There are many different possible handicraft tours in India, ranging from short half-day tours to extended tours with a specific focus on handicrafts. Some tours stick to one region, while other tours cover multiple regions. Some tours include workshops as well. What's heartening to see are organizations working with artisans in India, to help them find new opportunities and outlets for selling what they make.
The Kutch region of Gujarat is full of vibrant handicrafts, predominantly textiles but also woodcarving, cast silver work, lacquer work, and pottery. Kutch Adventures India connects travelers with skilled artisans in the region, as well as to non-government organizations that promote and preserve the arts and crafts of Kutch. Bespoke handicraft village tours are offered. Mumbai-based Matsya Crafts offers customized craft tours to various villages in Kutch as well. They're working to revive rural arts and crafts, and are involved with nearly 2,000 women across 112 villages there. Breakaway offers a 5-day textile trail through Kutch and Ahmedabad.
Jaipur Handicrafts and Textiles
The "Pink City" of Jaipur in Rajasthan is well known for its handicrafts. Virasat Experiences, a community tourism initiative based in Jaipur, organizes workshops on block printing, blue pottery, enamel jewelry, and miniature painting. They also conduct heritage walking tours whereby you can observe local artisans, such as silversmiths and bangle makers, at work. Fascinating! Another option is this in-depth 4-day textile trail in Jaipur, including a visit to the famed Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, from Breakaway. Jaipur-based Studio Bagru offers half-day trips to see block-printing at Bagru village as well.
Art Workshops and Art Tours in Rajasthan
Vedic Walks has a strong connection with artisans and offers a diverse range of handicraft activities in Rajasthan. They're tailored to guest requirements and can be half a day, a full day, or longer. You'll get an explanation and demonstration of the craft, as well as a lesson from the artisan so you can make it yourself. Workshop options include silver carving in Jaisalmer, tie and dye in Jaipur, pottery in Jaipur, carpet weaving in Jaipur and Ranthambore, Meenakari in Jaipur, and miniature painting in Jaipur and Udaipur.
Tamil Nadu Looms
Tamil Nadu is renowned for its silk and cotton weaves, especially saris. This comprehensive 4-day Breakaway tour starts in Chennai, with a look Kalamkari textiles and handloom weaving. The tour continues on to Kanchipuram (also known as Kanchivaram), Pondicherry, Auroville, and the hand-painted silk and organic khadi design studios, the Tanjore temple en-route to Karaikudi where Kandanghi saris are woven, and Gandhigram where there's a Khadi spinning and weaving center set up by Gandhi. It concludes in Madurai, where you'll be able to explore local markets and see Chungadi saris, originally made using a tie-dye technique brought from Saurashtra in Kutch.
Textiles of Central India
Another Breakaway tour (if you haven't already guessed, Breakaway specializes in arts and crafts tours in India), this one concentrates on the textile communities in Maheshwar (famous for Maheshwari saris) and Bagh in Madhya Pradesh. You'll also get to explore historic Mandu. Highlights of the trip include a visit to WomenWeave, a trust dedicated to improving the livelihoods of rural women weavers. You'll be able to try your hand at the loom and participate in a workshop facilitated by the trust. In Bagh, you'll learn about traditional block printing and get to observe the techniques, including dying, printing, washing, and block making. You'll be able to participate in the printing process as well.
Kashmir by Hand
Breakaway, in conjunction with R&A Designs (facilitator Renuka has lived and worked with craftspeople in Kashmir for a decade), runs a 4-day trip in and around Srinagar that promises unique and personal interactions with artisans as well as an experience of the region's culture and architecture. The trip includes a guided heritage walk through the Old City and a traditional Wazwan feast.
Hyderabad City Crafts Tour
This full-day tour offered by Hyderabad Magic will take you to explore the traditional arts and crafts of the city. You'll get to visit the home of a family who is engaged in ikat, block print, ng and screen printing; a handloom unit that's reviving dying brocade techniques such as himroo, mashru, paithani and jamavar; and an embroidery unit and lac bangle making unit near the Charminar. Other options are a bidri (metal handicraft) workshop and a basket makers' colony. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping. Breakaway also offers a Woven Trails Through Hyderabad day tour.
Bespoke Handicrafts and Textiles Tours
From Lost to Found Travel, a boutique travel company based in Pennsylvania in the US designs custom tours in India with a focus on engaging themed tours. Their Crafts and Textiles Tours include destinations all over India, such as Kolkata and West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, and Chattisgarh. They will come up with the perfect itinerary based on your needs and interests.
Fixed Departure India Textile Tours
If you're looking for a fixed-departure small-group handicraft tour in India, do consider the tours offered by UK-based Colouricious. This company is the UK's leading source of inspiration for textile arts and crafts, created by passionate textile artist Jamie Malden. They run more than 10 guided textile holidays to India each year, to different destinations. Some are offbeat, such as tribal art of Odisha and crafts of Kerala.