There is so much to see here, both of Jewish and general interest. It’s the business center of the country and home to the wealthiest and the poorest of Indian society.
Today there are about 5,000 Jews in Mumbai and 8 active synagogues, some of which we will visit as they have daily services.
Mumbai is a city of 10 million inhabitants, billionaires and paupers, which fascinates anew with every corner you turn. It is built on a series of islands connected to the mainland by bridges and low swampy areas.
We’ll visit many of the main sights including:
The Elephanta caves (by boat) a fascinating experience
Gateway of India (see left) built to commemorate the royal visit in 1911
Dhobi Ghat: the world’s largest laundry – in the open air!!
The High Court: in Gothic architectural style, at the time so fashionable in Britain and throughout the Empire
Marine Drive – a.k.a "the queen's necklace" as the street lights shine like jewels at night.
Direct short flight to Udaipur. We’ll visit the town and tour the local highlights, take a boat trip on the lake and enjoy the spectacular sunset. For those a little more adventurous who love the countryside, there is an excellent animal reserve and opportunities to go horse-riding or cycling.
On the cultural side there will be music, markets, gorgeous gardens and even a kosher Indian cooking class in the hotel …. and of course time to take advantage of the magnificent facilities of the hotel itself. The Oberoi Vilas Udaipur looks and feels like a Royal palace!!
“The fourth and final Vilas property built by ‘Biki’ Oberoi at the turn of the millennium, this award-wining property is the grandest of his contemporary palace-hotels. Occupying 80 acres of the former hunting grounds of the Maharana of Udaipur, it is resort sized but with boutique-like attention to detail, showcasing the craftsmanship of the region with mirrored mosaics, elaborate brass doors, reflecting pools, hand-painted wall murals, miniature portraits and insignias depicting the sun. Décor is a sublime mix of Western and Indian: in the bar, burl wood, leather armchairs and chenille sofas look snug on patterned Persian rugs, while tiny flames in the nearby Candle Room make the dome encrusted with a thousand pieces of molten glass glow. Magical.” Daily Telegraph
From Udaipur there’s a direct flight to the pink city of Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan, and another Oberoi hotel, the Raj Vilas.
In Jaipur, we’ll ride elephants up to the Amber Fortress, visit the Maharajah’s Palace, see the Palace of Winds (Hawa Mahal - a uniquely designed 5-storey structure with tiers of overhanging balconies), Mantar Jantar (a 300 year old planetarium) and the colorful markets.
In addition, Jaipur is famous for colored precious stone polishing and jewelry production as well as for carpet weaving. Those interested will be able to visit places where these crafts continue – and even have the opportunity to make a purchase or two!!
One evening in Jaipur we’ll go to watch (part of) an Indian movie. More impressive than the Bollywood movie itself is the atmosphere as the crowd sing along, stamp their feet or dance in the aisles.
The way we were received at this hotel on our first stay was beyond incredible – perhaps because the GM’s wife is Jewish – and the head chef of the Oberoi chain came to learn all about Kashrut!!!! www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_rajvilas/
For those who are interested, we’ll also be offering a yoga session in Jaipur!!
We are also building in “down-time” to enjoy this stupendous hotel’s facilities and of course we have Shabbat to relax here too before leaving this wonderful city for the “other” India, the one everyone imagines is the “only” India…..
The short flight from Jaipur to Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges, is direct!!
A short, hair-raising, ride in a rickshaw will bring us to see the evening “Deempala” ceremony - a loud, colorful and most impressive religious ritual that takes place at the end of each day on the banks of the river.
Dinner and overnight are at the Taj Gateway (Sorry - there’s no Oberoi here!! Also we cannot serve you meat as this is a strictly no-meat city). At sunrise on Thursday (sorry again!!), we'll take a short cruise down the Ganges River from where we'll watch the multitudes coming down to the river for their morning purification rituals.
After breakfast back in the hotel we’ll visit the town; from there it's onwards to a Benares Silk Factory before we head off to the airport for (lunch and) a mid-afternoon flight to Delhi
We’ll start our visit to the Capital with dinner at the Oberoi, Gurgaon.
We’ll leave early to catch the luxury train to the Taj Mahal. The “must-see” to end all “must-sees” is a visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal, regarded by many as the most perfect architectural structure in the world.
Our journey begins with the brand new (2016) Gatimaan express train, departing early from Delhi station, an experience in and of itself. In the morning we’ll explore Agra Fort, which our guests have found as fascinating as the TM itself. Lunch in Agra will be followed by the visit to Taj Mahal, before heading back to the station for the train “home”, arriving in time for Dinner in the Hotel.
We’ll visit the major attractions of the city: the Main Bazaar, the Sikh Temple, Ghandi’s Tomb, the Lotus Temple, and others.
We’ll take a Rickshaw tour of the Old City, surrounded by all the colors and smells for which India is so renowned.
we’ll take you to DELHI airport (DEL) for your homeward or onward journey, full of stories to tell the folks back home!! (or continue to the South of India – Cochin, Goa, Kerala …..)