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Jew Town in Fort Kochi: An easy way to travel back in time
Thursday, June 19th, 2014

By Blessy Jebaraj

If you live in India and want an unusual weekend getaway or if you happen to be in Cochin looking for a short break from routine, Fort Kochi should rank first on your list. A waterfront historic town close to the city of Cochin, Fort Kochi is best explored on foot. A tourist destination which preserves the elements of a bygone era, offers you sights and smells that linger and a walk to remember.

Fishing Nets Fort Kochi
Chinese Fishing Nets

When my friend and I were looking for a weekend getaway, another friend suggested this must-visit place near Fort Kochi – ‘Juice Treat’. “Juice Treat?” I asked, surprised that he would strongly recommend something that sounded so tacky. No, not Juice Treat! ‘Jew Street’. Aaaah!

Thus embarking on the journey to ‘Jew Street’, we landed on the shores of Fort Kochi. To reach Fort Kochi from Cochin, you can either take the local bus or the ferry.

Ride to Fort Kochi
Ferry Ride to Fort Kochi

Jew Street or Jew Town as it is more commonly known is a 2 kilometre walk from Fort Kochi. We wandered on the silent streets of Fort Kochi and found that these were pervaded with beautifully built and tastefully interior-designed coffee places, hotels, restaurants and colonial home-turned-stays. All of which seem to have sprouted up in the last couple of years, waiting to be discovered. Each home or hotel we passed had an ingenious name with a pleasant ring that we could not resist a peek into. Lining the sidewalk was a chain of open food-joints that invite passers-by with mouth-watering aromas of seafood delights.

Sightseeing At Fort Kochi

Jew Town

When hunger pangs persisted, we decided to stop by Rossitta Wood Castle in Fort Kochi. As we entered this quaint restaurant, preserved in its old town-ish charm, we were welcomed by a narrow corridor opening into a beautiful sunlit courtyard. When we stepped into the courtyard, it felt like stepping back in time. What rather was more striking was the tranquil feeling that dawned upon us, of being cut off from the rest of the world.

After scanning the multi-cuisine menu, we settled for a Chicken Sizzler and some rice. The food standards are definitely not a trade off for the old-time ambience. The food is reasonably priced and freshly prepared. The menu could have been more inventive though. The Sizzler served to us looked deceptively non-appetizing. But, as soon as the first mouthful was taken, neither of us could keep our hands off the hot plate.

If you wanted to eat something nice at a quiet place and read a book, Rossitta is definitely one of those rare places that will offer you that pleasure and with the added benefit of being light on the purse. But I assume other restaurants in Fort Kochi have a unique style and flavour to offer too.

Fort Kochi to Jew Town
On the road

After a very satisfying meal, a friendly chat with the waiter and some clicks, we headed out to explore more. We strolled off to the beach lined with Chinese fishing nets and a great view of the ships at the shipyard.

Our next stop was Jew Town. Within Jew Town, which encompasses the Paradesi Synagogue and commercial areas, Jew Street is a commercial street like no other you will encounter in Cochin. A very distinct looking street, it takes you back in time and civilization. Narrow streets where old Jewish homes house antiquities for sale but are run mostly by Kashmiris now. The shops here sell all kinds of curios that would appeal to a tourist. We spotted a good number of shops with quirky metallic and beaded trinkets, chikankari embroidered textiles and shawls varying from the heavily sequin-worked to subtle floral prints. There are shops that sell the much sought after elephant idols, carved wooden figures and medium sized metal sculptures. The prices range from moderate to high and if you like to bargain, Jew Town in Fort Kochi is not the place for you to shop. The ‘Haggle-free’ signboards at the shops make that very clear to you. Jew Street ends in the Paradesi Jewish synagogue, the oldest one in India. It is a fascinating place where you can understand the history of Jewish settlements in Kerala for an entry fee of Rs. 5/-.

Jewish Synagogue
Pardesi Synagogue

We ended the day’s picnic with a strong cup of coffee at the famous Kashi’s Art Café before taking the ferry at Fort Kochi. The boat service to the main city is very good, with a ferry every 15 minutes. As the sun was ready to set through the Chinese nets, we went back to Cochin with memories of a day well spent.

Cafe At Fort Kochi

Kashi's Art Cafe

The day ended with a feeling of refreshment. For those of you who want to and can afford to break off for a while from the busyness of the city, Fort Kochi is a perfect getaway easily accessible from Cochin.

About Blessy Jebaraj: A restless software professional, battling with a mid-life crisis, seeking her true calling in life. Passionate about writing and on a constant lookout for change and variety. Currently roaming the streets of Bangalore in the unending quest.

 Practical Info: How to reach Cochin

Airport: Cochin International Airport

Railway Station: Ernakulam Town and Ernakulam Junction

Bus Terminus: KSRTC Main Terminus Vytilla

Best time to visit: September to March

Where to stay in Fort Kochi: http://www.goseekandhide.com/category/cochin-hotels/

Suggestion: Combine 2 days in Fort Kochi with a short holiday in Kumarakom and an overnight houseboat stay in Alleppey.

Picture Courtesy:

On the road: Famous Tourist Destinations

Pardesi Synagogue: Wikipedia


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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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