Exploring South India & Kochin Jewish Heritage

10 days


A tour of South India offers a fascinating glimpse of a culture, cuisine and history that differs considerably from the northern area of the country. Discover India’s Jewish Heritage in Kochin, home to the country’s longest-established Jewish communities. Known as the Malayalam Jews, their history is vague but evidence suggests that the earliest settlers may have arrived in India after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Best time to visit
The best time to visit India is between October and March. Temperatures in northern India are pleasant and range in the 25-10 degrees Celsius during the daytime in these months, making it pleasant for sightseeing.


Day 1: Monday: Mumbai
Arr to Mumbai airport till 12:00PM. Transfer to the hotel, there you will meet the tour leader. The tour will start at 2:00PM. We will spend the day on a city tour of Mumbai. We will see the famous Dhobi Ghat and then drive on to the Hanging Gardens and Tower of Silence, followed by a visit to the Khala Goda Art District. In the afternoon we will continue on to Mani Bhawan (Mahatma Gandhi museum) and stop at Victoria Terminal.

Day 2: Tuesday: Mumbai
Rising early, we will visit to the Sasson docks to see the activities of its fishermen. We will then visit the Magen David synagogue built in 1861 by David Sassoon), Tiphereth Israel synagogue and Kensset Eliyahu synagogue.  After the tours we will visit the Crawford market, Zaveri bazaar & Colaba causeway.

Day 3: Wednesday: Mumbai
After breakfast, we will be dropped of at the Gateway of India to board a motor boat for Mandwa Jetty. After arrival we continue to Alibag to visit the Magen Avot synagogue and Jewish cemetery before continuing on to Revdanda to visit the Beth el synagogue and the Jewish cemetery. Before our return to Mumbai, we will enjoy the beaches around the Mandwa Jetty.

Day 4: Thursday: Mumbai – Kochi
After breakfast, we will visit a Dabbawallah station before setting off for the airport to fly to Kochi (Cochin). Upon arrival we will start our city tour including visiting the historic Paradesi synagogue, which today represents the last symbol of the city’s rapidly dwindling Jewish community. We will also visit the Mattancheery Dutch Palace and have some free time at to shop. In the evening, we will experience a spectacular Kathakali dance presentation. Kathakali, a classical dance drama over 500 years old.

Day 5: Friday: Kochi
Today, after breakfast, we continue to explore the Jewish presence in South India, visiting synagogues in Paraur & Chendamangalam. According to our sources, trade with the area around Cochin dates back as far as 3,000 years, and the Jews themselves settled in the area 2,000 years ago. Even before Kochi rose to prominence, Jews could be found settling in the area to the north of the city. We will spend the day learning more about the area’s Jewish heritage. We begin with a morning excursion to the Parur synagogue. Constructed in 1615, the building was used for worship as recently as June 1998. The history of the site reaches back even further as the current structure was built on the ruins of another synagogue dating 1165. Next we visit the town of Chendamangalam, boasting a unique town plan designed to symbolize the religious harmony for which the area was known. Each cardinal point contained a house of worship of different faiths, including a beautiful synagogue built in 1614.  We then return to our hotel to start preparing for Shabbat.

Day 6: Shabbat: Cochin
Breakfast at the hotel. During a walking tour of Cochin, we will give you a glimpse into Cochin’s rich history and heritage, showcasing the mixed Dutch, Portuguese, British and Jewish influences which make the city unique. During the tour, we will visit the old quarter of Fort Kochi, exploring the quaint streets of this city on foot. We will also visit fort Kochi’s seaside promenade, and get a glimpse of daily life in Kochi.

Day 7: Sunday: Cochin – Munnar
After breakfast we will continue the visit in Cochin. At noon we  will  travel to Munnar. a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) above sea level, in the Western Ghats range of mountains and boasts tea and spice plantations. We will visit theTata tea museum, the first of its kind in India. The aim of this museum according to its founders, is to showcase the growth of more than a century-old tea plantations in this region.

Day 8 Monday: Munnar
Our sightseeing today will include optionals – a visit to the nature reserve of Chithirapuram Nature Reserve, a hike through tea plantations and/ or spa treatments at our hotel. Before returning to our hotel we will have some free time at Munnar market.

Day 9: Tuesday: Munnar – Kettuvallam
After breakfast, we drive to Allepey & check-in at the Kettuvallam houseboat jetty. Kettuvallam:  Adapted and modernized from the traditional Kettuvallam of Kerala, these houseboats transport one slowly down palm-hung waterways, past backwater settlements of thatched and tiled cottages, through a tropical paradise! Guests set their own pace: stopping where they like, resting when they choose, and indulging themselves with the freshest of foods bought from the farmers and fishermen on the banks of the backwaters. When night falls, the houseboat is tied up on the banks of the backwaters.

Day 10: Wednesday: Kettuvallam – Cochin – Mumbai – Flight Back Home
Early the next morning, after experiencing a spectacular sunrise, we will have breakfast while cruising towards Alleppey; seeing rustic life on the banks as we float by –  ducks wading  into the water, women, either bathing neck-deep in water or doing their laundry, rice paddy workers and goods being ferried from place to place. Returning to Allepey, we drive on to the Kochi Airport to take a connecting flight to Mumbai from where we fly home.

Dates & Prices
Tour Code Departure Return  
Tour Code Departure date Air + Land * Land only * Single Room**

* Price per person in USD Iin double or twin room.

** Supplement for single room.

* Price of tour is subject to change due to change in Air Fare.

Need to Know

Price Includes:

  • Domestic flights as per itinerary
  • 4* Hotels
  • Entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Comfortable air conditioned touring coach
  • Kosher half board & supplies for making sandwiches for lunch
  • Professional experienced English-speaking guide
  • Local English-speaking Guide as required
  • Tips for local service providers

Price Excludes:

  • International flights
  • Travel & Health Insurance
  • Indian Visa
  • Personal expenses
  • Shows and evening entertainment not included in the itinerary
  • Tip for our Tour Guide (Recommended: $5 per person per day)
  • Miscellaneous expenses such as entrance and departure fees, visas, security surcharges etc.

Important to Know:

  • There may be changes to the order of places visited. We will make every effort to visit every place mentioned in the itinerary.
  • The tour organizers have no control over airline services such as seating, special meal requests, changes in departure times or delays. These remain the sole responsibility of the airline company.

Kashrut on Tours

Only strictly kosher food is provided to our travelers on all our tours. On some of our tours we are able to provide glatt meals. Kashrut is of utmost importance to us and we take special measures to ensure that everything served is kosher.

The meals:
Breakfast is prepared using our utensils. We use local fresh fruits and vegetables, and we use milk products when they are permitted. We use kosher cereals, and bread. We usually serve hard boiled eggs and sometimes scrambled eggs or omelets. At breakfast, we prepare our lunches so that people have their choice as to what they eat for lunch. We bring food from Israel to supplement what is served in the hotel such as cheeses, peanut butter, tuna, etc.
For dinners, we serve either fish or meat (usually chicken) as our main course. In areas where meat is not available nor readily acquired, we will have fish. When possible, we acquire the meat locally from Chabad or other reliable kosher source, and in some cases we fly the meat in from Israel. We try to provide as many meat meals as possible. The main course at dinner is preceded by soup and salad and accompanied by freshly prepared vegetables. Dessert typically consists of fresh fruits.
We do not guarantee Pat Israel and Chalav Israel for all destinations.
In many destinations we have our own dishes and silverware. Where we don’t, we provide disposables at the meals. When we cook in hotel kitchens, we use our own knives, cutting boards, pots and pans, cooking implements and disposable metal trays. All food preparation is done on covered surfaces under the strict supervision of our trained staff/guides who function as our mashgichim.

We make great efforts to assure that our travelers will experience local foods first-hand, while maintaining stringent observance of Kashrut laws on all occasions.

On most of our tours, you will be accompanied by two of our staff members- one a guide for the tour who is knowledgeable about the places you are visiting and will accompany you throughout the day and the second, a person who will deal with the logistics of the tour and provide kashrut supervision in the kitchen.

It is our aim to provide the finest hotel possible in each area we visit. We require our hotels to allow us to work in the kitchen and to supervise the cooking and there are many hotels that are not willing to cooperate. They simply have no desire for us to be “meddling” in their cooking process nor are they happy about our bringing our equipment into their kitchens. We work very hard to find the best hotel in the area that will meet our requirements. Because we are not ready to compromise on kashrut, we may not always be able to use a five star hotel.

Deposit, Cancellation Fees & Policy:

A $500 USD Deposit per person must be received at the time of booking in order to confirm your reservation. Payment in full is due 60 days before departure. A minimum number of participants are required to operate tour dates. If a minimum number has not been reached prior to tour departure and the tour is cancelled you will receive a FULL refund.

• 60 working days before departure bookings are refundable less a $100 administration fee
• 30-59 working days prior to departure 25% of total per passenger
• 15-29 days prior to departure: 50% of total per passenger
• Less than 30 working days prior to departure: 100% of total – no refund

We strongly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance.

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