Where the Jews Live on- Mattancherry, Kochi
Blog :Wandering Soul!!
Date: 4/17/2012 4:07:00 PM
"Jew Town in Cochin? Are you sure?" was the 1st question that popped in my head. But this was before i did some research and read about Mattancherry and Kochi. We were there for little over 2days and on the last day, decided to make a quick visit to the Jew town, specifically to explore the Synagogue and area around, maybe even try speaking to one of the Jews living there.
Photo courtesy: keralavillagehomestay.com
The place has a certain charm. Narrow lanes resembling a beautifully laid out cobbled street, with brightly painted walls, stores brimming with antiques on either side lead us towards the one of the oldest Synagogues, heading to a dead end.
Vehicles are not allowed inside, unless it is a two wheeler. The stores have items literally spilling out into the streets, which leaves just about enough space for people to walk on. It feels like we are in a different country altogether, that is how different the atmosphere here is.
We were asked to leave all our belongings, including mobile phones and cameras with the storage space provided near the Synagogue and then enter the premises. The hall before the main synagogue showcases a brief history of the place, through photographs and content lining the walls. Built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin, this is called the Paradesi Synagogue. Situated in an area called Jew Town, this is probably the only one of the 7 synagogues that is still in use. In all, there are about 13 Jew families living in the area, and the lady we met at the entrance shooed us away saying "we have had enough of reporters and journalists prying into our lives, please leave us in peace"
The Synagogue complex in all has 4 buildings and has been built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple, infact they share a common wall.
The other end of the road, one turn takes you to the palace, while the other heads towards the spice market and the Jew cemetery.