Lucknow, the city of Nawabs can be said to be the city with the most secular sentiments, culture and heritage in Uttar Pradesh. The secular mentality has been deeply ingrained in the Lakhnawis since the times of the Nawabs, who even introduced a uniform code of dressing and greeting for the true Lakhnawi aawaam (public).
Lucknow city is not only famous for its majestic mosques and splendid temples; it can also be credited with housing one of the first churches of North India. Lucknow got its first English church in 1810 and since then, the city has been home to some of the finest churches in India.
The arrival of Christians in India actually dates back to 52 AD when the first few bishops and priests came to India to provide English education, healthcare and shelter to the underprivileged population. The first of churches started in Kerala in 1510 when the official Bishop of India was nominated.
The likes of Cathedral of St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi Church, and Christ Church in Hazrat Ganj along with Sacred Heart Church in the Cantonment and St. Agnes Church in Hussain ganj to name a few are some of the prominent churches in Lucknow. All these glorious churches were built during the Nawabi era and later on during the British rule in Lucknow.
One such church of great historical significance located in Lucknow is the Christ Church. Built in the year 1860, the architectural brilliance coupled with the subtle old world charm of the church continues to fascinate the people of Lucknow and visitors alike.
History of Christ Church
Christ Church was built in the year 1860 near the General Post Office (GPO) in Hazrat Ganj. According to some historical narrations, St. Mary’s Church, which was built inside the British Residency was completely destroyed during the Uprising of 1857, hence Christ Church was built in the honor of the British soldiers, who died during the Rebellion of 1857. The church also has the distinction of being the first English church built in the northern region of India.
The Christ Church was primarily called “Church of England” during the British Raj in Lucknow. The structure of the church was designed by the renowned General Hutchinson. The structure of the church, especially inner walls still have brass and marble plaques erected in the honor of the British soldiers, clergy and civilians, who lost their lives during the Rebellion of 1857.
One marble plaque has been erected in the memory of James Grant Thomson, who was the Assistant Commissioner of Muhamadee. James Grant Thomson was actually killed by the rebels during the siege at Aurangabad in the Province of Awadh. Another marbled epitaph has been erected in the remembrance of Respected Henry Polehampton, who had a prominent position in the British administration in Lucknow. The Christ Church was refurbished in 1904 and it has an architectural composition resembling a cross – the sign of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the purpose of mankind.
Architecture of Christ Church
The unique architecture of Christ Church has transepts of the nave representing the arms whereas chancel symbolizes the head. Exquisitely carved railings along with the metallic cross tend to provide a beautiful look of the adjoining monuments located in Hazrat Ganj from the top of this 3-storey church.
A campanile can be seen attached to the transept in the southern corridor of the church. On the other hand, the bell tower of the church has a pointed top with a spire that faces the sky ending in a cross. The cross is a bit twisted under the impact of an earthquake, which occured in the city in 1933.
The most striking pieces of subtle art found in the church are the glass murals symbolizing the Christian faith. These artistically designed murals have been exquisitely painted by noted European painters. The big murals provide an appropriate backdrop for the dais whereas the small murals that are built on top of the main entrance enhance the overall architectural beauty of the Christ Church.
The Christ Church – Today
The church compound now houses the Christ Church College, one of the best schools in Lucknow providing secondary school education.
The rich past, glorious traditions and architectural brilliance of Christ Church have been preserved well by the concerned authorities. The Christians of the city gather at the church every Sunday for the holy mass. Moreover, Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are observed by the Christians of the city at the Christ Church. It is one of the oldest and the most distinguished church of Lucknow and people of the city relate with the church as an inseparable part of Hazratganj area in Lucknow.