headed parakeet, hoopoe, black, ashy and white-bellied drongos, rufous treepie, large cuckoo shrike, small minivet, red-vented and white-eared bulbul, tawny-bellied, yellow-eyed, jungle and large grey babblers, grey-breasted, ashy, rufous-fronted, plain, jungle and graceful prinias, zitting cisticola, clamorous reed-warbler, booted warbler, greenish warbler, lesser and Hume’s warbler, orphean warbler and blyth’s reed warbler, are among the many birds that could be seen here. Those interested in herpetology can visit the crocodile breeding farm at Sasan.
Day-22: GIR - VELAVADAR
Early morning depart for Velavadar National Park. Known for its large blackbuck antelope population, Velavadar is also one of the few places where the wolf is proliferating in India though they are rarely seen in the daylight. Jackal, jungle cat and hare are more easily seen and Indian fox on the periphery. Sirkeer malkoha, painted francolin, chestnut-bellied and spotted sandgrouse, rufous-tailed, crested and sykes’ larks, red-rumped swallows, desert and variable wheatears and other birds are seen and many raptors visit specially short-toed snake eagle, imperial, steppe, tawny, greater and lesser spotted eagles, laggar falcon, hobby, common kestrel, red-necked falcon, peregrine falcon, white-eyed and long-legged buzzard, black-shouldered kite, shikra, Eurasian sparrow-hawk and occasionally northern goshawk. Rarities include the Stoilczka’s bushchat. In the evening, witness a massive roost of montagu, pallid and marsh harrier. Stay at Nilambag Palace/Narayani Heritage at Bhavnagar or the Blackbuck Lodge at Velavadar.
Day-23: BHAVNAGAR - AHMEDABD
Morning birdwatching at Bhavnagar including the port areas, lakes and Victoria Park. Depart for Ahmedabad.