Churches in India are as old as the religion of Christianity. It is believed that one of the apostles of Jesus, St. Thomas visited India and brought the religion to South India. He built churches in Kerala and the inspiration spread across India. Colonization was another reason India gets to see different styles of the British, Portuguese, Dutch and French in its churches. Some of the more striking churches of South India are:
Santhome Basilica, Tamil Nadu:
This church in Santhome is an important attraction of Chennai. It showcases the Neo-Gothic style of architecture and is believed to house the remains of St Thomas. The long arched windows, pristine spires, wooden domes and elegant roof are aesthetically pleasing.
Medak Cathedral, Telangana:
Built in Gothic Revival style, the Medak Cathedral has an impressive 175 feet high bell tower. The church is built with stunning finesse which is evident by the six different colours of mosaic tiles believed to be imported from Britain, the decorative flooring by Italian masons and the well carved magnificent grey pillars.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Kerala:
Originally built by the Portuguese, the church was marked as a cathedral by Pope Paul IV. The church is one of the oldest in India and a prominent landmark of Kochi. It was one among the few structures that survived the Dutch invasion.
Se Cathedral, Goa:
One among the largest churches in India, the Se Cathedral in Old Goa is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria and is on the banks of the Mandovi River. The Church boasts of a Golden Bell, so named because of the rich bell tone. It is one of the best bells in the world. The old paintings on the Alter and the chapel where a vision of Christ is believed to have appeared called Cross of Miracles are great attractions.
Velankanni Church, Tamil Nadu:
Possibly the most visited church in India, the Velankanni Church in Nagapattinam is dedicated to the Lady of Health known as ‘Our lady of Velankanni’. It is believed that devotees who offer candles to the Mother will be cured of all illness. The Church with its white exterior and red roof is an imposing Gothic structure on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.
St Mary’s Basilica, Karnataka:
The oldest church in Bangalore city, St Mary’s Church depicts the Gothic style of architecture. It has been elevated to the position of minor basilica in Karnataka.
Mount Mary Church, Maharashtra:
Situated in West Bandra in Mumbai, the Mount Mary Church is set on a mount as the name suggests. It is oldest church of Mumbai and attracts a horde of worshippers. It is a beautiful sea front structure standing on a hill. The wooden statue of Mother Mary with child Jesus is another lovely sight.
Parumala Church, Kerala:
A parish church in Thiruvalla district in Kerala, the Parumala church holds the tomb of the great saint, Saint Gregarious Geevarghese. The church has a unique circular structure and is believed to have miraculous powers. It has a capacity to hold about 2000 people at a time.
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa:
One among the more popular churches, the Basilica of Bom Jesus or Good Jesus, is around 300 years old. The church holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier. His body is open for public viewing at a particular time of the year when people come in thousands to visit the church. The church is a World Heritage Site.
Our Lady of Dolours Church, Kerala:
Known to be the largest church in India and the third tallest in Asia, this church is a minor basilica in Thrissur. It boasts of the Gothic style of architecture and has some fine interior decorations of scenes from scriptures, images of saints and murals.
Rosary Church, Karnataka:
Located in Shetihalli, Hassan, the Rosary Church was by built by French missionaries on the banks of River Hemavati. The church is a brilliant example of Gothic architecture. After the Hemavati Dam and Reservoir was constructed in 1960, Shettihalli Church is submerged in water during the monsoons and only its spire can be seen. The church is said to be built with the unique mix of mortar, bricks and eggs.
St Francis Church, Kerala:
One of the oldest European churches in India, the St Francis Church stands as a testament of Christian history in India. It holds the descriptions of the struggle of European colonies in India and was declared a protected monument in 1923.