From times immemorial, India was considered to be a safe place for various religious groups facing persecution in their home lands. Jews are considered to be the earliest, seeking refuge and settling in this hospitable country. Once, while at Kochi (Cochin), roaming in the Jews Street, we found a dead Jew waiting for 10 persons of their clan, for the religious ceremonies to commence, for his burial. (You can find it here). This created an urge to know about this community, still found in various states of India.
Incidentally we learn that Mr. Samuel Halegua, the head of Kochi’s Paradesi Synagogue, a great story teller, passed away to his heavenly abode on the 17th September last year. He was 76 .Our homage's to him.
|The Direction Board - The small board telling about the Synagogue was over looked|
While returning from the beach, we decided to have a look at the Jewish Temple (Synagogue). We reached the very place from where we had taken a right turn towards the beach. In the corner there was a general store where we stopped and sought for directions to the place we intended to visit. We were delighted to learn from the owner of the shop that the road adjoining the shop was the Israeli Lane and that the synagogue was very close, located in the 1st lane to the left. Incidentally the shop owner himself was a Jew, which we learnt later but he had given some Maharshtrian name which we forgot. We found that people were familiar with the synagogue if one asks for the Israeli Masjid.
|Typical houses in the Israeli lane - Here we were required to turn to the left|
|Front view of the Alibaug Synagogue|
|Jacob Eliza in the Pulpit|
After thanking Mr. Jacob for the insight provided by him, we proceeded to a Gujrati Resraurant as we were feeling hungry. After taking lunch with liberal doses of butter milk, we were heading for the Birla’s Vinayaka Temple which was at ‘Agarkot’ near ‘Revdanda’ some 20 kilometers away. Initially the road was winding through rice fields and started passing through beautiful villages with good houses. There was greenery all around. Vegetation was very thick. Houses were surrounded by Coconut, Aricanut, Jackfruit and many other trees. We felt as if we are passing through the interior parts of Kerala. En-route we passed through ‘Nagaon’, the place where the Jews originally settled. Then there was ‘Chaul’ which was once a main centre of the Portuguese. An old church of their times still exists together with the ruins of the fort they had built. From the ramparts of the ruined fort one can have a captivating view of the ‘Revdanda’ coastline. We tried capture it in our Camera but the shutter refused to open up. Therefore a borrowed view is given here. It seems that we lost our way. After crossing a bridge we were to reach Revdanda and then to Agarkot but before we could consult the passers by, there appeared a medieval temple. We stopped there and visited the deity inside the temple which was Someshwar Mahadeva and the place was Chaul Sarai. The road beyond could have taken us back to Alibaug.