Afghan church Mumbai is one of the best heritage structures of the city. Being situated in the heart of the city, many tourists give visit to this historical monument!
Location Address: Navy Nagar, Colaba, South Mumbai, Maharashtra (India)– 400005.
Best time to visit: Tourists can visit this church at any time of the year. However, the church surroundings bloom with joy during Christmas and new year. November to January is the time when a large number of people flock to this church!
Afghan Church Mumbai Information
Also popular as the Church of St. John the Evangelist, it is perhaps one of the marvelous churches in Mumbai. The church lies in the Navy Nagar of Colaba region in south Mumbai. This is an Anglican Church which was constructed to give tribute to British soldiers killed during 1st Afghan War and Kabul Battle. Another purpose behind the construction of this church is to encourage the study and practice of Gothic Architecture Style.
Afghan church Mumbai is the 1st ever religious monument in India which was built to honor a military incident. The church conducts weekly masses. This church is listed as Grade I heritage structures by the government. It is one of the most visited religious spots in Mumbai and a must visit spot!
Apart from British soldiers, this church also commemorates the soldiers of Bombay Army, Madras Army and even Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Army from Lahore.
Afghan Church Architecture & Construction
The original structure of the church was small having a roof cover of straw. It was in the south of current INHS Ashvini Naval Hospital. Later on, the new structure of the church was constructed after getting a land from the government. This land was given on the condition that this tall structure will serve as an indicator for the ships coming in the harbor.
The current structure of the church was designed by – Henry Conibear in 1847. He was the city engineer of Mumbai. But the reredos, pews (benches), mosaics (stone patterns), tiles and screens were the creation of – William Butterfield. This beautiful church was built by British East India Company in the mid-19th century. The construction of Afghan church Mumbai was initiated on 4th December 1847 and major construction was completed in 1858.
The local stones like Basalt and Limestone were used in the construction of this Church. However, the floor tiles of the church were brought from England. The main corridor (chancel) of the church is 50 feet long and 27 feet wide. Afghan church Mumbai has a tapering pyramidal structure on the top having a height of 198 feet.[caption id="attachment_1259" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The Prayer Hall![/caption]
What To See
- Bells: There is a massive bell which is equivalent to the 8 big bells. It is hanging in the bell tower which were brought in from Taylor Bell foundry of England in the year 1904. This bell was given by Sir Charles Cayzer to commemorate his wedding. The bell tower is 60 m in height!
- Stained Glass Windows: It has stained glass windows which were consecrate or made holy by Bishop Harding on 7th January 1985. You can see beautiful art work on glasses along with few nice sculptures on this monument. 5 panels of stained glass at the top of the Altar filters the rays of lights and gives an amazing view. These glasses are as fine as those of the Rajabai Clock Tower and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
- Interesting Materials: The walls of Afghan church Mumbai comprise of Kurla Stone. While the columns and Arches have Porbunder Stone. The Roof of a church has polished Teak Wood.
- The Cross: There is a structure of cross on another side of the church which has names of few people on it. This interesting structure has a 3-4-meter-high cross which is square in shape. A circular compound wall around the cross gives it a protection.
- Clock: The spire of the church also has an illuminated clock.
- Marble Lectern: A beautiful lectern (behind which a person stands to give a speech or address people) made up of Marble stone is there inside the church. It was installed on 2nd May 1865 on the left side in Transept and its base was installed in 1890.
- Church Interiors: The architects have done nice interior works in Afghan church Mumbai. The flooring, mosaics, interior pillars, altar rails and pews are nice to see.
History of Church
In the 1st Afghan war, the British army of 16,000 soldiers was attacked by the Afghans Warriors. Only 3 individuals of British Army had survived who was a medical officer- Surgeon Dr. William Brydon. Other 2 survivors were a French General and a Parsi man -Nowrojee.This defeat is known to be the worst ever defeat suffered by the British army. The complete history of this church is mentioned at the entrance.
The Afghan church Mumbai was opened to the public in 1858 by John Harding who was the Bishop of Mumbai (Bishop means a senior member of the Christian clergy). In spite of the major construction of the church was done by 1858 but few important parts were left incomplete.
So in 1858, Sir Cowasji Jehangir donated Rs.7500/- to finish the construction of Church. After that, the church got fully ready in 1865. The construction cost of this church was Rs 5, 65,000/-. The money was privately raised by Sir Cowasji Jahangir apart from his personal contribution of Rs 7,500/-.[caption id="attachment_1256" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Beautiful View of Tapering Structure![/caption]
IMPORTANT TOURIST INFORMATION
Afghan Church Mumbai Timings
The church remains open all days of the week from 07:00 am to 06:30 pm except Sunday. If you find the church close between these timings, then the church caretaker will help you to open the door (he lives just next to the church).
Entry Fee / Ticket Charges: The entry is free to everyone. They do not take any sort of entry charges.
Time Required: 1 Hour is sufficient to explore the Church and its surroundings!
How To Reach
The church is very near to the Colaba Causeway which is between Colaba and Old Woman’s island. One can easily reach here by taking a cab from anywhere in the city.
- Nearest Bus Stop: You can catch BEST Bus number 123 from Churchgate station or Regal Cinema to reach the church.
- Nearest Railway Station: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on Central Railway is the convenient railway station (6.5 km away) to reach Afghan church Mumbai. Churchgate station on Western Railway is another option which is 3.5 km away. Taxis are available outside the station which will take you to the church within 10 to 15 minutes.
- Nearest Airport: Mumbai Airport is the closest airport to the church. Airport is 27 km away from the church.
Accommodation / Staying Options: There are a large number of hotels in Mumbai. You can choose any of them as per your budget & convenience.
Restaurants/ Eating Stuff: As this church lies in the heart of Mumbai city, there are a large number of cafes and restaurants nearby it. Café Mondegar is one of the best spots to have food in Colaba.
Nearby Tourist Attractions:
- Prince of Wales Museum
- Gateway of India
- Marine drive Mumbai
- Jehangir Art Gallery
- National Gallery of Modern Art
- Sassoon Dock
- Dock Yard
- Nariman Point
- Regal Cinema
- Eros Cinema
- Flora Fountain
- Fort Market
- Fashion Street
Map To Reach:
So Afghan church Mumbai is a must visit spot in Mumbai if you are a history or architecture lover. It displays a splendid Gothic Architecture Style!