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Palitana

An Archaeological Study Tour
Gujarat India
January 4 - 22, 2015
19 days
Led by Professor Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, University of Wisconsin

Gujarat, India’s westernmost state, is one of its least visited and most colorful. Birthplace of Gandhi, stronghold of Jainism and Hinduism, its history is intertwined with the earliest civilizations of India. Here where the Indian desert meets the monsoon lands of peninsular India, the great civilization of the Indus Valley flourished as early as 3500 BC. The process of spinning cotton into yarn and weaving it into cloth was developed by the Indus people and became an important item of trade from the ancient ports along the Cambay coast to distant cities of Mesopotamia. Today Gujarat’s capital, Ahmedabad, dense with relics of its Mughal grandeur, is a thriving commercial center, famed for its textiles, museums and traditional arts. Highlights of the tour include the palace-filled cultural center of Vadodara, Krishna’s capital at Dwarka, where with special permission we visit Dwarkanath Temple, Palitana’s 863 elaborately ornate Jain temples, the ancient Indus cities of Lothal and Dholavira, as well as a relaxing day at Sasan-Gir Sanctuary, where one might see the nearly extinct Asiatic lion. Lastly, we visit the walled city of Bhuj in Kutch, the most remote and charming area of Gujarat. Bhuj, with its narrow alleys, carved balconies, old palaces and royal mausoleum will be our base for visiting Dholavira and the many colorful villages of the Rann of Kutch. At every turn we will confront evidence of Gujarat’s long history, the vibrant colors of village life, its music, dance and crafts and the welcoming smiles of the Gujarati people.

Sunday, Monday, January 4 & 5, 2015: Independent departures from our home cities on Sunday, arriving into Mumbai late Monday evening, and transfer to the Taj Lans End Airport Hotel.

Tuesday, Wednesday, January 6 & 7: VADODARA: After lunch, we transfer back to the airport for our flight to Vadodara, the capital of the princely Gaekwad state prior to Independence. During our two-day stay here we will visit the Palace Museum, the prehistoric collection at the University Museum and spend a day visiting Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This amazing landscape encompasses prehistoric sites, the remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, and residential buildings from the 8th to 14th centuries. It is the only intact Islamic pre-Mughal city. Taj Residency Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Thursday, January 8: AHMEDABAD: We drive west through India’s famous cotton-growing region to the port of Khambhat (Cambay ), from which this precious commodity was traded in antiquity to ports as remote as Babylon. We will visit the Jumma Masjid, one of the earliest mosques in Gujarat, and the bead-makers quarter, where beads are still shaped and drilled using ancient techniques. We then continue to Ahmedabad, the new capital of Gujarat. Le Meridien Ahmedabad Hotel.  
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Friday, January 9: AHMEDABAD:
Founded in 1411 by Ahmed Shah, Ahmedabad continues its rich tradition of textile manufacturing and trade. Our tour of the city includes the 15th-century Bhadra fortress; Rani Sipri Mausoleum and Mosque, where we find extraordinarily delicate pierced-stone windows in typical Gujarati style; and the Great Masjid Mosque, housing Ahmed Shah’s mausoleum. We will also visit the Calico Textile Museum and Gandhi’s Ashram.
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Saturday, January 10: AHMEDABAD: Today’s excursion brings us to Modhera. The shrines and chapels of the 11th-century Surya Sun Temple form an impressive complex, which is a forerunner of the famous Sun Temple at Konark built 200 years later. The nearby ancient Hindu capital, Anahilvad, has been replaced largely by the 16th-century Jain city of Patan. We will see the older district’s beautifully carved wooden houses as well as the lovely Rani-ki-Vav step-well. Time permitting, we will find examples of the legendary patola weaves produced by Patan’s master weavers.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Sunday, January 11: AHMEDABAD: Most typical for Gujarat and Ahmedabad in particular are the step-wells known as baoli, elaborately constructed subterranean monuments centered on water. They not only supply water but serve as resting places with pavilions, galleries and richly decorated rooms. We will visit India’s most beautiful step-well at Adalaj, a few kilometers out of the city and complete today’s touring at the Shreyas Folk Museum, which houses traditional mirror work as well as tribal clothes and decorations.
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Monday, January 12: BHAVNAGAR: Leaving Ahmedabad, we travel southwest to Lothal. Dated to the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, Lothal is one of the four most important Indus culture cities (Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in Pakistan and Kalibangan in India). Excavations have revealed large-scale public and private buildings, a well-ordered grid of paved streets, granaries and a gigantic water storage tank, testifying to the city’s high level of organization. After visiting the excellent on-site museum, we continue to the port city of Bhavnagar. Nilambagh Palace Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Tuesday, January 13: BHAVNAGAR: An early departure for Palitana, from which we will climb the more than 3,000 steps (doolie swing chairs are available) to Shatrunjaya, one of Jainism’s holiest pilgrimage places. Over a period of 900 years, 863 white marble temples have been built here, giving their benefactors great merit. Some of the larger temples, such as Adinath and Chaumukh, are veritable cities within cities, each with its own protective walls. This fabulous experience will be enhanced by white-clad pilgrims circumambulating the mountain in solemn processions.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Wednesday, Thursday, January 14 & 15: SASAN-GIR: We drive south, turning inland we continue to the Gir Forest Lodge in the Sasan-Gir Lion Sanctuary. We will have several safaris in hopes of seeing some of the nearly extinct Asiatic lions and leopards as well as the four-horned Indian antelope and many bird species unique to India.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Friday, January 16: GONDAL: We will spend the day in Junagadh, where archaeological finds have established its early history to pre-Indus times. We will see edicts, similar to those found in northern Pakistan, inscribed on a boulder by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, as well as ancient Buddhist caves dug and carved with the image of Buddha at least 1,500 years ago. The Mahabat Maqbara mausoleum with its lovely silver doors and intricate architecture, and the old Junagadh Fort from which the city took its name, can be viewed from the outside. At the end of this very full day we continue to Gondal, where we will occupy two converted palaces for the night, Riverside and Orchard Palace Hotels.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Saturday, Sunday, January 17 & 18: JAMNAGAR: We continue to Jamnagar where touring includes the collection of Saurashtran sculpture and pottery at the Lakhota Palace; the unusual cremation grounds covered with statues of Indian gods, goddesses and saints at Manikbhai Muktidham; and the bustling bazaar renowned for silver and nutcrackers. Saturday evening we will visit the lively Bala Hanuman Temple, where there has been continuous devotional chanting 24-hours a day since 1964. Sunday we visit Dwarka. We have obtained special permission to visit Dwarkanath, one of the four most holy Hindu pilgrim shrines in India and the site of Krishna’s capital after he fled from Mathura. Aram Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Monday, January 19: BHUJ: A fascinating drive brings us to Bhuj, a walled city that until recently locked its gates at night. On route we will stop at the largely unexcavated Harappan site of Shikarpur, which is situated on the edge of the ancient coastline. During our stay here we will have ample time to explore Bhuj’s maze-like streets and alleys overhung with elaborately carved balconies, as well as the Kutch Museum, renowned for its large collection of Indo-Scythian inscriptions. We will also visit the old palaces and richly decorated temples, and comb the bazaars for the best Gujarat bandhana embroidery and silver. We will spend the next three nights at the Prince Residency Hotel, a very simple hotel and the best available in the region.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Tuesday, Wednesday, January 20 & 21: BHUJ: Traveling into the Rann of Kutch, we will visit the newly excavated Harappan site of Kanmer and the much larger city of Dholavira (Kotada), one of the major cities of the Indus civilization. Excavations, still in progress, have revealed the city’s fine stone architecture, monumental gateways and broad streets, large reservoirs as well as its extensive drainage system. Wednesday’s touring brings us into the countryside to visit villages, each specializing in a unique craft. Our farewell dinner of Kutchi specialties will be accompanied by Kutchi music.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & One Dinner

Thursday, January 22: MUMBAI: After a morning at leisure, we fly back to Mumbai. We will relax in our day rooms (available until 9:00pm)at the Taj Lands End Airport Hotel as our flights home depart late tonight.
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
 
Please Note: This tour should be considered strenuous and requires a great deal of walking as well as step climbing to temples and other sites. Travelers to Gujarat should be prepared for long drives. Hotel accommodations vary from very high to standard quality. They are the best available for visiting these fabulous sites. Only those willing to accept these conditions should consider taking this tour.

 

map of Gujarat

 

 

 

 

 



Modhera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kutch

 

 

 

 

 

 

India