As soon as the East India Company came to India, they started building a church in India for worship. Gradually, people too started to worship Jesus, influenced by Christianity, and then churches began to be built across the country. Christians reside in South India in the highest quantity and the grandest churches are also located in the same areas.
India is home to many beautiful churches. Some of them are signs of the British era while some have marks of Dutch and Portuguese styles. The wonderful structures exhibit the richness of different cultures and they are maintained assiduously so that the charisma may stay intact. Some of the most popular churches of India are listed here. These churches showcase diverse styles of architecture, are exquisite, and a must-see for those who take interest in various styles of architecture. They are famous landmarks and religious destinations in the country attracting millions of tourists from all over the world every year. These places of worship are visited by people of all faiths due to their incredible beauty and the history associated with them. During the festive season, visiting them is a breathtaking experience. Some of them have been declared as World Heritage Sites as well. These grand churches must be visited once in life.
Vallarpadam Church, Kerala
The National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam-Ernakulam, is a large centre of pilgrimage, and a major Christian pilgrim centre of India. Around one million people visit the Basilica every year. It is the most important Marian Shrine in India. People from all parts of the world irrespective of caste or creed go to the church to seek the blessings of Mary, the mother of Jesus, popularly known as “Vallarpadathamma”.
Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi
The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica (also known as കോട്ടേപള്ളി / Kottepalli) at Fort Kochi, Kochi is one of the nine Basilicas in Kerala. Counted as one of the heritage edifices of Kerala, this church is one of the finest and most impressive churches in India and visited by tourists the whole year round. It is a place of devotion as well as a center of historic significance, endowed with architectural and artistic grandeur and colours of the gothic style.
The basilica serves as the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Cochin.
It was built originally by the Portuguese and elevated to a Cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558, was spared by the Dutch conquerors who destroyed many Catholic buildings. Later the British demolished the structure and João Gomes Ferreira commissioned a new building in 1887. Consecrated in 1905, Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Delhi
The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic cathedral belonging to the Latin Rite and one of the oldest church buildings in New Delhi, India. Together with St. Columba’s School, and the Convent of Jesus and Mary school, it occupies a total area of 14 acres near the south end of Bhai Vir Singh Marg Road in Connaught Place. Christian religious services are held throughout the year.
Se Cathedral Church, Goa
The Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, known as Se Cathedral, is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman and the seat of the Patriarch of the East Indies. It is part of the World Heritage Site, Churches and convents of Goa located in Old Goa, India.
The word Sé is Portuguese for See. The Se Cathedral was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque over a Muslim army, leading to the capture of the city of Goa in 1510. Since the day of the victory happened to be on the feast of Saint Catherine, the cathedral was dedicated to her.
All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad
All Saints’ Cathedral, also known as Patthar Girja (Church of Stones) is an Anglican cathedral located in Prayagraj, India.Modelled after 13th-century Gothic style churches, it is among the Gothic Revival buildings built by the British during their rule in India. British architect Sir William Emerson, who also designed the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, designed the cathedral in 1871. It was consecrated in 1887 and was completed four years later. The church celebrates its anniversary on All Saints’ Day (1 November) and has been part of the Church of North India since 1970. The cathedral is at the centre of a large open space at the crossing of two of the principal roads of Allahabad, MG Marg and SN Marg.
Christ Church, Shimla
Christ Church, Shimla, is the second oldest church in North India, after St John’s Church in Meerut. Worship is conducted in Hindi and English. Presently, Dr. Rockes Barnabas Sandhu is the Metropolitan of India, Bishop of the Diocese of Amristar, Anglican Church of India (CIPBC) and Chairman of Amritsar Diocesan Trust Association.
Built in the neo-Gothic style in 1857 to serve the largely Anglican British community in what was formerly called Simla, Christ Church is situated on The Ridge. It stands out as one of the prominent landmarks of Shimla and its silhouette is visible for many kilometres around the vicinity of Shimla city. Christ Church is one of the enduring legacies of the British Raj.
St. Francis Church, Kochi
Saint Francis Church, in Fort Kochi (Fort Cochin), Kochi, originally built in 1503, is one of the oldest European churches in India and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were moved to Lisbon.
Velankanni Church, Tamilnadu
Velankanni Church, known as the Best of Our Lady of Good Health, is a famous church located in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The annual festival is celebrated here in the month of September. This festival holds great importance for the local people and they celebrate it with great enthusiasm. Every day many tourists visit this church to see the unmatched beauty of the church.
St. Philomena’s Church, Mysore
St. Philomena’s Cathedral is a Catholic church that is the cathedral of the Diocese of Mysore, India. The full name is the Cathedral of St. Joseph and St. Philomena. It is also known as St. Joseph’s Cathedral. It was constructed in 1936 using a Neo Gothic style and its architecture was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. This is one of the tallest churches in Asia.
St. Paul Cathedral, Kolkata
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a Church of North India (CNI) cathedral of Anglican background in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, noted for its Gothic architecture and dedicated to Paul the Apostle. It is the seat of the Diocese of Calcutta. The cornerstone was laid in 1839; the building was completed in 1847. It is said to be the largest church in Kolkata and the first Anglican cathedral in Asia. It was also the first new-built cathedral in the overseas territory of the British Empire. The edifice stands on Cathedral Road on the “island of attractions” to provide for more space for the growing population of the European community in Calcutta in the 1800s.
The architectural design of the cathedral is “Indo-Gothic”, a Gothic architectural style designed to meet the climate of India. Following the 1897 earthquake and the subsequent massive earthquake of 1934, when Calcutta suffered substantial damage, the cathedral was reconstructed to a revised design. The cathedral complex has a library, situated over the western porch, and a display of plastic art forms and memorabilia.
Apart from that of Bishop Daniel Wilson, the founder of the cathedral, the other notable burial in the church is that of John Paxton Norman, an acting Chief Justice who was assassinated on the steps of Kolkata Town Hall in 1871.