Chendamangalam Chennamangalam is a small town and a panchayat in Paravur Taluk, Ernakulam district, Kerala. It is about 35 km from Ernakulam. It has three rivers, seven inlets, hillocks and large expanses of green plain. Chendamangalam is a part of Greater Cochin.
The Paliam Palace, residence of the Paliath Achans, hereditary Prime Ministers to the former Maharajas of Kochi, is one of the architectural splendours of Kerala. The Palace is over 450 years old and houses a collection of historic documents and relics.
The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom are unique as the site of a Hindu temple, a Christian church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all within 1 km of each other. The synagogue was built in 1614 AD and is in a peaceful wooded area. In the courtyard behind the synagogue, it is possible to find old Jewish graves, including one of a Jewish woman, dated 1264 AD.
The Jews arrived in Chendamangalam after the destruction of the second temple and the final desolation of Jerusalem in (AD 69) and founded a colony. They moved to Fort Kochi in 1341 AD after the Great flood. All the synagogues in Kerala - Chendamangalam, Mala, and Kochi - have similar traditional architectural features: a central bimah of brass or silver metal on a concrete or stone base, an ark on the western wall, a balcony above the eastern entry to the sanctuary that is used by the reader on certain holidays. Behind the balcony is the women's gallery, with a stairway leading up to it, usually from outside the building. The synagogue has been restored and has an exhibit which is open to visitors from 9:30 to 5:00 during the week.
Also here are remains of the Vypeenakotta Seminary built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. Adjacent to the seminary is an old Syrian Catholic Church built in 1201. It is also the site of the first printing press in India. The church was later rebuilt in Portuguese style.
The synagogue at Chennamangalam reflects traditional Kerala architecture and has utilized western construction technology. Some of the visual attractions of this synagogue are undoubtedly the majestic altar, which stands out for its intricate artwork. The synagogue has a high roof, which at first sight would itself convince one about the difficulties that the craftsmen might have encountered while fixing it. The ceiling of the roof has a brightly coloured chequered pattern, with huge wooden beams giving additional support to the roof.
A wooden balcony with beautifully carved balusters and railings is another attraction of this synagogue. There is another balcony, meant exclusively for women. A marvellous craftsmanship in wood, a spiral wooden staircase leads to this balcony.
Chennamangalam is also an example of religious tolerance and harmonious co-existence, which can be felt by the presence of temple, mosque and church located close to the synagogue.
Visitors to the synagogue at Chennamangalam with a penchant for traditional architecture can also pay a visit to the Paliam Palace, which was once the abode of Paliath Achans, who were the Prime Ministers of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi. Historic documents and relics are on display at this palace.
Sree Venugopla Krishnaswami Dewasthan
Sree Venugopala Krishna Swami Dewasthan was established in 1900 AD at Chennamangalam (Jayantha mangalam), the main deity is Venugopalakrishna Swamy. The main idol is Shila Vigrah of Venugopalakrishna Swamy. There is also an Utsav idol of the Lord and the idols of Garuda and Hanuman at His feet. The temple celebrates six day long annual festival in the month of Vaisakh.