Saturday, 5 September 2015

Afghan church, Mumbai - in memory of British killed in the first Afghan war

Afghan church,Mumbai.www.mid-day.com


Afghan church, Mumbai, India.www.dgde.gov.in
 Afghanistan has been a battle ground for centuries and it continues unabated even today. There is no respite either for the government or for the people from perpetual killings going on there.  Even now no day passes without a small story in the news paper  on Afghanistan,  and massacres, bombing of embassies, killing innocent people, kidnapping, etc  are not new and have become regular events, despite the government's efforts to stop them. The worst are the innocent people who have lots of patience. Several months ago, may be a year,  an Evangelist from Tamil Nadu, India was kidnapped by some group and fortunately he was let off after months of being a hostage. Long ago the British had their taste of defeat in the hands of Afghans - the mountain soldiers when East India company was ruling the roost in the Indian subcontinent.

An Anglican Church in South Mumbai, India, was  built by the East India company with a view to  commemorating those killed in the first disastrous Afghan War of 1838 -1842 (the Battle of Maiwand near Kandahar) and this historical church is a mute    testimony to them who fought hard to safeguard the prestige of the British Crown. This unexpected worst defeat dampened the morale of the British forces stationed here  for a while. This church is called the Church of St. John the Evangelist.The work was begun in 1847 and the church was consecrated on January 07, 1858 by Bishop Harding. Viceroy James Bruce Elgin, a Scotsman was  a major contributor in his personal capacity towards costs of construction.-. However, work on 60-metre high bell tower was completed by  1865. Frequently referred to as the Afghan Church, it is in Navy Nagar - inside a Naval Base (formerly British, now Indian) in the Colaba area of Mumbai (Bombay).

This beautiful church exemplifies early Victorian  English Gothic  revival architecture and has excellent  multi-colored stained glass windows, the high ventilators for better air circulation inside the church and majestic entrance to the church. This monument is simply a personification of poignant stories of the soldiers in stone. The church was once a small thatched chapel, a kilo meter south in what was then known as the "Sick Bungalows", now a busy part of Mumbai. The British East India company took appropriate steps, as initiated by the British back home, to build a solid memorial for the British army of the first Afghan war.
Afghan Churchplayingwithmemories.com

Goreme cappadocia, Afghan Church, Mumbai, .tripadvisor.com
It is the only great monument dedicated to those of the British forces taken part in the first two Afghan Wars.(the second one fought between  1878-80) The Berkshire Regiment suffered heavy losses  in the battle. In England there are no memorials to them as impressive as this one in Mumbai. The memorial in Forbury Gardens in Reading, England is worthy of mention. Elsewhere in England  there is a discrete 
The Afghan Church,Mumbai; the Guild of the Holy Standard. victorianweb.org
Afghan Church, Mumbai, by sheroyt. flickr.com
scattering of plaques and inscriptions. The memorials in the church mention the name of British soldiers who died in the war and also it commemorates the different Indian regiments, primarily the Dharamsala battalion of Ranjit Singh's army from Lahore.

Tit- Bits:

 01. It was the heaviest  and worst ever defeat the British suffered yet. It shook the morale of the best British regiments.

 02  War Records also mention that in the first Afgan-British encounter only one person, one Surgeon William Brydon - a medical officer - three out of 16,000 men, returned safely to Jalalabad, now in Pakistan to tell the tale of a war in which the English army was trounced by the Afghan soldiers (who were good at gorilla warfare) and the rest were perished near Kandahar.

 03. The other two lucky survivors were the French General, who led Ranjit Singh's army and his administrative head, and a Parsi gentleman called Nowrojee.

04. As for Indian soldiers, most of them were from Dharmasala Battalion of Raja Rajit Singh's army.

05. Many of the Indian sepoys were massacred, 
thrown down from the fort wall and some were burnt alive

Ref:  

http://blog.bijanomrani.com/?p168
 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Church