Okay, I know this is a big question, but I'm going to India for 30-ish days leaving in four days and haven't fully planned an itinerary yet.
I like my trips to be filled with creative things -- connecting with local artists, taking classes, etc. I would love to take classes learning traditional indian art / handicraft. I have some experience with silversmithing and would love love love to find a Goldsmith willing to let me study with them for a week or so. Does anyone have any leads on good places or areas to do this?
I would also like to connect with some great non-profits (education improvement, women business development, job and resource development in under-served communities, refugees, etc). Does anyone know of any great ones I should try and connect with?
Also interested in the spiritual side of India - I'd like to spend some time at an Ashram or Buddhist meditation center, ideally something in the mountains (thinking Ladakh or Rishikesh). I'm interested in yoga as well.
And then a few of the must-see sights sprinkled in there as well. I'd love any advice or leads on these topics! Thanks!!
Whoa! A big question! Let me try to answer it in short! :p
If you want to learn making handicrafts, you must visit Odisha. Orissa is a rich state in terms of making handicrafts located in east part of India. Try visiting Baripada, Sambalpur and other small districts there. Orissa is situated near the sea cost so it is very humid during the summer days and pleasant in the evening. Go through this link for further reference: http://www.orissa-tourism.com/portal/CultureHeritage/HANDICRAFTSHANDLOOMS.aspx
To be associated with any NGO: You can try to find some NGO in Himachal Pradesh. There are some NGOs which offer stays and accommodation also for people from abroad but you have to do several things to help villagers in favor of stay and accommodation. I knew a NGO there but I am forgetting its name now.
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You can find lots of asharams either in Rishikesh or in South India, Rishikesh is the best place to be at.
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I am jeweller so I think I might be able to help you with your goldsmith training not personally, I do have artisans who work under me though most work with diamonds and gold. A good place for you to start would be Jaipur. There are a number artisan training which happens there but the craft is usually kept within the community and I have been hard pressed to find any information of outsiders ever having done the course. Another venture could be a professional goldsmith training which happens in Mumbai. This is a program any one can join as it is conducted by gem and jewelry Council. I hope this helps.