"Back to Cochin, Soon enough..." Top 5 Page for this destination Kochi by cochinjew

Kochi Travel Guide: 442 reviews and 1,058 photos

Return to Cochin, every four months ....

18th october 2008 In less than two months I am back in Cochin, this time with the desire to attend the simchah Torah celebrations at the sysnagogue and to relax from the busy schedule of work in Cambodia.
This visit is made more enjoyable by the fact that there are hardly any tourists, the fear of Monsoon and the financial crisis has driven away the tourists. last night i was the only one at my hotel, the other hotels had one to five guests each except where the group tourists stay. I enjoy the calm and tranquility and less jinateros/touts on the streets. they must have left with the tourists..
18th August 2008 It feels wonderful to be back in Cochin with the sole purpose of relaxing rather than running around.
plans are: ayurvedic massage, vegetarian food, reading and writing
9th july 2007 yangon to singapore to cennai (not stopping at either place) to Cochin, just for three days to breathe that air once again, returning to Paris on bastille Day! 3rd visit for 2007
It is only the end of April, have been in Cochin twice already in four months and within one month would be there again. This time the visit is spurred by the desire to create something to help the health and sanitary situation of the hill tribes of Kerala. Will be there on 1st June. Flying Air France to Bangalore and train to Cochin, fly to Mumbai and Air France to Miami via Paris..
leaving Paris on 30th to go to Cochin. Erev Pesach on 2nd April. will leave soon afterwards...
Called Elias, he is expecting me for Seder; Suresh has Metropoiltan Hotel near the Railway station booked for the first night, since it will be late after the seder to go back to Ft Cochin, Densel has rooms ready for me at Ballards Hotel!

What a hospitable people are these Keralaites.. Bienvennue, BemVindo, Bienvenidos. Merci Beaucoup/muchas gracias/muito obrigado/arigato gozaimasu

writing this from Paris, France where we arrived on 2nd January 2007, after leaving Cochin on 1st January. We ate well, had a series of ayurvedic massages, slept well and met some outstanding individuals: Suresh the travel agent at IndiaTouristland near the Ernakulam Junction Railway Station; Elias the last of the remaining Indian Jews who takes care of Kudavambugam synagogue in Ernakulam, at the corner of Jew Street and Market street; Densal Sany who manages an unruly group of his workers and produce a profit from the Ballard Group of Hotels which is then used by the Diocese of Cochin for charity.
Of all the Indians I have met, the friendliest have been the Malayalees of Kerala, this includes the previous Indian Ambassador to Cuba, ( I must add the Tamils of Malaysia are also very friendly). This time around I was once again astonished and gratified by the friendship offered us in Cochin.
Amitav Ghosh was educated at Oxford, DPhil in Social Anthropology and has produced some excellent fiction: usually geopolitical and social as befits an anthropologist. I can think of two of his excellent books: The Glass Palace about Burma and The Hungry Tide about the fisherman of Sunderbans.
He has also published collection of essays and in one of them, Imam and the Indian is an excellent and exceedingly interesting article The Slave of MS 56 ( manuscript number from Cairo Geniza)
I was absolutely fascinated by the account of a Jewish merchant, Abraham ben Yiju, native of Mahdia in Tunisia who arrived in Mangalore in the early part of 1100 (twelfth century, nearly four hundred years before Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut!
My next trip to Cochin would be to unearth some more material of the history of the Jews of the Malabar Coast, not of the current jewish residents of Mattanchery who probably arrived after the expulsion from spain in 1492.

Visits to Cochin: 2005, twice in 2004, 1999, 1995
next visit in 2008 December to give a lecture at the Endocrine Society of India

Portuguese, Dutch and The British

Eventhough I have no relatives in Melaka or Cochin.. I was in both these cities in the span of one week. Very interesting to compare the colonial history which is parallel.
Baracoa where I live currently was also settled by europeans ( espanoles) in 1511, the same year Portuguese arrivedin Malacca and a little earlier to Malabar. Around the same time they also arrived in Brasil.
The Jews of Malabar suffered only under the Portuguese ( with their christian hangups about Jews ) . Both the Dutch and the British were very tolerant of the Jews.
It is not anti semitism like in many muslim countries that drove the 2000 strong Malabar Jews away.. it is the messianic belief in the state of Israel.. where they can be found in flower wholesale business and in moshavs near netanya. Israeli born Cochin Jews are very difficult to distinguish from other Israelis even if they tend to be tad darker.. Nothing Indian about them.. Hodu is the Hebrew word for India.
It has been my interest to follow the great portuguese explorers... unusual places like Ouidah and Porto Novo, Zanzibar and Calicut, Galle and Melaka , Colonia and Paraty are some of the thousands of spots around the world these great navigators touched.. ( everywhere they persecuted Jews.. When they landed in Bahia Brasil, they kicked the jews out to Suriname and Jamaica and Barbados )
15 oct 2006 issue of Outlook Money Magazine has rated Cochin as the best place to live in India. Also least crime ridden. I am glad I chose well, the place to like in India.
Incidentally Bangalore is one of the top places to make money but with high crimes against women! so beware. Fifty towns are rated and you can check them out, if you are interested.
I plan to spend end of this year holidays in Cochin: possibly stay at Cherumal Palace Hotel and spend time in the backwaters near Vaikom in the boat of a friend of mine, Mr Suresh who owns India Travel Land with offices near the Ernakulam Railway Station.
Was in Cochin in December 2008 to give a lecture at the Meeting of the Indian society of Endocrinologists. It was an unique experience. But did get to meet the usual group of friends and ate at the usual restaurants... and some new ones.. as always. three times in 2008

The Jewish History of Kerala

has been hijacked by the small number of Jews who live in Mattanchery who had arrived India after expulsion from Spain via Turkey and other Ottoman countries. Offering their services to the British as middlemen they prospered in the civil service, whereas the original jews were relegated to agriculture and other non skilled work ( which came in very handy when they migrated to Israel!)
The so called White Jews are almost extinct.. only 14 left and mostly old and senile.
If you are truly interested in the history of Jews of Kerala, there is a gentleman called ELIAS who runs a nursery called Cochin Blossoms in Market Street who would show you around the Kundambagam synagogue and also arrange for you to visit the older Parur and Mala synagogues and an ancient jewish cemetery near Mala.
I am very much interested in assisting him restore the three old synagogues and keep the government out of it, so that the memory of jewish life in this ancient land would not end up becoming a circus like it has in Mattanchery.
How can I pray for the soul of departed in the synagogue when people are wandering around without any idea of the sacred nature of the place? Would you do that in the great synagogue in Buenos Aires? or Bevis Marks in London? I felt sad this time, as I did at the old Iraqi synagogue in Yangon which is no where as beautiful as the Mttanchery synagogue. But the jewish life is gone, just memories remain. which at least some descendants would maintain.
Like Alvaro Mutis says: Memories are not dead until the last of those who remembered dies..

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Wonderful Place to visit, a little emotional for Jews
  • Cons:They have turned it into a circus with oppressed Kashmiri Moslem peddlers
  • In a nutshell:Best enjoyed when there are less tourists...Indian or Otherwise
  • Last visit to Kochi: Feb 2010
  • Intro Updated Feb 13, 2010
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Reviews (123)

Comments (14)

  • FruitLover's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    nameste& shalom, thanx for thinking on me and for the interesting information about sympathy for Israel. Avi

  • Jun 6, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    How to reach there

  • mtshastafam's Profile Photo
    Feb 9, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    you are so kind! I hope she finds you...i lost my camera once and all my photos...wish you had found my card :>)...photos are priceless

  • Dec 11, 2009 at 5:35 AM

    Very good Photos For kerala packages please contact Suresh at Tourist land cochin -0484-2377880,9447291601 938777113 www.indiatouristland.com

  • windcity's Profile Photo
    Sep 29, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Hello, In 1986 my husband and I married at Jewtown Synagougue, I believe we were almost the last couple to do so. We are English so it caused quite a stir at the time. Let me know if you would like to know more about our experience. All the best...Sue

  • 6aruna's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2008 at 1:54 AM

    hello can i come and help?

  • Oct 15, 2008 at 10:12 PM

    Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), not an H2 blocker.

  • songlines's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2008 at 2:21 AM

    Thank you for sharing the info on the forest people in Kerala, while there last winter, I also visited some of the tribal people/villages, so very interesting, it was wonderful to be able to do this. I hope to be back in 2009 for another visit.

  • piglet44's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2008 at 5:03 AM

    we were in Cochi in 2003 and in a shop met a man who said his best friend from high school lives in Rishon Lezion and then took out an old copy of the Jerusalem Post to show us! shalom

  • Jan 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    Love this place too... very homely and comforting food here..

cochinjew

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