Kolkata, India’s cultural capital, boasts a rich and diverse heritage. Among its many attractions, the churches of Kolkata stand out as splendid examples of architectural beauty and spiritual grace.
These sacred edifices will inspire and impress you, whether you are a Christian or just an explorer with an open mind.
In this article, you will get to know about the following churches in Kolkata,
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- St. Mary’s Church
- Armenian Church of Kolkata
- St. James Church
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta
Let’s see each of these in detail.
1. St. Paul’s Cathedral
This is a Church of North India cathedral with Anglican roots in Kolkata. It is notable for its Gothic architecture and is dedicated to Paul the Apostle. The cornerstone was laid in 1839 and the building was completed in 1847 under the patronage of Bishop Daniel Wilson. It is the first Episcopal Church in Asia and is now the seat of the Diocese of Calcutta.
St. Paul’s Cathedral stands on Cathedral Road near M P Birla Planetarium and is an iconic monument in the city. It attracts thousands of visitors every month with its stunning architecture of pointed arches, slender piers, and vaults. The sight is serene and majestic.
Inside the cathedral, you can find a meditation point where people from all walks of life have prayed and meditated for over 150 years. It offers a peaceful atmosphere to calm your mind and soul. You can also admire the rare books and paintings, and also learn about the history and legacy of St. Paul.
Outside, you can check out the remarkable sculptures or sit on the green lawn and have some quiet time for yourself.
The best time to visit is during Christmas when the cathedral is decorated with lights and festivities.
2. St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is a Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church located at Linton Street, Kolkata. This is also one of the largest churches in the city with a pleasant exterior and a low floor seating inside. It has a colonial influence with a hint of Indian architecture.
The church was originally a thatched hut and was called the Chapel of Kanikkai Madha. It was built by some Christians who migrated from Tamil Nadu. However, it was demolished in 1832 due to communal riots.
The construction of the present church began in 1875 and was completed in 1880. The church is designed in the Geometric Decorated style of Gothic and is not a copy of any particular medieval cathedral. It showcases an exotic design, drawing on certain elements of its medieval forebears.
A statue of Mother Mary stands in front of the church, adorned with beautiful stone art. The church’s interior is serene and tranquil, inviting visitors to pray and meditate.
The St. Mary’s Church is also one of the largest churches in Kolkata and is lit up with bright lights during festivals and special occasions.
3. Armenian Church of Kolkata
The Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth is a historic and beautiful Armenian Apostolic church in Kolkata. It dates back to the 18th century and is the oldest Armenian church in the city. It was built before the British colonized India and serves as the heart of the Armenian Community in Kolkata. The church is also the headquarters of the Armenian Vicariate of India and the Far East.
This church stands on the site of a wooden church that was constructed by the British East India Company in 1688, under an agreement with the Armenian community in Europe.
The structure that stands today showcases the Indo-Armenian style of architecture, which blends Indian and Armenian elements. The church is famous for its historical significance and the elegant clock that adorns its walls.
Inside the church compound, there is an Armenian cemetery that contains the oldest known grave in Kolkata. It belongs to an Armenian woman named Rezabeebeh, who died in 1630. The compound also has a memorial dedicated to Armenians who lost their lives during World War-I.
The church is open to visitors from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day. There is no entry fee. You can explore the church and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
4. St. James’ Church
St. James’ Church is one of the most elegant churches in Kolkata and is located in Entally. It was built in 1862 and has twin spires that dominate the city’s skyline. It is also known as Jora Girja, which means twin church in Bengali.
The present church was built after the original Parish Church of St. James’, situated near Amherst Street, got into a state of disrepair and thereafter the roof collapsed in August 1858.
The church features the English Gothic style of architecture, with graceful buttresses supporting the walls on all sides. There is a large porch with pointed arches on the western and eastern sides of the west end. St. James’ Church also has a decorative gable front with a cross on top. It is surrounded by two-tier turret towers on both sides, which give it the twin church appearance. There are also many other intricate details that are worth admiring.
You can visit the church any day between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM. On Sundays, it is open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM and from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM.
5. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta is the oldest archdiocese in India and is located in Kolkata. It was founded on May 1, 1834, and oversees several churches in the city, such as St. Mary’s Church, St. James’ Church, and Armenian Church.
The archdiocese was initially established as the Apostolic Vicariate by Pope Pius IX. In 1886, it was renamed the “Archdiocese of Calcutta” by Pope Leo XIII, when he created the Catholic hierarchy in British India.
The archdiocese has magnificent architecture and decoration that reflects its rich history and heritage. It is a popular destination for devotees who want to worship and experience the serene and sacred atmosphere. It is also a great place to explore and learn more about the archdiocese.
These are some famous churches to visit in Kolkata. These old masterpieces are a must-see if you are visiting the City of Joy. They showcase the rich history and culture of the past and present.
The churches are also perfect places to experience the beauty and tranquility of the sacred. The religious structures will teleport you to another era with their timeless charm. You will not regret visiting them.
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