Day 1: Thursday: Arrival in Mumbai (Bombay):
Arrive Bombay Meet and assistance at the airport and transfer to the Pre-booked Hotel.
Day 2: Friday: Mumbai.
Morning free or walking tour of Mumbai. Afternoon visit Tifereth Synagogue and for evening service at Magen David Synagogue (6:30pm). Breakfast and overnight in hotel.
Day 3: Saturday : Mumbai
Optional 630 am service at Gate of Mercy Synagogue (BÕnai Israel Jews) or Juni Masji, established in 1896.
For those who observe Shabbat: independent morning.
Full day tour for those who do not observe Shabbat: we visit the Prince of Wales Museum which is Indo Saracenic architecture in keeping with the Gateway, but the dome of glazed tiles gives it a very Persian and Central Asian flavor. At the museum we will be walk through the excellent archeological section which has a well displayed section on the Indus Valley civilization, a sophisticated and advanced people who inhabited the Indus Valley from 8500BC to 3500BC. In 2000 BC the main city of Mohenjo Daro was deserted and within the next 250 years the entire civilization disappeared. The museum also houses an excellent collection or jade and silver jewelry and Indian miniature paintings. On the way to the Hanging Gardens we will pass the Victorian Gothic buildings of the city, stopping at the most remarkable of them all, the Victoria Terminus built in 1878. The frontage is symmetrical with a large central dome flanked by two wings. The dome is capped by a 4m high statue of Progress. The booking hall with its arcades, stained glass and glazed tiles was inspired by LondonÕs St Pancreas station. The Hanging Gardens offer a panoramic view of the harbor and a glimpse of the Towers of Silence, the rather unusual crematorium of the Parsi community. We stop for pictures at the Dhobi Ghat a sight unique to Mumbai and end at Mani Bhavan. This is a private home where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay and today is a museum dedicated to him and his achievements. Breakfats and overnight in hotel.
Day 4: Sunday, Mumbai:
A full day excursion south of Mumbai to the rocky outcrop, where the legend of the Bnei Yisrael started. The story is that 7 men and 7 women survived a shipwreck in the time of Solomon. They became oil pressers and remained in the area. There are a few shuls there and still Jews doing oil pressing today. The area is also considered to be the holiest shrine for the Bene Israelies of Mumbai. This is where it is believed Saint Elijah arrived on his chariot and the mark can be seen on the rock.
Malida ceremony-The Malida is a ceremonial offering which the Bene Israel describe as a dish offered in the name of God, accompanied by an invocation for the presence and blessings of the Prophet Elijah.ÊThis ceremony is also known as the Eliyahu-ha-navi ceremony. The ceremony includes recitation of specific Hebrew verses.ÊThe pizmon-Eliyahu-ha-navi is first read followed by several different blessings quoted from the Bible, the first of which begins with the Hebrew words vayiten-lecha.ÊThe verse Hamalach Hagoel is read thrice and then the readings conclude with Psalm 121. A minyan is not required for this ceremony and a cantor may or may not be present to lead this ceremony. The Bene Israel offering usually consists of a mixture of so-called beaten rice, grated fresh coconuts, raisins, cardamom, sugar, and five different kinds of fresh fruits.Ê All this is nicely arranged together on a large platter. Ê Occasions for which the malida ceremony is always performed are: before the start of the preparation for a wedding; a house warming ceremony; in times of illness or of other difficulties or crisis; whenever there is reason to express deep gratitude; the evening following a circumcision; on the holiday of Tu be shvat. The actual origins of the Bene Israel Malida ceremony however remains a mystery. (Breakfast and Packed Lunch)
Day 5: Monday, Mumbai:
Visit to ORT with Kosher lunch. We visit two Jewish schools operated by ORT. We first go to the Mazgaon School, which we tour and then meet with the school administrators. Our next stop is the ORT school in Worli. Here also we get a brief introduction to the school, and have lunch. Afterwards visit several other synagogues, depending on the time. Breakfast and overnight in Hotel.
Day 6: Tuesday, Mumbai-Kochi ( Cochin)
After breakfats transfer to the airport for flight to Kochi. Arrive Kochi and transfer to the hotel.
An ancient harbor town, Cochin reflects the influence of the many foreign traders who visited the city. After check-in, we walk in the heritage zone, which has preserved the original architecture of the city. We visit St FrancisÕs Church and the Chinese fishing nets, which line the mouth of Cochin harbor.
In the evening we attend a Kathakali performance. Kathakali is a classical dance form that has its origins in Theyyam a ritual tribal dance of north Kerala and Kalaripayyattu the martial arts which goes back 1000 years. The dancers use dramatic costumes and exaggerated facial make up, and to accompaniment of drums and cymbals, use stylized movements to relate episodes from the Mahabharat and Ramayan. Breakfats and overnight in hotel.
Day 7, Wednesday: Kochi:
In the morning, we visit the Jewish Community and the beautiful Pardesi Synagogue. This Synagogue was built by Samuel Castiel, David Belila, Ephrahim Sala and stands on the grounds of the Maharaja of CochinÕs residence. It is the first synagogue in India, and one of the oldest in the world. Near the synagogue is an interesting market selling spices, and antiques, bursting with activity and variety. We spend time in the markets and walk to the Mattancherry Palace, which was commissioned by the Portuguese for the raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. The palace is two storeys high and is built in the traditional Kerala style known as nalukattu (four buildings). The palace exhibits memorabilia from the raja of KochiÕ collection, but it is best known for its outstanding murals painted on the wooden walls. The royal bedroom has ceilings and walls covered with forty-five 16th century paintings illustrating the Ramayana. Late afternoon sunset cruise on the backwaters of Kerala. Breakfast and overnight in hotel.
Day 8, Thursday: Kochi-Munnar:
Morning after breakfast drive to Munnar (about 145kms/03hrs) is a beautiful, peaceful hill station covered with unending expanse of tea plantations, with an altitude ranging from 1600 to 1800 metres from sea level. It’s beauty further enchanced by great black roads that thrust upwards suddenly from amidst the thick vegetation and the winding lanes of the town are filled with heavenly fragrance of fresh tea wafting out of the innumerable tea processing plants. Check into the hotel. Afternoon walking tour through Tea Garden. Breakfast and overnight in hotel.
Day 9, Friday: Munnar- Thekkady:
Morning after breakfast drive to Thekkady (about 105kms/03hrs), the drive to Thekkady itself is enchanting as the road winds through rich plantations and thick jungles. Check into the hotel. Afternoon we will do a spice walk through various plantations. The rest of the day to relax. Breakfast and overnight in hotel.
Day 10, Saturday: Thekkady:
Early morning and late afternoon Guided Visits:
Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary is one of the India’s major sanctuaries, with elephant, monkeys and wild boar in abundance, as well as some other elusive but occasionally spotted species such as tigers. The sanctuary offers a lovely and comfortable way to see the animals, via boat rides on the man-made lake, which the wildlife areas encircle. The greatest attractions are the herds of wild elephants that come down to the lake to frolic on the waters, along with their young ones. Morning or evening we can explore the sanctuary by cruising. Breakfast and overnight in Hotel.
Day 11, Sunday: Thekkady-Alleppey:
Drive to Alleppey, interlocked with a large number of canals and bridges. Board a houseboat from the Finishing point boat jetty, cruise through the enchanting backwaters and lagoons. Overnight in Houseboat. ( Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner).
Day 12, Monday: Alleppey-Kovalam: Morning after breakfast disembark from the houseboat, drive to Kovalam (about 180kms/04hrs) one of India’s most spectacular beach. Enroute visit the Napier Museum, an absolute gem of architectural exuberance, combining traditional Kerala styles with good doses of Chinese and Mughal influences. Visit the Padmanabhaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is a sprawling complex with a magnificent gopurams or tower. Check into the hotel. The rest of the day to relax on beautiful beaches. O/n Hotel.
Day 13, Tuesday: Kovalam: The boundless blue of the Arabian Sea and the unwinding mile of fine sand washed by a surf which roars and hisses at the feet of coconuts palms, Kovalam is a sheltered natural bay. A sheet of silvery sand curves into an arc that is bordered on the one side by azure blue water and on the other by a never-ending spread of green palmgroves. You can sunbathe on the silver sands, the whole day on the beaches. O/n Hotel.
Day 14, Wednesday: Kovalam- Mumbai. Morning free to relax. Afternoon transfer to the Trivandrum domestic airport, board flight to Mumbai. Upon arrival, we will have the dinner from a good local restaurant, transfer to the Mumbai International airport to board flight to London.
Day 15, early morning fly to London.