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. We only stay in hand-picked, 5-Star Heritage Hotels to give you the most spectacular and luxurious accommodations available. Our groups are small (10-15 people). We provide specially selected menus at our favorite restaurants. Yes, we visit a few museums, but soon you will see that all of India is a museum.
Hear festive Indian and Jewish Indian 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. Shop for great chotchkies, fine Indian crafts, exquisite Indian jewels, handmade silks, pashmina shawls, carpets and more. Try yoga and Ayurveda in the country where they began.
Relaxation time is important on Burkat Global tours, just like in India itself. Make time to swim in the gloriously designed and situated pools of your hotels and perhaps even in the Arabian Sea. January is one of the best months to escape North American winters, and when visitors and locals alike enjoy the best weather. Arrive early – stay as long as you can.
• Follow in the footsteps of Jews who first arrived as spice traders near Cochin 3000 years ago.
• Stand on the beach where Jews shipwrecked near Mumbai 1000 years later.
• Explore centuries old synagogues, neighborhoods and the serene waterways of the Kerala Backwaters.
• Stand in awe of the breathtaking Taj Mahal, a tribute from an emperor to his Persian princess.
• Visit the pink city of Jaipur, the beautiful capital of Delhi, and the bustling mega-city of Mumbai.
• Experience exotic Rajasthan and mystical Varanasi...and more.
Welcome to India!
Whether you arrive today or earlier, 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 an Ayurvedic massage at the hotel spa.
In the afternoon, we begin our exploration of Mumbai, 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.
Get to know your group at a welcome dinner in a favorite Mumbai restaurant, review a few rules, and learn more about what’s ahead on your tour.
Konkan Coast – Where Jews Landed After a Shipwreck
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.
Mumbai - The Mega City
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 Bene Israel synagogue, in the heart of a teaming Muslim neighborhood. Enjoy lunch at a traditional thali restaurant.
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 philanthropy.
Elephanta Island – Hindu History on an Ancient Island
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 and visit one of the many beautiful synagogues he funded. After a day of sightseeing and some shopping, dinner on your own within walking distance of the hotel.
Fort Cochin and Jew Town – Ancient Jewish Spice Traders
Fly to Cochin. After Lunch enjoy a 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.
Walk past the homes of ancient Jewish spice traders. 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, 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.
OPTIONAL: Special private evening tour of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale - the largest international exhibition of contemporary art in Asia.
Ancient Muziris – Travel Back 3000 Years
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, are said to have been uncovered. Cruise the Periyar River, an ancient spice route, to synagogues built nearly 1,000 years ago by Jewish traders. See homes, markets and synagogues of Jewish families. 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.
In the evening, enjoy a Shabbat dinner at a traditional Kerala historic house in a secret Cochin neighborhood. One of Iris and Howard's best kept secrets.
OPTIONAL: Pre-Shabbat Yoga
After a relaxing morning, take a short drive to Alleppey 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.
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.
Cochin to Jaipur
After breakfast take a short ride by private boat across the harbor to Ernakulam, 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.
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.
Jaipur - On the Back of an Elephant
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.
Agra – Taj Mahal at Sunset
Drive to Agra, stopping for lunch along the way. 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.
From there we drive to take a closer look at the Taj Mahal, in time to see this breathtaking 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 many 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 one of our hotel’s excellent restaurants.
Agra Fort – Exquisite Buildings Await
Weather permitting, visit the Taj Mahal again at sunrise. After breakfast, we will visit a marble factory…that uses the same in-laid marble techniques as found on the Taj Mahal itself. Also 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.
In Agra 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. Enjoy dinner with the group at our hotel.
Delhi - The Capital of India
From Agra we drive to Delhi – the beautiful, British-designed capital of India. We will stop for lunch at a local restaurant. At sunset, witness evening prayers at a beautiful Sikh Temple.
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
Old Delhi – Bustling Streets and Markets
See the India Gate and the president’s palace, the 234-foot-high Qutab Minaret and the 16th-century tomb of Humayun.
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.
In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner in one of our favorite Delhi restaurants.
Fly Home - or Go On to the Holy City of Varanasi
Sightseeing and last minute shopping.
If you are flying home, there will be time for dinner on your own at the airport before your flight.
If you are going on to Varanasi on our Post-Tour Extension, leave from the hotel after breakfast to catch your flight to Varanasi.
Sample Pre-Tour Extension to Rajasthan
6 Days/5 Nights
Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Mumbai
Welcome to India! - Delhi
Our representative will meet you at the Delhi airport to help you check into JW Marriott hotel, located a short ride away from the airport.
Jodhpur - The Blue City
Fly to Jodhpur, built along ancient trade routes from Delhi to Gujarat. Popularly known as the Blue City, Jodhpur is situated in the Northwest Indian state of Rajasthan. Jodhpur features many forts, palaces and temples, set in the beautiful landscape of the Thar Desert.
Spend the day touring the majestic and magnificent Mehrangarh Fort that takes you back in time to the Royal Family. Overlooking the city, this awe inspiring fort also has a museum displaying artifacts, offering a glimpse into the life of people from a bygone era. The Rajasthani Marwar tradition and arms ammunition is preserved here in the museum.
Explore Maharaja’s palace and the medieval streets with its colorful markets. Pick up some Jodhpurs along the way.
Jodhpur to Udaipur
From Jodhpur, continue to the romantic Sun Rise City of Udaipur. Stop at Ranakpur, widely known for its marble Jain temple, said to be the most spectacular of all the Jain temples in India. Tour the soaring temple, with its dozens of marble columns that support intricately carved domes.
Udaipur - The City of Lakes
Tour gorgeous and fascinating Udaipur, built on the shores of Lake Pichola by Udai Singh II in 1559. Admire the absolutely stunning city palace rich in history, color and courage. The palace has a great collection of antiques. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the various balconies of the palace.
Continue on your journey to visit the marvelous, centuries old historic Jagdish temple. Stop at Saheliyon ki Bari (friend’s meeting place/garden). The king developed this garden for his daughter, for her to see her friends at a common meeting place.
From your Lake Palace Hotel, wake up to the sound of clothes being beaten on the rocks.
Udaipur to Mumbai
Fly to Mumbai, representatives will meet you at the airport to help you check into The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower to join the group.
In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group.
Sample Post-Tour Extension to Varanasi
3 Days /2 Nights
Varanasi – Holy River Ganges
Fly to Varanasi, India’s cultural capital, a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus since ancient times. Walk the bustling streets leading down to the holy River Ganges. At sunset, attend an Aarti, the Hindu ceremony of lights, performed at the end of the prayers or auspicious rituals. Join Hindu pilgrim families on the Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of the holiest Ghats in all of Varanasi.
Varanasi – Sunrise Boat to the Ghats
Take an early morning sunrise boat trip on the holy river Ganges to see the Ghats and cremation sites. Watching people bathing and worshiping 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 Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Shop for silks in an ancient silk factory.
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. Relax at the airport until your flight back home. Dinner on your own somewhere in the airport.