Kochi

Synagogue Lane at Jew Town to be restored by mid-February

The delay in completing renovation works of Synagogue Lane has been attributed to multiple stakeholder consultations on different aspects of the project and the pandemic.

The delay in completing renovation works of Synagogue Lane has been attributed to multiple stakeholder consultations on different aspects of the project and the pandemic.

The 120-metre-long Synagogue Lane at Jew Town in Mattancherry – home to the 450-year-old Paradesi Synagogue which is the second popular heritage tourism attraction in Kochi after the Chinese fishing nets — is set to be restored to its past glory by mid-February.

The added attractions which further the lane’s heritage value would include street lights designed like the Star of David and part covering of the historic lane with shreds of roof tiles that are said to date back to 400 years. They were unearthed a year ago when the surface of the lane was scooped out as part of the restoration/upgradation work which also included laying of a utility duct through its centre.

Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML), which was tasked with a project to upgrade roads and drains in Mattancherry and Fort Kochi heritage towns, heeded to the demand from heritage enthusiasts and took up the Synagogue Lane work as well. A 45-ft clock tower at the far end near the synagogue is yet another attraction on the street, which still has houses where a handful of Jews reside. Arriving at a decision on the design of street lights and the laying of underground cables alone took multiple stakeholder consultations. A plan to install lights on the exterior of heritage buildings and shops that dot the narrow lane, in order to do away with the need for lamp posts on the narrow lane, was given up following a few concerns and a decision was taken to have lights designed like the Star of David fixed atop cast iron lamp posts, official sources said.

Stakeholder consultations and negotiations on these aspects, the pandemic and a revisit of the utility duct in view of the high groundwater table delayed the lane’s restoration by a few months, they added.

Semi-polished cobble stones have been laid on the street for guests who walk to the synagogue and the clock tower, while polished cobble stones have been laid on one side for wheelchair access.

“Our team has suggested that two feeder pillars (also called power box, which controls power supply to nearby buildings) which were installed a few months ago and which block a view of the street and buildings on either side, be relocated to a vacant space that is available at the entry to the lane,” said Biley Menon, co-convenor of INTACH, Kochi Chapter, who was among those who convened stakeholder meetings in connection with the work on the heritage lane.

He had earlier suggested ‘walkover street lights’ that were buried on ground. They would be safe even if vehicles drove over them. “It would also be ideal if the facade of buildings that dot either side of the lane and their roofing adopt a uniform style and colour, in order to become a model heritage street. This is an opportunity to adopt a unified pattern for public infrastructure in such heritage zones,” he said.


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 10:03:11 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/synagogue-lane-at-jew-town-to-be-restored-by-mid-february/article38326297.ece