Oldest Churches In Mumbai

I was in Mumbai during last week of December 2006. On 22nd December The Times of India carried a special report on celebrations planned for Christmas by oldest churches in city.  I was living in Colaba area so decided to visit two Cathedrals namely St. Thomas Cathedral and Holy Name Cathedral and share photos with  fellow members of Mangalorean.com. Complete article by Anahita Mukherji.


The Portuguese and the British, the two colonial powers who came and stayed in Mumbai, gave the city its oldest churches.  Since the Catholic Portuguese preceded the Anglican British, the oldest churches were theirs, says Historic Churches of Bombay author Ragavendra Kannan. That is also why this article – about some of the city’s oldest Christian places of worship – mainly features Catholic churches. – Anahita Mukherji


MOUNT MARY’S BASILICA,  BANDRA


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Was pulled down after a plague


The first altar of the church was built in 1570. There is a dispute about whether it stood on the same site as it does now or a little farther off.  It remains one of the most popular basilicas.  It has been pulled down and rebuilt a number of times. One instance when it was pulled down was after the 1896 plague. The present building came up in 1904.


OUR LADY OF EXPECTATIONS (NOW HOLY NAME CATHEDRAL, COLABA)


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Change of locale


The church was originally built in 1570 at the exact location where Victoria Terminus stands today.  But the chapel was demolished in 1760 to build walls around the fort and was relocated to Azad Maidan. But this chapel, too, was pulled down in the 1940s and then relocated to Bhuleshwar. The new chapel, however, was also destroyed.  Holy Name Cathedral in Colaba is looked upon as the successor of the old church.


GLORIA CHURCH, BYCULLA


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An eventful past


Originally called the Nossa Senhora da Gloria (Our Lady of Glory) Church, it was built in 1590 in Mazgaon.  But disputes between the Pedroado and Propaganda, two factions that ruled Catholic churches at the time, led to another church (Our Lady of the Rosary) being built near the original church.  The government planned to build a railway line, where the church stood, in 1913 and the building was pulled down. The government funded the rebuilding of the church at Byculla.


ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH, MAHIM


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There since 1565


Traveller’s accounts say the church was built in the early sixteenth century but documented reports say the church was in existence since 1565.  In 1854, when Bishop Hartmann lost control of the church, he raised funds and built Our Lady of Victory Church near St Michael’s.  Both churches are still in existence. The current structure of St. Michael’s Church was rebuilt in 1973.


ST ANDREW’S CHURCH,  BANDRA


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Turn of the century; This popular Bandra church was built in 1600.


OUR LADY OF SALVATION (PORTUGUESE) CHURCH,  DADAR


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Designed anew


The church was originally built in 1610 but was rebuilt a couple of times since then. The structure, as we see it today, was designed by Charles Correa in 1973.


ST THOMAS’S CATHEDRAL, FORT


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An anniversary


The church opened its gates, for the first time, on Christmas day in 1718.  The same structure stands today. The construction began in the 1670’s, a decade after the British acquired Mumbai.  But the construction was stalled when the city was attacked by the Siddis.  H E Cox’s Story of St Thomas’s Cathedral says: ?The derelict building became a gathering place for badmash’s and beggars.”  But construction began again at a later date and was completed by 1718.


I first visited St. Thomas Cathedral in Fort area on 24th morning. Here is a picture gallery of this church.


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HOLY NAME CATHEDRAL


The second Cathedral I visited was in Colaba. As mentioned in TOI report it was shifted from Victoria Terminus and renamed as Holy Name Cathedral. Here are some photos showing the interior.


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Ramesh Lalwani, New Delhi

Author: Ramesh Lalwani- New Delhi