The entrance to the walled cemetery is only via a small opening at the northern corner of the not so impressive Esplanade shopping complex. Ever since the rusted gate at the entrance was stolen by rag-pickers, the graveyard has literally turned into a dumping ground and a breeding yard for mosquitoes, rats and snakes. Sadly, the cemetery and its premises have also become a hub for illegal activities and a hide-out for anti-social elements in the dark. Today, at the entrance to the cemetery is a billboard advertising a perfume brand, beneath which mounds of smelly garbage block the way. The unwelcoming entrance and heavy vegetation changed my plan to get inside and have a better view of the tombs. Instead, I decided to have an overall view of the cemetery from the topmost floor of the 'Esplanade Shopping Complex'. Some of the following photographs are taken from the 5th floor of Esplanade. In 2009, when the cemetery was cleared of the vegetation, Jono David managed to take some nice photographs of the tombs. Here is the link and you can explore more than a dozen of Hebrew tomb stones from these snaps.
Similarly, when the Viceroy Lord Willingdon and his wife visited Cochin in 1930s, it is said that Lady Willingdon was approached by the St. Teresa’s authorities to discuss about the spookiness of the place that haunted their students. As a result, the Diwan of Cochin was asked to stop further Jewish burials in the old cemetery and allot a new plot for Jews. Perhaps that is how the new Jewish cemetery of Ernakulam started? On another occasion, the Cochin Municipal Corporation decided to build a sports stadium on the site, the Jewish community had to appeal to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to get the project canceled! In 1996, there was another attempt to encroach the old cemetery of Ernakulam which again was turned back by the Jewish Community with great effort. It is not clear if a portion of the old cemetery was used while the Esplanade Shopping Complex was built. Currently, the old Jewish cemetery of Ernakulam is not functional and remains in a highly neglected state. 'Neither the Kochi Corporation nor the caretakers of the cemetery take any interest in the maintenance of the land', regrets the local people. May be once the cemetery is transferred to the Department of Archaeology or the Government of Kerala, we can expect a better appearance.