Santhome, Chennai, India
St.Thomas Cathedral Chennai Reviews
A must see Cathedral Jan 03, 2011
Santhome Basilica or the St.Thomas cathedral as is popularly known lies on the worlds second longest stretch of beach called the Marina beach coasting the bay of Bengal,in Mylapore,Chennai formerly Madras.
The church has been constructed over the place believed to be where St.Thomas an apostle of Jesus Christ was buried after he was martyred.
The church was built by the Portugese in the 16Th century.It was patronised by the British who governed Madras and is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Arch Diocese of Madras-Mylapore.
The cathedral is itself an imposing Neo Gothic styled structure with tall steeples and belfry.
Within the church right in the centre is a small basement just above the grave of the apostle, adorned by a small altar and a decorated statue of the corpse of the martyr.The entrance to the grave is from behind the church.
The original intrinsically carved wooden panels of the main altar in the eastern end of the church had been replaced by recent Indian architecture which both I have seen and think that the new design is nothing compared to the Baroque wood work of the Portugese.In spite of this vandalism the church looks magnificent with the old statues, wooden pews, stained glass panels, windows, high ceiling, a winding stairway to a mezzanine floor for the choir,an antique pipe organ,a huge bell and carvings in wood depicting the stations of the cross.
A museum beside the church does have several interesting artifacts used in the church and also a monolithic stone time measuring instrument based on the movement of the sun.
Interesting it is,it forms one of the main attractions of Chennai in all it's tours as a historical monument descriptive to the name of St,Thomas.
My schooling was in the adjacent ST.Bede's Anglo Indian High school during the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies when no tampering to the main altar had taken place before which I prayed and which I sorely miss.
Apart from the same the church still possess the old charm of late medieval architecture and style and is therefore a must visit site if you happen to tour Madras now Chennai.
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