Christianity is the third largest religion in India with around 28 million followers. The history of the religion and the many churches goes back in time to 52 AD, when St Thomas, the apostle, landed in the port town of Muziris, which happens to be the present day Kodungallur, in Kerala. With his arrival, a new faith was born in the country.
St Thomas is believed to have established a number of churches in Kerala and inspired many others to construct these places of worship across the country and spread the message of the Gospel. Colonisation was a significant time period in the construction of churches by the Dutch, Portuguese, French and the British, who not only built churches across the land, but also brought in new architectural influences to them, which eventually resulted in some of the most beautiful structures.
San Thome Basilica, Chennai
PC: Vinoth Chandar
Located in the city of Chennai, the church was initially built by the Portuguese in the 16th century over the tomb of St Thomas and was rebuilt in the year 1893 by the British.
The Neo-Gothic style of architecture can be seen in the structure, which was the very style of architecture in the 19th century. The church is also one of the three known churches in the world to be built over the tomb of an apostle.
Our Lady Of Dolours Basilica, Thrissur
PC: Official Site
Also known as Puthanpalli, Our Lady of Dolours Basilica is the third tallest church in Asia and is well known for its Gothic style of architecture.
The original church was built in the year 1814 and holds the distinction of being the first church to be constructed in Thrissur and was reconstructed in the year 1929, making it one of the biggest churches in the country.
Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception Church, Goa
PC: Nicolas Vollmer
Considered as the first church to be built in Goa, the structure offers a striking description of the religious conditions of the time and wealth which were available to the churches. The interiors of the structure are relatively very simple in comparison to the others built around the same time.
Flanked by two altars, which would easily grab the attention of the visitors, the altar on the left is dedicated to Jesus Christ on a cross and the other one is dedicated Our Lady of the Rosary. Both the statues are fine examples of the Portuguese period which are done in heavily gilded, deeply carved ornamentation and remain compact.
Basilica Of Our Lady Of Good Health, Velankanni
PC: Manojz Kumar
One amongst the most well-known churches in South India is the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni. The history of the church can be traced back to the 16th century and is attributed to three miracles at the sites around where the Basilica is constructed.
The three miracles are the apparition of Mary and Infant Jesus to a shepherd boy; the second is the curing of a poor buttermilk vendor; the last is the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm. The shrine is also known as Lourdes of the East and celebrates a nine-day feast, which attracts nearly million pilgrims from near and far.
Medak Cathedral, Telangana
The Medak Cathedral is one the largest churches and one amongst the most beautiful church buildings in the country. The church was consecrated on the 25th of December 1924 and was originally built by the British Wesleyan Methodists.
The structure measures 100 ft in width and 200 ft in length and is constructed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The church has the capacity of accommodating nearly 5000 people at a time.
Basilica Of Bom Jesus, Goa
Located in Old Goa, the Basilica Of Bom Jesus is a famous church which houses the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. The church showcases one of the best examples of the Baroque style of architecture in the country and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The construction of this beautiful church began in the year 1594 and was completed in 1605, making it one of the oldest churches in Goa as well as in India.
St. Paul Cathedral, Kolkata
PC: Ankitesh Jha
The St. Paul Cathedral at Kolkata is noted for its Gothic style of architecture and is said to be the largest cathedral in the city of joy. It is also the first to be built in the overseas territory of the British Empire.
The cathedral was built to replace the St John's Church, which had become too small to accommodate Kolkata's growing European community and was constructed in the Indo-Gothic style of architecture to meet the weather conditions of India.