Last Updated: September 9, 2019 Nidhi Singh
The history of Christianity and Churches date back to 52 AD in India. It is believed that St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus visited the country and thus introduced a new faith in South India. St. Thomas himself established one or two Church in Kerala but he inspired many to construct these Christian places of worship across the country. Colonization was a significant era of building churches as the Dutch, Portuguese, French and British people brought with them new styles of architecture, which resulted in delivering India with exquisite churches that are a must see in India.
This blog offers a list of some of the best churches in India that you should miss out on if you are an architecture aficionado:
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Photo: https://goo.gl/FnbPnd
Basilica of Bom Jesus is amongst the most famous churches in India. The church is around 300 years old and holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier. It is one of the finest examples of Portuguese influence as the edifice is done in signature Baroque style. The flooring has been done in marble, inlaid with precious stones, the altar is elaborate with gilded gold work, the murals and the artistic rendition are also worth the appreciation. The church has been declared as the world heritage site and also boasts of a museum. A large number of believers gather at the church when the preserved body of Saint Francis Xavier is put on display.
Se Cathedral Church, Goa
Se Cathedral Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/OXYzgH
Reckoned as one of the largest churches in India, Se Cathedral is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. This church was built in order to revel the victory of Portuguese under a Muslim army, which led to the capture of the city of Goa. Since this triumph coincidentally happened on the feast of St. Catherine, the cathedral was dedicated to her. The construction of the chutrch began in 1562 and was completed in 1619. The church measures 250m in height and 181 in breadth. The highlight of the church is its “Golden Bell”, which is said to be one of the best bells in the world. On the main Altar, there are a few old paintings that are dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. On the right, there is a chapel, which is also known as Cross of Miracles.
Velankanni Church, Nagapattinam
Velankanni Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/fgLd7E
Velankanni Church is probably one of the most visited churches in India. Velankanni town is located on the coast of Bay of Bengal and is famous for its Basilica which is dedicated to ‘Lady of Health’ and is called Our Lady of Good Health or Our Lady of Velankanni. It has been proved for centuries that Velankanni is known as the “Lourdes of the East” and it is said that when worshipers offer candles to the Mother, their illness is cured. This Christian shrine is a great symbol of multiculture and international and religious harmony.
Christ Church, Shimla
Christ Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/INBEPc
Christ Church, which is situated in the centre of the town of Shimla is believed to be the second oldest church in North India. This sacred church is the prominent landmark of Shimla that reflects the beauty of British era architecture. Built in the Neo-Gothic style in 1857, the church contains five fine stained glass windows and each window represents different Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Patience and Humility. The pipe-organ in the church is the biggest in the Indian subcontinent and was installed in September 1899.
Medak Cathedral, Telangana
Medak Cathedral, Photo: https://goo.gl/XxYVfD
Medak Cathedral is one of the stunning churches buildings in India. Done in Gothic Revival style, the cathedral is 200ft (61m) long and 100ft (30m) wide. It is said that mosaic tiles used in the construction of the church were imported from Britain and are of six different colours. Not only this, Italian masons were called for laying the decorative flooring. The massive pillars built with fine-hewn and well dressed grey stone are not only the support of the building but also the highlight of it. Another highlight of the church is its 175ft (53m) high bell-tower.
Santhome Church, Chennai
Santhome Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/q1ggxG
Santhome Church is a historically and architecturally a very important church in India. Located in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the church sports a classic Neo-Gothic style of architecture. It is also the plave where the remains of St. Thomas are said to have been kept. The church boasts arched windows, white washed spires, wooden roofs and domes that are worth being captured in the lens. There is also a museum in the premises of the church that has put remnants from the older church built here.
St. Paul Cathedral, Kolkata
St. Paul Cathedral, Photo: https://goo.gl/RiA7jM
One of the finest looking churches in India, the St. Paul Cathedral is definitely a must see in Kolkata. Located on what is known ‘the island of attractions’, the church is done in Gothic Revival Style and has gorgeous arched windows with stained glass which makes quite a sight to see when the sun rays touch them. The frescoes inside the church are also noteworthy, one of the best times to visit the church is during the midnight mass on Christmas Eve when the church is lit up and proves to be the most amazing thing you can feast your eyes on.
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Palayoor
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/Puxd0I
St Thomas is an important Christian pilgrimage in Kerala. The church is named after St. Thomas, the apostle who is believed to have spread the teachings of Christianity in South India. It is among the old churches in India and dates back to 52 AD. It is also believed that church was built by St. Thomas himself, thus it has been declared as an international pilgrimage spot by the Vatican. Since it is on the hill top, climbing the hill, it offers a great experience to the worshipers to get to the church and pray.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi
Santa Cruz Basilica, Photo: https://goo.gl/bYtTBN
Santa Cruz in Kochi is also amongst the oldest churches in India and was originally built by the Portuguese in 1505. It was then in 1558, the church was recognized asa cathedral by the then pope, Pope Paul IV. This church makes an important landmark of Kochi as it is said that it was amongst the few edifices that were spared when the Dutch invaded and destroyed other catholic buildings.
Parumala Church, Parumala
Parumala Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/coRLtm
Named after the great Saint, Saint Gregorious Geevarghese, Parumala is a parish church of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Thiruvalla district of Kerala. It is also known as the tomb of Saint Gregorious Geevarghese. The church can accommodate about 2000 people at a time. It is in a circular church with a diameter of 39 meters and is believed to have great miracle powers.
Rosary Church, Shettihalli, Hassan
Rosary Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/XJ5RZT
Built by French Missionaries in 1860, Rosary Church in Shettihalli is situated near the banks of River Hemvathy. In 1960, Gorur dam was built close the church, thus after which every monsoon whenever the water level rises, the church is found submerged in the water. At times, only the spire is seen. It is said that the church is built by mixing brick, mortar and eggs.
St. Anne Church, Goa
St. Anne Church, Photo: https://bit.ly/2WvO4Zu
The Church of St Anne is known for its fine architectural blend of Indo-Western style. The church at Talaulim, Goa can be termed as the masterpiece of the Indian Baroque style and was once included in the ‘World Monuments Watch 2000 List of 100 Most Endangered Sites’ by the New York based WMF.
Our Lady of Dolours Church, Trichur Basilia
Our Lady of Dolours Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/B0SmXk
Our Lady of Dolours is recognized as the third tallest church in Asia and the largest church in India. Done in Gothic style of architecture, the church boasts spectacular interior decorations that includes fine spicemens of scenes from the scriptures, specimens of murals and images of saints.
Basilica of Holy Rosary Church, Hooghly
Basilica of Holy Rosary Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/hFS0sQ
Basilica of Holy Rosary was established around 1660 and is one of the oldest churches in West Bengal. A church was built by Portuguese on the banks of Hooghly almost a century after Vasco da Gama reached this state. Considered to be built by Gomez de Soto, it has a key stone of the old church that has engraved 1559 over the gate of the monastery. There are three altars, several tomb stones and a small musical organ in the church. It is also one of the most popular historical churches in West Bengal.
Moravian Church, Leh
Moravian Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/GB7Tue
Situated at the height of more than 11000 feet, Moravian Church in Leh is one among the highest churches of India. The church was first consecrated in Leh by German missionaries in 1834 who brought some local Buddhist residents into their fold. Belonging to the Protestant denomination, the church has a history of being a successful attempt of missionaries to far-flung places in India.
St. George’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church, Kochi
St. George’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/MzM26T
This church is also popular among the non-Christians. St. George’s Syro-Malabar Catholic Forane Church or Edapally Forane Church’s construction dates back to 594 AD. In 1080 AD, a bigger church was built next to the old one to accommodate the congregation that had grown. The church has undergone many renovations since the time of its construction and has a picture of the Virgin surrounded by other sculptures of angels. On the wall behind the altar, there is a painting of Heaven and a statue of St. George mounted on his horse, spearing the dragon can also be seen in the church.
St. Thomas Church, Guruvayoor
St. Thomas Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/w79F7k
St. Thomas is a famous ancient church of Guruvayoor. The church is the oldest Romo-Syrian church in India and is alsoknown as an Apostolic Church as it is dedicated to St. Thomas, the apostle who spread Christianity in the southern part of the country. The church depicts the life of St. Thomas and is famous for its 14 granite statues installed at the entrance of the church reflecting various stages of St. Thomas life.
Vallarpadam Church, Kochi
Vallarpadam Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/twHwX4
Also known as “The Church of Our Lady Ransom”, Vallarpadam is a famous Christian pilgrimage spot. The church is dedicated to Mother Mary who is also called as Vallarpadathamma. The chiurch was initially built in 1524 by the Portuguese, but was then destroyed by the Dutch. In 1676 the church was rebuilt and in 1951 was declared as a major pilgrim centre by the Union Government of India.
St. Francis Church, Kochi
St. Francis Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/RYxcym
St. Francis is amongst the oldest European Churches in India and is situated in Kochi, Kerala. The church stands as an evidence of history of Christianity in India as it describes the struggle of the European colonies in India. In 1923, this church was recongnized as a protected monument in India. It has also briefly been the resting place of Vasco Da Gama, who was originally buried here, before his remains were taken back to Lisbon.
All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad
All Saints Cathedral, Photo: https://goo.gl/lctQSq
All Saints Cathedral in Allahabad is a late 19th century church. The church is known for its intricate work and designs on the marble altar and its stained glass panel. Done in a fine Gothic style of architecture, All Saints Cathedral Church is a major tourist attraction in Prayagraj. It is also known as the “Patthar Girja” and is one of the finest specimen of European structure in India.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Goa
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/cSKjEf
Reckoned to be the first church to be built in Goa, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception offers a striking commentary on the religious conditions of the time and the wealth available to the churches. The church has interior which is relatively simple by the standards of the time. There are two flanking altars that catch the eye, out of which one on the left is dedicated to Jesus Crucified and that on the right to Our Lady of the Rosary. Done in heavily gilded, deeply carved ornamentation, yet compact and controlled, these statues are a fine example of the Portuguese period.
St. Philomena’s Church, Mysore
St. Philomena’s Church, Photo: https://goo.gl/zehy1b
St. Philomena’s is a Roman Catholic Church that was built in AD 1840. Earlier known as St. Joseph Chaver, the church has twin towers that stands majestically at 175 feet. Done in the Gothic Style of architecture, the church resembles the St. Patrick’s cathedral at New York and a church at Cologne. It is believed that then king of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV laid the foundation for construction of the church in 1933 and it has been designed a French Architect. The church has a celler where there is a statue of St. Philomena who was a saint during the 3rd century in Greece. A piece of her bone and cloths are also said to have been preserved in this church.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puducherry
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Photo: https://goo.gl/LF3c8B
Immaculate Conception Cathedral is also known as “Samba Kovil” and is located on Mission Street in Puducherry. The church bears a resemblance with church in France that was built in 1791 on the ruins of the older church. Boasting of an imposing facade with paired Doric columns below and ionic above and interior design consisting eight barrel vaults and a central dome pierced with eight circular openings, the church is a fine specimen of the French architecture in India. In front of the church is a statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms, which also makes the highlight here.
St. Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
St. Aloysius Chapel, Photo: https://goo.gl/y1vq3y
Established in the year 1885, St. Aloysius Chapel bears resemblance with world’s most renowned Sistine Chapel at Rome. This chapel in India posses some stunning paintings on the ceiling, along with oil canvas paintings and fresco paintings depicting various scenes from the Bible. The ceilings has portraits of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Crowing of the Cock and many other saints.
Cathedral of The Sacred Heart, Delhi
Cathedral Of The Sacred Heart, Photo: https://goo.gl/gwSJCi
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is popular as one of the most prestigious of Catholic Churches in Delhi. The church is situated amidst the 14 acres of lush greenery. Sacred Heart is also one of the oldest churches in Delhi. The highlight of this Christian place of worship is the impressive and white altar made of marble. It is said that Sir Anthony de Mello gave the altar and the Archbishop of Agra donated the bell, robes and other furnishings to the church.
Well, that is a wrap now. We hope you enjoyed learning about the gorgeous churches in India. If there are more churches that you know of that should be included in this list, please let us know in the comment box below. And if you are planning to visit one of these churches or the destinations where these churches are located, allow us to be your Guiding Star. We at Tour My India design tour packages in India that suit all budgets and cater to every need of the traveller. You can give us a call at +91-9212553106/07 or drop us an email at email@example.com.
Published: 02 Jun, 2016
From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a travel writer whose love for mountains can be seen in her write ups. Talk about solo travelling, indulging in adventure activities, binging on good food, planning budget trips or the Aurora Borealis and you will get all her attention. It is the wanderlust that keeps her going and if at all she could get one wish granted she would love to live a life less ordinary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.