3000 Years of Jewish India 2020 - Sample Tour
14 Days in India/13 Nights
Small group luxury trip - 1 - 20 travelers
Mumbai, Cochin, Kerala Backwaters, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal – Extension to Khajuraho, Varanasi and more
Highlights of this very personal Burkat Global tour include iconic Indian and Jewish sites - widely known and only recently discovered; on-location talks on Indian Jewish and Indian history and culture; access to local Jewish communities; the Taj Mahal; and much more. Stay in personally selected five-star, iconic, luxury accommodations. Dine on specially selected menus at our favorite restaurants - and according to tastes and needs. Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and a few museums if you insist. Soon you will realize that all of India is a museum.
Hear festive Indian and Indian Jewish music and enjoy traditional Indian and Indian Jewish food. Take in a modern Bollywood movie and an ancient Kathakali dance performance. In the same day, visit Hindu and Jain temples, a mosque and a long-hidden synagogue. Wander markets for great chotchkies, shop for fine Indian crafts, exquisite Indian jewels, handmade fabrics, pashmina shawls, carpets and more. Try yoga and Ayurveda in the country where they began.
Relaxation time is important to Burkat Global, just like in India itself. If you like, make time to swim in the gloriously designed and situated pools of your hotels and perhaps even in the Arabian Sea. India winter is one of the best time to escape North American winters, and when visitors and locals alike enjoy the best weather. Plan to stay as long as you can. We will help design an itinerary that works for you.
Whenever you arrive one of our representatives will meet you at the airport to help you check into The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. Your room will have a harbor view, right across from the Gateway of India. Take time to relax on your own with a walk along the harbor, explore the Gateway, and look for treasures in the markets along the back streets. To relax – snooze by the pool, join a yoga class or enjoy a massage at the hotel spa.
After lunch, begin our exploration of Mumbai, the megacity, the heart of India, and one of the world's most exciting cities. Experience the colors that long ago enticed us to return to the city again and again.
At a welcome dinner in a favorite Mumbai restaurant, get to know your group, review a few rules, and learn more about what’s ahead on your tour.
Travel by private boat to the Konkan Coast, where 2000 years ago Jews were shipwrecked, after fleeing from Israel, when the Second Temple was destroyed. Visit the beach where they landed and the cemetery where they were buried. See brightly colored centuries old synagogues tucked away in tiny country villages. After a late lunch, board our private boat back to Mumbai. In the evening you will have well-earned time to relax, explore, and experience dinner on your own in exciting Mumbai.
Meet your group after breakfast to tour more of Mumbai. Explore beautiful synagogues, centuries-old Indian temples, colonial relics and colorful markets. Our first stop will be Mumbai’s oldest synagogue, in the heart of a teaming Muslim neighborhood.
In the evening, meet members of the vibrant Jewish community at a special, private dinner. Learn about the vital social programs for Indians – Jewish and not – all supported by global Jewish philanthropic organizations.
Ride a private ferry across the harbor to Elephanta Island, site of ancient UNESCO World Heritage, Hindu fifth and sixth century caves dedicated to Shiva, chief god of the Hindus.
After lunch on your own, enjoy a walking tour of Victorian Mumbai and the recently restored Prince of Wales Museum. Learn about Sir David Sassoon, leader of the Baghdadi Jewish community. After a day of sightseeing and some shopping, dinner on your own within walking distance of the hotel.
After a short, early morning flight, take a ferry across Cochin harbor to Vypin Island, called Muziris by ancient spice traders. Explore an archaeological site where 3000-year-old artifacts, from the land that is now Israel, have been uncovered. Cruise the Periyar River, an ancient spice route, to synagogues built nearly 1,000 years ago by Jewish traders. See homes and markets of Jewish families and their Brahmin neighbors. Examine the 1269 tombstone of Sara bat Israel, the oldest in India. If time and energy allow, explore an ancient Jewish cemetery, hidden and untouched for centuries. Lunch in a local restaurant. (Your bags will be sent ahead to our hotel.)
In the evening, enjoy dinner on your own. There are many local cafes you can walk to, to taste the local seafood and people watch. Also time for shopping, as stores are open late.
Enjoy an early morning walking tour of the area known as Fort Cochin – an ancient, intimate island city, where you will marvel at the Chinese fishing nets, seeing the catch of the day being scooped up by the fisherman. Participate in a private cooking lesson as we are guided through ancient techniques to prepare our own lunch. No experience needed.
Afterwards, visit Jew Town. Walk past the homes of ancient Jewish spice traders and visit a cemetery. On Jew Street, we shop for Kerala spices, check in on old Mrs. Cohen at her Judaica shop, then experience a private after-hours visit to the spiritual Paradesi Synagogue – India's oldest. Examine ancient Torah scrolls and other treasures. Marvel at 300-year old Chinese floor tiles.
In the evening, we will attend a performance of Kathakali, a classical dance-drama, in an ancient Cochin theater, then dine on your own – we will help you select one of our local favorites.
After a relaxing morning, take a short drive to Allepey and board a private houseboat for an afternoon on the Kerala Backwaters. Float along on traditional hand-crafted thatched-roofed former rice boats on Kerala’s crisscrossing lakes and canals. You’ll see villagers fishing from dugout canoes, bathing by the shore, making coir, and brewing toddy. Watch children ferried to schools while their mothers walk along narrow paths to the rice paddies.
Your onboard chef will prepare an elegant lunch while you lounge on the deck, the scented silence punctuated only by muezzins’ calls to prayer, church bells, and the birds. A unique and magical experience. We think the Backwaters may be the most peaceful place we have ever visited.
Return to Cochin for Shabbat and a traditional Kerala dinner at Iris and Howard's favorite guest house.
After breakfast we check out of our hotel and take a short ride by private boat across the harbor to Ernakulum, the commercial district of Cochin. Walk through the narrow streets of the old market to a hidden synagogue behind a tropical plant and fish store. The proprietor is always eager to tell us his version of Cochin Jewish history.
Then straight to the airport to fly to the Pink City of Jaipur, the colorful capital of Rajasthan. Light lunch along the way.
Arrive in Jaipur after a long day and enjoy dinner on your own in one of our hotel’s exquisite restaurants.
In the morning, we will ride up the mountain, on an elephant, to the ancient walled Amber Fort, then tour the City Palace, the huge complex of courtyards, gardens, and buildings that blend Rajasthan and Mughal architecture. After lunch at a carpet factory, we will visit other famous Jaipur craft shops for jewelry and hand-woven fabrics. In the evening, we will all dine at the home of a local Jaipur family.
From Jaipur we drive to Delhi – the beautiful, British-designed capital of India. See the India Gate and the president’s palace, the 234-foot-high Qutab Minaret and the 16th-century tomb of Humayun. We will stop for lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy dinner on your own in one of our local favorites or in our exquisite hotel. If you dine in the hotel, ask to be seated at the table where Gandhi advised government leaders on the future of India.
Take a bicycle tuk tuk ride through the colorful and congested streets of the old market to experience the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Old Delhi. Shop for spices and tchotchkes, stopping for lunch along the way.
Then, stretch your legs while walking around the Red Fort, built by the ruling Mogul emperor Shah Jahan. If time permits, we will see India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid, also built by Shah Jahan. At sunset witness evening prayers at a beautiful Sikh Temple. Dinner together in one of our favorite restaurants
Drive to Agra, stopping for lunch along the way in a restaurant with beautifully presented, delicious food. Along the way we will explore the impressive Agra Fort, built by Emperor Akbar, who many believe was the greatest Mogul emperor of India. Akbar was imprisoned here in his final years by his sons, in an exquisitely decorated room overlooking the river valley. Glimpse the Taj Mahal from a distance just as he did.
From there we drive to take a closer look at the Taj Mahal, in time to see this marvel bathed in oranges and reds, as the sun goes down. Commissioned in 1632 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz, the Taj is considered by most who see it as the most beautiful building in the world. Many say it’s even better than they expected. We agree. After a long day, dine on your own in our lovely hotel.
Weather permitting, visit the Taj Mahal again at sunrise. After breakfast, we will go into Agra, famous for crafts with inlaid marble…the same found on the Taj Mahal itself. Visit a place where you will be awed by embroidery that will fool you into believing it’s made by a machine, but it’s actually made by the hands of skillful craftsmen.
Explore nearby UNESCO site, Fatehpur Sikri, built by Emperor Akbar as a new grand capital for his empire – beginning in 1571 and mysteriously abandoned in 1585. All the buildings are made of Red Sikri sandstone including a royal palace, public and private halls, women’s quarters and a surprising blend of Islamic and Hindu styles.
In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with the group in one of our hotel’s excellent restaurants.
Drive back to Delhi for your flight home. Sightseeing, last minute shopping and lunch along the way. If you are going on the post-tour extension to Khajuraho and Varanasi, your departure will be from your hotel in Agra after breakfast. If you are flying home, there will be time for dinner on your own at the airport before your flight.
Post Tour Extension: Khajuraho and Varanasi - 5 Days and 4 Nights
Your extension includes all meals, transportation including flights, motor coach, boats and tuk tuks, hotels, sightseeing, entrance fees, local guides and tour escort throughout and all gratuities. If you'd like, give an additional gratuity to your tour director/escort.
From Agra, travel to Khajuraho, stopping at Orchha to tour the ancient fort complex. Orchha means ‘hidden.’ It is situated on the banks of the river Betwa. There are huge palaces with views of the countryside from their upper levels.
Visit Khajuraho’s famous medieval Hindu and Jain temples with their erotic sculptures. Khajuraho temples are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and considered among the “seven wonders” of India.
Take an early morning sunrise boat trip on the holy river Ganges to see the Ghats and cremation sites. Watching people bathing and worshipping at the Ghats is one of the most extraordinary experiences while in India.
After breakfast, tour the Bharat Mata Temple with its large marble relief map of India, Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Mandir, Banaras Hindu University and its Art Gallery and the Mosque of Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb.
In the afternoon, take a short drive to Sarnath, the buried Buddhist city where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon and one of four important Buddhist pilgrimage sites designated by Buddha. Visit the Buddhist Temple and its Buddhist museum, with artifacts found during the Sarnath excavation.
Flight to Delhi, Then Back Home
After breakfast, take a late morning flight back to Delhi. Do some last-minute sightseeing and shopping along the way. Have dinner and relax until your flight back home.