An Art Crafted Journey through Pondicherry & Tamil Nadu
On this journey into the heart of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, we explore the crafts that came from Baskets & Boxes, Pottery, Kitchen Utilities, Jewelry and our rich textile traditions. Participants will get to witness demos of the craft and participate in workshops in making their own little craft item! They get to meet the artisans, get to know their lives, the ethos, designs, tools, techniques and materials that define the craft. In each workshop participants take home what they make! And while you are here, take in some of the sights that make our journey more worthwhile – explore the by-lanes of Pondicherry on a guided heritage walk, get insights on the ‘Auroville’ way of life from a resident there, learn about the stories on the stone carvings at Mahabalipuram and get awed by the intricately carved temples at Tanjore & Madurai.
DATE: 28th July to 3rd August 2017
Day 1( 28th July): Dakshina Chitra & Pallava Stone craft demo.
On arrival at Chennai airport in the morning (please refer to recommended flight timing), we drive to Mahabalipuram (1.5hrs approx.). En-route, stop for a local breakfast. On arrival at Dakshina Chitra - A living history museum dedicated to the art & craft of the Southern States, embark on a guided walk through the exhibits here. Post this we begin a demo on Pallava Stonecraft - Hard Granite Stone mined in the Swamimalai and Kanchipuram. These are hand sculpted by artists mainly in the Dravidian style. Time permitting, a leisurely stroll through the beach is recommended.
Late afternoon, leave for Pondicherry (3hrs approx.). On arrival, check-in and relax at your stay – a traditional Chettinad Mansion in the Tamil Quarter. Enjoy dinner here Overnight in Pondicherry at Maison Perumal or similar.
Day 2 (29th July): Pottery workshop & Grass matt weaving walk-through/demo
Today post breakfast, we drive towards Auroville (45min). On arrival here, we begin a Pottery workshop (Approx. 3hrs) at Auroville. Later enjoy a brief walkthrough the Grass Matt weaving shop. Post lunch, we enjoy a short tour through Auroville guided by one of the residents. Post the visit we return to Pondicherry. Evening is free at leisure to explore this unique amalgamation of French and Tamil culture.
Overnight in Pondicherry at Maison Perumal or similar.
Day 3 (30th July): Heritage walk & Chola Bronze craft workshop
Post an early breakfast; embark on a guided heritage walk through the Old quarter with an INTACH expert. Later, board the coach and drive onwards to Swamimalai (approx. 4hrs). It is in the heart of Kumabakonam and is widely considered as the capital of bronze iconography.
On arrival, check-in to your boutique stay – a restored family mansion and relax. Post lunch, we leave for our Chola Bronzecraft workshop (approx 3hrs) - The craft has been in existence since the Chola Empire, 12th century AD and still remains unchanged. The artists model a figure in bee wax, cover it with a special clay mixture and heat the mould. The wax drains out, molten bronze is poured into the mold and is then dried and chiseled to perfection!
Return to your stay. Enjoy dinner here. Overnight in Swamimalai at INDECO Swamimalai or similar.
Day 4 (31st July): Brihadeshwara Temple visit & Tanjore Painting workshop.
Today, we have an leisurely breakfast and drive towards Tanjore (Thajavur) – approx. 1 hour. On arrival, we visit the Brihadeshwara templ with a guide. Post the visit, some time is free at leisure to indulge in shopping before lunch.
Post lunch attend a workshop on Tanjore Paintings - These paintings are created using a style and technique, which originated in Thanjavur during the Maratha period in the 16th century. A typical Thanjavur painting would consist of one main figure, a deity, with a well-rounded body & almond shaped eyes.
Post the workshop, drive back to Swamimalai and enjoy lunch here. Time is free at leisure to take in the environs of the stay. Enjoy dinner here. Overnight in Swamimalai at INDECO Swamimalai or similar.
Day 5 (1st August): Kottan basket-craft walkthrough & demo.
After breakfast, we checkout and make our way through the lush green surrounds towards Kandukathan, Chettinad – a region that is an architectural and culinary delight! (Approx. 3.5hrs). On arrival here, check-in to your traditional Chettinad boutique stay – a heritage mansion restored to its former glory. Enjoy local lunch here. Later, we leave for a the Kottan basketcraft-weaving demo. Kottan - Palm Leaf Basketry are made from finely strip cut palmyra leaves. The Kottan tradition has been associated with the Aachis of the Chettinad region and has many weaves and designs that are used to make these products. We get to know some of the intricacies of these designs as we interact with local craftsmen.
Return to your stay. Enjoy dinner here. Overnight in Kandukathan at Chettinadu Mansion or similar.
Day 6 (2nd August) : Tile-making workshop
Today, enjoy breakfast and then leave for Athanagudi - for a tile-making workshop. Athangudi tiles are basically cement tiles like mosaic, but unlike the machine pressed and mass-produced mosaics, they are handmade over glass surfaces. They are a big part of the cultural heritage of the Chettiar community.
Post the workshop drive onwards to Madurai (approx. 2.5hrs). On arrival, enjoy lunch and check-in to your heritage stay. Later visit the Meenakshi temple with a guide. Some free time on your own to explore the temple town.
Return to your stay. Enjoy dinner here. Overnight in Madurai at Heritage Madurai or similar
Day 7 (3rd August): Departure
Post early breakfast; board your coach for the transfer to Madurai airport in time for your return flight.