St. Paul's Cathedral Kolkata

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Tags : Church & Cathedral

Timings : Monday - Saturday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Sunday: 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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St. Paul's Cathedral, Kolkata Overview

Located in the heart of the City of Joy - Kolkata, St Paul's is an Anglican cathedral that operates under CNI – Church of North India. It is a must-visit for those who seek enriching historical and architectural pleasure on their vacation trips. In the heart of the city, this colossal structure reminds you of the colonial times and takes you down the memory lane. Travellers keep this among the top few must-visit places when they come to Kolkata. It looks most beautiful during the Christmas holidays, when the cathedral, the garden around it as well as the surrounding streets are all bathed in light and festivities.

Primarily built to accommodate the ever-increasing Christian community in Calcutta, it is the first Episcopalian church in Asia. The building follows Indo-Gothic style and its structure is complete with a cascading white edifice, towering spire and colourful tinted windows. Inside, it has a huge nave, majestic altar and chancel, along with carvings and paintings depicting great moments and events of Christian history. The cathedral complex also houses several memorabilia of past congregants and a library where books as old as the church's foundation time still exist donated by founding member Bishop Wilson.

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History of St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral's cornerstone was first laid down in 183 and took modeled long years to complete its colossal structure. The original church was built to replace St. John's Church as the major temple of worship of the Christian community of Calcutta, which was crossing 4,000 in number and becoming impossible to fit in just one church. Even though discussions and proposals regarding St Paul's Cathedral were first observed way back in 1819, during the tenure of Francis Rawdon-Hastings, the then Governor General of Bengal, it was not until 1832 that the project was finally undertaken under Bishop Daniel Wilson.

The construction of St Paul's Cathedral was orchestrated mainly by Bishop Wilson, designed by Major William Nairn Forbes and architected by C.K. Robinson. The looming tower, spire, and altar was greatly influenced by and partially modelled upon the Norwich Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The construction took precisely eight years from laying cornerstone on October 8, 1839, to the consecration ceremony on October 8, 1847. To mark the consecration of the church, the Empress of British Empire Queen Victoria had sent ten pieces of silver-gilt plates as a gift of honor.

After Calcutta suffered an earthquake in 1934, the church was revamped for the second time, the first one being after 1897's earthquake. In the natural disaster, the church's previous tower collapsed and thus it was rebuilt modeled on the central Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral. After its completion, St Paul's was announced as the new cathedral of Calcutta.

Architecture of St Paul's Cathedral

The cathedral was mainly built in a Gothic style, but fit enough to withstand the tropical climate of Kolkata and hence Indo-Gothic style of Gothic Revival style of architecture. It resembles the monumental churches of European cities in built, architectural style, as well as design and decoration. St Paul's Cathedral features a very long nave with fitted wooden pews, two frescoes done in the classic style of Florentine Renaissance period and three stained glass windows on the western side of the church. These windows were designed by a Pre-Raphaelite master Sir Edward Burne-Jones who created them in the memory of the deceased Lord Mayo. Started in 1839, by the time it was completed 8 years later in 1837, it was one of the largest churches of India and also the first Episcopal Church in Asia. As it happens to be, it is also the first cathedral Her Majesty's empire built in their overseas territory. On Christmas Eve, the cathedral performs a midnight mass and toast which is very famous, and there is literally a queue of people every year trying to get a glimpse of all

Features of St Paul's Cathedral

The nave of the church is where the visitors and devotees sit to pray or simply to spend some time in a calm environment. St Paul's Cathedral has a Chancel and a Sanctuary and above that a 200 feet tall spire rising into the Calcutta sky. Other than that, there is a fascinating display of plastic art forms as well as memorabilia of the former congregants inside the cathedral.

At the far south of the altar, there is a reredos that can be traced back to 1879. The reredos bears carvings that depict the life of St Paul, the Annunciation, the Flight into Egypt and the Adoration of the Magi – all done by Sir Arthur Blomfield. There are other paintings on various walls of the building by the same artist. This wall also has the bishop's seat of authority which makes the church a cathedral or the ornate episcopal throne.

There is a library in the premises for which Bishop Wilson had donated over books, the William Prentice Memorial Gate which is the entry point and the well-maintained lovely garden all around the cathedral. The cathedral is also the burial site of the founding Bishop Daniel Wilson and an assassinated Chief Justice John Paxton Norman.

Tips For Visiting St. Paul's Cathedral

1. Maintain silence inside the cathedral as people come here to offer their prayers mainly.
2. Photography inside the church building is not allowed without prior written permission of the vicar.
3. Do abide by such rules as it is a religious institution.
4. Do not hamper the garden around the cathedral.
5. Entry is free of cost but during the winter time, especially the Christmas holidays the place gets too overcrowded. 

How To Reach St. Paul's Cathedral Kolkata

St Paul's Cathedral is situated right in the heart of the city along with other notable attractions like Birla Planetarium and Victoria Memorial few blocks away. It can be reached by a large number of bus routes from both North and South Calcutta. It also falls right on the metro route and the nearest station is Rabindra Sadan or popularly referred to as Exide. You can also take a cab from any part of the city to reach here.

St. Paul's Cathedral Reviews

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Soumita Ghosh

on St. Paul's Cathedral 6 years ago
It is well known for its architecture and the stained glass windows. If you are interested in rare books and manuscripts, then you should know that the cathedral complex also has a library with books (Read More) and manuscripts by Bishop Wilson, Rev. J. Nath and W. Gordon. If you wish to visit this place when it is not crowded, then you can avoid the months of April and December. However, the beauty of this church is displayed in all its magnificence during Christmas. You are allowed to sit here and pray for as long as you want. Public buses are easily available around this area connecting the cathedral with the major places of Kolkata. You can also travel by metro or hire a cab.

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