India is a country enriched with deep cultural roots and rich heritage as it was ruled by many Indian dynasties as well as foreigners. Although temples are regarded as among the top places to visit in India, the secular country also has many stunning churches that were built by the British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese. Though the rulers left India a long time back, these architectural marvels that were built in Gothic, Baroque, & a local tribal style, still stand tall, bearing the weight of history and brilliant architecture. While it is hard to pick the most impressive churches, here is the list of a few stunning churches in India that can be visited as part of India tour packages.
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is a Roman Catholic church located in Old Goa. Also called St. Francis Xavier’s Tomb, the construction of the basilica started in 1594 and was completed in 1605. It is one of the stunning churches in India, and among the top places to visit in Goa. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church was built in the Baroque style of architecture while the imposing facade was built out of black granite in an exquisite combination of the Doric, Corinthian, and composite styles. The interior of the church represents the Mosaic-Corinthian style. The Basilica of Bom Jesus enshrines the sacred remains of Goa’s patron saint Francis Xavier, who died on a sea voyage to China in 1552. Once every 10 years, the body is allowed to be viewed by the people who visit this holy place. The church will be crowded during the feast of St Francis Xavier held annually on 3rd December and proceeded by a nine-day devotional novena.
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St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata
The Anglican cathedral of St. Paul in Kolkata must find a mention in your list of the most beautiful churches in India. Built-in Gothic Revival Style, it is said to be the first cathedral built in the overseas territory of the British Empire, and among the best places to visit in Kolkata. The construction of the church was initiated in 1839 under the benefaction of Bishop Daniel Wilson and was completed in 1837. Designed by Major W.N. Forbes, the church features a very long nave with fitted wooden pews, two frescoes done in the classic style of the Florentine Renaissance period, and three stained glass windows on the western side of the church. The central spire of St. Paul Cathedral rises to a height of 201 feet and the tower on which it stands is square and was patterned on the lines of the 12th-century Canterbury Cathedral, England. The interior of the church truly offers a visual splendor with outstanding floral designs and paintings depicting great moments and events of Christian history on the walls. Christmas is the main event when the whole church premise is decorated beautifully.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puducherry
Known locally as Samba Kovil, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Pondicherry was built by the Jesuits in 1692. It is the Cathedral Mother Church for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Puducherry and Cuddalore and is among the must-visit Pondicherry tourist places. Ever since the church has been demolished three times, and was rebuilt for the fourth time in 1971. Built-in the Herrerian style of architecture, this church has a striking similarity in its resemblance with a church in France. The facade of the church was undoubtedly supreme. The church was also visited by Mother Teresa. The feast of the church is celebrated on the 8th of December every year that draws a large number of devotees from neighboring states.
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St. Francis Church, Kochi
Located on Parade Road in Fort Kochi, St. Francis Church is the first European Church built in India and among the top places to visit in Kochi. Originally named as Santo Antonio, the history of this church reflects the colonial struggle of European powers in India, from the 15th to 20th centuries. This site once contained the original remains of the renowned explorer, Vasco da Gama, but later it was moved to Lisbon after fourteen years, but his gravestone is still present in the church premises. Built with a blend of Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences, the gabled timber framed roof of St. Francis Church is a beautiful sight here while the interiors consist of two stepped pinnacles sitting atop the chancel roof.
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All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad
Locally known as the ‘Church of Stone’, All Saints Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral located on M.G. Marg in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Also referred to as Patthar Girja, it is one of the beautiful churches in India, and among the well-known places to visit in Prayagraj. The construction of the church was started in the year 1871 by Lady Muir Elizabeth Huntly Wemyss and was completed in 1891. The church was designed by the British architect Sir William Emerson in the striking 13th-century Gothic revival architectural style. The cathedral has a facade with fine stucco work, Gothic arches, a tower, flying buttresses, and snarling gargoyles. Besides, one can see vaulted ceilings, classical columns, archways, beautiful stained-glass windows, and an impressive altar with mosaic and marble inlay inside. The lantern tower or the Victoria Tower, a memorial to Queen Victoria is another striking feature of the church. The shrine not only attracts pilgrims regularly but also lures a large number of tourists from all over the world as part of Prayagraj Tour Packages.
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Velankanni Church, Tamil Nadu
Situated on the coast of Bay of Bengal, Velankanni Church is one of the popular places of Christian pilgrimages in India, and among the best religious places to visit in Thanjavur. The shrine was started as a small structure in the mid-sixteenth century by Portuguese sailors and became a parish church in 1771. Later, it was granted a special status of a Minor Basilica and merged with the Major Basilica of Mary in Rome in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. Devoted to Our Lady of Good Health, the Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni was built in the Gothic style of architecture. The Basilica contains three chapels, Our Lady’s Tank, Church Museum, Priests’ Residence, Offering Center, Stations of the Cross, and Stations of the Rosary. The church organizes Holy masses in eight languages – English, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Konkani, and Marathi. There is an interesting practice here that pilgrims offer candles to the mother to cure themselves where the candles are in the shape of the respective ailment. The nine-day festival conducted in September every year draws nearly 2 million pilgrims.
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Se Cathedral, Goa
Situated just opposite to Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral is considered to be one of the largest churches in Asia, and among the top places of pilgrimage in India. This is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Churches & Convents of Goa. Also called St. Catherine’s Cathedral, the construction of this imposing church began in 1562 and was completed by 1619. Constructed in Portuguese-Gothic architectural styles, the main attractions of the Se Cathedral are the 15 altars, which are dedicated to Our Lady of Three Needs, Our Lady of Anguish, or Our Lady of Hope. The grand alter is highly ornate and is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. It is known to be the oldest and the most celebrated religious building in Goa and has the prestige of being the seat of the Archdiocese of Goa.
Also Visit : Popular Beaches in Goa
Medak Church, Telangana
Spans an area of over 300 acres, Medak Cathedral is the largest church in entire Asia and the second largest in the world after the Vatican. Built-in Gothic style, the Cathedral was inaugurated in 1914 and completed in 1924. It is one of the most gorgeous churches in India, and among the best religious places to visit near Hyderabad. The main tower of the church is 175 feet high, and the cathedral can accommodate 5000 people at a time. There are 3 magnificent stained-glass windows depicting the life of Jesus Christ. The farmers toiled to erect the church and Thomas Edward Harding, the architect, left no stone unturned in building the cathedral. It is believed that the mosaic tiles of six different colors used in the construction of the church were imported from Britain. The roof of the church is soundproof made of hollow sponge material and it has an impressive style of vaulting.
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St. Philomena’s Cathedral, Mysore
St. Philomena’s Cathedral is a famous Catholic Church located in Mysore. Built in the honor of St. Philomen, it is one of the largest Cathedrals in South Asia and among the top tourist places in Mysore. Initially, there was a small church in the site and later due to increase of Christian population, Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV laid the foundation of the new church in 1933, and was completed in 1956. Designed by the Reverend Rene Feuge, it was built in a Neo Gothic style of architecture which was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The cathedral has a crypt that houses a statue of St. Philomena, that was specially brought from France. The twin spires of the church are 175 feet in height, and they resemble the spires of the Cologne Cathedral and also the spires of the St. Patrick’s Church in New York. An annual festival is held every year on 11th August that draws large number of devotees as well as tourists.
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Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.