While King Solomon was building the great Temple at Jerusalem in BC 961, the Jews were having trade links with Kerala in the South-West coast of India, embracing the Arabian Sea. The first Jewish
settlement in Indian in Kodungalloor (35km north of Cochin) began nearly 3000 years back, when the town started trading with Palestine and Jewish traders settled here. After the destruction of
the 2nd temple in Jerusalem, more Jewish families arrived and were warmly welcomed by the Hindu rulers.
The Jewish community has thus been tightly entwined with local trade and commerce and is regarded as the founder of the money lending business in India. The architecture of Kerala Synagogues reflect the harmonious life Jewish people led here over the centuries in their beautifully combination of Kerala and Sumerian styles.
The past decades have seen a mass emigration to Israel from the local Jewish community. This was not motivated by any intolerance, ill-treatment or by external political or social pressure, but simply the desire and religious fervor to live and die in the Holy Land. Among the remaining Jews in Kerala today, none are younger than 70. Though they miss their kin, who have long immigrated to Israel they do not intend to leave Kerala, as they are too deeply rooted in this beautiful land.
Jewish and General Cochin tour
5-6 hour driving tour
This introductory tour of Cochin will lead you from port to the heritage zone, which has preserved the original architecture of the city. Your guide will show you the beautiful St Francis Church and the magnificent Chinese fishing nets, which line the mouth of Cochin harbor.
You will visit the Jewish Community in the ‘Jew Town’ and the beautiful Pardesi Synagogue, which stands on the grounds of the Maharaja of Cochins residence. Your guide will also show you the beautiful Chendhamangalam and Paravour Synagogues, as well as the historical Kadvum Bagam synagogue. While you will learn more about some of Cochin’s Jewish legends at the local Jewish Cemetery.
Before being transported back to port, complete the day with a visit to the impressive Mattancherry Palace, which was commissioned by the Portuguese for the Raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights. The palace is two stories high and was built in the traditional Kerala style known as ‘Nalukattu’ (four buildings).
Jewish Cochin and Backwaters tour
8 hour driving tour
In this full day tour you will be discover Cochin’s Jewish history of Jew Town in the morning, as laid out in the tour above, before being whisked out of town and along the cost to the local fishing villages and backwaters which make up the back-bone of Kerala’s predominantly rural life.
Discover the places where the first Jewish people set foot and left their mark and enjoy a simple, but delicious local meal, before boarding a local boat and embarking on a glorious 2 hour journey through the famous Kerala Backwaters, discovering local flora and fauna as well as village life in the forests and along the banks of the water.
At the end of the day your guide will accompany you back to Cochin port.
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