At the end of a narrow lane in Jew Town is Paradesi Synagogue. It is the oldest synagogue in India. The first Jewish settlers reached India in the early 1st century. Their settlement - then 32km north of Kochi prospered for centuries. After persecution by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Jews were forced to migrate to Kochi. They settled on land given to them by the Raja and in 1568 built the synagogue.
The synagogue was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662. The Dutch helped rebuild the synagogue in 1664. Inside the synagogue you'll find silver and gold Torah scrolls, hand painted blue floor tiles, chandeliers and oil lamps and a brass pulpit. The interior is quite exquisite. Outside is one of the synagogue's most distinctive features - an 18th century clock tower with four dials with numerals in Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, and Malayalam.
In 1940 there were 2,500 Jews in Kochi. Most Jews have since migrated to Israel and there is said to be less than a couple of dozen left.
Open 10 a.m. - noon, 3 - 5 p.m.
Closed on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.
Rs 5 (no charge for children under 5 years of age).
No shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless shirts.
Shoes must be removed before entering.
Handbags and cameras must be left in the room below the clock tower.
No photography inside.
Consecrated in 1568, this oldest synagogue in the British Commonwealth is built on the site of another synagogue which had stood there from 1311. Paradesi Jews ( meaning foreigners ) came here after the expulsion of jews from spain joining the other jews from arab lands and middle east who had been here for nearly 2000 years.
copper plates which gives the land to the jews written in old malayalam is kept under lock and key.
lamps and chandeliers.
the torah one of which was a gift of the maharajah.
many headstones from the cemetery.
This is the major attraction for foreigners in Mattanchery .
On the island is also a Jewish community with roots going back to 1000 AD and a 16th century synagogue. It was built in 1568 by 'white' jews and destroyed during fightings between the Portugese and the Dutch, afterwards it was entirely rebuilt
The synagogue is decorated with imported Chinese hand-painted tiles on the floor, the walls and the ceiling, not two tiles are alike.
There are a lot of legends based on those tiles, they should be able to tell the history, and are changing along with time.
The Jewish community flourished under the Rajahs of Cochin and, later, under Dutch rule, in a rare atmosphere of tolerance and respect. They maintained an active religious life, combining ancient traditions with distinctive local customs and liturgy. However, today this ancient community, which prior to 1951 boasted 8 congregations, is depleted. Most of the young have emigrated to Israel and only one synagogue still functions.
Openingtimes: sunday-friday, 10am-12am and 3pm-5pm.
The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations (former British Empire), located in the area of Kochi known as Jew Town. It was originally built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin Jewish community. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is "foreigners", applied to the synagogue because it was historically used by "White Jews", a mixture of Jews from Cranganore, the Middle East, and European exiles. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. It is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings and was built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on land gifted to the Malabari Yehuden community by the Raja of Kochi, Rama Varma. The present building dates to 1664 after the original building was destroyed by shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662. The Clock Tower was added later in 1760, which is why the date is shown on the clock face.
Open: 10am-12pm & 3-5pm Sun-Thur.
The Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue was built in 1568 and as such is the oldest one in the British Commonwealth. It is also named Paradesi, or 'foreign', as it was predominantly used by the 'White Jews', who were mainly European exiles or from the Middle East. It was built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on the land gifted to the Malabari Yehuden community by the Raja of Kochi, and shares a common wall with the Palace temple; however due to the arrangement of the buildings it isn't possible to walk directly from one to the other.
The clock tower and bell were added in 1760. The interior is remarkable for the glass chandeliers, from Belgian, and the floor of the synagogue which is composed of hundreds of Chinese, 18th century, hand-painted porcelain tiles, all of which are unique. It also houses the copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew, dating from the 10th century, written in Tamil on the two plates, by the ruler of the Malabar Coast.
The entrance fee is 2 INR, and again no photography is allowed inside. See the video from Kerala tourism below.
The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the British Commonwealth. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and its literal meaning is a "foreigner". Accordingly, the Paradesi Synagogue literally means a synagogue of foreigners.
As is normal for Orthodox Jewish synagogues, the Synagogue has separate seating sections for men and women.
It is the only functioning synagogue in Cochin today with a minyan. In conformity with the Hindu traditions of Kerala, the worshippers are required to enter the Synagogue barefoot.
It has the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, beautiful chandeliers, and a brass-railed pulpit. It houses the copper plates of privileges given to the earliest Malabar Jewish people over 2000 years ago, by the ruler of the Malabar Coast.
[took the picture from the net. Visited on Holiday - Sukkoth (joined the prayers). Photography in holidays is forbidden according to our religion's laws]
The Paradesi Synagogue was built in 1568 by descendants of Spanish, Dutch and other European Jews that became the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin..
It has served as a functioning synagogue throughout the centuries, and preserves a unique record of Jewish presence in India.
The Clock Tower was added later in 1760.
In fact, the Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue have a common wall