South Indian Beat

Muziris, The Lost Port

The exact location of Muziris is still not known to historians and archaeologists, but it is generally thought to be at Pattanam, an archaeological site 40 kms north of Cochin in Kerala, on the banks of River Periyar. Though Roman trade declined from the 5th century AD, this famous city had caught the attention of other nationalities by then, such as the Chinese, and trade continued from its ports until the 14th century when it is supposed to have been destroyed by floods. Muziris remained a legend till archaeological excavations in Kerala, starting in 2004, sparked reports of the evidence of a mysterious lost port. Archaelogists conducted explorations both in Kodungallur and Pattanam in 2006 and the sites yielded evidence of contact with different parts of the Indian Ocean littoral and with the hinterland, in the form of ceramic glasses, botanical evidence and other artefacts such as semi-precious stone beads.

Better Known to the world as "The Jerusalem of The East"

The Jews, escaping persecution in Jerusalem were welcomed as guests here. Records show Jewish settlers arrived here as far back as AD 70, after the siege of Jerusalem - resulting in Kodungallur becoming a "substitute Jerusalem in India". The Hindu kings of the region granted the Jews the right to live freely, to build synagogues and own property.

The Synagogues, Churches or temples situated close to each other are reflective of a time that not only maintained religious harmony but also was a time of unbiased acceptance of diversity. The peak activity period of the site corresponded to the time when port Muziris was believed to have been active. It had been generally assumed that Muziris referred to the port of Kodungallur, which had been put out of commission by devastating floods in 1341.

The Heritage Trail

The Muziris trail covers an area with a number of historical and religious monuments, waterways, circuit tour facilities and craft and artisanal practices from the region. Muziris was famous for welcoming people from different religious faiths especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Muziris is home to the first mosque in India; the Cheraman Juma Masjid and one of India's oldest churches; Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Pilgrim Church, North Paravur. Some of the oldest European monuments in India, such as Pallipuram Fort and Vypee Kotta Seminary, are also here. The heritage trail also comprises many museums and monuments referring to the different phases of colonial rule in the region, namely the Portuguese, Dutch and English. Visit the oldest synagogue in Paravur, It traces the rise and eventual dwindling of the Jewish community in this part of the world. Additionally, a must visit is the Chendamangalam synagogue, now converted into the Kerala Jews Lifestyle Museum. Here you will find information on subjects as diverse as Hebrew printing, Jewish homes, 'kosher' food, and the symbolic significance of light for the community.



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