The oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations, Paradesi Synagogue, also known as Jewish Synagogue, is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Cochin (Kochi). Located in a corner of the Jew town, this synagogue is around 100 years old and has a number of antique items. This synagogue in Mattancherry is visited by a huge number of tourists, every year.
The structure was constructed in 1568 and lies adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace, gifted by the Portuguese to the then ruler of Kochi. The synagogue was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662, and after two years, it was reconstructed by the Dutch. Visitors must be barefoot while entering the synagogue.
The architecture of Paradesi synagogue is simple yet impressive. As you enter the synagogue, the huge main hall, the antique objects kept there, attract your attention. The huge windows let the sunshine and fresh air come in. The lamps and the glass chandeliers from the 19th century look wonderful. These chandeliers were imported from Belgium.
Hand-painted blue willow- patterned floor tiles adorn the floor of the synagogue. These tiles were especially brought from Canton in China by a Jewish businessman Ezekiel Rahabi, during the 18th century. The design and pattern on each tile is different. The pillars of the building are wonderful too.
The center of the hall has a pulpit with brass rails. The special gallery for the women has a carved teak ark and gilt columns. This teak ark has 4 scrolls of Torah, wrapped in silver and gold. Visitors can also see 2 gold crowns that were presented by the rulers of Travancore and Kochi to the Jewish Community.
One of the most popular attractions in the Paradesi Synagogue, are the 4th century copper plates that have inscriptions in Malayalam, describing the freedoms that the rulers of Cochin, gave to the Jewish community. The inscription is in mirror image writing style, called kannadiyezhuthu script. The synagogue also has an oriental rug that was gifted by the last Ethiopian Emperor to the Jews.
10:00 am - 12 noon and 03:00 pm to 5 pm (Open every day except Friday, Saturday and Jewish holidays)