463-year-old synagogue turned into cattle shed

Date:

Share post:

The Paradesi synagogue at Mattancherry receives several thousand visitors every year from all over the world. People flock to Jew Street to catch a glimpse of the well-preserved 16 century synagogue and the descendants of the Paradesi Jews who still follow the old customs. Not many know, however, that a second synagogue older than the Paradesi synagogue still stands just a few metres from it. At the other end of Jew Street stands the Kadavumbhagom synagogue, a 463-year-old prayer hall of the Cochini Jews.

463-year-old synagogue turned into cattle shed
The stench of cow dung, unkempt surroundings and obscene graffiti on its shutters drive away curious visitors to the Kadavumbhagom synagogue [Credit:: Vipin Chandran]

When the Moors attacked the Jewish settlements near Kodungalloor, known as Cranganore or Shingly in Jewish texts, the people fled to the port town of Mattancherry to seek refuge. There were at least four synagogues in Mattancherry in the old days, says historian P.M. Jussay in his book ‘The Jews of Kerala.’ These are the Kochangadi, Kadavumbhagom, Paradesi and Thekkumbhagom synagogues. (There are two other synagogues — the Kadavumbhagom and Thekkumbhagom synangogues on Market Road in Ernakulam — that are less known but are just as important.)

The Kochangadi synagogue in Mattancherry, says Mr. Jussay, was enlarged by a community leader named Baruk Levi in 1539. But the synagogue was abandoned in 1795 a few years after it was destroyed by Tippu Sultan’s soldiers. The Thekkumbhagom synagogue, on the other hand, was demolished in the 1950s after most of its congregants left for Israel. All that stands are the Paradesi and Kadavumbhagom synagogues. While the Paradesi synagogue remains popular as a tourist attraction, the Kadavumbhagom synagogue has almost faded from memory. A portion of the synagogue, which earlier stood right at the coastline, was removed to construct the road in front of it. The building passed into private hands after the Jewish residents sold it while they left for Israel.

The first owner used the place of worship to store prawns, a food item forbidden to Jews. The building was later used to store coir products. Today, this centuries-old archaeological monument is used as a cattle shed by its current owner. The stench of cow dung, unkempt surroundings, and obscene graffiti on its shutters drive away curious visitors. Only a small board at the entrance set up by ‘The Friends of Kerala Synagogues’ gives any indication of the historical significance of the building.

“Private persons have carted away whatever was inside the building. It’s an important monument. Shouldn’t the government protect this synagogue?” a local resident asks.

Author: Nidhi Surendranath | Source: The Hindu [September 14, 2013]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Ancient city discovered in Persian Gulf hinterland

The Public Relations Office of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) quoted Alireza Askari Chaverdi,...

Louvre raises €500,000 to restore Nike of Samothrace

A campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, known as the Nike...

France to return 239 artefacts to Egypt

France will return to Egypt 239 archaeological artifacts which were illegally smuggled out of the country, Egyptian Minister...

Extinct ‘mega claw’ creature had spider-like brain

Researchers have discovered the earliest known complete nervous system exquisitely preserved in the fossilized remains of a never-before...

Archaeologists uncover 18th century artifacts from lost town in Virginia Beach

As they dug trenches to reroute storm drains on Princess Anne Road, city crews came up with more...

Neolithic dog’s head recreated using Orkney skull

The head of a Neolithic dog has been recreated using a skull discovered in a cairn tomb in...

Mini-robot discovers three chambers in Mexico’s Temple of Quetzalcoatl

A robot has discovered three ancient chambers at the last stretch of unexplored tunnel at Mexico's famed Teotihuacan...

Long-term global warming not driven naturally

By examining how Earth cools itself back down after a period of natural warming, a study by scientists...