Duration: 13 night/ 14 days
Learn about the intriguing history, culture and customs of the Jewish communities of Mumbai, Cochin, Kolkata and Delhi. Eat, pray, and mingle with members of the community. You will visit world-renowned architectural sites, explore famous markets that entice your senses, and experience local customs along narrow urban streets. Explore Indian history and culture and delve into 2,000 years of Jewish life in the world’s most populous democracy.
Day # 1
Namaste and Welcome to India!
Day # 2
Depart by ferry to visit the villages along the coast of Bombay where, according to Bene Israel tradition, seven couples were shipwrecked over 2,000 years ago. Ride in a tuk tuk (auto rickshaw) to visit the original landing site and monument at Navgaon, as well as the Magen Aboth Synagogue. Then board a ferry back to Mumbai and prepare for Shabbat services.
Walk to the Knesseth Eliyahu Synagogue for Shabbat services and a gourmet kosher Baghdadi feast. After lunch, optional heritage walk featuring the David Sassoon Library and Prince of Wales Museum with its huge collections of art, archaeology, and natural history.
Overnight in Mumbai.
Breakfast at hotel. Visit synagogues that reflect the thriving presence of the Bene Israel and Baghdadi Jews: Magen David and Tipheret Israel. Tour the city of Mumbai: Marvel at the Dhobi Ghat, an immense, colorful outdoor laundry. Learn about India’s multifaceted religious heritage at a Hindu temple and Parsi Towers of Silence. Walk through the village surrounding the Banganga Tank, a sacred pool hidden in the luxurious locality of Malabar Hill.
Visit the dramatic Chinese fishing nets and the Saint Francis Church, the burial place of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who discovered India. Walk along Jew Street to the exquisite 450-year-old Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry; explore the area’s antique shops and spice markets. Visit the amazing synagogue in Ernakulam, part of Cochin (it’s hidden behind an aquarium and garden shop).
Visit the 17th-century Chennamangalam Synagogue and museum. Its close proximity to a Hindu temple, church and mosque highlights India’s religious tolerance. Stop at the Parur Synagogue, an architectural gem dating from 1616. Later overlooking the beach, all aboard for a lush backwater tour along Kerala’s local canals. Then enjoy a Kathakali dance drama.
Overnight in Cochin.
Fly to Jaipur, the “Pink City of India.” The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is nestled in India’s mountains.
Enjoy a home hospitality dinner.
Overnight in Jaipur.
Prepare to be awed by the Amber Fort, the ancient citadel of Jaipur’s rulers, and ride an elephant! Stop at the city palace and the Jantar Mantar observatory. Take time to shop in this beautiful city, known for textiles, jewelry and carpets.
Overnight in Jaipur.
Take an early morning flight east to Kolkata, once the capital of the British Raj. Visit the dazzling and peaceful Jain Temple. Enjoy British-era architectural masterpieces including the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s House) and Writers’ Buildings. Check in to hotel and prepare for Shabbat. Walk to the Maghen David Synagogue, enjoy a Shabbat service.
Enjoy Shabbat services at the Neve Shalome Synagogue. Enjoy a walking tour of local sites, including the flower market and the ghats (steps) that lead down to the holy Ganges River.
Overnight in Kolkata.
Fly to Delhi, the second most populous city in the world, and the seat of the Indian government. Drive by India Gate; Parliament and President’s Houses, and visit Qutab Minar, a 13th-century Muslim monument marking victory over Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom.
Overnight in Delhi.
Visit Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi. Experience an unforgettable bicycle rickshaw ride through the narrow, bustling lanes of Old Delhi. Stop at the tomb of Sarmad, a Persian mystic, poet, and saint, who was born a Jew. After lunch, stop at the Sikh Temple. Shopping at Khan Market, where you can find fashion, crafts, jewelry and more.
Overnight at Delhi.
Leave by road to Agra (4 hours). Visit the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, built by the emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. Enjoy shopping for Agra’s exquisite marble crafts. Overnight in Agra.
Return by road to Delhi. En route, stop at Agra’s Red Fort and Kohinoor, a private museum with an amazing tapestry collection.
Transfer to International Airport for flights home or post-tours.