A Glimpse Into The Jewish Culture: Major Synagogues In India

While not as active as they used to be, these Jewish Synagogues in India are quite the experience.

Published On Oct 04, 2023 | Updated On Mar 05, 2024


Most of the synagogues which are part of the country’s heritage are mainly situated in Mumbai, Cochin and Kolkata in the present day. Most of these synagogues date back to the time period between the 16th and 20th centuries when a considerable population of the Jewish community inhabited parts of the country. With India’s small and tightly knit Jewish community who still continue to preserve the remnants of the Jewish heritage, at present there are only 30 synagogues spread across the country. Having been a significant part of Indian history, synagogues surely do form an important part of the country’s heritage.

Synagogues in India that you should explore at least once

Shaar Harahamim Synagogue, also known as The Gate of Mercy Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Mumbai. Established by Samaji Hasaji Divekar in 1796, it was originally established in South Mumbai, near CMST, and then later rebuilt and moved to its present location at Mandvi in 1860. This synagogue has a small congregation and maintains an active daily service at 6 am. The interior of this synagogue is adorned with Stars of David along with a distinct inscription mark. With a capacity to accommodate 300 devotees, the Gate of Mercy Synagogue is especially bustling with worshipers on special holy occasions.

Location: Madhav Mansion, Samuel Street, Khand Bazaar, Vadgadi Masjid, Bandar West, Mumbai

The Ohel David Synagogue in Pune is not only a place for religious devotion, but also an architectural marvel. It is considered to be one of the biggest synagogues all over Asia. One of the most popular monuments of the city, the Ohel David Synagogue was constructed between the years 1863 and 1867 by David Sassoon. Situated at the heart of the city, this synagogue is built of red bricks and represents an English Gothic style architecture. The structure also features a large clock and a 90-foot-high obelisk. The Ohel David Synagogue caters to a small Jewish congregation, and non-Jewish guests need to make an appointment before visiting this synagogue. There are regular prayers and holiday services held at this synagogue and holds a significant place in the city.

Location: Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Road, Gawali Wada Camp, Pune
Timings: 6 am - 6 pm


The Paradesi Synagogue, also known as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue is one of the most important synagogues in India. It is the oldest active synagogue in Kochi as well as the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the seven synagogues of the Malabar Yehudan or Yehudan Mappila. Built by Spanish-speaking Jews, this synagogue features rare antiques such as spectacular chandeliers, Chinese hand-painted tiles, a clock tower, and much more. This synagogue was dilapidated by the Portuguese in 1662 but was later renovated by the Dutch.

Location: Synagogue Lane, Jew Town, Kappalandimukku, Mattancherry, Kochi, Kerala
Timings: 10 am - 1 pm, 2 pm - 5 pm (closed on Friday, Saturday and other Jewish holidays)


The second operating synagogue in Kolkata, the Maghen David Synagogue was established in 1884 by Elias David Ezra. One of the reputed buildings in Kolkata, the Maghen David Synagogue is built in Italian style architecture with a red brick finish. It features a hexagonal Star of David and a Hebrew inscription as you enter through the arched doors. It is an extremely well-maintained structure and has chequered marble floors, chandeliers, stained glass windows and ornate floral pillars. This synagogue is protected by the Archeological Survey of India and is a significant structure.

Location: 19, Synagogue Street, China Bazaar, Barabazar Market, Kolkata
Timings: 10 am - 4 pm (closed on Saturdays)

The Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue is the second oldest orthodox synagogue in Mumbai, which was established in the year 1884. Established by Jacob Elias Sassoon, it is now maintained by the Jacob Sassoon Trust. Influenced by Jewish traditions and colonial features, the basement of the edifice is built in stone masonry, while the superstructure is built in brick masonry. The synagogue is painted in turquoise from the outside. The Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue consists of a number of Torah scrolls, along with silver-cased religious books which belonged to the Sassoon family.

Location: 55, Dr. V.B. Gandhi Marg, Fort, Mumbai
Timings: 9 am - 5 pm (Mondays), 10:30 am- 5:30 pm (Tuesday-Thursday), closed on Fridays and Saturdays


The Beth El Synagogue is situated very close to the Maghen David Synagogue in Kolkata. The literal meaning of the name of the synagogue translates to the ‘House of God’. Established in 1856, the building features slender columns and stained glass windows. The building also has marble steps leading to the arched hallway, and balconies reserved for women.

Location: 26, Pollok Street, Chitpur, Barabazar Market, Kolkata
Timings: 10 am- 3 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)

Photo: Creative Commons