|Armenian church, Chennai, India. TripAdvisor|
|Armenian church, Chennai, inside. trodly.com/in|
built in 1712 and later rebuilt in 1772, is one of the oldest churches of the Indian subcontinent. In 1746, the church was demolished during the brief French occupation. Also known as the Armenian Church of Virgin Mary, it is located on the Armenian Street, Chennai and is famous for its belfry of six bells. It is difficult to notice the church from outside because it is behind buildings, hidden from the madness and chaos of Armenian Street once a vibrant busy business quarter close to the port.
|Bells of the Armenian Church in Madras. en.wikipedia.org/|
|Armenian Church .Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music - WordPress.com|
Presently it is not functioning as a church and it is declared as a heritage site and from 9 am to 2 pm it is open to visitors. Services are still held here four to six times a year, when a priest visits with a group of Armenians from Calcutta, where there are 140. The Armenian Apostolic Church is funding and maintaining the church under the The Armenian Church Committee in Calcutta. The Belfry adjacent to the main Church building houses six large bells which are rung every Sunday at 9:30 am by the caretaker to remind us that the old historical church is being taken care of regularly, though there are no Church services, prayers, etc.
The church has a big graveyard and there are graves of about 350 Armenians here. It is of particular interest to History buff that the founder, publisher and editor of the world's first Armenian periodical "Azdarar", Rev. Haroutiun Shmavonian's mortal remains are in the grave. The Armenian population after India's independence declined drastically to a tickle. The last ones left Chennai in 2004 and presently the church is being taken care of by one Michel Stephen who, besides keeping the church well, I understand, is showcasing the legacy of past Armenian traders of Madras.
|Belfry of the Armenian Church in Madras. en.wikipedia.org/|
This church is in proud possession of a massive Bible, printed in 1686, in fine Armenian script with woodcut prints, which is used on certain occasions, according to the Church keeper Michael Stephen. The stepped wooden altar is inlaid with rare and fine oval paintings depicting various events from the life of Christ, surmounted by a painting of the Assumption.