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The Kochi Synagogue at Fort Kochi is the oldest Jewish synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Kochi Synagogue

The famous Kochi Synagogue is located at Fort Kochi, about 10 km from Ernakulam in Kerala. Constructed in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin community, the synagogue is the oldest working in the Commonwealth of Nations. Although it was partially destroyed in a shelling during the Portuguese raid in 1662, but was rebuilt two years later by the Dutch. The Kochi Synagogue is popularly known as the Paradesi Synagogue, with the word 'Paradesi' denoting foreigner in Hindi. It was famous as a synagogue for foreigners because only white Jews were allowed to worship here earlier. It is also known by the names of Cochin Jewish Synagogue or Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is situated adjoining to the Mattancherry Palace. In fact, both the monuments share a common wall.

As far as the architecture of this synagogue is concerned, it is unique in itself as it is foiled with artistically painted Chinese tiles, though the tiles were installed at the same time but interestingly none of them resemble each other. The synagogue is adorned with a clock tower which was added in the mid 18th century to the main building of the synagogue. The interiors of the synagogue are embellished with Belgian Chandeliers and grand lightings. The synagogue is rich not only due of its marvelous architecture, but also because of the treasure it stores. It houses the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns which are received as gifts, and a brass railed pulpit. It is home to a number of other artifacts which are gifted by various Indian and foreign kings.

A tablet dating back to 1344 from the earlier synagogue in Kochangadi in Kochi has been placed on the outer wall of the Paradesi synagogue. According to the inscription, the structure was built in the year 5105 (as per the Hebrew calendar) as an abode for the spirit of God. This Jewish Synagogue in Kochi is one of the exemplary sightseeing spots in Kerala. For public viewing, the synagogue remains open on all days, except Jewish holidays. Being centrally located in Mattancherry, the synagogue is easily accessible. The nearest airport to the Kochi Jewish Synagogue is Cochin International Airport at a distance of 30 km. Ernakulam Junction is the nearest railhead, situated 10 km away from the synagogue. The city of Mattancherry has a well connected network of roads to the nearby towns and cities, making it easily accessible from across India.

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