Wednesday, 18 April 2018

St. Paul's oldest Protestant church (1857), Ambala - bombed in 1965 war by Pakistan

St Paul's Church Ambala, cantt.Pinterest
St Paul's Church Ambala, cantt. Wikimedia Commons
Above image: St. Paul Church, Ambala cantonment, Haryana. It an old image.  Prior to  Pakistan's 1965 bombing, the oldest protestant church (1857) looked like this. Classified as a historical monument by the ASI.................................. 

January 2009: postage stamp . St. Paul's Churchutowo.blogspot.in
Above image: 25th January 2009: A commemorative postage stamp on. St. Paul's Church. Govt. of India...............

Saint Paul's Church of Ambala cantonment town, Hayana  is  one of the most reputed protestant and oldest churches in the country built during the  most crucial time in colonial India's history. The Indian Rebellion - Sepoy Mutiny was on across northern India in 1857 and the British were preoccupied with the tough task of quelling the rebels.  Consecrated on  04 January 1857 to cater to the spiritual needs of the British officials and soldiers, the church  was a big one and could accommodate 1000 people at one time. It was here  the inauguration of the Diocese of Amritsar took place  and today it appears that it will soon be the Mother Church of the Diocese. Under the East India Company's  rule this Cathedral was earlier the only cantonment church of the British army  constructed on a huge land of  20 acres. Presently, a major portion of the area is under the Indian Army for its use and running an Air Force School. The Indian Cantonment Board  is controlling it and the church  is open to all devotees. 

myunfinishedlife.com
It is believed this vintage church had a humble origin. The construction of the church  began in earnest in 1852  and the credit goes to one Captain Atkinson who  designed  the church following  the Gothic style. Initially affiliated to the Church of England, in 1952 the affiliation was transferred to the Lahore Diocese. Way back in 1855 the British India Army built a small church made of wood for the patrons. During the Sepoy mutiny, the Church became a safe haven for the British who took refuge here.
Saint Paul's Church of Ambala cantt HolidayIQ
St. Paul church, Ambala, Haryana. /atulambala.blogspot.in
Unfortunately in 1965, during the Indo-Pakistan war the church was bombed  by the Pakistani Airforce,  destroying most of the main portion of the church  except the tower and other parts. The bombing by a Pakistani Aircraft considerably obliterated a beautiful heritage church. The  remaining part  of the church  is being used now as the worship place.   The old church bell that was made in England was shifted to the nearby church house.  The Church has  become  a National Monument and is taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Ambala city location map. ambala.nic.in
On account of security issues, the bombed church was not reconstructed as  the Indian Air Force base near-by  is a busy one and the army air crafts continuously land and take off from the neighboring runways.  The Air Force Authorities have  a proposal to convert the church into a war memorial.

Tit-Bits:

Though legally and constitutionally Kashmir is part of India, it has been a bone of contention between two  countries  since  India's independence in August 1947. Pakistan, it is a known fact, purposely creating problems in Kashmir under India's control, using religious sentiments. The  war of 1965 was as a result of  skirmishes that frequently took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between these countries. Under Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, the Pakistan Army  carefully planned to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to incite an insurgency against Indian rule. India retaliated by launching a full-scale military attack on West Pakistan. In this war Pakistan Air Forces targeted civilian areas. St Paul's Church, an early British legacy in this part  was bombed during one of the raids. 

 http://www.hoparoundindia.com/Haryana/Ambala-cantonment-attractions-history-of/Saint-Paul%E2%80%99s-Church.aspx