Interior of the Paradesi Synagogue, Jewish Quarter or Jew Town, Mattancherry, Kochi, Cochin, Kerala, India
Olaf Kr¸ger/imageBROKER/© Olaf Kr¸ger/imageBROKER
While some claim that the first Jews arrived in Kerala as early as the reign of King Solomon, historical evidence that is more solid dates their presence here back to the 12th century. The area of Fort Cochin known as Jew Town has seven synagogues, but only the Paradesi Synagogue is still actively used. (Following the independence of India in 1947, many members of the Jewish community chose to immigrate to Israel or other Commonwealth nations.) Constructed in 1567, the synagogue has hand-painted porcelain tiles and an 18th-century clock tower that are both of special interest.