India experienced her first contact with Christianity in 52 AD. This beautiful religion was brought to the shores of India by St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus. It all began with him constructing a church, and inspiring others to do the same.
Christianity in India received a major fillip with the advent of colonialism. The colonial masters – Dutch, Portuguese, French and British, encouraged the building of churches in India. This diversity of cultures is clearly reflected in the architecture of these churches. Visiting these exquisitely built churches is a real delight. Here are 20 most famous Indian churches worth visiting provided by Indianholiday.com:
1- Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus has been conferred the status of a World Heritage Monument. It houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier. This church is built in the style of plane architecture introduced by the Jesuits. An enormous statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola occupies the retable of the main altar here. Perhaps, it’s the only monument that is not covered with plaster. The Basilica also houses a modern art gallery which depicts scenes from the Bible.
2- Se Cathedral Church, Goa
Se Cathedral stands out from all the famous churches in Goa. Dedicated to St. Catherine, it captivates visitors with its vaulted interiors which are draped with grandeur. Measuring upto 250ft, its interiors display a Corinthian style of architecture. One of the particular attractions of the church is the incredible reredos above the main altar, along with the chapel of the Cross of Miracles. The walls are adorned with paintings of St. Francis Xavier, St Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter and others.
3- Velankanni Church, Nagapattinam
Velankanni Church is also known as the “Lourdes of the East” due to the million pilgrims it receives every year. The presiding deity of this church is Mother Mary, or Our Lady of Vailankanni. Its overflowing grandeur is visible at the Extension Basilica. This fabulous church reflects classicism in its structure and dominates the skyline of Vailankanni with its 93ft high dome and 82ft high gothic spirals.
4- Christ Church, Shimla
Christ Church was the first popular church in Shimla. It was constructed by Col. J.T. Boileau with neo-Gothic elements. The clock, along with the stained glass altar were placed in 1860. The original chancel window was designed by Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling. The other gift was an elaborate screen behind which the choir would emerge before disappearing. The building suffered extensive damages during heavy snowing in 1961. Today, the structure stands repaired, while retaining its essential charm and spirit.
5- Medak Cathedral, Telangana
One of the most popular churches in India is Medak Cathedral in Telangana. Its construction took almost ten years, and it boasts enormous dimensions. The stained glass windows adorning the church walls provide spectacular views during daytime. The windows to the north act as a canopy to the altar, and provides spectacular views. It depicts Jesus ascending into heaven. The tiles of the church, imported from Italy, provide the best acoustics. This church is a great example of pure Gothic architecture in the country.
6- Santhome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai
Santhome Cathedral Basilica is one of the few basilicas of the world that is built over the remains of an apostle. This magnificent church sits on the tomb which houses the remains of St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. Majestically rising 155ft from the ground, its stained glass windows depict the patron St. Thomas and other Apostles. A notable attraction here is the ancient stained glass work of Our Blessed Mother.
7- Church of St. Anne, Goa
Church of St. Anne is counted amongst the most popular churches in Goa. Located in Talaulim village, it displays a wonderful blend of Indian and European architectural styles. It’s also one of the few remaining monuments built in baroque style of architecture. The main attractions here are the façade and modified edifice, which display the rural flavor of the region. One can witness a relief picture depicting the scene of St. Anne on the transept of the church.
8- Cathedral Of The Sacred Heart, Delhi
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is one of the most prestigious and oldest churches in Delhi. This highly prestigious Catholic Church is surrounded by 14 acres of lush green scenery. The white altar, constructed of pure marble, is a particular attraction here. The Statue of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II stands with outstretched arms, as if greeting the people of India. One can find the symbols of lotus and peacock at the base of the statue.
9- Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puducherry
Immaculate Conception Cathedral is one of the oldest tourist sites in the city. However, what makes it so fascinating is the fact that it was visited by Mother Teresa during her visit to Puducherry. This church, located on Mission Street, bears a strong resemblance to a church of the same name in France. The façade, an impressive structure, showcases paired Dolic columns below and the iconic ones above. Besides, this imposing church also serves as the residence of the bishop.
10- Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi
Santa Cruz Basilica, with its 500 years old fascinating history, leaves a distinct impression on the visitors. This Basilica is a brilliant amalgamation of Indo-European and Gothic styles of architecture. Much of its irresistible charm can be attributed to its pastel-colored interiors. They are adorned with paintings of Italian painter Brother Antonio Moscheni and his disciple De Gama of Bangalore. One captivating sight here is a superb imitation of Da Vinci’s, “The Last Supper.”