The Jew Street in Kochi used to be among the world’s oldest Jewish communities. However, many of the Jewish people who were living in the area moved to Israel. Now, the street has become a popular shopping area in Fort Kochi. The Jew Street is a very quiet place compared to its nearby Market Road.
At one time, the street used to belong only to the Jewish inhabitants. Even though the Jews have left the place, some of their traditions are still being recognized. Apart from that, the street is also a great place to shop in Kochi. Some of the things sold here are Ayurvedic soaps, aromatic oils, organic spices, antiques and many more. You can also find different versions of the well-known coconut oil of Kerala. This oil is said to be the reason why local women in Kerala have very long and thick hair. It is said that the oil have nourishing properties that keeps hair beautiful and thick. Even men use this for their hairs to keep it from thinning.
Despite the modern changes in Kochi, some places still manage to keep their old culture and customs. One of them is the Jew Street. As you walk along the place, you can still find century-old buildings. There are lots of old buildings with Dutch architecture found in the area. The street has now become a very well-known marketplace for spices.
Historical Facts of Jew Street
Back in 700 B.C., the Jews came to Kerala and built their own community in Cranganore, which is now called Kodungallur. This is an early port outside of Cochin. However, the Jews had conflicts with the Muslims living in Calicut, now called Kozhikode. According to the locals, it was a conflict regarding pepper trade. Because of this, the Jews had to move to Cochin where they were protected by the Hindu Raja. They built their spice business and the entire street prospered over the years. This is how it got the name Jew Street.
The city of Kochi has some of the highest quality of spices such as pepper, ginger, cloves, cardamom and turmeric. The place is just so abundant with these spices, which is mostly traded at Jew Street. As you walk along the place, you can smell the strong fragrance and aroma of the spices. There are warehouses lining the narrow streets, where spice merchants bargain while some are drying, sorting and packing spices. The goods are available at very affordable prices, so it is the perfect place to shop.
The Jew Street in Kochi is also packed with antique shops. Here, you can find a selection of old furniture, traditional utensils, porcelain and classic glassware, clocks, old photographs and other things from the old times. There is even an antique shop that displays the largest vaarpu, which is a flat vessel made from bronze with handles on each side. Make sure to ask for a bargain when you shop as some sellers will quote you with high prices.
The Jew Street in Kochi is a haven for spices and antique goods. It is also a wonderful place to visit in the city to experience the unique culture of Kerala.