Kerala is one of those few places in India, where the Jewish community has significantly made its presence felt. In the port city of Kochi, many Jews are still involved in a variety of business activities. Among the important landmarks of the Jewish community in this region is their place of worship, known as the synagogue. Previously, there were a number of synagogues in Kochi as well as in Kodungallur, an ancient port city near Kochi.
Besides the famous synagogue at Mattanchery in Kochi, the one at the Chennamangalam village is also quite popular and one of the biggest. Built some 175 years ago, this synagogue was recently restored to its original shape, all thanks to the hard-earned efforts of the Kerala State Archaeology Department and Kerala Tourism. The Chennamangalam synagogue is a protected monument under the State Department of Archaeology which takes care of its annual wear and tear.
The synagogue at Chennamangalam is a perfect epitome of both traditional Kerala architecture and western construction technology. The sloping roofs and tiled rooftops are traditional while the interior architecture is contemporary reflecting the western influence. The most interesting and noteworthy part of this synagogue is the majestic altar, which stands out for its intricately carved ceilings and walls. The Chennamangalam synagogue has a high roof, decked up in a brightly colored checkered pattern, giving the synagogue a beautiful but eerie ambience. The huge wooden planks provide additional support to the entire structure.
The wooden balcony with beautifully carved balusters and railings makes another fascinating attraction at the synagogue. Plus, the synagogue has another balcony, designed especially for women. A spiral wooden staircase exhibiting spectacular craftsmanship in wood, guides you to this balcony. You can reach Chennamangalam either by rail or air. The nearest railhead is Alwaye, situated at a distance of 26 km, while the closest airport would be about 23 km from Ernakulam, as Cochin International Airport.
The Synagogue at Chennamangalam is one of the
famous monuments of Kerala.