Christianity began a long time ago which is now denoted as 1 A.D. Entire world follows this calendar. When it was initiated Christians living at the Mediterranean coast went out and traveled across the world to spread the message and teaching of Jesus Christ. It began by Paul, previously known as Saul who was persecuting followers of Jesus, but one day he saw a light in the sky and voice of Jesus who spoke to him and telling him to join the followers, from there he became Paul and spread the word of Jesus to various nations. This process still continues and under the same process, although not humane Portuguese Christians entered South-West India near the end of the 1400s. They initiated by trading and being barbaric to the natives and finally building various churches in those locations.
Bandel Church History
A European explorer from Portugal, Vasco da Gama along with his followers entered the ports of Bengal, he brought nothing but misery to the land. They showed their barbaric nature soon after their visit and this continued for a while. In the year 1575, they even built a small settlement in Hooghly with the permission of Akbar, who was emperor of India at the time. As their numbers started to grow, Portuguese were almost 5000 here. Later 5 priests of Portugal initiated coming in as well and started baptizing the natives. In the year 1599, a church was built for worship.
What began as brutal trading had turned into Portuguese being bandits and looting whatever they got their hands on during the 16th century. The final line was crossed when they started capturing women and children and started selling them as slaves. As a result, the new Emporer of India Shah Jahan ordered an attack on the city, and a large chunk of Portuguese was killed. Additionally, four priests were also killed, but one was captured. As the punishment, the priest known as Father Joan da Cruz was sentenced to be run over by elephants along with his followers. However, the elephant simply picked the priest up and sat him on his back using its trunk. Miracles are admired and praised highly in Islam, and Shah Jahan was a practicing Muslim was truly impressed by this sight and freed them. Not only that, they were brought back to the Hooghly and were allotted a large chunk of land.
Upon their return, a new church was built over the ruins of the previously destroyed church by Gomez de Soto in 1660. Also, another story associated with the church is, one time a ship’s captain prayed to God under a severe storm, that if they made it out unharmed he’d donate the mast of his ship to the first church he’d encounter. They made it out safe and came across a church, it was the Bandel Church.
The Architecture of the Bandel Church
As for the structure of the church, it appears like a beautiful bungalow on the beachside similar to many Indian inns and resorts near Goa but it is made after Portuguese-style churches. Unlike other churches which are typically white-painted the color scheme chosen for Bandel church is from a brown and mocha color palette. Outside of the church, there are two pillars that appear to be of Doric style, an ancient architectural style from Greece where the pillars and columns are unadorned and the columns directly rest upon the stylobate without a base per se. A bell tower is also present here, as is with every church. The bell tower looks similar to those of Roman architecture. Also, a large clock is placed on this bell tower.
As for the inside of the church, it looks quite amazing. The entirety of the church’s interior was marbled and the use of granite stones is quite evident as well. This gives it a very modern and classy look even though this renovation was done in the year 1990. There is no spot on the inside that is not either granite or marble. Multiple paintings can also be seen within the church along with murals. The main altar stands out from the rest of the interior, as, unlike creamy tint, it is striking blue in color with golden highlights of flowers and columns. A life-sized statue of Mother of Sorrow is also established at the altar with the body of Jesus in her lap. Similar to the ground level, the first floor is also marbled. However, the balcony area is open and devotees usually come upstairs to light candles or simply enjoy the view.
A ship’s mast that had been donated by the captain is also preserved and kept in a separate room which is usually locked. The mast itself is wooden. Additionally, many tombs and shrines are within the premises as well.
Bandel Church attracts tourists from various places, additionally, all religions are welcomed here. If you happen to be in or near Hooghly this place is must visit.