Mattancherry is the western part of city of Kochi, India. Some say that the name Mattancherry is drawn from “Ancherry Mattom”, a Namboodiri illam which then the foreign traders pronounced it as Matt-Ancherry, gradually became Mattancherry.
Mattancherry was once a bustling centre of trade, particularly in spices. Invasions from across the sea was frequent and the invaders left indelible marks on the landscape, culture, art and social history of the place.
Mattancherry welcomed every migrant community that came to her with warmth and provided them with ample opportunities to flourish. Thanks to the benevolence of the erstwhile kings of Cochin, many a community like that of Jews, Konkanis, Gujaratis, Jains and Marathis made the place their home.
Even today, Mattancherry has people of different tongues and ethnic identities. Churches, agraharams, mosques and a synagogue co-exist in the area, along with the buildings of the colonial era, pointing to a vibrant past and a harmonious present.
Hindustan Motors’ legendary Ambassador car was seen at the entrance to the Synagogue. Turning right from behind the car, leads to the Synagogue.
Based in Fort Kochi, about 10 km away from Ernakulam, the Jewish Synagogue was built in the year 1568. It was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and was rebuilt later after two years by the Dutch. The place shares its wall with the Mattancherry Palace from where it got its name Mattancherry Synagogue.
The huge 45 ft Clock Tower with numerals in Hebrew, Arabic, Malayalam and Latin, displayed in four dials, was added in the 18th century.
A window on the wall… nothing more than a slit.
Mattancherry Jew Town
Jew Town, that day, was closed for business due to a National Holiday. The photographs were taken between dusk to nightfall. A walk along the streets during the evening hours was a completely new experience.
The evening ended at the only small cafe open towards the end of the street. Banana Fritters and Unniyappams were cold as they probably were made earlier that day. So I settled for a tea. A hot cup.