Report from our textiles trip to India in March

By Karin Hellaby

India…no description would ever be adequate! You really do need to see this continent for yourself. This was Arena’s first tour to India and my third.

We started off in Delhi, staying at their top 5* hotel which had been built for King George V’s stay in 1911. We were immediately transported to life in luxurious colonial India. From there, we travelled to Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedbad and Mumbai, taking in forts, history, museums, culture, shopping, scenery, life on the streets and of course the most amazing textiles we have ever seen. We had a fantastic guide, whose family were noblemen of the Maharajahs and who asked to guide our tour as he had been collecting and documenting his centuries old family textiles. On coach journeys we could ask him anything about India and on each topic we got a lecture. His knowledge helped make this tour outstanding.

For me, being allowed to handle exquisite old textiles, the modes of new transport which included an elephant and a bicycle rickshaw and having 14 enthusiastic people travelling with me, were all highlights of this tour. There were many many more!

Enough from me as you can read more in my daily blog reports, including many photos.

Comments from the group


“India was such a wonderful experience with sensory overload from the moment we arrived – the sights, sounds, smells, colours, busyness, dare-devil rides on all forms of transport from the four-legged to two-pedalled, beautiful hotels and cities, an abundance of forts and palaces, and perhaps most strikingly the many contrasts. So many amazing memories it’s hard to isolate particular highlights but perhaps the contrast of the fabulous sunrise over the slums of Delhi seen from the train to Agra and the equally splendid sunset seen from the roof terrace of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with a glass of Indian wine (thank you Arena!).”

“Some of my best memories are the sun coming up and turning the Taj Mahal marble pink at 7 a.m. nothing beats the unexpected magnificence of all the intricate workmanship everywhere you look in India. Everybody got along swimmingly and everybody had a great time.”

“An exciting and fun filled holiday. My highlight – our terrific guide, Nagendra, took us to see some of the most wonderful embroideries I have ever seen, a really fantastic addition to the trip and one I shall never forget. This was an incredible holiday which will never be forgotten.”

“Thank you so much for being such a lovely group to travel with – I really had one of my best holidays ever – and I hope very much we get to enjoy India part 2 together in 2018! Thank you Karin for looking after the newbies so well and to you all for making us feel so welcome.”

“Trying to get used to the quiet after all the hustle and bustle of India! It was such a fantastic adventure for me, made all the more interesting by Nagendra. A great bunch of travelling companions too! I so enjoy getting reacquainted with old friends and making new ones too. Thank you all for completing another dream holiday!”