Afghan Church in Colaba – Monument to Afghan War

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish; outdoor:;
Austere Grandeur of the Church

Afghan Church stands in Duxbury Lane, Colaba. The church was built in memory of the British troops who fell in the first Afghan War (1838-42). It is also known as The Church of St John the Evangelist. Work began in 1847 and the church was consecrated in 1858. The 60-metre tall bell tower exists from 1865.

Location of Afghan Church

The church is 3.8 km from Churchgate station. Taxi fare will be about Rs. 60. Alternatively, BEST bus no. 123 will take you to the church. Holy Communion Service begins at 8:30 am on all Sundays. It is a Prebysterian church.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish; outdoor:;
Arched Porch

The monument looks grand although the grounds and gardens seemed rather forlorn.  I found the main doors shut. The caretaker lives in a cabin in the same compound. He came and opened the doors for me.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish;
Church Door

The main door was impressive and still functions well. But it obviously had seen better days.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish;
Nave of Afghan Church

The Interior

Inside the church, you first notice the five large stained glass panels above the altar. These panels are in the chancel arch which is at a height of about 50 ft. Soaring Gothic arches support the high ceiling. The roof is varnished teak wood. The rows of wooden benches are from mid nineteenth century.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish;
Stained Glass Windows Above the Altar

The walls on both sides hold memorials to the soldiers who fell in the First Afghan War. The architectural style of the church is a forerunner to the Gothic structures in South Bombay such as Mumbai CST and the High Court.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish; outdoor;
Church Walls

Architecture

The architects were Henry Conybeare and Henry Butterfield. They are responsible for the Gothic look of the Church. It perhaps is the first Gothic Church in India.

The architects have used Kurla stone in the walls and Porbunder stone in the arches and pillarsThe floor tiles were imported from England.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; heritage building; architecture; uasatish;
Stained Glass Windows

On my way out, I  observed three more stained glass panels just above the entrance to the church. Visitors will observe, above the entrance, memorials of officers who fell in the Second Afghan War (1878-80). 

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; church; outdoor; uasatish; Bombay;
Cross Erected by Officers of H.M. 45th Regiment

Memorial to British Soldiers

The officers and privates of H.M. 45th Regiment erected the cross on the grounds.  The plaque says that the memorial commemorates the soldiers who died in Neemuch and Colaba during 1865-66.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; Bombay; church; heritage structure; Gothic architecture; outdoor; uasatish;
Commemorative Plaque

You may have wondered why the British raised the monument in Bombay and not England. The explanation is that many of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan came from the East India Company’s Bombay ArmyThe Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended a Remembrance Sunday Service at the church on 10 November 2013.

Afghan Church; Colaba; Mumbai; India; Bombay; church; heritage structure; Gothic architecture; outdoor; uasatish;
The Tall Spire of Afghan Church

The tall spire served as a landmark for ships at the harbour. Sailors could view it from quite a distance.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences of Afghan Church. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr.

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