Today, there are hundreds of churches across the country that are visited not just by Christians, but by people of all faiths due to their incredible architecture and the history and heritage associated with them. At Christmas, as well as on other occasions, visiting these churches is a wonderful experience. This blog brings you the most famous churches in India that you should visit at least once.
1. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
- Address: Old Goa Rd, Bainguinim, Goa 403402
- Architectural style: Baroque architecture
- Costruction started: 1594
Timings : Monday – Saturday: 09:00 AM – 06:30 PMSunday: 10:30 AM – 06:30 PMThe Basilica of Bom Jesus Church located in Goa is unique in India and is known for its exemplary Baroque architecture. Built in 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the construction of this church coincides with the beginning of Christianity in India. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim about 10 km from Panjim. The oldest church in Goa, it houses the remains of Saint Francis Xavier, a special friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola with whom he founded the Company of Jesus (Jesuits). Even after 400 years, the remains are in good condition and are released once a decade. A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Literally translating to “Saint Jesus”, it is the only church in Old Goa that has not been plastered on the outside. The facade of the church has a triangular roof which is delicately carved with the initials “IHS”, which is an abbreviation for the Jesuit emblem meaning “Jesus, Savior of men”.
2. Paul Cathedral, Kolkata
- Address: Cathedral Rd, Maidan, Kolkata, West Bengal 700071
- Architectural style: Gothic Revival architecture, Indo-Saracenic architecture
- Costruction started: 1847
Timings : Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PMSunday: 7:30 AM – 6:00 PMIn the heart of the city, this colossal structure reminds you of colonial times and takes you into the past. Travelers keep this among the few must-see places when they come to Calcutta. It is most beautiful during the Christmas holidays, when the cathedral, the garden that surrounds it and the surrounding streets are all bathed in light and festivities. Built primarily to accommodate Calcutta’s ever-growing Christian community, it is the first Episcopalian church in Asia. The building follows the Indo-Gothic style and its structure is complete with a cascading white edifice, a towering spire, and colorful tinted windows. Inside, it has a huge nave, an altar and a majestic choir, as well as sculptures and paintings depicting great moments and events in Christian history. The cathedral complex also houses several memorabilia from former worshipers and a library where books as old as the days of the church’s founding still exist, donated by founding member Bishop Wilson.
3. Velankanni Church, Nagapattinam
- Timings : 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM, all days open
Velankanni Church is considered to be one of India’s most sacred Christian pilgrimage destinations and is located on the Coromandel Coast, 350 km south of Chennai and 12 km south of Nagapattinam. The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared here with the Baby Jesus in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, after which Velankanni became a revered site for the Christian community. Declared a holy city by the Pope, it attracts a large number of faithful from all over the world. Officially spelled as Vailankanni, this tiny hamlet is renowned for its Roman Catholic shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, also known as the Velankanni Church. Also affectionately known as “Lourdes of the East”, the sanctuary represents a melting pot of many cultures, international and religious harmony. The church is entirely dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Heavenly Mother.
4. Santhome Church, Chennai
- Address: 38, Santhome High Rd, Dummingkuppam, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004
- Architectural style: Gothic architecture, Gothic Revival architecture
Timings : Monday to Sunday: 9a.m. to 5p.m.This Roman Catholic minor Basilica built in honour of the Patron Saint of India is also renowned as St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica of the International Shrine of Saint Thomas. It is the major church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore and designated as a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. St. Thomas is also referred to as Didymus. He is believed to have landed in Kerala in 52 A. D and since then has been preaching Christianity until he was martyred in AD 72. He was killed on St. Thomas Mount with a lance that was pierced from his back. The Portuguese who arrived in India in 1500 AD found the tomb of Saint Thomas and built the church over the tomb. The British had rebuilt the church in 1893 and in 1896 it was consecrated by da Silva, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in India. Pope Pius XII gave the church the status of a minor basilica in 1956.
5. Francis Church, Kerala
Timimgs: Monday to Sunday: 7:00 am – 6:30 pm
St. Francis Church, in Fort Kochi Kochi, originally built in 1503, is one of the oldest European churches in India and has great historical significance as a silent witness of the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent. Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 during his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were moved to Lisbon. The Church of St. Francis of Kerala is the oldest existing European church in India. The legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama was buried in the Church of St. Francis in 1524. Even though his remains were later taken to Portugal, the church still has the burial place and the tombstone inside, this which attracts more visitors to this historic site. church. A war memorial was later built in front of the church in memory of those Kochi soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. The architecture of the Church of St. Francis is of the old European style with very less decorative elements unlike other models of European church building. The interior of the church reflects ancient Indo-European architecture with a wooden roof and stone floors.
- Timings : 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM, all days open