The Paradesi Synagogue is a historic synagogue located in Kochi, Kerala, India. It was built in 1568 by Sephardic Jews who migrated to Kochi, which was then a major center of trade with links to various parts of the world. The name “Paradesi” means “foreigners” in the local language, and the synagogue was built to serve the needs of the Sephardic Jews who had settled in Kochi.
The Paradesi Synagogue is one of the oldest active synagogues in the Commonwealth of Nations, and is a major tourist attraction in Kochi. It is known for its unique architecture, which combines Jewish and Indian styles. The synagogue features a central bimah (pulpit), a Torah ark, and several ornate chandeliers. The walls are decorated with intricate hand-painted tiles from China, and the floors are made of black and white Belgian glass.
The Paradesi Synagogue also houses a museum that showcases the history of Jews in Kerala, including their migration to the region, their customs and traditions, and their contributions to the local culture. The museum displays several rare artifacts, including a Torah scroll dating back to the 14th century, silver crowns and ornaments used in Jewish religious ceremonies, and ancient copper plates inscribed with Hebrew script.
Despite its historical and cultural significance, the Paradesi Synagogue has faced several challenges over the years. The Jewish community in Kochi has dwindled in recent decades, and the synagogue now has only a few regular worshipers. Additionally, the synagogue suffered extensive damage in the floods that hit Kerala in 2018, and was closed for several months for repairs. Nevertheless, efforts are being made to preserve this important cultural landmark and ensure its continued use for generations to come.
- Address: Synagogue Lane. Mattancherry
- Hours: 10am-1pm & 3-5pm Sun-Thu, 10am-1pm Fri, closed Sat & Jewish holidays
- Price: ₹5