Uttar Pradesh has a large number of churches, over a hundred of them. Quite a few of these churches are old structures as they were built by the British during their regime in India. They attract visitors from all over the world. Christianity first made its presence felt in Uttar Pradesh in the mid 1550s during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar, a ruler known for his secular thinking. Akbar sought the guidance and experience of Jesuit Priests from Goa to spread the message of Christianity to the people of this part of India.
The spread of Christianity in the state caught momentum during the British rule with the Englishmen focusing on building more and more churches all over India to expose Indians to the various facets of Christianity. Uttar Pradesh was no exception with a large number of big and small churches proliferating in various districts across the state.
Most of the churches depict great styles and designs, reminiscent of the architecture of those times. Specific to the most popular churches are glass-stained murals, exquisitely designed marble altars, intricate works of architecture on the exteriors.
Some of the most famous churches in the state are described below briefly
All Saints Cathedral
It was designed by William Emerson in the 1870’s, but was consecrated only in 1887 A.D. The church is one of the best examples of Anglican Cathedral in Asia and has been constructed using white stone with red stone dressings. The cathedral has a captivating marble altar made more exquisite with intricate mosaic work and inlay art. The main panel depicts the Lord on the cross and at the base are images of Mary and St. John. Pictures of martyrs, St. Mathew, St. Mark, and St. Luke are also on display here. The cathedral has been built using the 13th century Gothic style of colonial architecture.
One of the most popular churches of Allahabad, the Jamuna Church is situated near Ewing Christian Degree College in Mutthiganj. The church was built in 1848 by John Freeman who was among the first American Presbyterian missionaries to arrive in Allahabad. The Jamuna Church is a classic example of the colonial architecture style of construction which was widely used for designing churches in the early part of the 19th century.
St. George Church
Located in the cantonment area in Agra the St. George's Church is characteristic of cantonment type Church. It was designed by Colonel J. T. Boileau in 1826. The church stands out because of its yellow ochre stucco brilliantly interspersed with white dressings. The design of the church is unique and is aptly signified by the entrance which has a small hall. The interior has a central nave and side aisles with six ionic columns supporting the somewhat vaulted roof. The east end chancel was refurbished to a Gothic design at a later stage using carved white sandstone screen. The altar was also similarly augmented using the famous marble inlay designs of Agra.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
This is another famous Church in Gorakhpur and also one of the oldest as it was built in 1860 by Fr. Rapheal of Livorno. It was constructed to meet the growing demand of Catholic troops stationed in this region for a place to pray and seek the blessings of the Lord. There is a gigantic bell tower in the North stands which can be viewed from quite a distance. The pink exposed brickwork along with the lime plaster accents gives the church a unique look. According to historians, St. Joseph’s Catholic cathedral is the fifth oldest Catholic Church in the state.
Kanpur Memorial Church
The Kanpur Memorial Church was built in 1875 to honor the memory of British soldiers who lost their lives during the Great Mutiny of 1857. The church was designed by Walter Granville, the architect who also designed the East Bengal Railway. The Lombardic Gothic Style of the church is done in bright red brick and accentuated with polychrome dressings. The interiors have numerous memorial tablets including monuments to the mutiny. There is a Memorial Garden attached to the Church with two separate gateways. The memorials were shifted to the current location from the Municipal Gardens site in 1948. There is a Military Cemetery on the periphery of the cantonment holding a number of graves from the 19th century.
The Christ Church is an old religious destination situated in Lucknow near the Wing Field Park. It was designed by General Hutchinson as a monument to the martyrs of 1857 revolution. The church was built in 1860 but was expanded and renovated in 1904. The memorial tablets and brasses makes for attractive viewing. The cross on the spire was twisted by an earthquake which hit the region in 1933.
Some of the other popular churches of Uttar Pradesh include the Holy Trinity Church, St. Peters Church, St. Mary’s Church, Sardhana and more.
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