We can take a maximum of only 20 travelers to incredible places that reflect the diversity of India. From the Taj Mahal to off-the-beaten-track ancient Jewish sites that are difficult to visit on your own.
Begin your tour in Mumbai, the heart of India and one of the world’s most exciting cities.
Ravish your senses. Visit beautiful synagogues and temples that will take your breath away. Visit the city’s oldest synagogue and observe Shabbat in its most elegant. Experience the glamor of Bollywood, the ancient bazaars, the intoxicating beauty of colonial relics, the colors that are everywhere. Relive the glory of the Raj at Mumbai’s most recognized monument, the Gateway of India. It’s right outside your hotel.
Discover the Konkan Coast
Travel by private boat to the Konkan Coast, where 2000 years ago Jews who had fled Israel when the Second Temple was destroyed were shipwrecked.
Get to know Kochi
The locals still call it Cochin, the Queen of the Arabian Sea. Cochin is a magical place – from giant, ancient fishing nets on the harbor to the tiny lanes and spice markets of this ancient fort city.
Beginning in the 15th century, Cochin has offered visitors an unduplicated mix of Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, Indians, Jews, and Portuguese.
We’ll explore the city and surrounding areas, rated among the top three tourist destinations by the World Travel & Tourism Council, featured in National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Greatest Places of a Lifetime, and called one of the 45 Places to Go by the New York Times.
Visit Cochin’s astonishingly beautiful, centuries-old synagogues.
Using our exclusive contacts, several will be opened for our group. Marvel at their unique architecture and colors. Be among the early visitors to newly-restored synagogues built nearly 1,000 years ago by Jewish spice traders in the most important Brahmin neighborhood in the area. See the 1269 tombstone of Sara bat Israel, the oldest in India. Explore Jewish cemeteries, some untouched for centuries. Say Kaddish. Clear weeds from graves. Could there be a more important mission?
Be spiritually moved in a synagogue built in 1568, India’s oldest. Exclusively, the ancient Paradesi Synagogue will be opened for our group. Examine ancient Torah scrolls and other treasures. Marvel at the exquisitely tiled floor, made in China nearly 300 years ago. The local maharaja gave the Jewish community the land right next door to his palace.
Enjoy a private dinner in the former home of one of Fort Cochin’s leading Jewish merchant families.
Our base will be the best hotel in town and one of the best in India, the beautiful Brunton Boatyard, in the center of everything and all our rooms have perfect harbor views. We’ll walk (or tuk-tuk ride if you prefer) through the streets of Jew Town – that’s been its happy name for hundreds of years, not to worry. It’s no ghetto.
Cruise the Kerala Backwaters
Take a traditional hand-crafted thatched-roofed houseboat or kettuvllum on the canals of Kerala, the “Venice of the East,” a series of crisscrossing lakes and canals along the Arabian Sea. Once these boats were working barges, transporting rice along the intricate network of lakes and canals covering central Kerala.
Villagers fishing from dugout boats, washing by the shore, making coir, and brewing toddy. Watch children ferried to schools as their mothers make their way to their work in the rice fields.
Your onboard chef will prepare an elegant lunch as we embark on a relaxing afternoon lounging on the deck. Move gently, immersed in a rippling, scented silence, punctuated only by muezzins’ calls to prayer, church bells, and the sounds of birds.
Rajasthan, home of the iconic Taj Mahal
The Pink City of Jaipur
From Cochin, travel to Rajasthan in north India. Jaipur is the colorful capital of Rajasthan. Experience the Amber Fort on an elephant and the city palace, the huge complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings that blend Rajasthan and Mughal architecture. See the exquisite Peacock Gate and visit the museum in the buildings not being used by the royal family. Shop for famous Jaipur jewelry, hand-woven fabrics and more.
Old and New Delhi
Next fly to New Delhi, the British-designed new capital of India. Visit the India Gate and the president’s palace, the 234 foot high Qutab Minar and the 16th-century tomb of Humayun. In Old Delhi. view the remains of the ruling Moghuls, the Red Fort, and Jama Masjid (India’s largest mosque), both built by Emperor Shahjahan. Visit Vast Rajghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
Meet the Jewish community and observe Shabbat at the Judah Hyam Synagogue, designed by the well-known Bene Israel architect, Joshua M. Benjamin, who also designed the Parliament House annex. Membership peaked at 250-300, but now only 10 Indian Jewish families remain in Delhi.
The Taj Mahal and Agra
Drive to Agra, visit the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. In our opinion, the Taj Mahal, considered the most beautiful building in the world, is one of the only sites in the world that is even more beautiful than expected. Visit at sunset and sunrise, when it is at its most wonderful. The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. The death of Mumtaz left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned gray virtually overnight. Construction of the Taj began the following year and, although the main building is thought to have been built in eight years, the whole complex was not completed until 1653. Not long after it was finished Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at his creation through a window. Following his death in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried alongside Mumtaz.
Near the Taj is the Agra Fort, built by Emperor Akbar, undoubtedly the greatest Mughal emperor of India. Construction of Agra Fort began in 1565 and was completed in 1571. Built with red sandstone, Agra Fort is a mixture of the Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture. The red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shāh Jahān’s time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque or Motī Masjid, the Dīwān-e-‘Ām and Dīwān-e-Khās (halls of public and private audience), Jahāngīr’s Palace, Khās Mahal, Shīsh Mahal (mirrored palace), and the Musamman Burj.
The deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri
On the drive back to Delhi, visit Fatehpur Sikri, constructed by Emperor Akbar as part of his plans to build a grand capital for his empire.
The World Heritage Site of Fatehpur Sikri is 39 km away from Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Fatehpur Sikri served as the Mughal capital from 1571 to 1585. Spread across eight square kilometers, the city is about three miles long and one mile wide. Built with red Sikri sandstone, the city’s architecture is a blend of Islamic and Hindu styles. Fatehpur Sikri had royal palaces, halls for public and private audience, the zenana or the quarters for women, courtyards and grand avenues.
Experience local arts and culture throughout the trip
In this diverse land, hear festive Indian Jewish music and enjoy traditional Indian Jewish food; see traditional Kathakali dance theater, visit Hindu and Jain temples and Moslem mosques. Shop for Indian crafts, jewels, fabrics, and more. Try Kerala-created Ayurvedic massage and yoga in the country where it began.