Churches in India: 20 Churches in India that you must visit at least once in your lifetime

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top 20 churches in india

India is a country that has changed hands with different rulers many a times in the course of its history. Each one has left an indelible mark and shaped the country for what it is today.  The French, Dutch, British and Portuguese colonists brought with them their culture, art, traditions, cuisines religion and architecture. They built churches and other important monuments in the country many of which have survived and have become beautiful relics of art and architecture and a symbol for religious harmony. Mentioned below are some of the grandest churches in India. They are beautiful, colourful and are a testimony to rich history of India’s past and her secularism. Look at the 10 Most Popular churches in India and make sure you visit a few in your lifetime.

Churches in India: List of 10 Most Popular Churches in India

Churches in Goa Location
1.       Basilica of Bom Jesus Bainguinim, Old Goa, Goa
2.       Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica Fort Kochi, Kerala
3.       Saint Paul’s Cathedral Kolkata, West Bengal
4.       Se Cathedral Velha Goa, Goa
5.       Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church Velankanni, Tamil Nadu
6.       Saint Mary’s Basilica

 

Bangalore, Karnataka
7.       Basilica of Holy  Rosary Bandel, Hoogly
8.       Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica Chennai
9.       Basilica of Our Lady of Dolorus Thrissur, Kerala
10.   Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Pondicherry

 

11.   Medak Cathedral Telangana
12.   Saint Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church Palayloor, Kerala
13.   Saint Mary’s Church Fort George, Chennai
14.   Moravian Mission Church Leh
15.   Saint Parumala Church Parumala, Kerala
16.   Shettihalli Rosary Church

 

Hassan, Karnataka
17.   Christ’s Church Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
18.   Sacred Heart Cathedral Delhi
19.   All Saint’s church Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh
20.   Vallarpadam Church Kochi, Kerala

 


1. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


One of the most ancient churches in Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus makes for a spectacular visit. The foundation of the church was laid in the year 1594 and the church itself was constructed in the ancient baroque architectural style. This monumental piece of history and art is a famous pilgrimage site flocked by hundreds of thousands of devotees every year. The marble flooring of the church is embedded with semi precious and precious stones. The altar of the church is gilded and murals and other carvings and paintings adorn the church. The church is also the final resting place of Saint Francis Xavier, one of the most revered saints of Christianity. The remains of the saint are housed in a silver casket and supposedly hold immense miraculous healing powers.

 Why Visit: baroque style of architecture| Final resting place of Saint Xavier
Distance from Panaji:
10 kms
Best way to reach
By road:
One can hire a cab from Panaji to reach the church in 20 to 25 minutes.
By flight :
Goa International Airport, Dabolim is the nearest airport from the church which is about 25 km away. One can hire a cab from the airport to reach the church conveniently.
By train:
Karmali and Dabolim are the nearest railway stations from where one can hire a taxi for the church.

 


2. Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Fort Kochi

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Fort Kochi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Built in the year 1505, the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is one of the oldest churches in Kerala. The intricately designed monument was the conception of Francisco de Almeida. Over the course of its 500 years, the church has been renovated and reconstructed several times and was finally given the status of a basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. The church has been designed in the Gothic style of architecture and has a beautiful array of ancient paintings, murals and fresco art adorning its walls. The altar of the church is exquisitely decked and the church itself is one among the eight famous edifices of the state.

Why Visit: Gothic style of architecture| fresco art and murals
Distance from Fort Kochi: approx 200 metres
Best way to reach
By road:
 One can conveniently walk to the church if one is at Fort Kochi. If one is in a different part of the town, one can hire a taxi to reach their destination as it is well connected by the road.
By flight :
Cochin International Airport, Kochi is the nearest airport about 36 km away from the church. Rent a cab to reach your destination conveniently.
By train:
Ernakulum Junction is the closest railway station (12.4 km) from the church. One can hire a cab from the station to reach the church.


3. Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata

 Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Saint Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most prominent landmarks in Kolkata situated very close to another historic monument: the Victoria Memorial. The church was built in the year 1839 and belongs to the Church of North India (CNI) denomination under the diocese of Calcutta. The church is built in the Indo Gothic Revival style of architecture and is complete with stained glass windows. Florentine Renaissance style of painting is used in the creation of the frescoes and murals on the walls. The church has a wide facade and a long nave that has well carved pews for congregations and masses. The spire of the church rises to a height of 201 feet.

Why Visit: Indo- Gothic Revival style of architecture| frescoes
Distance from Chowringhee:
2.9 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from Howrah to reach the church conveniently in half an hour’s time.
By flight: 
Dumdum Airport, Jessore Road is the nearest airport about 21 km away from the church.
By train: 
Howrah Station is the nearest railway station from where one can hire a cab or board a bus for the church.


 4. Se Cathedral, Goa

Se Cathedral, Goa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to churches, Goa finds its name more than once in the list owing to the architectural gems that it holds. The Se Cathedral is one of the oldest and most prominent churches in Goa that was built in the year 1619. It is also the largest church in Asia till date. The Corinthian and Tuscan style of architecture that were employed in the construction of the church make the church an architectural marvel that has survived all mars of time. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, a patron church of the Christians. The altar is also backed by an exquisite looking golden reredo that looks heavenly in the background. The belfry of the church is also house to the largest bell in Goa.

Why Visit: Corinthian and Tuscan style of architecture | Golden reredos above the altar
Distance from Panaji:
11 kms
Best way to reach
By road:
Hire a cab or rent a two wheeler from Panaji to reach the church in 25 to 30 minutes. Buses ply on the route too but may take longer.
By flight : T
he nearest airport, Goa International Airport, Dabolim, is about 26 km away from the church. One can hire a cab and reach the church in 40- 45 minutes.
By train:
Get down at Karmali railway station from where one can hire a cab for the church.


5. Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church, Velankanni

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church, Velankanni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Southern India is the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health Church in a small town of Tamil Nadu. The church was built in the year 1962 in the Gothic architectural style. The shrine of the Blessed Mary is supposed to have immense healing properties. The Virgin Mary is also known as Shantadurga and is worshipped as an equivalent to the Hindu Goddess Mariamman, both being the destroyer of evil. Oral traditions hold that there have been two apparition sightings of Blessed Mother of Velankanni. What is special about the place is that many traditions overlap the traditions and rituals of Hinduism and hence are a merging point of the two important religions of the world. The place draws thousands of devotees every year from all strata of the society.

Why Visit: Gothic architectural style | Shrine of the Virgin Mary
Distance from Velankanni:
850 metres
Best way to reach
By road:
Hiring a cab from any locality in Velankanni is the most expedient way to reach the church.
By flight: 
Tiruchchirappalli International Airport is the nearest airport about 155 km away from the church. One has to rent a cab to reach the church in around 3 hours and a half.
By train: 
Tiruchchirappalli Junction is the nearest railway station from where you can hire a cab for the church.


6. Shettihalli Rosary Church, Hassan

Shettihalli Rosary Church, Hassan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as the Floating Church, probably this is the only church on this list that had fallen to disuse and finally abandoned. It has been mentioned here because of its sheer beauty and magnificence and the number of visitors that flock the place even today to catch a glimpse of it. The church was constructed in the 1860s by the French Missionaries. It has some of the most beautifully designed French arches among the monuments mentioned on this list among its other structures. The church fell into disuse post the construction of the Hemavati Dam and Reservoir that channelized the water towards the church and flooded it. Every monsoon the church submerges into the water partly or completely and is flocked by tourists for a glimpse.

Why Visit: Gothic architecture | French arches| Submerged church
Distance from Hassan:
21 kms
Best way to reach
By road:
Hire a taxi or board a bus from Hassan, the nearest town to Settihalli, to reach the church in 40 to 45 minutes.

By flight: Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru is the nearest airport about 252 km away from the church.
By train:
Hassan Railway station is the nearest railway station about 22 kms away from the church. Take a bus or cab to conveniently reach your destination.


7. Christ’s Church, Shimla

Christ’s Church, Shimla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ocated amidst the verdure of Shimla Hills is a dainty piece of architectural gem: the Christ’s Church. The church was built in the year 1857 with its designer being the famous architect Colonel J. T. Bolieu. The monument is the second oldest church in the denomination of the Church of North India (CNI). The church has been designed on the lines of Neo Gothic architectural style and is a testament of one of the enduring legacies of the colonial times. Five stained glass windows adorn the interiors of the church, each depicting a human virtue. The church also boasts of having the largest pipe organ in the Indian subcontinent.

Why Visit: Neo Gothic architecture| Largest pipe organ| Beautiful view of the surrounding
Distance from Mall Road:
1.4 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
You can rent a cab from Mall Road to reach the Christ’s church in 5 to 10 minutes time.

By flight: Shimla Airport, Jubbarhatti is the nearest airport which is about 25 km away from the church. Hiire a cab from the airport to reach your destination in an hour’s time while viewing the lushness of Shimla Hills.
By train: 
Shimla Railway station located at Cart Road, Nabha is the nearest railway station from the church.


8. Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica, Chennai

Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica, Chennai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica is one of the most stunning churches in Chennai. It was built in the 16th century which makes in one of the oldest churches in India. The church has been designed on the Neo Gothic architectural style with gracefully sloped arches, wooden carvings and more. The church also boasts of tall spires, wide facades and beautiful cupolas. The church is the final resting place of Saint Thomas, one of the most revered figures of Christianity. The spire of the church is one of the tallest spires, about 47 metres and can be seen from a great distance.

Why Visit: Neo Gothic architecture| Shrine of Saint Thomas
Distance from M G Road:
5 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from MG Road that runs through the heart of the city to reach the church in 15 to 20 minutes.

By flight: Chennai International Airport, Tirsulam is the nearest airport which is about 17 km away from the church. One can hire a cab from the airport to reach the church in about 40 minutes.
By train: 
Chennai railway station is the biggest and most well connected railway station in Chennai. It is about 19 kms away from the church. Hire a cab to reach the church in 40 to 45 minutes.


9. Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours, Thrissur

Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours, Thrissur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours was founded in the year 1929 in the Gothic architectural style. It is the largest church in India and the third largest church in Asia. The church belongs to the Syro Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Thrissur. The spectacular church boasts of some of the most exquisite decorations in its interiors. From murals to frescoes and vibrant rose windows to large altars, one can find the choicest church specimens in this Basilica.

Why Visit: Gothic architecture| Third largest church in Asia| largest church in India
Distance from Thrissur:
1.5 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from Thrissur to reach the church in approximately 10 minutes time.

By flight: Cochin International Airport, Kochi is the nearest airport which is about 52 km from the church. Renting a taxi from the airport is the most convenient way to reach the church.
By train: 
Thrissur railway station, Poothole which is about 1.8 kms away from the church. Hire a cab to reach the church in 10 to 15 minutes.


10. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pondicherry

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pondicherry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Constructed in the year 1902 in the Gothic architectural style, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an imposing building in the heart of the once-French colonial town. It belongs to the Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. The church has majestic facades and is built on a raised platform and has ornately decorated interiors. It also has a Biblical Latin verse inscription on the top of the entranceway. The church also has stained glasswork that portrays the life of Jesus Christ and the other apostles. With high plinths, gracefully curving arches and a beautiful apse, the church is one of the most splendidly done architectural marvels in history.

Why Visit: Portuguese architectural style| stained glasswork
Distance from Pondicherry: 3.6 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hiring a cab is the most convenient and budget friendly way to reach Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

By flight: Puducherry Airport, Lawspet is the nearest airport from the church which is about 6 km away from the basilica. Hire a cab from the airport to reach the basilica in almost no time.

By train: Puducherry railway station which is about 150 meters away from the basilica and is hardly a minute’s walk.


11. Medak Cathedral, Telangana

Medak Cathedral, Telangana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medak cathedral is one of the most stunning churches in Telangana and one of the largest churches in India. The church belongs to CSI denomination since independence and falls under the jurisdiction of the Medak diocese which is the second largest diocese after the Vatican, and the largest in Asia. The church has been made in the Gothic Revival style and is a sight to behold. The mosaic tiles that adorn the floor of the church had been imported from Britain and are of six different shades. The stained glass windows of the church depict different episodes from Christ’s life.

 Why Visit: Gothic Revival architecture| Masonry genius
Distance from Hyderabad:
96 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from Hyderabad to reach Medak Cathedral in 2 hours.
By flight: 
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is the nearest airport from the Cathedral which is about 146 km away and takes around 2 hours to reach.
By train: 
Peddapalli railway junction is nearest railway junction about 167 kms from the church. You can hire a cab to reach your destination in 3 hours time.


12. Saint Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Kerala

Saint Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church, Kerala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church was established by Saint Thomas in 52 AD in Palyaloor, Thrissur. It is one of the oldest churches in India and is believed to have been built on the ruins of a Hindu temple. The church employed Hindu style of architecture along with Persian church style to commemorate secularism. The ceilings and the altar of the church are intricately decorated. Scenes from the life of Saint Thomas find a place just above the Jubilee door and biblical events carved in Burmese teak adorn the main hall

Why Visit: fusion architecture of Hindu temple and Persian church| Church Museum
Distance from Palayloor:
 400 m
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from any location in Palayloor or Ernakulum to reach the church conveniently.
By flight: 
Cochin International Airport is the nearest airport which is about 91 km away from the Church. You can rent a cab from the airport to reach the church in 2 hours.
By train: 
Thrissur railway station is nearest railway junction about 25 kms from the church. From there, you can reach the church within 40 minutes.


13. Saint Mary’s Church, Chennai

Saint Mary's Church, Chennai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Mary’s Church is located in Fort Saint George and is the oldest existing building built by the British in India. Known as the Westminster Abbey of the East, the church building is a piece of exquisite architecture. The church has wide aisles and naves that form a sanctuary. Burmese teak pillars, a tall spire, an organ and two curved staircases add glory to the building’s architecture. The vestries of the church are a recent addition. The altar piece depicts the scene of The Last Supper and although unsigned, is attributed to the Raphaelite’s school, more so to Raphael himself.

 Why Visit: oldest British church in India| depiction of The Last Supper
Distance from Egmore: 
4.4 km
Best way to reach
By road:
You can hire a cab from any location in Chennai to reach the church easily.
By flight : 
Chennai International Airport is the nearest airport which is 22 km away from the Church. The time taken from the airport to reach St. Mary’s Church is approximately 40 minutes.
By train: 
Chennai Central is the nearest railway junction about 3 kms from where you can hire a cab to reach the church in 10 minutes.


14. Moravian Mission Church, Leh

Moravian Mission Church, Leh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The location of this church is enough to get your heart pumping. The Moravian Mission Church traces it origin to the Moravi and Bohemia and belongs to the Protestant denomination. The church is built at an altitude of 11000 feet and finds its name on one of the highest churches in the world. The church offers spell binding views of the Leh valley sprawled out for miles.

 Why Visit: highest church in India| breathtaking views
Distance from Leh: 2.1 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from any location in Leh to take you to the church.
By flight: 
Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the nearest airport which is about 4.1 km away from the Church.

By train: The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi which is around 708 km away from where you can hire a cab to reach the church.


15. Saint Parumala Church, Parumala

Saint Parumala Church, Parumala

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parumala Church is a Syrian Church located in Parumala. Also known as Parumala Pally, the church is built in contemporary architecture and can house approximately 2000 devotees at a single time. The church has a wide interior which is about 39 metres in diameter. The church is flocked by tourists and locals alike. The church is also the final resting place of St. Gregorio of Parumala whose tomb is believed to have healing powers.

 Why Visit: church interiors| resting place of St. Gregorio
Distance from Pathanamthitta:
34 kms
Best way to reach
By road:
A cab is the most convenient way to reach Saint Parumala Church from Pathanamthitta.
By flight:
Cochin International Airport is at a distance of 120 km from the church and can be reached in 3 hours time.
By train:
Chengannur station is the nearest railway station, about 10 kms from the church and takes 18 to 20 minutes to reach.


16. Saint Mary’s Basilica, Bangalore

Saint Mary’s Basilica, Bangalore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the oldest churches in India, Saint Mary’s Basilica has an exuberance matched only by the finest churches in the world. The church is also the first to claim the status of Basilica in Karnataka. The church conforms to the Gothic architectural style with its graceful arches, stained glass windows and ornate altar. The plinths and columns of the church has artistic engravings and motifs on them and the tall spire makes the Basilica beatific.

Why Visit: Gothic architecture| elaborate motifs
Distance from M. G. Road:
1.4 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from M. G. Road to reach the church in 10 minutes.
By flight: 
Kempegowda International Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 34 km. Rent a cab to reach the Basilica conveniently.
By train: 
Krantivira Sangolli Ranganna is the nearest railway station which is 4.4 km away from the church.


17. Basilica of the Holy Rosary, Bandel

Basilica of the Holy Rosary, Bandel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basilica of the Holy Rosary was established in the 1660s and is a reminder of the Portuguese colonial times. Over the period of many centuries, the church has undergone many reconstructions and renovation. The present church is said to have been built by Gomez de Soto. The church has three monumental altars and a pipe organ. It also houses the mortal remains of many colonial people.

Why Visit: oldest church in West Bengal
Distance from Kolkata: 56 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Take a bus or hire a cab to reach Bandel in 1 hour 30 minutes.
By flight: 
Kolkata International Airport is about 63 kms from where you can hire a cab to reach the church in 2 hours.

By train: Bandel Junction is the nearest railway station which is 2.6 kms from where you can take a public transport to reach the church.


18. Sacred Heart Cathedral, Delhi

Sacred Heart Cathedral, Delhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conforming to the Archdiocese of Delhi, the Sacred Heart Cathedral is one of the largest and oldest churches in the capital city. Renowned for its Italian architectural style, the church has gained popularity among the masses over the centuries. The church has elaborate facades complemented by white columns and magnificent arcade turrets. The scene of The Last Supper adorns the background of the marble altar. The floor of the church is ornately designed with rare polished stones. Another thing to be on the lookout for when you’re at the church are the exquisite fresco paintings.

 Why Visit: Italian architecture| fresco paintings
Distance from Rajiv Chowk:
2 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Rent a cab from Connaught Place or any other location in Delhi to reach your destination.
By flight: 
Indira Gandhi International Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 17 km from the church. You can reach your destination in an hour.
By train: New Delhi railway station is the nearest railway station which is 4 kms away from the church. Hire a cab or take an auto to reach the church in 15 minutes.


19. All Saint’s Cathedral, Prayagraj

All Saint’s Cathedral, Prayagraj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patthar Girja or the Church of stones is a famous church in the holy city of Allahabad. The church is built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture and was designed by British architect William Emerson. The church has an amazing interplay of glass and marble within its wide facades and area. The craftsmanship of the pulpit is worth adulation. There is a tower in the church called Victoria tower which is dedicated to Queen Victoria herself. The chancery, ambulatory, and porch are some of the examples of its finesse.

 Why Visit: Gothic Revival Architecture
Distance from Allahabad:
4.6 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from Allahabad to reach the church in 15 minutes.
By flight: Rent a taxi from Allahabad airport, which is about 10 km away from the church to reach your destination in approximately 31 minutes.
By train: 
Allahabad railway station is about 11 km away and is the nearest station from the church. Hire a cab from the station to reach the church within 35 minutes.


20. Vallarpadam Church, Kochi

Vallarpadam Church, Kochi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vallarpadam Church is a major Christian pilgrimage site in Kochi and the apparition of Virgin Mary that appeared at Vallarpadam Church is the only approved one in India. There is a magnificent picture of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus engraved above the main altar. Vallarpadathamma or Mother Mary is believed to possess immense healing powers and hence is flocked by devotees from all over the world.

 Why Visit: Painting of Vallarpadathamma| spiritual healing
Distance from Kochi:
12 kms
Best way to reach
By road: 
Hire a cab from Kochi to reach the church in 40 minutes.
By flight: 
Cochin International Airport is about 34 kms from the church. Rent a cab to reach the church in 50 minutes.

By train: Ernakulum Junction is the nearest railway junction about 7 kms from where you can hire a cab to reach the church in 28 minutes.

This is a curated list of some of the most imposing and beautiful churches in India.  Known for their stunning features like cupolas, belfries, spires, altars, buttresses, arches and more, the churches add glory to India’s past and become a symbol of its secularism and religious tolerance as millions of people, both Christians and non- Christians, throng to visit them. Visit at least some of the churches mentioned above to experience the rich history, art and architecture of India firsthand.

An ideator, a wanderer and a compulsive connoisseur of food, Nishtha aims to become a globe trotter someday. Acclaimed as a silent ninja on her work desk, she loves to live wild and free outside of work. A perfect paradigm of the rarely spotted ambiverts, she loves weaving magic by penning down her thoughts.

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