Monday, December 14, 2009

Cochin..

Jew Town is beautiful. We were there mainly to visit a synagogue, one of the oldest there is. The Pardesi Synagogue was built in 1568. The synagogue and the areas surrounding it are steepled in history and walking down the narrow lanes we were swept away by the old world charm of this lovely place.
The synagogue itself has beautifully crafted interiors. We were not allowed to take pictures and so you will just have to take my word for it. The main prayer hall has exquisite glass work and we sat there a while. It was the first time I have been inside a synagogue.

Outside the 'Pardesi Synagogue'..

There is a small hall with paintings of Jewish history. The pictures reconstruct the story of the arrival of the Jews to India and chronicles the history of the Jewish movement
The Jews came to Kerala as far back as 700 BC. They were mainly traders and They settled in the Port city of Cranganore. The Jewish settlement came under attack In the 15th century, from the Muslim emperor of Calicut. The emperor believed that the Jews had adopted unfair practises to monopolize the lucrative pepper trade. Most of the Jews fled Cranganore. The Hindu King of Cochin, shielded the Jews, offering them protection and granted them land near his own palace, This came to be known as the present day Jew Town in Cochin.

Most of the Jews moved back to Israel. We met the person who currently manages the synagogue and she told us that the population of Jews in India had significantly dwindled and at present there were just a handful living around Cochin.
Found this really interesting article in the Washington Post which talks about why the Indian Jewish population declined. Made very insightful reading!

Inside Jew Town, Outside one of the many shope selling antiques..

The lanes leading up to Jew town are narrow and lined with beautiful antique shops. Even though we did not buy anything it was lovely looking at the various things on display

2 comments:

  1. Very nice description of Cochin...you can easily become a travel writer

    ReplyDelete

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