Weather :

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

Entry Fee : INR 5 per person

Timings : All days of the week except Saturday: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Jewish Synagogue, Kochi Overview

Also known as Cochin Jewish Synagogue or Mattancherry Synagogue, Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue, not just in Kochi but in the Commonwealth of Nations. Located in the Jew Town area of Kochi, the synagogue was constructed in 1567 and is one of the seven synagogues of the Malabar Yehudan or Yehudan Mappila. The synagogue shares its walls with the Mattancherry Palace and was built by Spanish- speaking Jews; therefore, it is also known as ‘Paradesi’ meaning ‘foreigners’. Boasting of rare antiques including beautiful chandeliers, clock tower, brass railed pulpit, Chinese hand painted tiles etc. and striking architecture, the synagogue has four buildings of its own. In 1662, the synagogue was ruined by the Portuguese but was later renovated by the Dutch after 2 years.

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History of Jewish Synagogue

Originally the Yehudan Mappila or the Malabari Jews ran a flourishing spice trade in Kerala. The first synagogue was built in Kodungallur (Cranganore) in the 4th century. But when the Paradesi Jews moved to Kochi in the 14th century, a new synagogue was built here. The first synagogue was destroyed in the 16th century during the Portuguese persecution of Jews. The current one is the second synagogue built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace on the land granted to the Jews by the Raja of Cochin. Jewish Synagogue had three classes of members-
  • White Jews or the Paradesi Jews- descendents from Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands
  • Black Jews or the Malabari Jews- the original Jew settlers of Kochi. They were admitted inside the synagogue but weren’t allowed full membership.
  • Meshuchrarim, who were a group of freed slaves. They were only allowed to sit on the floor inside the synagogue or they could only sit on the stairs outside.
Today, the synagogue allows all devotees and worshippers but has separate sections for men and women. Although the worshippers are required to enter the synagogue barefoot.

Architecture of Jewish Synagogue

Jewish Synagogue boasts of striking architecture as of now. The central hall is decked in beautiful chandeliers and adorned with gorgeous lamps. There are several rare antiques and ancient unique articles on display that add to the charm of the Synagogue. Besides, the floor is the highlight of the synagogue which has been done in bright blue hand painted tiles belonging to the 18th century Chinese. A lot of tourists visit here everyday to admire the enchanting floor.

With beautiful pillars holding up the starry roof, there is also a pulpit at the centre with brass nails. A separate porch has been built for women with gorgeous protruding golden columns and a teak arc. At the front, there are four scrolls of the Torah encased in silver and gold. Other attractions include 4th century copper plates with inscriptions and two gold crowns of olden day kings.

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Nehad Zein 1 year ago
The Jewish Synagogue located in Mattancherry costs just Rs.5 per head for a five minute session that explains the architecture and history of the synagogue apart from the tour. Photography is charged additional. The pulpit in the middle of the hall signifies the rich heritage of a not so long ago established prayer centre. The building's interior has been done using imported and hand-crafted material most if which are extinct today. The best part is that the synagogue is still run by Jews and not the government authorities. This has helped to a great extent in maintaining the authenticity of the synagogue.

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