Jew town is one of the prominent areas of Old Cochin. It has long shopping lanes, streets lined on both sides with small shops selling specialty items for visitors. The main attraction of Jew town is something that takes our memories back to the 16th Century AD, the Jewish Sysnagogue. It is situated at the end of the walking street of Jew town.
The Jewish Synagogue is just 400 meters away from the Dutch palace. The trader jews who migrated to Kochi built this Synagogue in AD 1567. Jewish Syangogue in Kochi is the oldest one compared to all the others present in Commonwealth nations. A shoe-less walk inside the Synagogue will time travel you to the 16th Century. You will be able to see a big collection of antiques like chandeliers, scrolls, gold crowns, copper plates and brass-railed pulpit. The Chinese floor tiles, that have blue willow-pattern improves the overall beauty of the Synagogue. The mosaic work used in the Synagogue is very unique and you will not be able to match it with any other in the country.
The Synagogue is also called Paradesi synagogue. Paradesi in local language Malayalam meand foreigners. This Synagogue was built by Spanish speaking Jews who landed in Kochi after they had exiled from Aleppo, Safed or some other parts of West Asia and hence the name Paradesi Synagogue. Other popular names for Paradesi Synagogue are Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue.
The Jews of Kochi were also called Malabar Yehudan or Yehudan Mappila. The Mattancherry synagogue is one of the seven synagogues built by the Jews of 16th Century in Kerala and is the only which is still in use. The Jews of Kochi had a warm relation with monarchy, and this resulted in giving the land adjacent to Mattancherry palace grounds to build a Synagogue.
Visitors should better park their vehicle near Ducth palace and reach the Synagogue by walk. Entry is allowed before 01:00 PM only and a small fess is collected which is used for the maintenance of this scintillating historical building. Photography is not allowed in the inside of the Synagogue. The benches inside the Synagogue are similar to the ones we can see in a church. A Jewish calendar hangs on the wall. There are many panels inside the Synagogue premises that tells the story of the Jews of Kochi. Since the Synagogue is still used by a small community of Jews who live in Mattancherry for worship, it is very well maintained. Researchers and history buffs should visit this place at least once in their lifetime.
Know more: Kochi: The Queen of Arabian Sea!