Christmas is right around the corner, and among the many pretty sights that decorate the country are the beautiful churches in India. The many travel destinations in India are popular for various attractions and monuments, but some structures that are sure to look rather special this month are the stunning churches of India.
Be it the architecture or spiritual charm, these churches in India are popular for various reasons. As a traveller, you can explore any of these churches that is the closest to you. They are decked up in lights, candles are burnt, the god looks benign, stars sparkle and hymns ring true. Take a look at the ten most popular churches in India.
Reis Magos Church, Goa
The stunning Reis Magos Church in Reis Magos on the banks of River Mandovi was built in the year 1555. Showcasing Portuguese style of architecture, there are many unique facts about this church. It can be seen across the river from Panaji, it is one of the few churches that celebrates the Feast of the Three Wise Men on the 6th of January every year and it was built on the ruins of what was once a Hindu temple. The insides of the church are vibrant and beautiful. A must-visit at this time of the year.
Photo Courtesy: Bornav27may
One of the most ancient churches in India, the Kadamattom Church is located in Kolenchery Town in Kerala and is speculated to have been built in the 9th century AD. There are many interesting legends behind the existence of this church. Locals say the church land was gifted to a Mar Sabor a Syrian monk who cured the child of a wealthy family in the area and that he built the church. The lovely white church from the outside have lion statues guarding the gate, it is large and surrounded by lush greenery. The church premise also has a 'pathalam' well. The Kadamattom Festival is among the major celebrations here and takes place during January-February.
Photo Courtesy: Challiyil Eswaramangalath Pavithran Vipin
St Francis Church
The oldest European church in India, the St Francis Church is located in Fort Kochi, Kerala. Built by the Portuguese, the church is also popular for briefly being the resting place of Vasco Da Gama, who was originally buried here, before his remains were taken back to Lisbon. The rather simple church was eventually modified by the Dutch and the British as it stands today. It is more than a religious and spiritual centre, it is in fact a vital historical witness in regard to political struggles and power play of the time. Today, it is a protected monument. Service takes place on Sundays and commemorative days, however, it is open to visitors all through the week.
Photo Courtesy: Bodhisattwa
The Vallarpadam Church also known as the Baslica of Our Lady of Ransom is situated in Vallarpadam near the Bolghatty Island in Kerala. The church is praised for its miracles and many popular legends are associated with it. The original structure of the church was constructed by the Portuguese and a team headed by Vasco Da Gama himself enshrined the our Lady of Ransom. However, this was destroyed in the floods, after which the picture of Blessed Virgin Mary was re-instated and the church was reclaimed. Many miracles that have saved the devotees lives are attributed to this church, making it a special church, as declared by the Pope in 1888. A major pilgrimage centre, the church is a must-visit.
Photo Courtesy: Captain
Santa Cruz Baslica
One among the eight Baslicas in the country, the Santa Cruz Basilica is located in Fort Kochi in Kerala. The church sees a large number of tourist and pilgrimage crowds all through the year. It is in fact, considered one of the most beautiful churches in India and is a heritage monument of the state. It has more than spiritual value, being a key symbol of history. The Portuguese initially built the church, the Dutch spared it during their demolition spree, however, the new structure is what the British built after bringing down the previous structure. The church boasts of Gothic style architecture and paintings inside. Given the status of Basilica by the Pope, the church has striking white exteriors with tall spires and is a must-visit in Kerala.
Photo Courtesy: Albany Tim
The popular church in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is situated scenically in the coastal town of Velankanni. The church is also known as Our Lady of Good Health and people from across the country flock here to seek Mother Mary's blessing, praying for good health and prosperity. The idol is interestingly dressed in the Indian saree and said to be one of the only few such churches in the country. Even the prayers are held in multiple languages here. The beautiful white church is large and has a spacious exterior with multiple entrances. Located close to the beach this is a must visit destination in Tamil Nadu.
Photo Courtesy: Vimal Raveendran
Baslica of Bom Jesus
One of the most iconic symbols of Goa, the Baslica of Bom Jesus is located in Old Goa that was once the capital of the Portuguese rule in the region. The prominent façade and architecture is signature Baroque style. Among the oldest churches in India, basilica of Bom Jesus is rather stunning from the inside. A world heritage monument, the church is popular for the mummified and preserved body of Saint Francis Xavier. The flooring is in marble, inlaid with precious stones, the altar is elaborate with gilded gold work, the murals and the artistic rendition of this church has to be experienced in person. The church also boasts of a museum.
Photo Courtesy: P.S. Sujay
Se Cathedral At Old Goa
Yet another ancient and popular church in the country, the Se Cathedral or St Catherine Church is also located in Old Goa. The 16th century structure was built to be the largest church in Asia. The church has a confluence of architectural styles including; the Portuguese, Gothic, Tuscan and Corinthian. The church is 250 ft in length and 181 ft in breadth, with a front-piece that has a height of 115 ft. The church is renowned for its golden bell tower, among the largest in Goa. Notable features include the four chapels located on either side of the nave. It is separated by exquisite carved wooden partitions. The lovely church is a must-visit in Goa.
Photo Courtesy: Abhiomkar
The stunningly beautiful Santhome Church is located in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. First built as a minor basilica in the 16th century by the Portuguese, it was rebuilt in its current form by the British in 1893. The church sports a classic Neo-Gothic style of architecture as was the rage at that point in time. The church looks beautiful inside and outside. The arched windows, white washed spires, wooden roofs and domes are beautiful and often the subject of much awe and photography. The church has many festivities all year around, but especially brightens up in the month of December in the anticipation of the Christmas Eve and New Year. Make a visit to this beautiful church at least once in your life!
Photo Courtesy: Vinoth Chandar
St Paul Cathedral
One look at the lovely exteriors of the St Paul Cathedral in Kolkata is sufficient to make you want to see more of this beautiful church. Located on what is known 'the island of attractions' the church is built in the Gothic Revival Style. It has beautiful arched windows with stained glass and is a sight to see when the sun's rays light up the church in a series of myriad hues! The frescoes inside the church are also noteworthy. Th midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a celebrated event and all are welcome. The church is lit up and proves to be the most amazing sight you can feast your eyes, this Christmas Eve.
Photo Courtesy: Ankitesh Jha