Voluntourism in Gujarat
Known as the Jewel of the Western India, Gujarat was home to the iconic world famous leader Mahatama Gandhi who changed the future of India through his freedom struggle. His philosophy of non-violence was applauded by world leaders and was instrumental in India’s independence from British rule.
Gifted with natural wealth and a coastline of 1600 km, Gujarat is one of the most prosperous states of India. The traditional values and simple lifestyle propagated by Mahatama Gandhi is still prevalent in major parts of Gujarat and the hard working Gujarati population takes pride in the cultural traditions which still find a prominent place in the state in spite of industrialization. The rustic belt of Gujarat is home to skilled artisans and craftsmen who work tirelessly to promote the cottage industry in the state with the support of government. Gujarat is one the biggest exporter of Khadi (handspun cloth) and gems and jewelry all over the world and attracts huge amount of foreign investment every year in infrastructure and industrial projects. The state offers immense potential for voluntourism for the discerning travelers from around the world. They can effectively contribute in improving the infrastructure of Gujarat villages by participating in community development programs like education and sanitization that go a long way in upgrading the living standards and immensely benefit the rural population.
- Visit the stunning mirror palace of Bhuj
- Dasada a hub for wildlife and tribal heritage
- Undertake a heritage walk through the secret passages og Ahmedabad
- Help in construction work in Dediapada village
Best time to Visit
Day 1 Arrive in Mumbai
Upon arrival at Mumbai in the evening, you are received and escorted to the hotel by a Vasco representative. You are welcomed inside the hotel in a Traditional Indian style on arrival and later check-in to the hotel for overnight stay.
Mumbai - or Bombay, as it was formerly known - remains India’s city of dreams. Despite extreme poverty and eye-watering pollution, it is so dynamic that paupers still flock there in the hope of becoming successful entrepreneurs. Built largely by the British around one of the best-protected natural harbours in the world, Mumbai is India’s strategic economic centre. The city is also is home to the country’s prolific Bollywood film industry, which cranks out more feature flms than any place in the world and of course the setting for the hit flm ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’.
Day 2 Mumbai – Bhuj
Take the early morning flight for Bhuj. Upon arrival in Bhuj Airport you are received and escorted to the hotel by a Vasco representative.
Bhuj this most remarkable landscape- shimmering salt flats and a seemingly inhospitable landscape incapable of supporting any life but dotted with villages and camel-trains of the semi-nomadic Rabari people who have lived in this part of India for centuries. The old town of Bhuj was tragically destroyed in the massive earthquake of 2001 leaving few parts of this historic trading post untouched but the resilience of people who live in such a forbidding part of the world is remarkable and the city as a whole has bounced back remarkably well.
Day 3 Bhuj
Today, you leave for a full day excursion to Banni Villages. Banni area is famous for handicrafts like Embroidery, Patch Work, Tie & Dye Fabrics, Leather Embroidery and other handicrafts. This area is a riot of colours. One can also visit close by villages like Brindriara, Juara, Hodko, Dumado and Dhordo. Here, each village has its own identity of craft and embroidery. Return to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 4 Bhuj – Dasada
After an early morning breakfast at the hotel we leave for Dasada. En route we will visit Aina Mahal, Kutch Museum, Ajrakhpur and Bhujodi. Our first stop will be at Aina Mahal (Hall of Mirrors). The Mahal has exquisite ivory inlaid doors, China floor tiles and marble walls covered with mirrors and gilt decorations.
Then we will proceed to Kutch Museum. It is the oldest museum in Gujarat and its exhibits include the largest collection of Kshatrapa inscriptions, textiles, weaponry, paintings and anthropological section.
Next on our list is Ajrakhpur which is known worldwide for the art of Ajrakh block printing. The printing blocks are hand-carved. Ismail Mohammed Khatri’s traditional expertise in block-printing and natural dyes was given due recognition when De Montfort University of Leicester presented this skilled craftsman with an honorary doctorate in textiles.
Now, proceed to Bhujodi, a major textile center of Kutch with the vast majority of 1200 inhabitants are involved in textile handicraft production. By evening we will reach Dasada where we will check into the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 5 Dasada
Early morning at 07:00, we begin our Jeep Safari to The Little Rann of Kutch. Highlight of this sanctuary is the Asiatic Wild Ass or 'Gudkhur' that is common to the region & is one of the most endangered species in the world. Other mammals that could be seen are Nilgai, Black Buck Antelope, Chinkara Gazelle, Indian Wolf, Indian Desert Fox and Jackal. It is also is a paradise for bird watchers. The key dry land birds are McQueen's Houbara Bustard, Chestnut Bellied & Spotted Sandgrouse, Indian Courser, 13 species of Larks & Sparrow Larks, 5 of Quails (including Button quails), Five species of Vulture have also been recorded.
After the safari, you return to hotel and you can have breakfast. Till 3:00pm you have free time. At 3:30, you begin your second round of Jeep Safari. In the evening gather for dinner and overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 6 Dasada – Modhera – Patan – Ahmedabad
Today from Dasada we will proceed to Ahmedabad. En route we will visit Modhera and Patan. The remains of the Sun Temples at Modhera are relics of times gone by when reverence of the natural elements fire, air, earth, water and sky were at their peak sharing space with myriad manifestations of Vedic gods.
After the visit of Sun Temple of Modhera, we will continue our drive to Patan where we visit Rani Ki Vav. Rani (Queen) Udayamati commissioned this vav or stepwell, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition.
Finishing with the visit of Patan, we make headway to Ahmedabad where we will check-in to our hotel for overnight stay.
Day 7 Ahmedabad
Early morning after breakfast we leave for a unique experience by undertaking a Heritage Walk through Ahmedabad. We will show you this historic city in such a way that most of city residents too would have missed. This tour is a mix and match of everything. It’s a maze of small narrow streets with impressive array of old houses, wood carvings, water wells. You wind through tiny streets and alleys of one of the subcontinent's most atmospheric cities.
Hear and see details of Ahmedabad that are literally not possible to access otherwise, and during the tour, photo opportunities are endless. Being a part of the heritage walk makes you see how Ahmedabad has woven itself around its occupation and religion and still it is interconnected through the secret passages.
The walk starts from Swaminarayan Temple and ends by reaching Jama Masjid. Return to hotel to relax and get fresh. Afternoon is at leisure.
Evening you will visit the old city, a maze of crowded Bazaars, pols, exquisitely carved facades temples, mosques & subterranean step-wells. Bhadra fort, southwest of the fort is Ahmed Shah's Mosque, a simple place of worship, built in 1414 on the site of an early 13th century Hindu Temple; Jama masjid has one of the best examples of the Second Period of Gujarat's provincial architectural development. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 8 Ahmedabad – Dediapada
Early morning after breakfast, we will leave for Dediapada where we will be working with Jeevantirth (a local Non Profit Organization) who has undertaken a project for the promotion of the socio-economic development and protection of the traditional knowledge of the medicinal plants of the Vasava tribes in Dediapada, spreading its uses among the local population. We will be under the guidance of Jeevantirth who is primarily involved in training and capacity building of the poor, marginalized and vulnerable section of the society. If we look at it closely Jeevantirth has taken charge of many activities to achieve overall objectives of the project.
We will be involved in making various structures of Rain Water Harvesting in two villages. Building of such structures will involve some sort of a physical challenge. You could be required to do the following activities: Farm Bunding, Stone Removing, Hedge Making, Organic Manuring, Gully Plugging and Low-cost Check – dam.
Upon reaching Dediapada the remainder of the day will be spent on Rapport Building and Orientation about the work. An introduction will be given about the AadiAushadhi Group. And if time permits you shall be taught basics of Soil & Water Conservation techniques.
Day 9 Dediapada
From day 9 to 13 your hard work will an inspiration for the locals. You will work in the morning and some part of the afternoons. Here in Dediapada you will stay with the tribal’s. Experience living in the home of a tribal.
During your stay in Dediapada, on any given day (probably on the last day) we will be visiting Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, Ninai Fall and the surrounding regions. Birds having affinities with Himalayan and Western Ghats, a variety of raptors, and the hills of Satpuda range, the thrill of coming across a python or flying squirrel, pangolin or big/lesser cats and the scenic beauty of moist deciduous forest; all this can be enjoyed by an eco-tourist at Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Day 14 Dediapada – Ahmedabad – Mumbai