Contributed By: Daniel Wunder | Last Date of Travel: November 2010
Kosher Info: In Mumbai (formerly Bombay), there are actually a number of Jewish communities with a rich Jewish history, but very few Shomer Shabbat, Shomer Kashrut Jews remaining. The Chabad of Mumbai is well known as a means of getting kosher food. They're the only publicized game in town. They have a restaurant which serves food every night at 8PM and provide options for kosher meals on Shabbat. I personally did NOT spend Shabbat with them, but I was able to arrange for my hotel (The Westin, Goregaon East) to pick up food from them, double wrapped, and heat it up for me. The Chabad charged a lot of money for this service and the food was awful.
If you're looking for good food and a much more authentic Indian Jewish experience in Mumbai, I recommend visiting the Magen David synagogue for Shabbat (or the whole week). The hotel (Sasoon hotel) is very inexpensive (about $25 per night.) It's not very fancy, but the rooms have, a television, bed, private bathroom and shower. Really… no frills, but the people there were very nice, they provide kosher food for dinner every night (free of charge) and the rooms are nice enough.
The Sasoon hotel can be found at: The Magen David Synagogue Compound, 340, Sir J. J. Road, Byculla, Mumbai (near J. J. Hospital). Reservations can be made by calling: 23006626 or 98200 78032. There is a Chabad Rabbi there as well who is in charge of meals and kashrut, his name is Eliran. He's extremely pleasant, well mannered and very approachable.
Other than that, there are no other "kosher restaurants" in Mumbai. Having said that, Hindus and Indians in general are very strict about veg/non-veg, so most of the Jewish locals (even most of the Shomer Shabbat, Shomer Kashrut Indian Jews) eat at restaurants that are pure vegetarian and just don't order dishes with cheese. As a matter of fact, some hotels that serve veg and non-veg even have separate kitchens with strict usage and cleansing of utensils. For instance, the ITC Grand Central, has separate kitchens and sterilizes their dishes every day.
I highly recommend walking around Colaba in South Mumbai, visiting the Prince of Whales Museum, the Gateway to India, Marine Drive and the Taj Mahal Hotel. Very few people there speak English, but if you know the landmarks feel free to jump into a rikshaw or a non-air conditioned taxi, they're very inexpensive and are glad to have the business. I hired a taxi to take me around for about 7 hours and paid him $15. That was including tip and he was thrilled to have the business. The Elephanta Caves are also spectacular, but you'll need to take a ferry from the gateway to get there.
If you can see past the poverty, and don't mind the smells and crazy traffic, Mumbai is an incredible place to visit. Definitely unlike anywhere I've ever been. I look forward to my next visit.
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There are many synagogues in Mumbai and the Jews have a rich history of over 2000 years in India. I highly recommend finding an Indian Jew who speaks English or Hebrew and having them give you the tour. I met Elkanah Shaparkur at the Magen David Synagogue and he was glad to bring me around and show me the various places.Magen David Synagogue 340, Sir J. J. Road Byculla, Mumbai 400008 Tel: 9122 – 23006675 Knesset Eliyahoo 55 Dr. V. B. Gandhi Marg, Fort Mumbai – 400 023 Tel: 91-22-22831502 Chabad Mumbai Ivan-hoe building 2nd Floor 139 Bhosle Marg Mantraleh, Mumbai 400021 Tel: 91-976-906-0840