The interesting shift in Mumbai’s architectural styles from Gothic to Gothic Revival to Indo-Saracenic to Art Deco can be seen around South Mumbai from Fort area till Colaba. Cathedral of Holy Name, built in Gothic Revival style in 1905, is conveniently located on the road behind Colaba Causeway. Further away, towards the end tip of Colaba at Navy Nagar (South end of Mumbai). St. Thomas Cathedral, built in Neoclassical architecture and Gothic Revival architecture style built in 1718, the first Anglican Church in Mumbai. Named in Honour of Saint Thomas the Apostle. The Cathedral is located in the Historic Centre of Mumbai — the Horniman Circle. Afghan Church (formally called the Church of Saint John the Evangelist) built by the British to commemorate the dead of the First Afghan War and the disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul.
Born and raised in Indian Hindu family, I am more interested to learn about Churches architecture more than Temples. My childhood has hold a strong influence. I was born and brought up in multiple cities in Java Island, Indonesia for 11 yrs. The world’s largest island country with more than seventeen thousand islands and though Indonesia is a most populous Muslim-majority country but have a mix culture of Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic/Christian. I did my schooling till third grade in Santa Maria Catholic School and after that till grade sixth I was in Immanuel Christian School. I came to India in year 2000 to complete my education. I am fortunate enough to have very liberal parents. They always says, “There is only one GOD – the creator, the destroyer and the preserver. Human beings have created various Gods according to their understanding, needs, superstition, belief or vested interest. Various Gods are simply partial manifestations of the Supreme God like several limbs of a tree. Belief is all about. You have to connect with your soul and the Supreme Power thru prayers. The one who decided to put humans, animals and plants under one roof. The one who gives you brain to think. The Universe is always listening!!”
The concept of Religion is not found anywhere before the 1500’s. In the distant past, no humans believed in God. But as our lives became more complex, we (humans) created religious and the institutions to guide human tribe. Lesser than we know that one day Religion will become a complex and problematic concept and it will turned to violence.
Dr. Charles Selengut characterizes the phrase “religion and violence” as “jarring,” asserting that “religion is thought to be opposed to violence and a force for peace and reconciliation.” He acknowledges, however, that “the history and scriptures of the world’s religions tell stories of violence and war even as they speak of peace and love.”
Anyways, enough of Mythology talks now 😀 we already have read and seen enough what some humans do “in the name of religions and adapt the inhuman characters.” What interest me more is, the Grand Architecture of Cathedrals, Basilicas and Churches over hundreds of year. They have adapt different gorgeous styles of architecture, developed and their trend spread, carried by the establishment of monastic orders, by the posting of Bishops from one region to another and by the travelling of master stonemasons who served as architects. I’ve been attracted towards their architecture since the first time I prayed in Church when I was five. The beautiful stained glass windows is the most beautiful part of any Church 🙂
It was Sunday summer lazy morning in Mumbai, I and my mother decided to take a stroll around Fort area till Colaba from Marine Drive by walk and explore 3 Cathedral / Churches — Cathedral of Holy Name, St. Thomas Cathedral and Afghan Church.
|| A CHURCH is a building that houses a permanent congregation, led by a Pastor or Parish Priest, and is the seat of that Pastor/Priest. A CATHEDRAL is a Church that is the seat of a Bishop (a Priest of high rank who is in charge of the priests of lower rank in a particular area). A CHAPEL tend to be smaller because they are used less regularly. Another type of Church is a BASILICA, it is a personal Churches of the Pope in and around Rome. ||
After a heavy breakfast at Hotel, walking under the tree shades at Madam Cama road, we reached Colaba area and spotted a gorgeous Cathedral opposite old Navy Building – Cathedral of Holy Name, a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Famously known for its breath-taking Frescoes Ceiling (technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, pr wet lime plaster) and a part of the inside structure build by using Pipe Organs.
The Cathedral of Holy Name is the seat of the Archbishop of Bombay and headquarters of the Archdiocese of Bombay. Awe-struck Architecture ❤ Completed in 1905, the Cathedral is still standing tall and gorgeous. The general style is Gothic and approximates to what is known as ‘Early Decorated’ in English Architecture. Perhaps the finest external feature of the structure is the flying buttresses and pinnacles which are impressive for strength and lightness combined.
Steps lead up to the massive carved wooden main door which opens to reveal the wonder within. The carved marble main altar is a feast for where the central niche frames the life size statue of Jesus, whose ‘name is above all other names’. High above, in the background, the sunlight filters through the jeweled tints of the stained glass windows which depict, radiantly, the Annuncation, the emblem of the Holy Name of Jesus, and the Nativity. During World War II, these windows were carefully removed and stored in a safe place. Despite their fragility, they remain a testament to man’s talent and continue to inspire with their striking loveliness. We spent an hour here. Praying, praising and trying to understand each detail of the Cathedral.
The ceiling and walls are covered with frescoes and geometrical designs painted by the Jesuit lay-brother A. Moscheni of Bergamo, aided by two assistants. When one looks at the exquisite detail, the complexity and intricacy of the artwork and the uniformity of the geometrical designs. It is said that it was all completed in just over a year!!
It was around 1:05 PM and we head to Woodside Inn Restaurant in the corner of the road in Colaba, opp. to Regal Cinema for a light lunch (because the heavy breakfast was indeed “super” heavy :D) before walking to Horniman Circle. We had their best selling appetizer – Sautéed Field Mushrooms in Lemon Caper Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Caramelized Florets and Kale Dust. The service was on top notch!! Big shout out to “Rahul and Rohit Sir” for best hospitality and complimentary delicious Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream <3.
With a full belly and a happy heart we off to our next destination – St. Thomas Cathedral at Horniman Circle. Exactly situated parallel to Asiatic Library. Here you can find great literature and the illusion of Victorian England. St. Thomas Cathedral is the first Anglican Church built in Mumbai and turned 300 years in December 2018 (Whoaaaaa!!!) listed in UNESCO Asia-Pacific heritage list.
Built in 1718, to Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical architecture style with facade, the Cathedral is an vintage example and symbol of the early British settlement. The Cathedral was built in an effort to maintain and possibly improve the standards of the British settlement. St. Thomas Cathedral holds tremendous religious significance for the Christian population of Mumbai. The Cathedral is bedecked with exquisite embellishments and is a towering monument representing peace and solitude. This Cathedral was named after St. Thomas, who was one of the 12 Disciples of Christ and who was also the Apostle to India. Most of the monuments inside the Cathedral are a witness to Bombay’s regal history, although the building is now slowly disintegrating in parts.
The interiors of this Cathedral mirror the interiors of the St. Thomas Cathedral in Ireland, and look much the same today as they did when it was first built in the 18th century. The interiors are delicately lined with Plaster Of Paris, polished brass, stained glass, arched windows and memorials dedicated to the late British parishioners. The roof was made ‘cannon-ball-proof’, though many parts of the roof have disintegrated and have been replaced with cemented slabs.
Later, we hop in local taxi to explore Afghan Church located at the end of Colaba, Navy Nagar (tip of the South Mumbai). The first look of this Church was – “Oh! this is beautiful example of Gothic Architecture <3, but wait why its look like abandoned?” Edit: Its spires soaring above the banyan tree and about as old as the tree itself is the reason why it looks scary to me. As well we reached late in evening just before an hour of sunset 🙂
A 60-meter-high Church tower indeed look stunning, a truly an ancient glory standing tall!! The Church of St. John the Evangelist, better known as the Afghan Church by the natives is an Anglican Church built by the British to commemorate the dead of the First Afghan War and the disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul.
The sole survivor of the war as it’s claimed, Dr. William Brydon lived to tell the tale and commissioned this Church in the memory of the tragic war which also saw martyred Indian soldiers as part of the East India Company’s Bombay’s Army. Hence, a war memorial was constructed in Navy Nagar – an ode to the lives lost. Designed by English civil engineer and Gothic Revival architect, Henry Conybeare, the building had its foundation laid in stone in 1847 by then-Governor of Bombay, Sir George Russell Clerk.
And by 7:30 PM we were back to Marine Drive, board the bus right outside the Afghan Church who dropped us at Churchgate Bus Stop. It was really a great day exploring Churches and cannot stop praising the charismatic architectures. I should someday be a part of UNESCO Restoration Team 😀 (JK!). Thank you peeps for still sticking by and reading my travel stories 🙂 See y’all super soon! Till then…. cheers! it’s almost weekend!!