Craft & Textile Tours of West Bengal-attend unique workshop with artisans of Bengal

What is Craft Tourism?

 

Craft Tourism is tapping the resource of a Tourist’s appetite for local and hand made ethnologies which  is widely recognised and continues to be prevalent in the various sub-sectors of the Craft and Tourism  industry and is an identity of that place and its very Culture and Heritage.In many places, crafts such as textiles and art contribute greatly to the culture of a destination and the travel experience. … The tourism industry provides an important export market for a host of craft products. For small entrepreneurs including cultural performers, vendors, and producers of handcrafts, furnishings, soaps, specialty foods and many other hand-made products, the tourist market offers unlimited sales opportunities, with a diverse range of sales venues as well as visitors eager for “local” culturally-linked and indigenous products. 

Why Bengal?

Bengal’s folk art defies easy categorization. The designs are often particular to a specific region; some pieces carry the imprint of outside influences, ancient and modern. Sometimes an entire village will specialize in a particular craft tradition, with artistic styles and techniques passed from one generation to the next. It was this rich tradition, its Intangible Cultural Heritage.While the products retain the deep-rooted elements of Bengal.

Different Type of Crafts in West Bengal

Shantipuri Saree,Nadia

Shantipuri Saree,Nadia

A specialty and a traditional handloom item from Shantipur in Nadia District. Famous for their fine and uniform texture, the counts of cotton yarn range from 80s to 100s. The designs used in extra warp of side border give the verities their names. The ground warp is fine cotton. For extra warp or border muga, sari, mulberry, silk etc. are used.The eye-catching variety includes Ganga-Jamuna, Benkipar, Bhomra, Rajmahal, Anspar, Do-Rookha, Visva-Bharati, BrindamaniMour-Par, Nilambari.

Dhaniakhali Saree, Hooghly

Dhaniakhali Saree, Hooghly

Dhaniakhali in Hooghly district, once famous for its superfine dhotis has, with falling demand for them, moved over to the production of equally superior saris in pastel shades. Farasdanga in the same district continues to make fine dhotis, perhaps the finest in Bengal. Begampur, also in Hooghly district, specialises in loosely woven, lightweight, translucent saris. In contrast to the Dhanikhali saris, those of Bengampur have deep, bright colours.

Baluchari Saree,Murshidabad

Originally from Baluchari, in Murshidabad district: Intricate designs with motifs on historical stories are its distinguishing feature.The rich variety in the techniques, designs and texture of Bengal Baluchari Saris are endearing, enticing and exquisitely enviable.

Katha Stich

As an expression of a local culture, embroidery in West Bengal has three distinct styles: kantha with folk motifs; chikan; zari and kashida from the Islamic tradition; and modern. Of these, kantha is the most typical and also the most creative.Kanthas are traditionally worked by village women on old cloth, mainly soft, discarded dhotis and saris. Layers of old white dhotis used by men or faded coloured saris are held together in running stitches along the edges.

Wooden Mask-Kushmandi,Dinajpur

Wooden Mask-Kushmandi,Dinajpur

The wooden masks are traditionally objects of devotion and worship. Thus the craft of Gomira mask making in its pristine form catered to the need of the Gomira dancers and any villager wishing to give a mask as an offering to the village deity.

Dokra Bikna

Dokra or Bell Metal-Bikna & Dariyapur

Dokra work, better known as Cire per due or lost wax process of casting is one of the oldest forms of metal casting. The craft is still surviving amongst a people of tribal extraction and nomadic temperament who have settled down in scattered areas of the state. Their products are very popular for their primitive simplicity, enchanting folk-motifs and forceful form. The name Dokra or Dhokra was used to indicate a group of craftsmen of nomadic type, scattered over Bengal, Orissa and MP.

Clay Doll of Ghurni,Krishnanagar

Clay Doll of Ghurni,Krishnanagar

Charida is quaint village in the land of red soil is located at the scenic foothills of Ayodhya Hills, about 5 kms from Baghmundi.The tradition of making Chau masks started in Charida about 150 years back during the rule of King Madan Mohan Singh Deo of Baghmundi.Paper pulp and clay are used to make Chau masks. Decorations are mostly done with plastic feathers and beads. Embellished with Zari, glitters and foils, the eyes of the masks are wide open.

Chau Mask of Charida-Purulia

Chau Mask of Charida-Purulia

Charida is quaint village in the land of red soil is located at the scenic foothills of Ayodhya Hills, about 5 kms from Baghmundi.The tradition of making Chau masks started in Charida about 150 years back during the rule of King Madan Mohan Singh Deo of Baghmundi.Paper pulp and clay are used to make Chau masks. Decorations are mostly done with plastic feathers and beads. Embellished with Zari, glitters and foils, the eyes of the masks are wide open.

Patachitra-Pingla,Midnapur

Patachitra-Pingla,Midnapur

Pata’ means cloth and ‘Chitra’ means painting. Patachitra is a tradition of scroll painting and storytelling in West Bengal. The artists, called Patuas, paint stories in long scrolls and sing songs known as Pater Gaan as they unfurl the scrolls. The songs are of wide variety ranging from traditional mythological tales and tribal rituals to stories based on modern Indian history and contemporary issues.

Wooden Doll-Natungram,Bardhaman

Natungram is the hub of the wooden doll makers also known as 'Sutradhars' (narrator or story teller). Carved out of a single piece of wood, these dolls from ancient folklore and mythology are characterised by their vibrant colour and ethnic style.The owl,Lakshmi, made by Natungram enjoys an iconic status among Bengal's handicraft.

Sholapith-Bardhaman

Shola pith (Indian cork) is a delicate, ivory-coloured reed that grows on moist and marshy land in Bengal, Assam, Odisha.The Shola artists, known as Malakars, do some exquisite, intricate work by cutting and carving the reed to make decorative items of varied kinds, including masks.The topor and mukut used in traditional Bengali weddings, and faces of gods and goddesses made from Sholapith.

Conch Shell Carving

Conch Shell Carving

The Conch-shell industry is one of the oldest industries in West Bengal and the traditional Conch-shell artisans - the ‘Sankhakaras’ - are one of the nine artisans castes in Bengal.The artisans are scattered all over the state with concentration in Bankura town, Bishnupur, Nadia, Malda, Murshidabad.

Terracotta & Pottery-Panchmura

Terracotta & Pottery-Panchmura, Bishnupur

Bengal is proud of her ancient terracotta art. Highly decorated terracotta tiles of the past centuries still adorns numerous temples and adjoining structures in the districts of Bankura, Birbhum, Hooghly.The art of making clay tiles was known to the clay workers since Harappan time, but the idea of utilising these tiles for architectural purpose is, perhaps, an ingenious brain -- child of the Bengal artisans.

Kaansha-Brass Utensils

Kaansha-Brass Utensils

Brass & Bell-Metal are two of the earliest metals known to the civilisation and so also to this state. These are available as utensils, utility house hold items for measurement of rice and paddy and interior decoration pieces to images of deities. Bengal artisans achieved high degree of skill and dexterity in producing brass and bell metal articles of different sorts.

Kolkata 4N, Murshidabad 2N, Shantiniketan 2N,Bishnupur 2N

  • Explore the rich treasures of Indian arts, traditions & heritage
  • Visit some of India’s most fascinating museums
  • Interact with a contemporary artist and visit their studio
  • Group photograph
  • Surprise gift during the journey

 

Day-1  Morning flight to Kolkata. Afternoon visit to the Victoria Memorial. This domed Classical structure was completed in 1921 and features beautiful gardens, elegant sculptures of British notables and a rare collection of lithographs by Thomas and William Danielle. Today we will also visit the romantic Park Street Cemetery, which dates back to 1767 and contains the remains of many famous residents of Kolkata.

Day-2  Kolkata Heritage Walks

Start your day with a walking tour of the city. Morning visit to the Pareshnath Jain Temple, a mosaic garden built in 1867 featuring extensive stone and mirror inlay work, stained glass, and European-style sculptures and fountains. Next we will visit Kumartuli, Area of the Potters, where intricate figures of Hindu gods and goddesses are made. Afternoon tour of BBD Bagh, the heart of old Kolkata. This area contains a number of British colonial buildings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, including St. John’s Church, the General Post Office, the High Court, the Government House and the Writers’ Building. Enjoy a short ride in the iconic Tram .This will be followed by a walking tour through New Market, with its myriad of tiny shops selling everything from vegetables and meat to china, DVDs, perfume, jewellery and flowers. Have dinner in authentic Bengali Restaurant.

Day-3  Murshidabad,Bharampur(Shantipur,Phulia Saree & former capital of Bengal)

Today we will begin our exploration of the rich textile and craft heritage of West Bengal. After the partition of India, a number of skilled weavers from Bangladesh settled in villages around Baharampur in the eastern part of the state. As we drive north from Kolkata, we will visit a number of these villages, such as Shantipur , Phulia and Beldanga, known for their silk and cotton hand woven saris, dhotis, jacquards and jamdani (muslin) of superfine texture.

 Arrive in Baharampur in time for dinner. Baharampur 1 GI means that the textile or craft has been given a Geographical Indication by the government of India. A GI identifies a good as originating in a specific locality where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin, e.g., Darjeeling tea.

Day 5 Morning visit to one of the largest silk thread production cooperatives in India, where we will watch silk being extracted from silkworm cocoons and spun into fine thread for weaving. Afternoon tour of Murshidabad, former capital of the nawabs of Bengal. The city was founded in 1704 by Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, governor of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. We will visit the site of the Nawab’s burial, Katra Mosque, which was built in 1724 and was modeled after the great mosque at Mecca. We will also visit Hazarduari, or “A Thousand Doors. Murshidabad is also a centre for shola pith (Indian cork) carving. Artisans create beautiful decorative objects and bridal headwear from this unique, light-weight material, which is also the plant used in the sola topi, or European colonial pith helmet. Baharampur

Day 6 Shantiniketan (Kantha Stich, Dying, Baul Folk Songs & Tagore’s Viswa Bharati)

Morning departure for Shantiniketan, founded in 1921 by Rabindrinath Tagore, a revered poet, writer, musician and playwright. In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he is the author of the national anthem of both India and Bangladesh. Tagore founded Shantiniketan (now Visva Bharati University) with the goal of creating a traditional Indian system of education in which gurus teach their disciples in open air, with an emphasis on the arts, humanities and Bengali culture. After lunch we will visit some of the textile villages around Shantiniketan, including those known for elaborate batik work and tasar silk weaving. We will also watch women doing traditional kantha (GI) embroidery on quilts, garments and other household items. This art form blends floral, animal and geometric thread designs with images depicting the day-to-day life and culture of the rural women of West Bengal. Shantiniketan

Day 7 Morning visit to the Uttarayan Complex at Shantiniketan, where Tagore lived and worked. Here we will view outdoor artwork by contemporary masters such as Nandalal Bose, Ram Kinkar Baij and Binod Bihari Mukherjee. We will also visit the Vichitra Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts from Tagore’s life, including his many sketches and paintings. Afternoon visit to a community workshop for embossed leather goods (GI) and to a local jeweler who utilizes only organic plant material in his fanciful designs. Shantiniketan

Day 8 BankuraBishnupur (Dokra,Terrocatta pottery,Dash Avatar Cards,Lantern )

Morning drive to Bishnupur, stopping en route at the village of Bikna, where they create primitive metal sculpture using the dhokra technique, a form of lost-wax casting. Afternoon tour of Bishnupur, known for its jewel-box terracotta temples. The Shyama Raya temple was built in 1643 and is completely covered with terracotta friezes depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the Bishnupur life of Lord Krishna. The Rasa Mancha temple resembles a flattened pyramid and features 108 symmetric pillars around its base. Other temples to be visited include Jor Bangla, Madan Mohan and Shridhara. After dinner we will return again to these temples, which are beautifully illuminated every evening.

Day 9 Midnapore(Patachitra)

Morning visit to a village of potters that create the region’s famed Bankura horse votives out of red terracotta. This will be followed by a visit to local Baluchari sari weavers (GI), whose magnificent silk-on-silk embroidered textiles and garments are sought after by women all over India. We will next meet several artisans that carve intricate blowing shells and bracelets out of conch shell. The bracelets, which are often inlaid with red lac or gold, symbolize in West Bengal that the wearer is married.

Afternoon drive back to Kolkata, passing through Midnapur, a center for maslond grass mat weaving. These mats feature subtle patterns created using the natural pigments of the grass and can be as soft as woven cotton. You will also meet a group of patuas, artists who create patachitra scroll paintings on cloth or palm leaf. This ancient art form uses natural vegetable and mineral colors to create detailed paintings depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and everyday village life. Arrive in Kolkata in time for dinner. Kolkata

 Day 10 Kolkata Heritage Walks

Morning visit to the Agri-Horticultural Society of Calcutta, the oldest horticultural society in India, founded in 1820. This will be followed by a visit to Kalighat, a crowded and chaotic Kali Temple that is also Kolkata’s oldest pilgrimage site. Early evening visit to Belur Math, headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. The site was built in 1938 and embodies Ramakrishna’s philosophy of the unity of all faiths. The ground plan is in the shape of a cross, and the architectural elements borrow from Mughal, Buddhist and Hindu aesthetics. Kolkata

Day 11 Kolkata Heritage Walks

          Morning visit to the bustling Malik Ghat flower market along the banks of the Hooghly River. Next we will visit the Indian Museum, the oldest and largest museum in India which houses an array of ancient artefacts, sculptures, coins and paintings. Afternoon flight to Mumbai or Delhi to catch your return flight. 

Your trip cost includes:

  • All accommodations (based on double occupancy);
  • All meals
  • Ground transportation (car/train/boat);
  • Flights within the Indian subcontinent, including all required taxes and fees;
  • All airport transfers;
  • Baggage handling and porterage;
  • The services of experienced, English-speaking guides;
  • All monument/museum/site entry fees;
  • All gratuities except for senior tour guides;
  • 24/7 emergency medical/security evacuation services;
  • Bottled water in all vehicles; and,
  • All required local taxes and fees

 

 

 

 

 

 Your trip cost does not include:

 

  • International flights from the U.S. to the Indian subcontinent;
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, Internet/business center expenses, spa/salon services and room service;
  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Excess baggage charges;
  • Trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay/loss and supplemental medical expense insurance – highly recommended;
  • Visa/passport processing costs; and,
  • Immunizations and prescription medications required for travel.