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Saturday, 1 February – Sunday, 16 February 2003

Lyle Lawson
  • Unparalleled opportunities to photograph ten separate tribal groups in their villages, at their markets, and as they work: the Bharwad, Gowala, Garacia, Banjara, Megwar, Samma, Jat, Mutwa, Ahir, and Rabari
  • Watch (and photograph) tribal women as they stitch their intricately patterned embroidery pieces, Rogan artists creating their distinctive paintings on cloth, and the Patola weavers of Patan weaving their intricate designs
  • Stay in two charmingly delightful (but very different) princely palaces, Utelia and Balaram
  • Enjoy private performances (and portrait sessions) of tribal dances
  • Visit a camel breeding farm and India’s only Wild Ass Sanctuary
  • Maximum of 7 tour members
  • Photography instruction by a professional photographer who has traveled throughout (and photographed) India for over 25 years
  • Knowledgeable local guide throughout the tour
  • Comfortable transport for you and your equipment
  • Great value for money! All-inclusive: meals, tips, entrance fees, etc

Shining eyes rimmed by smudges of kohl. Slender arms encircled by bracelets from wrists to shoulder. Elaborate rings hang from female noses; some anchored by dainty chains, others by colorful ribbons. Around necks lay elaborate necklaces and from ears hang concoctions created from jewels and junk! Flared skirts made from two or three different fabrics – and in a dozen colors! Blouses embroidered in primary colors, the circles, triangles, squares and rectangles of the design making a dramatic statement. Most tribal women, except for the Rabari, whose somber black garments frame expressive faces, adore glitter. Outfits are trimmed with strands of silver and gold piping, rows of tinsel and rickrack. Robust tribal men have twinkling eyes and smiles that are punctuated by gleaming teeth. Sun-tanned from long days tending their herds and flocks, they stand tall and proud. Some tribal men dress in short, elaborately embroidered white jackets and loose trousers, others prefer a dhoti; most wear a vibrantly colored turban and gold ear studs. These and many others are some of the images you will capture on this tour of Gujarat’s tribal regions.

Arrive Mumbai late Saturday evening (or very early on Sunday); be transferred to the Orchid Hotel. Late on Sunday, we fly to Ahmedabad, then drive to Utelia, a feudal village clustered around a medieval palace. (Utelia Palace, 3 nights)

3 & 4 FEBRUARY (Mon/Tues):

A pastoral people, the Bharwad are shepherds and cattlemen. No longer wanderers, most Bharwadi live in villages painting their houses primarily in blues, greens and white. We visit several, wandering the neat lanes, and perhaps visiting one or two homes. Some Bharwadi have turned their talents to different occupations; the polishing and cutting of diamonds is one, and we will be able to photograph the steps that turn a handful of dull looking opaque lumps into sparkling gems. At a local camel-breeding farm, the business of producing the finest stock of camels is explored.


Our drive to Balaram takes us away from life today and into the past. We plan three major stops: a museum, a stepwell (baoli), and a sun temple. The Calico Museum is one of the most fascinating museums in all of Gujarat, if not India, and houses an extensive array of tribal fabrics, both modern and antique, wall hangings, tapestries, and costumes. Adalaj Wav (built in 1499) is the most famous of the Gujarati baolis (step-wells). These elaborate creations, unique to Gujarat, were constructed by royal families as a means of ensuring a source of water throughout the year and as a place of escape from the fierce Gujarati summers. The stone-clad walls have been adorned with carvings of flowers and birds, and at the bottom of the five story-deep well, is a small pool of water. The Modhera Sun Temple dates from the reign of King Bhimdev I (1027/27), and is said to resemble the famous Konark temple in Orissa. Like Adalaj Wav, Modhera’s granite austerity is relieved by the slight of brightly-clad locals walking around the complex. (Balaram Palace Resort, 3 nights)

6 & 7 FEBRUARY (Thur/Fri):

Tribes that are second cousins to each other, they differ only in the manner of living; the Gowala are more settled, the Garacia are still prone to roaming, and their women dress is a manner slightly less ostentatious than the Gowala females. Their tribal home is among the hills that separate Gujarat from Rajasthan, and they are primarily sheepherders. One evening we will enjoy a private performance of tribal dances.


An art that today is only practised by three families, patola is an intricate form of double ikat weaving that is so difficult and demanding that one sari can take up to six months to complete. All three families live near Gujarat’s oldest baoli, the 11th-century Rani-ki-vav; we will visit one of the families, and explore the stepwell during our drive into the Little Rann of Kutch. (Desert Courser Camp, 3 nights)

9 & 10 FEBRUARY (Sun/Mon):

The Little Rann of Kutch separates Kutch from the rest of Gujarat. It is an area composed of marshy salt flats and inhospitable terrain. Flamingos breed in the area’s shallow lakes; here too, the last remaining khurs (Asiatic wild asses) live in a protected sanctuary. Through this land travel the Rabari, the most nomadic of Gujarat’s tribes, constantly searching for better grazing ground for their camels and sheep. Other tribes have settled here, including the Banjara, who make their living from cattle, and whose female members are famous for their embroidery.

11 FEBRUARY (Tue):

Today, we head westward into the bleak countryside of Kutch, Gujarat’s last frontier. It will be a day of driving, with no scheduled stops, only those of our own choosing as we head toward Bhuj, the region’s capital. This, fortunately, is the season when the Rabari migrate, so it’s possible our journey may be enlivened by meeting a group of them along the way. (Prince Hotel, 5 nights)

12 -15 FEBRUARY (Wed-Sat):

Megwar. Samma. Jat. Mutwa. Ahir. Rabari. These are just some of the tribes we will photograph over the next four days as we make daily excursions into the barren and inhospitable landscape that is the Great Rann of Kutch. Some time will be devoted to Bhuj, which was partially destroyed by the earthquake that struck in January 2001. We tour the Old City (via motor rickshaws) seeing, among other places, the Aina (Old) and Prag (New) mahals (palaces) and visit the Bhartiya Folk Museum with its exhibits pertaining to local tribal life. We also visit an artist who paints in the Rogan style, make an excursion to Mandvi, an old fishing port, and the seaside Italianate Vijay Vilas Palace.

16 FEBRUARY (Sun):

This morning we fly from Bhuj to Bombay. Upon arrival, we are transferred to our hotel where the balance of the day is at leisure. In the late evening be driven to the airport for onward flights.

Tribal Life of Gujarat

Limited to 7 tour members
  • Land costs, per person, Bombay/Bombay $3,870.00
  • Single supplement $535.00
  • Economy class domestic airfare: Bombay/Ahmedabad/Bhuj/Bombay: Included in the land costs.
  • Estimated international APEX airfare from the US to India $1,200.00
    (Subject to change, terms and conditions).
  • Prices are based on a cash/check payment.
  • For Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, please add a service charge of 4% to the land costs.
  • If the minimum number of tour members, four, is not reached, a small group surcharge may be added to the land costs of the tour.
  • If the tour is not going to operate notification will be given sixty (60) days prior to departure (1 Dec 2002).
  • Prices are based on the exchange rate of May 2002, and are subject to change.
  • The Indian domestic airfare is based on current prices and may rise before the tour departs.
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