Here comes the month of December signalling a blend of frost, auspicious Christmas and New Year. Kids already started reckoning reverse well-before the occasion, expecting that a white-bearded man will surprise their dawn with colourful gifts. Yes, time has come to pack your baggage and travel across your favourite holiday destinations.
Well, when we talk about Christmas, it connotes an imperative divine architecture ahead of Santa Claus, jingle bells or a Christmas cake. What is that? Absolutely spot on! You cannot think of Christmas without visiting a church.
People often misinterpret that Christmas is comparatively a smaller eve of celebration in India. But, when it comes to Christmas Eve, devotees rush into the churches from various parts of the nation. In India, you will find a large number of Christian communities who are residing in Goa, Mumbai, Nagaland, Mizoram, Kerala, Meghalaya and Manipur.
This post will take you through some of the stunning churches in India.
#Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
One cannot kick-off the list of stunning churches in India without mentioning the name of Basilica of Bom Jesus. Immense numbers of Catholic pilgrims gather this church on regular basis. But, the footfalls of devotees just climbs manifold on the eve of Christmas. The significance of the name of the word “Bom Jesus” indicates ‘good or infant Jesus’. Situated in the beach conurbation of Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus is a 300 years old church, and one of the famous tourist pullers in Goa. Now, the church is famed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Tourists gather here and form a long queue to get a glimpse of the remnants of St. Francis Xavier. The body is persevered inside a box, which is opened for public exhibit after a specific time period.
The magnificent architecture of the church is built in Baroque style, which carries a tale of Portuguese culture. Once you enter the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the fascinating interior of the church will amaze you for long. The marble decor on the floor, precious stones, dazzling touch of gold on the altar and eye-catching fresco inside the church will give you a celestial sensation. The church also boasts of a museum.
Despite of being one of the best beach destinations in India, Goa is also known for its several traditional churches. Visitors hold a great level of affection for Basilica in Goa. So, if you are planning to visit Basilica of Bom Jesus this Christmas, you are absolutely on the right track.
Best time to visit: October to December
Situated in old Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus is around 10km away from Panjim. If you board a taxi from Panjim, it will reach there in merely 20-25 minutes. However, if you are planning to visit here from a different city, the following modes of commutations you can avail:
By Air: Goa is well connected with various parts of the country and overseas. The nearest airport is Goa International Airport, which is also known as Dabolim. It is merely 30km away from Panaji. The frequency of flights from metropolis is quite convenient for air travelers.
By Train: Railway is another mode of commutation to reach Goa. Numbers of trains reach at Vasco da Gama and Margao railway stations on regular basis.
By Bus: You will get frequent bus services from Panaji to reach old Goa.
For staying purpose, you will find lot many hotels and resorts in Panaji, Panjim and other nearby areas of old Goa.
# Rosary Church, Shetihalli, Karnataka
Popular as Shettihalli Church, it is situated around 22km away from Shettihalli, Karnataka. Build in Gothic architecture style, the church attracts ample of visitors every year. Ages back in 1860, this Church was constructed by French missionaries adjacent to the bank of river Hemvathy. Nearly after a century, a dam (Gorur) was built near the church. As a result of which, every year during monsoon the church gets inundated in the water. Therefore, during monsoon visitors gather near Hemvathy to have a look of the half-submerged church. According to the local inhabitants, Rosary Church was built with bricks and mortar and by mixing eggs and jiggery.
If you happen to be there in the month of December, the emerging decor of the church will fascinate your presence to a large extent. This is the time when the water level surrounding the church gets retreated and the glorifying view of the church is revealed. This place is just an ”wow” experience for photographers.
Best time to visit: To witness the submerged view of the church, July to August-end or October could be the best time. On the other hand, the glorifying view of the church can best be felt between December to May.
By Road: Reaching Shettihalli Church has never been a constraint for the visitors. By road Shettihalli Church is around 200km away from Bengaluru, and you will get number of frequent buses from there to reach Shettihalli Church. The driving direction to reach Shettihalli Church from Bengaluru takes you through the route of Hassan – Hanumanthapura – Shettyhalli. It will take 4 hours from Bengaluru to reach your destination.
By Train: Daily train service is there from Yashwantpur railway station to Shettihalli.
If you are carrying your own tents, the best option for overnight stay is by the river side. You will also find Rappa island resort near the church. After spending your Christmas, you can also plan to visit the nearby locations like Halebid and Belur.
Tips: Finding eatables is a scarce around the church. Hence, it is advisable to carry adequate food stuffs on the way.
# Se Cathedral Church, Goa
Among many other eminent churches in Goa, Se Cathedral is another splendid tourist attracting site in Goa. This church is situated on the bank of Mandovi River in old Goa. Considering its colossal dimension, Se Cathedral comes under one of the largest churches in Asia. The church was built in the memory of Catherine of Alexandria. Like any other churches of Goa, you will also get mesmerised with the spectacular decor of Se Cathedral. The inner and outdoor texture of the church was designed on the basis of Corinthian and Tuscan style respectively. According to history, this church came into existence in 1619 giving an honour to the triumph of Portuguese under a Muslim army.
Visiting Se Cathedral during Christmas is a splendid experience for the visitors. One of the most striking elements of this church is its ‘’Golden Bell’. It is said that this bell is one of the best bells across the globe. Presence of some antique paintings on the main altar and the Cross of Miracles are two more attention pullers inside the church. During Christmas evening, plenty of devotes rush to Se Cathedral and offer their heartiest prayers to Jesus. Visitors also get noticed by the Archaeological Museum here.
Best time to visit: This is a place of all season. However, visitors prefer to step into this church from October to March. You can also visit here during mid-summer or monsoon. However, the temperature is quite humid that time.
Multiple sources are there to reach one of the largest churches in Asia.
By Air: The nearest airport is Dabolim, which is around 30km away from Panaji and it is very close to Vasco-da-Gama port. You will get plenty of flights till Dabolim airport from some of the major cities of the nation. In addition, various chartered flight services can also be availed by the tourists coming from European countries. From Dabolim airport, you can hire auto-rickshaw or taxi to reach Se Cathedral church.
By Train: Goa is well-connected with other parts of India through Konkan railway. Several trains are there from some of the major places like Delhi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram to reach Goa. From railway station, you will easily get an auto-rickshaw or hire a taxi to reach the church.
By Road: National Highway (NH17) is the best link to connect Goa with other major parts of India. NH17A on the other hand, connects east and west coast of Goa. If you are travelling from Karnataka or other major South Indian cities, NH4A is the connecting route. You will also find public buses to visit Se Cathedral church.
By Water: Multi-hulled watercraft service is also there from Mumbai to reach Panaji.
Places to stay near Se Cathedral church
Goa has galore of staying facilities for the visitors. The following are some of the nearby hotels:
|The Fern Kadamba Hotel and Spa, Goa Panjim Old Goa Bypass road, Kadamba Plateau , Goa, India 403402Charges:Rs.4,500 (Per Room Per Night)||Ratna Sagar 137, Near Basilica Junction , Main bus stop ,Old , Goa, India 403402Charges:Rs.2,500 (Per Room Per Night)|
|Paradisso de Goa Resort Peri Bhat , Ela Old Goa , Near Pinto Garage ,Old , Goa, India 403402Charges:Rs.1,250 (Per Room Per Night)||Devaaya Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre Divar Island, Ilhas, , Goa, India 403403Charges:Rs.6,110 (Per Room Per Night)|
# Basilica of Holy Rosary Church, Hooghly
Having said, Christmas is celebrated through the country, visiting West Bengal during Christmas could be as purposeful as visiting any of the churches in Goa. Basilica of Holy Rosary Church is more popular as Bandel Church among the visitors. This church is known for its ripened existence since 1660, which is also the oldest church in West Bengal. Basilica of Holy Rosary Church is situated at the bank of river Hooghly, which was built by Gomez de Soto after a century since Vasco da Gama reached Bengal. Basilica of Holy Rosary is an idyllic place for prayer during Christmas. You will see several crypts, three altars and a small organ inside this historic church.
Well, visiting Bandel Church will not merely confine you to its surrounding tombs and shrine of Mary. You will also come across various other breath-taking sites from the church. During winter, the lively flows of river Hooghly will amply your internal divine spirit. You can experience the joy of boating in river Hooghly after taking an exit from the church. Hooghly ghat is located outside the church site. People rush near the bank of the river for picnic purpose as well.
Besides, you can also enjoy a short boat ride till Imambara, which is adjacent to Bandel church. Hooghly Imambara is a famous mosque situated near the river. You can reach there by auto paying merely Rs.10.
Best time to visit: Undoubtedly winter is the best time to get there. However, it is said that due to some sacred rituals the church remains closed on Christmas to the visitors. So, it is recommended to visit there a day before or after 25th December. Though ample of devotees rush this place on the eve of Christmas to get a glimpse of the holy church.
Tips: During Christmas, it is difficult to get parking space near the church area. No entry fee is required to access the church. You will find some average eatery near the church, which will serve various types of Bengali cuisine. Buy candles for prayers and hover around the corner of the holy church.
By Train: The local train is the convenient way to reach Bandel church. The frequency of Howrah-Bandel local is quite good. Once you reach Bandel station, you can take an auto to reach Bandel church. You will also get local trains from Sealdah till Bandel station. However, the frequency of the locals on this route is comparatively low.
In addition, you will also find number of trains between Sealdah and Naihati. From Naihati you will get Naihati- Bandel local and the frequency is also pretty good. If you are travelling via Bandel then deboard at Hoogly Ghat station and take an auto or e-rickshaw, which will reach you there merely in 10 minutes.
By Air: Kolkata is well connected with other parts of the country via air. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is the nearest airport. From airport you may hire a taxi to reach till Sealdah station and then get into the locals to reach till Bandel station. From Bandel, you will get auto to reach the church.
By Car: Alternatively, you can hire a car from airport and travel via Sodepur-Madhyamgram route and reach Muraghacha. From Muraghacha junction head towards Kalyani express way, which will reach you till Naihati. Once you cross the river from Naihati, it is merely 6km distance to reach Bandel church. From airport, it will take around 2 hours to reach the destination.
Places to Stay:
Near Hooghly, you will find plenty of reasonable hotels to stay. Some of the hotels are listed for your convenience:
|Itachuna RajbariVillage & Post: Itachuna, Station Khanyan, West BengalCharge per night is around Rs. 800||Aqua marina HotelHooghly Station Road Bandel Junction Hoogly, West BengalCharge per night is around Rs. 700|
|Ananda Guest HouseWomens College Pipulpati Hooghly, West BengalCharge per night is around Rs.1000||Hotel AbhirbhabChak Bazar Road Punghatuli Hooghly, West BengalCharge per night is around Rs. 350|
|Note: The charges may vary|
# Santa Cruz Basilica, Kerala
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is commonly popular as Santa Cruz church. It is one of the oldest churches in India. As per historical saga, the church was built ages back in 1505 by the Portuguese. Later in 1984, the church was titled as Basilica by Pope John Paul II. The ancient edifice of Santa Cruz church attracts plenty of devotees every year to rush in Kochi. Visiting Santa Cruz church during Christmas is a worth plan of action that you can positively execute.
The Gothic architecture of the Basilica will captivate your presence here. Some of the murals and interior decor of the church will just win your heart in a second. The bright towering spire of Indo-European architecture and the spectacular paintings by Moscheni has transformed the church to a divine canvas of deity. Beautiful windows, vivid blue pillars and the podium are few more breath-taking testimonies of luminous craftsmanship. This church is a must visit for all the photo fanatics.
It is important to know the timings before getting an access to this oldest church. The visiting duration to this church is 1 to 2 hours and the church is open from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM (except Sunday). On Sunday, the church is open from 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM. However, during public holidays, the best time to visit there is from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Though you can visit the Santa Cruz church through the year, but visiting here on the Christmas Eve is something that tourists mostly intend to experience.
Kerala is well reachable place from various parts of the country.
By Air: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which well-connects the major cities of India. The distance between the airport and Santa Cruz church is merely 3km.
By Train: Likewise flights, Cochin is also in good touch with various states via Aluva Railway Station, which is only 21km away from the church.
By Bus: The nearest bus stop is Kunnumpuram from where you will get cab to reach Santa Cruz church.
If you want to make your Christmas trip more amusing, you can try the Kerala Kathakali Centre, which is located in Fort Kochi. In this place, you can experience a blend of impressive Carnatic music and dramatic movements by the finest Kathakali dancers. You will also find few more churches and movie theatres in nearby location.
Having done with amusement, you can try some delicacies foods at Fort Queen Restaurant, Forthantery Restaurant and Combo bakery and Sweets.
Places to Stay:
There are several quality hotels near Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica. Some of them are as follows:
|Heather Home StayNear South Thamaraparambu, Fort KochiCharges: Rs.904||CL Dreams Homestay X/932-D-1, Manthra Road, Veli, Fort KochiCharges: Rs.1500|
|Jasmin Villa11/1305 Odatha, VeliCharges: Rs.2750||Hotel Fort QueenJawahar Rd, Pandikudy, Thamaraparambu, Chullickal, Kochi,Charges: Rs.2500|
|Note: The charges may vary|
# Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Delhi
The capital city of India, Delhi has always been a tourist puller for its exotic galore of archaeological monuments. This Christmas if you are planning to visit any church in Delhi, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is one such name you must visit. With an expanse of 14 acres, this is one of the oldest basilicas in Delhi. Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is known for its astonishing decor and white altar. As per old saying, the altar and the bell in the church were donated by Sir Anthony de Mello and the Archbishop of Agra respectively.
The edifice of the church was based on Italian style and designed by famous British architect Henry Medd. The interior of the church has a flourishing stone work and curved roof with broad semicircle. Some of the fascinating fresco behind the altar will amaze you on the first go. There is a big crucifix to the left side of chapel, and next to it you can see a statue of Mary.
In the month of December, people start coming from various parts of the country to witness this sacred church. You can also witness some of the consecrated functions here organized by the cathedral. Every morning and evening is the regular praying hours for the devotees here. On the eve of Christmas and Easter, you can see several cultural and social programs in the church premises. Two most important festivities performed here an hour before the holy Christmas are the Christmas Vigil Service and the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Best time to visit
The visiting hours in Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is morning 6.30 to evening 6.00 every day. The best time visit this church is during Christmas and Easter.
The nearest airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is around 12 km away from the destination.
New Delhi railway Station is the nearby railway station within 2 km away from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
One of the convenient ways to reach Cathedral of the Sacred Heart is via Rajiv Chowk. From there the driving distance is merely 2km. You can take metro as well from Rajiv Chowk and reach towards Ashok Place, Near Gole Dakh Khaana.
Some of the nearby places around Connaught Place are Achraya Nagraj Ekta Mandir, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and Rajiv Gandhi Handicraft Bhawan.
After a divine trip to the sacred church, you can try some of the luscious restaurants here, which includes Sarvam Safari, Galina Bar Be Que, Delhi Sweet House and Tee Pee O could.
Places to stay near Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
Though staying near Connaught Place could be little expensive, but you can try some of the nearby hotels as listed below:
|Backpacker Panda Delhi, New DelhiC/o Sai Palace, 22/1, Main Bazar Road,Next to RK Mission Metro Station, Pahar GanjRs.400 onwards||Hotel Hridey Inn, New Delhi T-119, General Market,Opposite Khanna Cinema,Main Bazar Road, Pahar GanjRs.900 onwards|
|Hotel Surya Plaza, New Delhi 2471, Nawala Street, Chuna Mandi,Opposite Imperial CinemaRs.880 onwards||The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa New Delhi Bangla Sahib Road, Connaught PlaceRs.9000+|
|Note: Hotel fare may differ|
# Mount Mary Church, Mumbai
Travelling to Mumbai is always exciting, and when you happen to be there during Christmas, it will take your voyage to a new stature of experience. Located in Bandra, Mumbai, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount is popular as Mount Mary Church. It is around 100 years old Roman Catholic church, which is famous for its inside statue. It is said that the statue was brought from Portugal during 16th century by Jesuits. Further, the statue was placed in the prime altar of a small rhetoric, which is located on the peak of Mount Mary hill. Devotees flock this church during Christmas and birthday of Virgin Mary. Every year, on the first Sunday after 8th September, a feast is organized in the church premise offering respect to Virgin Mary. Several other celebrations are also practiced here for a week. One such famed celebration is Bandra Fair, which attracts plenty of visitors every year. An interesting fact about Mount Mary is that the prime doors of this church have been affirmed as ‘Holy Doors of Mercy’.
Like any other churches, the interior decor of Mount Mary Church is equally eye-catching. The design of the church is based on British style. Mount Mary is situated around 80m above the sea level, and the surrounding of the church looks more picturesque during the sunsets.
Devotees believe that if someone is suffering from a particular disease and he/she offers a wax figures to the deity depicting their disease, he/she will get cured. With this belief numerous people visit this church every day.
You will find few stalls outside the church area from where you can purchase candles, wax figures of Virgin Mary, religious objects and sweets.
You can enter the church every day between 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM. However, on Sunday, the visiting hour is from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Visiting Mount Mary Church during September and December is mostly recommended. This is the time when the sanctified spirit of the church can best be felt.
The following are the convenient ways to reach Mount Mary Church:
There are several buses that can be availed from the city heading towards Mount Mary Church. You can also hire cab, taxi or auto-rickshaws to reach the destination by road.
Local trains are considered as the life line of Mumbai. If you travelling by local train then the nearest station is Bandra (Western line).
In addition, Mumbai is well-connected to most of the major Indian cities through Indian Railway. You will find various trains that will reach you till Mumbai Central, Mumbai CST, Kalyan Jn and Bandra Terminus.
For air travellers, the nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (6km away), from where they can reach the church via local trains or taxi.
There is one more church near Mount Mary, known as ‘Father Agnel’. One more stunning tourist pullers near the church is Jogger’s Park. After a day-long visit in the church, you cal also explore the Linking Road, which is quite popular shopping place in Mumbai. Well, visiting Bandra without peeping around the Mannat (residence of Film start Sahrukh khan) is something that a true SRK lover will never put up with. Ample of tourists rush near his sea facing residence on regular basis.
Places to stay near Mount Mary Church
It is quite difficult to find any reasonable hotels in Bandra. Most of the places here are very expensive. Some of the good hotels are listed as follows:
|Hotel Samrat, Mumbai 3rd Road, Next to Singhs International,Opposite Khar Railway Station, Khar westRs.900 onwards||Hotel Siddhartha, Mumbai 368, SV Road, Near Bandra Lake WestRs.4680 onwards|
|Hotel Lucky, Mumbai Junction of S.V, Road&Hill RoadRs.3091 onwards||Hotel Arma Court, Mumbai 1st Floor, Building No.2,Near Bandra Court, A.k.Marg, Bandra EastRs.2249 onwards|
|Note: Charges may differ|
Though, the above cited churches are not finite, but these are some of the prominent churches in India that you can visit during Christmas. Nevertheless, following are few more high-flying churches in India that can also be visited on the auspicious eve of Christmas:
- Santhome Church, Chennai
- All Saints Cathedral, Allahabad
- Philomena’s Church, Mysore
- Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Puducherry
- Aloysius Chapel, Mangalore
- Parumala Church, Parumala
- Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Palayoor
- Medak Cathedral, Telangana
- Christ Church, Shimla
Hope this Christmas brings galore of contentment, prosperity and adore in all your lives. Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a spectacular year ahead.