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My Journey Logs

Andy’s expeditions

Jew Town Kochi Keeps You Captivated

June 17, 2014

During our stay at the hotel, we were told at the travel desk about Jew Town, of which I have never heard before. I asked for details and I was told that it was a narrow lane between the Mattancherry Palace and the Pardesi Synagogue, and was famous for its antique shops and colonial buildings. According to history, Jews arrived at Malabr Coast as early as 70 CE and the roots of the Jews in Kerala can be traced back to the times of the King Solomon. The Jewish community thrived in and around Kodungallur, but in 1524 they had to leave the place with the arrival of Portuguese and they fled to Kochi. Here they were given shelter by the king of Kochi, Raja Rama Varma. He gave them land in Mattancherry, which later came to be known as Jew Town.

Jew Town Kochi

Jew Town Kochi | Image Resource : seetheworldinmyeyes.com

During the 20th century many of the Jews immigrated to Israel and many of the antique pieces and curious from the unoccupied houses of the Jews were collected and put on sale at the shops in the Jew Town. These antique pieces became so popular with the tourists that now there are many such shops here selling antique jewelries, crockery, wooden pillars, statues, wooden and metal figures, handicrafts like wooden elephants, mirrors, wall hangings etc.

The narrow lane and the shops on either side seemed to have belonged to the past and we had an exciting time searching for various antique pieces and curios. All the shops were full of these antiques and looked wonderful. We saw some old lamps, Chinese urns, handmade toys, glassware, paintings and chandeliers. A large vessel made of bronze, with a handle on either side, attracted everyone. It had a diameter of 3 meters. Another thing that caught my attention was a statue of Lord Ganesha. I took many photographs of these rare pieces and bought some curios to take back home to gift my friends and relatives.

We also visited the Pardesi Synagogue, which remains open to the tourists and devotees from 10.00 am to 12 noon and then from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm. It is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

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