Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Afghan Church and the beautiful stained glass windows - a war monument in Mumbai in poor state

Afghan church  Mumbai.en.wikipedia.org
Afghan church exterior, Mumbai.dreamstime.com

Anglican Afghan  Church in South Mumbai Pinterest
 The 160 year old Anglican Afghan Church in South Mumbai (Colaba area), India,  built by the East India company is a mute  testimony to those who fought hard to safeguard the prestige of the British Crown and in the process  laid down their lives  in the first disastrous Afghan War of 1838 -1842 (the Battle of Maiwand near Kandahar). The Berkshire Regiment suffered heavy losses  in the battle. This church is the only monument dedicated to those of the British forces taken part in the first two Afghan Wars (the second one fought between  1878-80). No doubt, the interior of the church is writ with  stark appearance of a monument. Surprisingly 4,500 British officers and soldiers died in the first of three Afghan wars and  Britain’s Grand Army of the Indus retreated from Kabul in 1842 having been clobbered, nay almost virtually annihilated by the tribesmen. In the aftermath the morale of the British troops nosedived. This church is a legacy of early colonial period

 Consecrated  as a War Memorial on January 07, 1858 by Bishop Harding, earlier the church was known as St. John the Evangelist (established in 1847). The 60 meter tall bell Tower (houses 8 large bells) enhanced the  beauty of this  church  in 1865 as  its construction got delayed. The impressive  Victorian arches of the doorway and the slender spire  bring out the best of Gothic design. Its architect was one William Butterfield. Thanks to the munificence of Viceroy James Bruce Elgin, a Scotsman, who bore the  cost of construction of the church. The church has rosewood pews with holders in the backrests where soldiers could keep their rifles  and comfortably attend the service. This church  is set in a nice well-laid garden that includes a 168 year old banyan tree, a Cyprus tree and others that are home to numerous birds.

Amazing stained glass windows of the church:  

The term stained glass can refer to colored glass as a material or to works created from it. Over the past 1000 years, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches, mosques and other important buildings. Traditionally it is made in flat panels and but used as windows.
Stained glass refers to  glass that  is  colored by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The colored glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain are often used to enhance the design. The term stained glass is also applied to windows in which the colors have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.  Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, and the engineering skills to assemble the pieces. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stained_glass)

Nerolac ArchEdge
Anglican Church in South Mumbai,Pinterest
Anglican Church in South Mumbai,Getty Images
Away from the din of ever busy Mumbai's madding crowd and vehicular traffic, the church is known for its fine architecture and amazing stained glass windows that will never fail to leave a lasing impression on the visitors that include many Europeans. There are are 64 stained glass panels  that need to be restored for the posterity. The credit goes to English craftsman  William Wailes whose workmanship, clarity in design and mastery in the art of right mixing of colors in the glasses bring out the beauty of such stained glass windows. According to experts the quality of such stained glass panels is so good for a small church like this one and it is comparable to those in the huge cathedrals.  When the beam of sun's rays  come through the stained glass windows, they come out alive and the interior glows with a maze of colors. 
Anglican Church in South Mumbai in.pinterest.com
Anglican AfghanChurch in South Mumbai Wikipedia
Anglican AfghanChurch in South Mumbai Alamy
Anglican Church in South Mumbai Pinterest
Anglican AfghanChurch in South Mumbai Pinterest
 The church is a fine piece of architecture with a varnished teak wood roof with hammer beam style ribbing, the flooring of the church made of en-caustic tiles with colored clay shipped from England. Media reports  point out the poor-up keep of the church - the roof, interior woodwork and outer wall, and stone work all need repair and restoration. In particular, the roof has to be laid with fresh tiles.  Because of paucity of funds, the church steeped in history, is not well taken care of and according to the pastor, worships are few. Though the repair work is going on, the funds allotted are not good enough to do a nice job. The crux of the problem is this church is classified as  Grade I heritage monument. The church needs up to Rs 10 crores to bring it back to glory. The church committee members are optimistic to rededicate this church after major restoration work in the foreseeable future.
https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/mumbais-160-year-old-afghan-church-is-in-dire-need-of-restoration/article24230787.ece
https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2015/09/afghan-church-mumbai-in-memory-of.html


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