India, the largest democracy in the World and a truly Secular State is home to all of the world’s greatest religions. She has been a sanctuary for all fleeing religious persecution, among them are people of the Jewish Faith that have migrated and settled in various parts of India to freely practice their religion, cherish their traditions and pursue their lifestyle. Tour focuses on the cultural legacy of India's diverse Jewish communities: the Bene Israel of Maharashtra, the Cochin Jews of the Malabar Coast, and the Baghdadi Jews who migrated to Bombay and Calcutta. Our aim is to trace the history of Jewish migration visiting the most significant Jewish at the same time visit other important monuments including six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)||2.||Humayun's Tomb, Delhi|
|3.||Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi||4.||Red Fort Complex, Delhi|
|5.||Taj Mahal, Agra||6.||Agra Fort|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Kochi
Arrival. Namaste! In the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together we are welcomed warmly and transferred to our hotel. As we drive to our hotel European influences are instantly apparent in this charming town scattered over a number of islands squeezed between the Arabian Sea and the Kerala backwaters. Cochin’s history is reflected in its blend of Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture and maritime history. The remainder of the day is free for us to relax.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza (5 Star), Kochi (2 Nights)
Day 02: Kochi
After breakfast we explore the old districts of Mattancherry and Fort Cochin where diverse European influences become apparent with merchant houses and old warehouses cramming the waterfront and narrow streets. We visit the Pardesi Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Constructed in 1567, it is one of seven synagogues of the Malabar Yehudan community in the Kingdom of Cochin. The synagogue is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. We then head to St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, the highly decorated Santa Cruz Basilica and the Dutch Palace dating to the 16th showcasing colourful murals and depictions of the Ramayana. In the late afternoon we embark on a boat cruise to visit Bolghatty Palace and observe the fascinating Chinese fishing nets in action at sunset. Evening, we enjoy a Kathakali dance performance. (B, D-K)
Day 03: Kochi/Alleppey (Drive)
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Alleppey. On arrival we board our traditional houseboat and begin our journey through the picturesque backwaters and small lakes relaxing in the tranquility of Kerala's beautiful scenery. On our journey we come across many boats, canoes and other crafts, as we observe the traditional way of life and activities of the local people.
Overnight: River Escapes Air-conditioned Deluxe House Boat (B, L, D)
Day 04: Alleppey/Kochi (Drive) & Kochi/Mumbai (flight)
We enjoy breakfast on board and disembark at the Puthenagady Jetty. From here we drive to Cochin airport to catch our flight to Mumbai where we are met and driven to our hotel. Jews started settling in Bombay, as the city was then called, in the 18th century, due to its economic opportunities. The Jewish community of Bombay consists of the remnants of three distinct communities: the Bene Israeli Jews of Konkan, the Baghdadi Jews of Iraq, and the Cochin Jews of Malabar.
Overnight: ITC Grand Central (5 Star), Mumbai (3 Nights) (B, D-K)
Day 05: Mumbai/Navgaon/Mumbai
A full day excursion to Alibag on the Konkan Coast. This is where the two thousand year-old story of the Bene Israel, the largest Jewish Indian sect comes alive: According to legend seven men and seven women survived a shipwreck in the time of Solomon. They became oil pressers and remained in the area. The area is also considered holy site for the Bene Israelis of Mumbai with the mark still visible on a rock, it is believed Saint Elijah arrived here on his chariot. We will visit the original landing site at Navgaon, see the historic monument, visit a Bene Israel village and meet with the Bene Israel Jews still residing here. After lunch we return to Mumbai, with the remainder of the day free to explore Mumbai. (B, L-K, D-K)
Day 06: Mumbai
In the morning we visit the Tiffereth Israel Synagogue, dating to 1886 and Knesset Eliyahoo, an Orthodox synagogue run by the Jacob Sassoon Trust was built in 1885 by Jacob Elias Sassoon and his brothers to commemorate their father. In 1985, the President of India visited the building and the Indian Post Office issued a stamp in honour of the centennial. Next we visit to the Gate of Mercy Synagogue (Shaar Harahamim in Hebrew or Dayeche Dvaar in Marathi), established in 1796 by Samuel Ezekiel Divekar, the first Bene Israel synagogue.
In the afternoon we take city tour of Mumbai and visit to the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous monument. We continue our tour of Mumbai by visiting the Prince of Wales Museum and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station*, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. Our Next Stop is at Mani Bhawan, a house, now converted into a museum where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during the Freedom Struggle. We will also visit the Jain Temple and Hanging Gardens, the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, the bustling Crawford Market and drive past Haji Ali, the tomb of a wealthy Muslim merchant. We end our tour at the Dhobi Ghats - a vast outdoor laundry. (B, D-K)
Day 07: Mumbai/Delhi (flight)
Early morning we are transferred to airport for our flight to Delhi. The city is divided in two parts: Spacious and planned New Delhi, built by the British as the imperial capital of India and Old Delhi, the capital of Mughal India between the 17th and the 19th centuries. When the capital of India shifted to Delhi, Jews were present in the vital railways, defence and central government services. During the Second World War there was an influx of British and American troops and services in New Delhi for Jewish soldiers were conducted by Army chaplains. A few German and Polish Jews, who escaped the Holocaust, also settled in the city. To cater to the growing religious, social and cultural needs of the community, the Jewish Welfare Association was formed in 1949.
On arrival in Delhi we are transferred to our hotel. Later we visit New Delhi‘s Judah Hyam Synagogue, built by the Jewish community in 1956. Here we will meet with Mr. Ezekiel Isaac Malekar (subject to his availability) and he will talk to us about the Jewish life in India. Mr. Malekar is the Honorary Secretary of the synagogue where he voluntarily conducts the services, aside from taking care of the synagogue, library and the Inter-faith Study Centre for the last 25 years. He has also been participating in Inter-faith prayer meetings as a representative of Jews of India. He has been awarded Doctor of Jewish Welfare, Ambassador of Peace and the Mahavir Mahatma Award for preserving Jewish culture in India. We will be able to stay for Shabbat service.
Overnight: Sheraton New Delhi (5 Star), Delhi (3 Nights) (B, D-K)
Day 08: Delhi
The day is free to relax. Those not observing Shabat may take an optional city tour of New Delhi. Our tour of New Delhi starts with a visit to Birla House, the former Residence of Mahatma Gandhi before he was assassinated by Nathu Ram Godse on January 30, 1948. Afterwards we visit the famous India Gate followed by a visit to the Houses of Parliament, Connaught Place and Humayun's Tomb*, the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent, built in 1570. We continue to Qutb Minar and its Monuments*, a masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art built in the early 13th century.Evening, we meet Delhi’s Jewish community. (B, D-K)
Day 09: Delhi
Today we explore Old Delhi, starting with a visit to Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque. Thereafter we enjoy a Rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk, the street of silver and goldsmiths and visit the Red Fort Complex*. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, the Red Fort is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546, together these two monuments form the Red Fort Complex. The Red Fort is considered to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which, under Shah Jahan, was brought to a new level of refinement and each pavilion reveals architectural elements typical of Mughal building, reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. After our tour of Old Delhi the remainder of the day is free for shopping and other activities. (B, D-K)
Day 10: Delhi/Agra (Drive)
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Agra. On arrival in Agra we are transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon we visit to one of the most well-known wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal*. An immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Noor Jahan. The Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of World architecture. Situated on the right bank of the Yamuna in a vast Mogul garden, this funerary monument combines elements and styles of Persian, Central Asian and Islamic architecture. Later we visit Agra Fort*. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses within its 2.5-km-long outer walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers.
It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques. In the evening we visit the Agra bazaar and see some of the places where descendants of the artisans who built the Taj Mahal show off their skills.
Overnight: ITC Mughal (5 Star Deluxe), Agra (1 Night) (B, D-K)
Please Note: On nights with a Full Moon the Taj Mahal's pure white marble shimmers silver in the moonlight and is open to visitors. Optional tours avalable.
Day 11: Agra/Delhi (Drive) & Delhi/Varanasi (flight)
Early morning we are transferred to Delhi airport in time to catch our flight to Varanasi. On arrival we are transferred to our hotel. In the evening we witness the Aarti Ceremony performed by devout Hindus at the banks of the Ganges.
Overnight: The Gateway Hotel - Ganges (5 Star), Varanasi (1 Night) (B, D)
Day 12: Varanasi/Kolkata (flight)
A very interesting day today. We embark on a boat excursion on the River Ganges in time for sunrise. Every morning scores of pilgrims and priests fill the riverbanks bathing and performing various other millenary rituals in the holy waters. After our excursion we return to our hotel for breakfast and some rest. Later we explore the ancient Buddhist Site of Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The site contains remains of several stupas, monasteries and Ashokan column built in the 3rd century B.C., and the Chaukhandi Stupa, a lofty brick structure crowned with an octagonal tower. Next stop is a visit to the Bharat Mata Temple, which houses a huge marble relief map of India; the Durga Temple, the Tulsi Manas Mandir located beside Banaras Hindu University and the Mosque of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb. The city is also famous for its silk production and we will visit houses where the beautiful silk saris are woven.We take an evening flight to Kolkata. Formerly known as Calcutta, the city was the capital of British India until 1911. On arrival in Kolkata we are transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Gateway Hotel (5 Star), Kolkata (4 Nights) (B)
Day 13: Kolkata
Our morning tour includes visits to St. John's Church, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Victoria Memorial famous for its formal gardens and watercourses, followed by Howrah Bridge, iconic symbol of modern Kolkata. After our tour the remainder of the day is free for shopping and other activities. Evening we are treated to a sumptuous farewell dinner at our hotel. (B, D-K)
Day 14: Kolkata
A very interesting day today. We embark on a boat excursion on the River Ganges in time for sunrise. Every morning scores of pilgrims and The history of Jewish community in Kolkata began in 1798, when a jewel trader named Shalom Cohen became the first Jew to settle in Kolkata. Most of the Jews who followed, known as Baghdadi Jews, came from present-day Iraq and Syria in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Calcutta like Bombay was a city for those seeking economic opportunities. Today we meet with members from the Jewish Council of Calcutta and take a walking tour through the Old Jewish neighbourhoods, which contain the Elias Meyer Free School and Talmud Torah and the Menassseh Meyer Building. We visit Neveh Shalom Synagogue (Old Synagogue) Kolkata’s first synagogue established in 1825, followed by visits to Beth El Synagogue built in 1856 on Pollock Street, and Magen David (Shield of David) Synagogue, built in 1884 it is the largest Synagogue in the East featuring magnificent architecture and design. Afterwards we enjoy lunch with members of Kolkata’s Jewish community and stop by the Nahoum Bakery, owned by a Jewish family. We may also attend the evening service at Magen David Synagogue. (B, L, D-K)
Day 15: Kolkata
Optional morning services at Magen David Synagogue. Afterwards socialize with the members of the synagogue. Return to the hotel for lunch. Balance of the day is free to wander around- Kolkota is known for its historical tea houses and interesting architecture. For those not observing Shabbat Visit to Belur Math - Visit to Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekanand. The temple is notable for its architecture that features Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. (B, D-K)
Day 16: Depart Kolkata
After an interesting journey tracing Jewish heritage in India and experiencing India’s cultural accomplishments, we are transferred to the airport for our flight back home. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, K=Kosher
Departure Dates & Prices
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