I have never in my life had an experience such as the one that I had in India. That trip truly was life changing and I will never look at things in the same way. I absolutely fell in love with India while we were there. I enjoyed the visit to India immensely and would recommend to my friends. Lauren C.
Visit historical synagogues in New Delhi, Kochi and Mumbai. Attend a Shabat service at Judah Hyam Synagogue near the Taj Mahal Hotel on Man Singh Marg in the heart of the New Delhi. The imperial capital of New Delhi was designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens in 1911. The capital's construction was delayed because of World War I and it was completed in 1929. It took another two years to move the capital from Kolkata. Drive to Agra, the capital of Mughal Empire and famous for the Taj Mahal. There will be two sightseeing tours of the world famous Taj Mahal mausoleum - once at sunrise and later again in full moon light. Experience the finest in the art, architecture, miniature paintings and culture in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan State. In Amber, north of Jaipur enjoy the thrill of Elephant Ride to the hilltop fort with magnificent palaces of Amber Maharajas. Your hotel in Jaipur is located just below the Aravali mountains north of Jaipur, opposite the Jal Mahal Palace Island. In Jodhpur relish the luxury of Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel. In Udaipur your hotel is the more than a quarter century old, white marble island palace in the Pichola Lake. In Mumbai, India's commercial and film industry capital, meet Rabbi Binyamin and Mr. Ezra Moses, the leaders of one of Mumbai's oldest synagogues - Shaar Harahamim or Gate of Mercy Synagogue that was established in 1796. Visit the Kenneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, established in 1884 by Samaji Hasaji Divekar (Samuel Ezekiel Divekar), a Bene Israeli. The street in front of the synagogue is named after the founder of the synagogue. This place of worship is located in the heart of Kala Ghoda art district where almost every building is historical. Visit the Magen David Synagogue, a tall blue building with Gothic feel that towers over all the others in the area. Later visit the Sasoon Children's School in the same compound. Our guide in Mumbai is Jewish and is among the most knowledgeable about the metropolitan city's antiquity (There are two very knowledgeable tour guides approved by the Tourism Department of Government of India: Joshua & Hanna Shapurkar).Fly to Kochi, Kerala to visit the Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry District - the only functional one out of 7 Kerala Synagogues. Please call or email us for arranging flights from other US international airports like San Francisco etc.
This fascinating private tour can be planned at any time to suite your schedule
Day 1 // Wednesday, Los Angeles:
Day 2 // Thursday, DELHI:
Arrival at India Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi at about 9.30 pm. Traditional welcome with fresh marigold flower garland and transfer to your luxurious hotel in the nation's capital -
The Taj Mahal Hotel's reputation as the epicenter attracts visiting dignitaries and heads of state who prefer its stateliness and security, its original culinary innovations, and the air of quiet, restrained luxury that permeates every aspect of a visitor's stay. Overnight in Taj Mahal Hotel at 1 Man Singh Road in the heart of the green belt surrounding the British colonial capital that was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Basic Wi-Fi service is complementary in hotels of the Taj group.
Day 3 // Friday, DELHI:
After breakfast drive to Qutub Minar- its construction was initiated by Qutubuddin-Aibak in 1199 CE upon becoming the first Sultan of Delhi.
Sultan Qutubuddin fell into the hands of a slave trader after a battle while still a teenager. He was lucky to be purchased by a Qazi (an Islamic judge), who treated him like his own children. After the death of the Qazi, he was sold to Sultan Muhammad of Ghur in Afghanistan, who did not have any children and treated him very generously. Qutubuddin rose in the ranks of Sultan's army to become its commander. After victory over Prithviraj Chauhan the Sultan Muhammad of Ghur returned to Afghanistan where he was later assassinated. Qutubuddin declared himself a sovereign sultan ruling a vast territory in northern India from Lalkot, the general area where he built the Qutub minaret. The grave of the next Islamic ruler of Lalkot, Sultan Iltutmish, who ascended the throne 1210 CE, was beautifully decorated with carvings in white marble and red sandstone but it does not have a roof because it was never completed. Iltutmish was a slave of Sultan Qutubuddin and had the stigma of being a slave of a slave. To overcome this blemish he asked the Jewish traders, who used to come from Baghdad, to educate a delegation of noblemen in the Arabic language, mannerism and etiquette of the court of the Khalifa of Baghdad so they could get a Khutba, a religious declaration proclaiming him Sultan of India. Architecture of the monuments in Qutub complex is mostly Hindu and Jain. The masons and artisans who were employed to build it were all Hindus and the new Islamic rulers were in a hurry to settle in their new capital. They destroyed 27 Hindu and Jain temples. The decorative elements of these temples were used in the mosque and other buildings in the area. There is an iron pillar in the center of the mosque that was molded out of an alloy of metals during the reign of Emperor Chandragupta II (375 to 413 CE). Despite being exposed to natural elements for centuries it has no sign of rust. It was originally a 'Dhwaja Stambha' or flag pillar of a Vishnu temple. It originally had a Garuda as its capital, which is now missing. The inscriptions on this pillar in Sanskrit language written in Brahmi script describe its history.
Later drive a short distance for sightseeing of Mughal Emperor Humayun's Tomb - its architecture may have influenced the construction of the Taj Mahal in Agra. This was the first grand mausoleum of the Mughal period built during the reign of 3rd. Mughal Emperor Akbar and under the supervision of his mother, Hamida Bano Begum. Nearby is the tomb of Isa Khan, a minister of Sultan Sher Shah Sur, who defeated Emperor Humayun. Sher Shah Sur and his descendents ruled from Delhi's old fort for more than a decade.
Later drive past the administrative offices of Government of India that were designed by the British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Stop at India Gate for photography.
After lunch drive across the Yamuna river for sightseeing of New Delhi's largest Hindu temple, the Akshardham.
Around 5 pm meet Mr. Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, honorary secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue that is located in a British colonial style bungalow in the heart of New Delhi, designed by the British architect Edwin Lutyen. The Synagogue and the adjoining grounds where there is a cemetery now were gifted to New Delhi's Jews in 1956 during the period of India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It is one of India's more than 25 synagogues. Jews first arrived in India long before the Christian Era but are today less than 5000 in a country with over 1.2 billion people. A majority of India's Jewish population left for Israel after its creation. There is a sizable population of expatriate Jews in metropolitan cities working for Indian and multi-national companies and there are Jewish diplomats of various foreign missions. Overnight stay in Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. (Breakfast & dinner in hotel, lunch in Gulaati's Restaurant at Pandara Road, Khan Market).
Day 4 // Saturday, DELHI - AGRA (165 kilometers or 103 miles):
After breakfast drive to Agra. After getting off the Yamuna Expressway visit the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, a Persian noblemen who migrated to India during the reign of Emperor Akbar.
He was the father of Nur Jahan, the Queen of Emperor Jahangir who designed and supervised the construction of this two storied white marble tomb decorated with inlay of black marble and various shades of jasper stone.
In later years of Emperor Jahangir's reign she declared herself the Empress and even had coins minted in her name.
Upon arrival in Agra check in to Oberoi Amar Vilas Hotel. The Oberoi Amarvilas enjoys an unrivalled position, just 600 yards from the iconic Taj Mahal. Each room affords uninterrupted views of this ancient monument to love, while elements of the layout and design pay homage to its Mughal splendor. The hotel is approached along a sweeping driveway, verdant with native trees and lit by flaming torches. Just inside, a Mughal style quadrant is ornamented with cascading fountains and framed by an arched passageway and gold leaf frescoes. By day, guests can travel in hotel's private golf buggies to the Taj Mahal. At night, they can savour a candlelit dinner beside its soft silhouette.
After lunch there will be a demonstration of the Pietra-Dure - the art of inlay of semi-precious stones in marble that is still practiced by the descendents of the artisans that built the Taj Mahal using similar hand operated implements that their forefathers used.
Later drive a short distance to Mughal Emperor Akbar's mausoleum, that was built by the emperor in his own lifetime.
The main gate of the mausoleum was added to it later under his son, Emperor Jahangir, whose Persian wife, Empress Nur Jahan, may have influenced its architectural decoration. She was very powerful in later years of Emperor Jahangir reign when he was in ill health. She even minted her own coins. After visit drive to Dayalbagh Temple that has been under construction for almost 100 years.
Later in the night you will be thrilled by the heavenly view of the Taj Mahal in full moon light.
Overnight stay in Oberoi Amar Vilas Hotel. (Breakfast & dinner in hotel, lunch in Pinch of Spice Restaurant)
Day 5 // Sunday, AGRA:
Wonder at the world famous Taj Mahal in the glow of morning sunlight at sunrise. There will be ample time to admire the harmonious architecture of this mausoleum, that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Arjumand Bano Begum was the niece of Empress Nur Jahan, the wife of fourth Mughal Emperor Jahangir. In the 18 years of her married life she was never away from the fifth Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, she even accompanied him on the battle fields. She died delivering her 14th. child at Burhanpur in west central India, about a thousand miles from Agra. About six months later her earthly remains were transported to Agra to be temporarily buried in a grave enclosure that still exists in the gardens of the Taj Mahal. More than a decade and a half later her body was again exhumed to be laid be rest at her final resting place inside the world famous mausoleum of Taj Mahal - it took about 17 years to complete the construction of this magnificent tomb in 1648.
Her husband the emperor was later buried beside her in the same mausoleum.
After breakfast visit the Agra Fort that was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar over an older fort at the location. According to Emperor Akbar's official biographer and his close friend, Abul Fazl, there were about 500 major buildings inside the fort. At present only 1/3rd. of the fort on the eastern side facing river Yamuna is open to public. The rest on the western side is occupied by the Indian army. Emperor Akbar's grandson, Emperor Shahjahan replaced many original palaces built with red sandstone with white marble ones. The 5th. Mughal Emperor, the builder of the Taj Mahal, was kept a prisoner in his own palaces during the last eight years of his life by his own son, the 6th. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Later relax in the luxury of the Oberoi Amar Vilas Hotel. (Breakfast and dinner in hotel, lunch in a city restaurant)
Day 6 // Monday, AGRA - FATEHPUR SIKRI - JAIPUR (243 kilometers or 143 miles):
After breakfast drive 40 kilometers or 25 miles in about an hour to Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted capital of Emperor Akbar.
Emperor Akbar did not have a male heir to the throne. He visited the hermitage of a Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chishtie, who lived among the stone cutters of Sikri village. The saint prophesied that the emperor would have three sons.
To enjoy the company of the saint, he moved to Sikri village where over the years a whole new capital developed that had the population almost the same as Agra. Emperor Akbar was very interested in learning about other religions and their associated philosophies, he invited many scholars of different religions to teach him. His interest in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions had an influence on the architecture of the palaces and other structures of the city. The capital flourished only for 14 years until when Emperor Akbar moved to Lahore (in present day Pakistan). Thereafter for almost 400 years the palaces were deserted and covered with forest. In early 20th. century the Archeological Survey of India started the cleaning up and renovation of the historical monuments of the city.
Drive further to Jaipur. On arrival check-in at the Trident Hotel.
Located on the way to the famous Amber Fort, the hotel offers stunning views of the Mansagar lake and Jal Mahal. These vistas are best admired from all the rooms. Tastefully appointed, the rooms are well-lit and airy and offer all the modern amenities such as a spacious wardrobe, an LCD television, a personal bar and high speed Internet access. An intimate 'jharokha', at the end of each room is perfect to take in the panoramic views of the lake or the landscaped gardens, with the Aravalli range forming a dramatic backdrop. The soothing views are perfectly complemented by a selection of dining options, wellness and recreation facilities.
In the afternoon enjoy demonstrations of wooden block printing on cotton textiles, woolen carpet weaving as well as cutting & polishing of precious & semi-precious stones. Overnight in hotel in Jaipur. (Breakfast and dinner in hotel, lunch in Surabhi Restaurant located in a medieval Haveli in old Jaipur)
Day // 7 Tuesday, JAIPUR & AMBER:
After breakfast drive through the Pink City for a sunrise view of the Hawa Mahal, the palace of winds that served as a parade viewing gallery for the women of Maharaja's family.
Drive further to Amber Fort crowning the crest of an Aravali range hill.
A royal ride on elephant up to the palaces will take your imagination to the world of Amber Maharajas.
After sightseeing of the palaces built by Maharaja Man Singh and Mirza Raja Jai Singh, drive back to hotel with stop to view the Jal Mahal Palace island in the center of a lake in the north of walled Jaipur city.
In the afternoon sightseeing tour visit the Maharaja's City Palace - museums which contain the original collection of the Maharajas of Jaipur miniature paintings and large portraits, royal dresses and typical Rajasthani handicraft. Later wonder at the massive masonry, precision astronomical instruments at Sawai Jai Singh's Jantar Mantar observatory. All but one of its 17 instruments are still functional. The sundial has an accuracy of 2 seconds. (Breakfast & dinner in hotel, lunch in the newly renovated City Palace Restaurant)
Day 8, Wednesday, JAIPUR - NIMAJ - JODHPUR:
After breakfast drive to the village of Nimaj. Alight from the coach on the outskirts of the village and walk through the bazaar in the narrow lanes of Nimaj village to the ancient castle for a sumptuous lunch.
Later drive further to Jodhpur for sightseeing of the Mehrengarh Fort. Overnight in hotel in Jodhpur.
Day 9, Thursday, JODHPUR - RANAKPUR (170 kilometers or 106 miles) - UDAIPUR (94 kilometers or 58 miles):
After breakfast drive through the winding roads in Aravali mountains to the medieval Chaturmukh Jain Temple dedicated to the first Tirthankar (1st. of the 24 teachers) of Jain religion, Adinath Baghwan.
After lunch in a local hotel sightseeing of the temple. Later drive to Udaipur.
Here is the description of the fantastic palace on the hotel website: "The Vintage coupé glides to a stop at the lake’s edge. It’s hard to believe the floating vision in marble is real. Blink, and indeed, there is a luminous palace emerging from the mist. Suddenly you are in a boat, drifting ever closer and the reality doesn’t disappoint. With the Aravalli Mountains and city palaces as a backdrop one gets an impending sense of enchantment. - ...... Glowing moonlight. Gentle lakeside breezes. A whole entourage courtesans. What young prince could resist? Certainly not Maharana Jagat Singh II. Legend has it that the young prince indulged in moonlight picnics with the ladies of the Zenana on the lake island palace of Jag Mandir. A pleasurable pastime - until his father found out. With that option closed to him, there was only one solution. He built his own pleasure palace on a different island in Lake Pichola. Begun in 1743 and inaugurated in 1746, the new palace was named Jag Niwas after his highness Maharana Jagat Singh II, 62nd successor to the royal dynasty of Mewar. Jag Niwas, now Taj Lake Palace, is one of 4 lovely islands in Lake Pichola. And each island has a story to tell. Mohan Mandir is the place from where the king would watch the annual Gangaur festival celebration. Arsivilas used to be an ammunition depot and later was used as a helipad by the royal family. And of course, Jag Mandir is the location for the original pleasure palace of Maharana Jagat Singh I."
Overnight in Taj Lake Palace Hotel. (Breakfast and dinner in hotel, lunch in a hotel in Ranakpur).
Day 10, Friday, UDAIPUR:
In the morning sightseeing of Maharanas’ City Palace.
Maharanas of Mewar had their original capital in the present day pilgrimage town of Nagda, 30 kilometers or 19 miles north of Udaipur. It was established by the 1st. Maharana, Guhil, in 568 CE. In the 8th. century CE the capital was moved to Chittor, where successive Maharanas built Chottorgarh, the largest fort and city in contemporary India. Already before the sacking of Chittorgarh by Mughal Emperor Akbar, in February 1568 after a long siege that began in October 1567, the plans for a new capital were under way. The construction of the Mewar Dynasty’s City Palace in Udaipur started in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh and the initial construction was completed in 1567. The work on expansion and addition of palaces was continued by his successors over a period of about 300 years. Today the visitor’s see the Mardana (male section) and Zanana (female section) of the museum part of the palace. Apart from this two other sections of the palace are converted in to hotels: “The Shiv Niwas Palace” and “The Fateh Prakash Palace”. The descendents of the Maharanas of Mewar still reside in one section of the palace. The Maharana's Miniature Painting School is also in the palace complex. Later walk outside the Tripolia Gate of the City Palace for sightseeing of the Jagdish Temple dedicated to Hindu deity Vishnu that was constructed by Maharana Jagat Singhji in 1651.
In the afternoon relax on a boat ride and sightseeing of Jag Mandir Lake Palace on an island in Pichola Lake. Overnight in Taj Lake Palace Hotel. (Breakfast & dinner in hotel in Udaipur, lunch in Ambrai Lake View Restaurant in Amet Haveli)
Day 11, Saturday, UDAIPUR - MUMBAI:
Transfer to airport for the early morning flight to Mumbai. On arrival transfer to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
The hotel was built by the founder of India's Tata Group of industries, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, head of a prominent Zarathustrian family in the metropolitan city. The initial design in Indo-Saracenic architecture was by two Indian architects, Sitarao Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza. Its construction was later completed under W. A. Chambers, a British engineer. The contractor for its construction was Khansaheb Sorabji Ruttonji. It was officially opened to guests on December 16, 1903, full 21 years before the construction of the Gateway of India that is located just opposite the hotel. At present the hotel's entrance is from Arabian Sea side but originally it was from the City side.
In the afternoon visit the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, established in 1872 as Victoria and Albert Museum, it is Mumbai's oldest and India's third oldest museum. Its present name commemorates the person who initially visualized and worked for its establishment. The museum depicts the fine and decorative arts of Mumbai city from 19th. and 20th. centuries. The two oldest synagogues of Mumbai are located in the art district of Kala Ghoda. Visit the Kenesset Eliyahu Synagogue, established in 1884 by Mr. Jacob Sasson, in memory of his father.
Subsequently visit the Shaar Hashamaim synagogue, established in 1879 and meet the leaders of this unique community – Rabbi Binyamin and Mr. Ezra Moses – for an extremely rare insight into Jewish life in India. Overnight in the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai. (breakfast in hotel, lunch in the Indian Restaurant in city & dinner in hotel
Day 12, Sunday, MUMBAI:
After breakfast take the first deluxe boat (on upper deck) departing at 9 AM from Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
These 7 caves dating from 6th. & 7th. centuries are located on an island in the Arabian Sea about 10 kilometers or 7 miles from Gateway of India. The giant elephant after whom the caves are named was taken away and is now preserved in Jijamata Garden in Mumbai. The temples in the caves are dedicated to Shiva. The most famous idols in Elephanta are the 3-faced Maheshmurti depicting the deity's three aspects: (a) Aghora or turbulant & fearsome; (b) Tatpurusha or benign & meditative and (c) Vamadeva or the mild, pleasing & lovable. The other famous idols in the caves are the Ardhanareshwara or the half female form of Shiva and the Shiva Nataraja or the Shiva dancing in the ring of the fire of the creation (Nadabrahma - the big bang of Hindu mythology).
In the afternoon explore Mumbai, India's economic powerhouse, with a visit to the city's heritage area, including:
(1) The famed Gateway of India, a colossal waterfront monument that was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The foundation was laid in the same year as the royal visit but the final Indo-Saracenic design by George Wittet was approved in 1914. Completed in 1924 it was used as the ceremonial entrance in to India by British Viceroys and Bombay Governors.
(2) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus. Formerly known as Victoria Terminus it was designed by the British architect, Frederick William Stevens, in a blend of Victorian, Italian Gothic Revival and Mughal architecture in 1887 and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1853 India's first train started from a smaller station at this site, then known as Bori Bunder to the station at Thane, a distance of 34 kilometers or 21 miles from Mumbai.
(3) Central Railway Headquarters building popularly known as Mumbai Central was designed by a British architect, Claude Batley, in 1930. The area surrounding the station is also called Mumbai Central and is the center of the art scene in Mumbai - the well known Kala Ghora Art Fair is held here.
(4) The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya – formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum – one of India's greatest museums, with some 50,000 exhibits featuring ancient Indian history as well as art and artifacts representing archaeology and natural history from around the world. The foundation of the museum building was laid by the Prince of Wales (later King George V) on November 11, 1905. The Indo-Saracenic architecture of the museum was designed by George Wittet in 1909.
(5) The Mani Bhawan Gandhi Sangrahalaya was originally a residence of the Mani family and later the family of Ravashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri. During his visits to Mumbai Mahatma Gandhi used to stay at this house often. Many of his popular movements for the struggle for India's independence were initiated from this building. It is now a museum dedicated to the father of the nation.
(6) Dhobi Ghat is the place where the laundry from the city comes for washing in the traditional style. We will see more late 19th. century and early 20th. century buildings with interesting architecture in this area of south Mumbai. Overnight in Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai. (breakfast & dinner in hotel, lunch in city restaurant)
Day 13, Monday, MUMBAI - KOCHI:
Transfer to domestic airport for early morning flight to Kochi in Kerala.
On arrival transfer to Vivanta by Taj Malabar Hotel and breakfast. The name of the city, Kochi, is derived from the Malayalam language word Cochazhi, which means small sea. Situated on Willingdon Island with a magnificent view of Cochin harbour, Vivanta by Taj - Malabar is a fine balance between yesterday and tomorrow. The Spa Hotel's lobby is a unique mix of chic and classic. This arrival zone sets the tone for guestrooms and banquet facilities that deliver the ultimate in urban relaxation. The heritage wing, built in 1935, has graceful Victorian interiors that aptly reflect the inherent beauty of Cochin, the name the city was known as during the British period. And the tower wing houses newly renovated guestroom suites, each a delicate mix of the classic with the contemporary. Technology is woven through it all. Vivanta by Taj - Malabar, has all the entertainment and connectivity options today's traveler requires. As a Taj group hotel Wi-Fi is complementary.
Full day sightseeing of the winding narrow lanes of Fort Kochi area that are home to some Old Dutch houses, spice markets, the Dutch Palace, India’s oldest European church built in1503 and a Jewish synagogue, popularly called the 'Paradesi Synagogue' or foreigner's synagogue.
This synagogue is located in Muttancherry locality on Jew Street. The Raja of Cochin generously donated land near his own palace for building of this synagogue. The palace of the Raja of Cochin is now a City Museum.
The synagogue was constructed in 1568 but it was partially burnt in a fire and was in disuse during the period when Portuguese defeated Dutch to take control of Kochi Fort area. In 1665 the Dutch retook Kochi and the Paradesi Synagogue was rebuilt. In 1761 Ezekial Rahabi, a Jewish community leader and a representative of the Dutch East India Company, initiated the construction of the clock tower of the Synagogue.
At 13:00, when the official visiting hours of the synagogue ends, we will get a special personal viewing by the synagogue's janitor. We can watch closely and hold the Torah crown that was given to the community 206 years ago by the Raja of Cochin, and the 'Tamrapatra' - copper plates - "a charter" given to first Jews who arrived Cochin 1100 years ago. After leaving the synagogue we visit the tomb of Rabbi Nehemiah Mota - a kabalist sage who came from Yemen to India 390 years ago.
According to most scholars the Jews arrived in India some time before the Christian Era. It is believed that the Jews were present in Kerala when Apostle Thomas arrived here. The Jews in India were of three different origins - the Cochin Jews, Bene-Israel Jews and the Baghdadi Jews. It is believed that the Bene-Israel Jews were shipwrecked on the coast of Konkan, south of present day Mumbai, in circa 175 BCE. The local Hindus of Navgaon village in Maharashtra gave them refuge and the survivors took up the profession of pressing vegetable oil, consequently they were named Shanvari Teli because they did not press oil on Saturday following their religious beliefs. During the reign of Raja Bhaskar Ravi Varman (962-1020 CE) there were at least 1000 Cochin Jews in Kerala who were granted 72 special privileges including the right to burn a day lamp, to erect a palanquin and blow a trumpet etc. These Jews were descendents of ancient merchants who were known as Malabari Jews. After arrival of Vasco de Gama on May 27, 1498, European Jews arrived in Cochin (Kochi), they were white complexioned and were from Spain, Germany, Syria and Iraq. These newly arrived Jews came to be referred as Paradesi or foreign Jews. According to a list compiled by UNESCO at present in India there are 25 synagogues - 7 in Kerala, 4 in Kolkata, 13 in Maharashtra and 1 in Ahmedabad. Most of them are maintained but not functional. The Bagdadi Jews settled in Mumbai. The most prominent among them was the Sasoon family who traded with Shanghai in China. The brother who moved to Shanghai was Victor Sasoon - he built a vast palace in the middle of Shanghai city the architecture of which was in the shape of his initials "V S". Flying over Shanghai one can still notice the buildings of Victor Sasoon.
Huge, elegant Chinese fishing nets that line the tip of Fort Cochin are a must see. Visit the Muttancherry Palace, also known as Dutch Palace because they made alterations to it during their rule of the region. Later enjoy the wafting aromas of the famous spice market of Kochi. End the day with the spectacular performance of the Kathakali dance-drama in the Kathakkali Center.
Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Malabar Hotel in Kochi, Kerala. (Breakfast at Radisson Blu Mahipalpur, lunch in the Menora Restaurant of Koder House the only Jewish Kosher restaurant in Fort Kochi, dinner in hotel in Kochi)
Day 14, Tuesday, KOCHI - KUMARAKOM (55 kilometers or 34 miles):
After breakfast drive to the hotel in Kumarakom in about an hour and a quarter. Vivanta by Taj - Kumarakom has a 140 year old story to tell.
The natural beauty of the area inspired English Missionary Henry Baker, to build a charming colonial bungalow in the late 19th. century. Often called the little jewel of Kumarakom, it still maintains the beauty of its rustic surroundings on the banks of Vembanad Lake. Explore the garden retreat where guests have been very successful at doing absolutely nothing. Now there's a nice new buzz all over. In the renewed heritage rooms, charming cottages and luxury villas. In the nouvelle restaurant, the refurbished bar, and the spa where you'll go Ah! The Chef remains as eager to wow you with specially designed meals. Soak in the space that spreads over acres of style.
Feel the Vivanta by Taj vibe as you find little surprises delighting you all the way during your stay. Where fun lovers come again and again for a fun retreat.
No tour of Kerala, God's country, is complete without an extended experience of its backwaters. Enjoy the backwaters in a leisurely hand rowed boat and later enjoy the sunset houseboat cruise. This retreat in Kumarakom will linger in your memory for many years. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj - Kumarakom Hotel in Kumarakom (Breakfast at Vivanta by Taj Malabar, lunch & dinner in Vivanta by Taj - Kumarakom Hotel in Kumarakom).
Day 15, Wednesday, KUMARAKOM:
Full day to explore the resort area and / or boating in Kerala backwaters.
Day 16, Thursday, KUMARAKOM - KOCHI - BANGALORE:
Enjoy the sunrise view at Kumarakom followed by a fabulous breakfast in Vivanta by Taj Kumarakom. Full day to relax at the Hotel Spa Resort in Kumarakom. Around 4 pm a gala farewell tea with snacks before departing at 5 pm for Kochi International Airport to board the flight at 7.10 pm and arrive in Bangalore at 8.35 pm. Transfer to Bangalore International Airport
Day 17, Friday, BANGALORE - LOS ANGELES:
Check-in at 9 pm in Bangalore International Airport on the international flight departing at mid-night. Arrive in Los Angeles Airport at 11.15 am
PRICE with Super Deluxe hotels as mentioned (other hotels can be planned on request) includes:
- 14 night’s accommodation in the mentioned hotels inclusive of taxes on double or twin bedroom occupancy basis
- Daily buffet breakfast at your hotels, lunches and dinners as mentioned
- Domestic flights from Udaipur to Mumbai, Mumbai to Kochi and Kochi to Bangalore
- Deluxe air-conditioned coach for city sightseeing & intercity travel in all cities
- Bottled water 2 per day in coach
- Entrances to monuments
- English speaking local guides at each city for city tour
- Tour escort throughout the journey in India
- Assistance at each city by our company representative
- Demonstration of the Pietra-Dure (inlay of semi-precious stones in marble) art done in authentic, traditional style using hand operated instruments, just as it was done when Taj Mahal was decorated, by descendents of artisans who made the world famous mausoleum
- In Jaipur, demonstration of cutting and polishing of colored precious stones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds as well as semi-precious stones like Turquoise, Coral etc.; demonstration of tradition wool carpet weaving and wood-block cotton textile printing
- In Udaipur visit the Maharana's school of miniature painting in the City Palace
- Elephant ride at Amber Fort in Jaipur
- Boat ride in Kerala backwaters, in Arabian Sea to the Elephanta Caves Island and in Udaipur's Lake Pichola
- All taxes, parking fees, interstate taxes, state taxes, driver’s allowance etc.
- Roundtrip US-India airfare
- India Visa Fees - now Tourist Visa can be obtained online. Apply online at the following website: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html and upload your photo on white background and your passport page. Next, you need to pay 'Visa Fee' online using credit / debit card. Within 72 hours of request, you will receive 'Electronic Travel Authorization' by email, a copy of this email must to be carried at the time of traveling to India and shown at passport checking counter at the Indian airport where you will arrive.
- Supplement for single room occupancy
- International Travel Insurance
- Still and video camera fees at monuments etc.
- Tips to drivers and guides (please budget about $ 4 per person, each for driver and guide per day and about $ 0.50 (Rs. 30) to $ 1.00 (Rs. 60) for porters in hotels)
- Any personal expenses like laundry, phone call, internet fee or room service in hotels.
By personal check addressed to "INDIA TRAVELLER"