Monday, June 15, 2009

St. James Church

St. James Church was the first church to be built in Delhi and has been witness to history unfold. A symbol of Thanksgiving built by James Skinner it is a beautiful example of early 19th century architecture, a harmonious blend of the colonial and Mughal styles. The building of the church was a fulfillment of a vow made by Skinner when he and his men lay wounded in the battle fought for the Karolee Raja against the Onreah Raja in 1800. Suffering in pain, he is supposed to have made a vow that if he were to survive this wreck, he would build a church. He was saved and fulfilled his vow. The work on the Church is supposed to have begun in 1823. In 1836 Bishop Daniel Wilson consecrated it naming it after St. James. Skinner’s Horse, a force he created is still a part of the Indian Army.

Location – At the busy crossroad of Kashmiri Gate. Down the Daryaganj Road at the far end. Approximately 8 – 9 kms from Connaught Place.

Timings – Open for Prayers Sunday morning. Otherwise one has to speak to the caretaker or the authorities to be allowed inside.

Highlight – Recent has been the restoration work by INTACH of the dome, parts of the building and the stained glass windows. Ratish Nanda, conservation architect has been instrumental in the project. The cracks in the dome with iron rods which had rusted were replaced bit by bit, with fabricated steel rods. Also over time cement had been used to seal the cracks, all of which was removed and replaced with lime plaster.

Insider Tip – Go there on Sunday mornings. The entire area is very quite, peaceful, no traffic and there is absolute calm. Inside the church the stained glass windows are breathtakingly beautiful, they were also part of the restoration process. The ones flanking the altar depict, the Crucifixion and Ascension, while the third terrified soldiers at Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The sight that greets one on entering the church is a picture of serene tranquility - of the beautifully carved altar with two magnificent stained glass windows flanking it, the dome shaped ceiling supported by huge pillars, the old organ, the lectern and the pulpit.
There on eat at the paranthewala gali – read the post on it in Eating out
browse at Darya Ganj Sunday book market – read the post on it in Shopping in Delhi

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