Posted by: cochinblogger | October 25, 2014

The Old Jewish Cemetery of Ernakulam

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The Jews of Cochin are down to a handful at present, with most of them having migrated to Israel. Their legacy survives in the synagogues and cemeteries scattered all over Kerala. The Old Jewish Cemetery is at Convent Junction, a shopping hub of the city. The plot measures about two acres and is sadly neglected, usually overgrown with foliage. The only entrance, from which the gate has all but disappeared, is a garbage dump. Every few years the plot is cleared, and the broken structures lying within become visible. The cemetery is flanked on its western and eastern sides by St. Teresa’s College and the Esplanade Shopping Complex, respectively, and on the other two sides by the college and public roads.

A few months ago, the plot was cleared, and the above notice was prominently displayed. The Department of Archaeology had taken over the plot. I peeped over the walls, and took a few photos of the crumbling tombs.

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The building in the distance is St. Teresa’s College, which lends Convent Junction its name.

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This is how the plot looks now; it’s a veritable jungle. I had to sprout a pair of wings to take these pics. Where there’s a will there’s a way. 🙂

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The entrance is a garbage dump.

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The signboard needs protection from the foliage. 🙂

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I was reminded of the following from Paul Theroux’s travel classic, The Great Railway Bazaar:

On the ornate temple walls, stuck with posters, defaced with chisels, pissed on, and scrawled over with huge Devanagri script advertising Jaipur business, there was a blue enamel sign, warning visitors in Hindi and English that it was ‘forbidden to desecrate, deface, mark, or otherwise abuse the walls’. The sign itself had been defaced; the enamel was chipped — it looked partly eaten.

Who will protect the protector?

Here is an article on the Old Jewish Cemetery with interesting historical details:

Jewish Monuments of Kerala: The Old Jewish Cemetery of Ernakulam

And some photographs from a Jewish photo library:

Old Jewish Cemetery

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