Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Historical Paravur synagogue, near Kochi, Kerala

Paravur Synagogue,near Kochi,Kerala., www.pinterest.com

 Paravur Synagogue, was built in 1615, but it is said to have been built, over the remains of the older synagogue, built in 1165. www.benny.in

Paravur Synagogue.  www.benny.in
Parur synagogue is yet another historical place of veneration located  near the  market and boat jetty, Parur. It is 32 kms from Kochi city.  It showcases the beauty of Kerala style  architecture - impressive high slanting tiled roof, typical of this region that receives  heavy rain during the Monsoon season. First built in 750, it was rebuilt in 1164 after the destruction of the first one. During the invasion of Tipu Sultan in this region, this synagogue was among the numerous places of worship that were damaged or destroyed. Records have it that the then ruler of Cochin  Bhaskara Ravi Varma in 1000 AD granted special  privileges to the  Jewish   leader Joseph Rabban to practice their faith peacefully here. There is a replica of a copper plate, listing privileges given by the king.                                                                                                    
The entire structure is made of wood as one will find in innumerable Hindu temples. On the first floor there is a large area for women for prayers with direct view of the sanctuary, and behind it there is  space for children. The Torah, the Jews' holy book and the ark were taken to Israel bay back in 1995 to avoid theft or destruction. Once there were some beautiful chandeliers which had been taken away by the thieves because of poor management and vigil. Plans are afoot to fix new chandeliers.
Interior balcony Paravur Synagogue, www.muzirisheritage.org
This place was  once used both by white Jews as well as colored Jews - natives. This place was, in the past, in a state of neglect with bushes and weed all around. Thanks to the efforts taken by the Kerala government. The poor scenario  had changed and this historical structure, that was about to be lost for ever, came under the control of the state Archeology department in 2009 and renovation was done as part of the Muziris Heritage Project. The  wooden ceilings, pathways, balcony, Bena (from where the Torah is read), floors, etc have been well renovated. One Benny Kuriakose, conservation specialist  and his team did everything possible to put this heritage structure back to  past glory.

This 900 year old synagogue at paravur is worth visiting if you are on a holiday trip to Kochi and its neighborhood.