Mumbai… The city of dreams. When it comes to Mumbai; You hear everyone talking about Gateway of India, Nariman Point, Taj, Marine Drive and of course Bollywood. There are so many historical places in Mumbai as well. The number of places increases with the increasing crowd. But there is one place which people often fail to observe. It lies silently at the extreme South of the City and protects the men of our nation who in return protect us. Yes, I am talking about The Church of St John the Evangelist; better known as The Afghan Church.
I was always curious about this church because of its unique name. So – a couple of weeks ago, I packed my bag pack and left to explore the place. Before going ahead, first thing first- here is a little information on our today’s destination.
How to Reach:
- The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
- Chuchgate railway station; which is 4 km from our destination.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station which is around 4.7 km away.
- BMBY Marine LNS railway station which is 5.2 km away.
Once you get down at any of the above-mentioned railway station, you may either hire Ola/Uber or take a local Kaali-Peeli (Black & Yellow) Taxi or you may even take BEST buses. BEST bus proved best for me as it is the cheapest way of travelling. It costs me only 14 INR from CST station. I took bus number 103. You may also take bus number 1 and bus number 3 from CST station. During my journey, I passed through some of the old buildings in Colaba. This old part of town was so gorgeous and gave me a wistful feeling. Most of the building surrounding Afghan Church is military building with a soldier posted at every entrance.
Architecturally, the church may not that much striking but the history behind the existence of this church is something unique. Afghan Church is a silent evidence to all those brave men who sacrificed their lives for the glory of the Empire. The Afghan Church is the memorial to the thousands of soldiers who died at the First and Second Anglo-Afghan War. It was fought between British Imperial India and the Emirates of Afghanistan from 1839-1842 and 1878-1880 respectively. The construction of the church begins in 1840 and was completed in 1865.
The first thing which grabs your attention once you get down on the bus is the huge tower rising through the green trees with the holy cross on the top. The second thing which attracts you are the walls which are made up of Kurla stone. Its piers, arches are of Porbunder stones.
The next thing that grabbed my attention was the stainless glass at the top of the bench which filters the rays of lights and I can watch the glorious piece of art. Names of the fallen of the First Afghan War are on the walls to either side.
This area gave me goosebumps. These are the memorials of the officers fell in the First and Second Afghan War. Each table shows the name of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the Empire. Being a part of Indian Army, I understand that I should not mourn for soldiers. But this was something that I can’t control. My eyes became moist.
At the right-hand side of west door entrance, there lies a memorial plaque of First Afghan War. The church also possesses some of the Color which was carried by various battalions in the Second Afghan War
I then walked out of the church and found the below place which has plaques all around its interior.
The church is mesmerizing not only from inside but also from outside. The breeze is so peaceful and soothing that even if you visit the church alone; you may feel that you’re not alone. There is something with you. Maybe Jesus Christ… Maybe the soul of soldiers or maybe you meet your inner-self.
The government has recognized the Afghan Church as Grade I Heritage Structure and allocated funds of 30 lakhs INR towards its renovation. The movie shooted here is Black featuring Rani Mukherjee and Amitabh Bachan.
Best Time to Visit:
Christmas is the main festival of Christians, celebrated with great passion and pleasure. So, the best time to visit the church is from November to January. The church witness thousands of visitors on the Christmas Eve.
Church opens on every Sunday from dawn to dusk. In case, if you visit on the weekday then the verger who lives next to the church will open the door for you.
- Gateway of India
- Marine Drive
- Girgaon Chowpatty
- Nariman Point
- Colaba Causeway
- Taraporevala Aquarium etc.