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Afghan Church Mumbai

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Afghan Church A sentinel to an era gone by........ In Colaba Island situated at the southern end of the city, church of St. John the Evangelist better known as the Afghan Church attracts many curious visitors. Work on this church began in 1847 commemorating the Afghan wars. The church began as a small thatched chapel a kilometre south in what was then known as the "Sick Bungalows" (now the INHS Asvini, the Indian naval hospital). There were no chairs and patron had to bring their own. Later, the government released a new patch of land for the setting up the church on the condition that the spire be seen from miles away and serve as a landmark for ships in the harbour. The quintessential English architecture was designed by city-engineer Henry Conbeare and architect William Butterfield in 1847 and was consecrated on January 7, 1858 by Bishop Harding. ...read more.


The walls are made of rubble faced with coarse Kurla Stone (buff colored basalt). The piers, arches, and dressings are of Porbunder Stone, very similar to the Caen Stone (cream coloured soft stone from Caen in Normandy) of the English churches; the roof is built of varnished teakwood with hammer beam style ribbing. The floor of the chancel is made of encaustic tiles (in-laid with coloured clay) imported from England. It has a beautiful altar, tall pinnacles, 21 lancet windows with exquisite stained glass fixed in the triangular apexes, on either side of the nave. The remaining portions of the nave windows were fitted earlier with Venetians instead of glass, but during the years 1932 to 1937 quarried coloured glass windows had gradually taken its place. The 'great west window', consisting of stained glass with five lights, has an intricate tracery design above and is one of Wailes's best works. ...read more.


At the entrance of the church one finds plaque giving detailed information on the history of this church. The friends of twelve officers of various corps have erected a reredos (ornamental screen covering wall at the back of altar). The altar was given in the memory of two officers and the marble pavement in the memory of those who had brethren in the Guild of the Holy Standard. The general memorial of all the officers, non-commissioned and the men of the Bombay Army were erected over the principle entrance in 1883. Away from the city's hustle-bustle a stroll around the historic Afghan church will pump in fresh air. It remains one of the few precincts in Mumbai where you can get a glimpse of undisturbed Indian heritage. Built to commemorate the dead of the three Afghan Wars, today this church stands guard over the living and the dead. Fact File Location: Church of St. John the Evangelist (Afghan War Memorial) Duxbury lane, Colaba Mumbai- 400005 Tel: 22183349 Open 365 days ...read more.

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