Celebrate Christmas At Mumbai’s Oldest Churches

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Churches In Mumbai

It’s time again for festivities; this time with rum cakes, pies, red stockings, reindeers et al. Since one of the main highlights of Christmas revelry is the Christmas Eve mass, we bring you some of Mumbai’s oldest churches – pristine interiors, surreal carol singing, the works; Christmas just got better!

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Commonly called Mount Mary Church, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount is a 100-year old Roman Catholic Basilica attracting millions of believers across faiths especially Hindu and Christian fisher folk. Illustrated walls and an immaculate altar add to the charm of the chapel whose main attraction is the statue of Virgin Mary. The week-long Bandra Fair marks the birthday of the deity. Where: Band Stand, Bandra West

The first Anglican church in Mumbai, St. Thomas Cathedral, in addition to being a popular religious site is also one of the oldest heritage structures in the city. The erstwhile church was consecrated a cathedral in 1837. Its divine interiors – stained glass and artwork, the tombstones and memorial stones and the tower and clock add to its charm. Where: Nariman Point, South Mumbai

Front View of the Afghan Church Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Front View of the Afghan Church Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

A classic example of humble beginnings, St. John’s Church, well-known as the Afghan Church is a Presbyterian church which started off as a thatched chapel to commemorate the deceased of the Afghan war. Stained glass windows, geometric floor patterns and Gothic arches create a prayerful ambiance. There are eight large bells in the bell-tower. A few weekly masses are celebrated here. Where: Navy Nagar, Colaba, South Mumbai

Holy Name Cathedral, also popular as Wodehouse Church is a Roman Catholic cathedral well known for its frescoes and immaculate interiors – neatly arranged pews, a pulpit and a grand altar. Where: Colaba, South Mumbai

Holy Family Crib
Holy Family Crib

Having a parishioner base of over 7,000, Holy Family Church is popular with the Roman Catholic Christian community in the city. The church has held prayer and worship services since 1965 and is placed within a spacious compound. Where: Andheri Kurla Road, Adjacent to Popular Car Bazaar, Andheri East

With a history spanning over four centuries, Our Lady of Salvation Church, better known as Portuguese Church was erected by the Portuguese and christened O Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Salvacao. The church has an interesting and symbolic architecture – every element represents specific phases of Jesus Christ’s lifetime. Where: S.K. Bole Road, Dadar West

Spacious Interiors of St. Michael Church Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
Spacious Interiors of St. Michael Church Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

One of the oldest existing Portuguese buildings, St. Michael Church, better known as Mahim Church is also one of the oldest Roman Catholic shrines in Mumbai. The Wednesday Novena’s are attended by millions of Christians and Hindus as well. In June, 2008 a picture of Jesus Christ: The Divine Mercy was said to bleed from the heart. After a scientific analysis the occurrence of a miracle was written off. Where: L.J. Road and Mahim Causeway intersection, Mahim

The Gloria Church Image Courtesy: Church Facebook page
The Gloria Church Image Courtesy: Church Facebook page

Originally built in 1572 and later reconstructed at its current location by 1913, Gloria Church exhibits Gothic style architecture. Its four towers measure 160 feet each and are considered the tallest church towers in Mumbai. The beautiful altars, divine statues and colourful stained glass windows add to the serenity. Where: Sant Savata Marg, Byculla

A Jesuit Catholic church, St. Peters Church exhibits Romanesque style architecture. The interiors of this edifice are carefully designed with the Holy Mysteries on either side, windows depicting St. Stanislaus, stained windows and marble altars. The church is listed as a Grade II heritage structure and in 1995 was awarded the prestigious Urban Heritage Award. Where: Hill Road, Bandra

Having a catholic population of over 20,000 the Lady Of Immaculate Conception Church is one of the largest parishes in Mumbai. Popular as IC church it stands within a vast compound along with a small chapel, a community hall and grave yard. The compound also has statues of saints and the Virgin Mary. Adjoining the church are the Mandapeshwar caves; originally belonging to the church, they were later taken over by the Government of India. Where: IC Colony, Borivali West

St. Andrew's Church Image Courtesy: Church website
St. Andrew’s Church Image Courtesy: Church website

Erected by Portuguese Jesuits, St. Andrews Church has beautifully laid out historic interiors. The structure has a tall altar where statues of Sacred Heart (Jesus Christ), Virgin Mary and St. Andrew are placed. There also are smaller statues of St. John the Baptist, St. Sebastian and Jesus Christ. There are side altars made of wood and carved and painted in a traditional Portuguese style. The compound has one of the city’s oldest crosses carved out of single stone. The choir-loft houses a small-time museum displaying interesting artifacts like candle-stands, a musical organ et al. Where: Hill Road, Bandra West

Established in 1916, Our Lady Of Lourdes Church, better known as Orlem Church started off as a privately built chapel to around 12 families. Today it is parish to scores of Roman Catholic Christians in the city’s suburbs. Where: Orlem, Malad

So are you saving the date this Christmas Eve?

UPDATE: MumbaiMag reader Olivier Calsyn wrote to us about St. Annes Parish at Mazagaon, a Jesuit Parish just a few minutes from Gloria Church at Byculla.

St Annes Church, Mazgaon
St Annes Church, Mazgaon

Olivier writes, “The place was first a private chapel and now a church. The church is more than 125 years old. While its been a place of worship long before that.  Its said that Wodehouse Church at Colaba was made with inspiration from St.Annes architecture. We celebrate Christmas mass in the school ground of St. Mary’s ICSE, a place for many Bollywood films and ad film shootings. Below is the link to St. Anne’s Church’s Facebook page. It has lots of pictures of the new renovated and painted church.”

We loved discovering this new parish through Olivier, hope you did too. Send us your Christmas stories, photos at story@mumbaimag.com!

Photos Courtesy, Church websites, Facebook pages and Wikipedia.

Post By Melissa Nazareth (39 Posts)

Idealist. Feminist. Brevity advocate. Tries to read and write as much as she should. Loves KFC and cola.

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Melissa Nazareth

Melissa Nazareth
Idealist. Feminist. Brevity advocate. Tries to read and write as much as she should. Loves KFC and cola.