Monday, January 17, 2011

Synagogue, Temple, some Police and a bit of washing !

Pardesi Synagogue was originally built in 1568, partially destroyed by the Portugese in 1662 and rebuilt when the Dutch took Kochi a couple of years later. It has fabulous hand painted blue and white willow pattern floor tiles from China, a golden pulpit, and loads of Belgian glass chandeliers for candles which must make the building really hot if they were all lit - specially nice for the women who have to sit separately upstairs. There are hardly any Cochin Jews left and to keep this, the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth, operational Jews from outlying areas come in to worship. Salman Rushdie incorporates it in his novel The Moors Last Sigh which I must re-read again now I've seen it. The usual no photo, no shoes applied so all I've got is the entrance guarded by a mustached man on the left and the clock tower which was built in 18th century.

There have been Jews in Cochin from around 52AD, the first settlers arrived from Yemen and Babylon. We had a wander around the narrow lanes turning down the many kind offers to come into various shops. We did dip into a narrow, cool, dark 'Mall' called The Ethnic Passage (got to be a better name than the back passage!) which has been beautifully restored and has an interesting selection of shops and nice loos upstairs, keys from the cafe. I bought a bloody book - can you imagine, as if I'm not lugging enough around with me already!

Our next stop was the most innovative museum I've seen for ages. The International Tourism Police Station & Police Museum has an interesting collection of uniforms through the ages, handcuffs, weapons, pictures of vehicles used, old town pictures etc etc. You get given a leaflet that sets out their objectives and duties as well as giving tourist tips for safety and some useful numbers - I had no idea the emergency number for police was 100 - I do now! Best of all you could take photos - although it has to be said it is not the most photogenic subject in the world!

Then onto the Jain Temple which is adorned with swastikas an ancient symbol for good luck before it was expropriated by the Nazis. It was also adorned by pigeons - safe in the knowledge that Janism, an Indian religion, believes in non-violence towards all living beings!

Last stop - at the rickshaw drivers insistence was the public laundry. He was right, it was interesting, but I'm certainly not sending my clothes to the laundry here - so it was back to the hotel to do a bit of hand washing!

We've just had a knock at the door and it was one of the guys from the front desk telling us our dinner tonight is complimentary - in view of the fact that we are staying here 5 nights. I think most people just charge through doing Cochin in a day type of thing. We are so lucky to have the time to enjoy this laid back elegant place. Dinner tonight will be in the garden with twinkly lights and live music which is out of this world. I do have night shots but on the little camera and as usual I'm not organised enough to upload them just yet. Its going to be hard leaving ....


Philippa said...

Ooh. Bet dinner will be lovely. Enjoy xx

The 4Larkins said...

Looks like you are having a lovely time.. the hotel looks fabulous.. was Dad actually driving that tuk tuk or just posing?!!
We've printed the first instalment off for Great Grandpa Harry.. if you keep this pace up we'll be out of ink before you get
Love TJBJ xxxx

axx said...

Philippa dinner was fab :-)

You know your Dad - he was posing of course!! :-) Thanks for keeping Grandad in the loop with our news. Next week will probably be a lot lighter - beach, beach and more beach!