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February 06, 2019

Inside The Restored 135-Year-Old Iconic Kala Ghoda Blue Synagogue

Text by Shubham Ladha. Photography by Alkesh Shinde

An exclusive peek at the mid-19th century cultural monument that’s reopening to public

Nestled in Mumbai’s cultural and artistic Kala Ghoda area, the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue – also commonly known as Kala Ghoda’s Blue Synagogue – received a new lease of life  after 20 months of restoration, administered through the collaborative efforts of JSW Group, Sir Jacob Sassoon and Allied Trust, Kala Ghoda Association and World Monument Fund. It is set to open doors on Thursday, 7th February.

Since its construction in 1884 by architecture firm Gostling and Morris, the synagogue was funded and run by the Baghdadi and Jew Sassoon family of Bombay. It’s neo-classic elements such as Minton-style tiles, cast-iron columns and chandeliers and dreamy stained-glass windows were all installed from Stroke-on-Trent in England. The restorations include heavy-duty actions, from roof and crack repairs and its stained-glass being intricately cleaned  to its iconic blue paint being peeled off to clearly depict the synagogue’s original religious symbols – grape vines, citron fruit, and the Star of David among others.

The synagogue was at its culture height in the mid-19th century as an integral part of the city’s Baghdadi and Bene Israeli Jewish community and received the certificate for a Grade IIA Classical Revival Structure. Abha Narain Lambah, Architect for the restoration project said, “The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue was an extremely challenging and fulfilling restoration project. The entire structure, right from the external architecture to the detailing of the religious symbols used in the interiors, is enchanting and tells a story of the years gone by.”

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