Chendamangalam Synagogue, near Kochi

Chendamangalam Synagogue

Chendamangalam Synagogue
Chendamangalam Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish place of worship just like a Church or a Mosque. Historically  Kerala has been home to a few thousand Jewish families and the population has come down since the founding of a Jewish state - Israel in the late 1940s. Since mostly they were involved in trade, wherever they lived they never had failed to make their presence felt in terms of  their culture, tradition and philanthropy. The following are the places where the historical synagogues are located in the state of Kerala:

Kottayilkovilakon at Chendamangalam, Paravur near Cochin, Kadavumbagam Synagogue at Jew Street in Ernakulam, Tekkumbagam Synagogue, Broadway Ernakulam Kadavumbhagam Synagogue at Mattancherry, Paradesi Synagogue at Fort Kochin, Mala near Trissur,
Chendamangalam Synagogue interior
Chendamangalam  synagogue Near Kochi, Kerala
Chendamangalam  synagogue, 40 km from Mattancherry, near Kochi was built in  typical Kerala architectural style suitable for monsoon season.  A prominent local Hindu ruler, one  Paliath Achan allowed the construction of  the Synagogue. There were and are church, temple and as well as mosque near by it. It points out the religious harmony and secular attitude  that existed in those days here. The nearest railway station is Aluva, 19 km and Ernakulam which is roughly 29 km.

In the late 17th century, Tipu Sultan of Mysore, who hated those who supported the British rule invaded Kerala and many places of worship took the brunt. In 1870 this synagogue  and others in the nearby places were  destroyed according to an Anglican Church missionary Rev. Thomas Dawson, who visited this place. It is believed that Chendamangalam Synagogue might have been rebuilt only after early 19th century. There is a tombstone with Hebrew inscriptions dated 1268 near the entrance, bearing the name of one Sarah. It was restored in 1936.  The synagogue has a high roof, brightly colored chequered pattern, wooden balcony with beautifully carved balusters and railings  and a spiral wooden staircase leading to the balcony. This  compact, but beautiful place speaks highly of the skilled people whose workmanship and artistic talents  showed  the  highest level of imagination. Huge wooden beams give  extra   support to the high  roof. Yet another feature that may attract the visitors is presence of an additional balcony, meant exclusively for women devotees.

 On account of the Kerala State Archaeology Department's efforts with complete support from the local government, this unique synagogue was recently restored to its original glory and beauty, without affecting its heritage values. It is now  a protected monument under the state department of archaeology.