Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi is the oldest and only functioning synagogue not only in India but in the Commonwealth of Nations. It was built by the Cochin Jewish community or Yehudan people of Malabar in 1568 in the kingdom of Kochi. With beautifully illuminated unique chandeliers from Belgium and colorful glass lamps, visiting the historic Synagogue can be an unforgettable experience for travelers. The elegant clock tower of the synagogue was built in 1760.
Visiting Hours – Sunday To Thursday From 10 AM To 1 PM & 3 PM To 5 PM
Closed on Friday Afternoon, Saturdays, And Jewish Holidays
There is an entrance fee of Rs.5.00 per person. Children above five years have to pay an entrance fee of Rs.5.00.
Visitors are expected to enter the Synagogue barefoot.
Located in the Jew Town in Old Cochin, Paradesi Synagogue is one of the popular attractions for travelers to Kochi. People who come to this historic city never leave the destination without visiting the enchanting synagogue and experiencing the rich culture and heritage of the colonial city.
Since this Synagogue was used historically by White Jews, it has got the name, Paradesi, which means ‘foreigners’. Jews from different areas of the world like the Middle East, Europe, and Cranganore exiles used this synagogue regularly for worship. The marvelous synagogue is also famous in the name of Mattancherry Synagogue or Cochin Jewish Synagogue.
One of the main attractions of this synagogue is that it is the only synagogue in the region still functioning out of seven synagogues with a minyan. Even though Paradesi Synagogue is still active, only a few Jewish families are residing in the area. More than a worship centre, Paradesi Synagogue is a popular tourist attraction in the city which has a lot of historic significance.
Currently there are no rabbis for the Jewish community because of the insufficient members and today elders of the community are leading them. Another interesting factor about the synagogue is that it has separate area for women worshippers which are in the upstairs. They worshipped separately as per the Orthodox rites.
In order to enter the Synagogue, you need to follow certain customs and traditions. Worshippers are required to enter this synagogue barefoot. You can see the influence of Hindu culture in the customs and manners of Jewish community like use of clothes in special colors for each festival, distribution of grapes soaked myrtle leaves and circumcision ceremonies at the time public worship.
In order to enter the Synagogue, men need to wear trousers and full sleeved shirts while women are expected to wear skirts or outfits with a length more than their knees. It is restricted to bring video cameras inside the worship area.