Wednesday, 17 July 2013

St. Andrews Church

Walk and you shall find,

Listen and you shall now..

Armed with these two commandments for successful travel, I went out to Bandra seeking to explore more about the St. Andrew's Church. The walk in itself was pretty much a success (or so I would like to believe) considering it left me with rich legends, anecdotes and visual memories of the Bandra that venture beyond history books. Bandra is a fine place to explore that opens up wonderful opportunities to discerning eyes and keen ears. 

St. Andrews Church in Bandra
There is a solemn beauty in the silence of death and St. Andrew's Church in Bandra reveals this. St. Andrew's Church is one of the oldest surviving churches in the suburb built in 1575 by Jesuit priests and remained the only church in Bandra till 1620. Structurally, the altar of the church extends almost to the roof which carries statues of Sacred Heart, Our Lady and St. Andrew. In addition, there are smaller statues of St. John the Baptist, St. Sebastian. 

The cross with 39 emblems of The Passion of Christ
There are rows of tombstones that have been tiled to the ground from corner to corner. The gravestones point out to the names engraved on them which are suggestive of the pervasive practice of intermarriage between the local Kolis and the Portuguese settlers. While I was extra careful not to step on the graves, a short walk led me to a 17 feet cross that was brought here from the St. Anne seminary (where the present day Bandra bus depot now stands) before it was blown up by the English to prevent it from falling in the hands of the Marathas.  The 17th century cross is one of the oldest and largest stone crosses in Mumbai and has been carved from a single stone. The cross has 39 emblems of The Passion of Christ. 

The statue of St. Andrews at the Church entrance
There is also a small round aperture in the centre of the front facade of the Church just above the statue of St. Andrews, which allows the rising sun to shine into the church. As per local records, the St. Andrew's Church withstood a terrible cyclone in 1618 and survived the Maratha invasion of 1739.  

St. Andrew's Church has been featured in The climax of Baaton Baaton Mein was shot here. As the inexorable cycle of life and death continues to play itself out within the church compound, we get back to our daily lives with a renewed commitment to narrate stories of urban legends. 

2 comments:

Destiny's child... said...

I liked the way you have described your walk. St. Andrews Church definitely looks like it's worth a visit. :)

Akshay Iyer said...

It sure is, Veena!