Friday, 21 September 2018

St. Paul's Church of Ambala that sheltered the British during 1857 Indian rebellion!!

   1868 phpto.Saint Paul's Church of Ambala.oldindianphotos.in
Bombed Saint Paul's Church of Ambalaixigo.com/
During the colonial period many churches came up across places where the British established residencies like Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. Same was true of those cantonment area across India, the British built churches to look after the spiritual needs of the soldiers, British officials and their families. Along with catholic churches, Protestant churches had also begun to  appear in some parts of India. It was in Tamil Nadu at Tharangampadi (Tranquebar), in Nagapatnam District, the earliest Protestent churches and mission were established in 1700s in the Danish settlement on the premises of Fort Dansborg. The Church was built in 1701 by Rev. Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg (later he became a scholar in Tamil)  and has records from the 18th and 19th centuries. He is believed to be the first Protestant missionary in India and the Church is believed to be the first Protestant Church in India. Yet another interesting fact is it was the Danish mission that introduced printing press in India for the first time and mostly they printed the translation of the bible in vernacular languages. 

The British evangelists, for their part, also constructed many Protestant Churches in the cantonment areas across India. Saint Paul's Church of Ambala cantonment town is not only one of the most popular and old  protestant churches in this country but also considered to be a large one with provision for 1000 people to attend the service at the same time. It was here in this church the holy task of  inaugurating  the Diocese of Amritsar took place way back.  The architecture of the building is majestic and it reflects the rich culture and Gothic style. This church was consecrated on 4 January 1857 and it was built to mainly serve the army soldiers and other British officials working for the East India Company (a proxy government to the British Crown). Designed by a military officer one Atkinson, the work on the church began in 1852. It was finally affiliated to Lahore Diocese. 
  
During the great Indian rebellion called the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 that engulfed many parts of the northern states, there was a pitched battle between rebels (mostly Indian soldiers who were in the British army) and the British India army. In many places both the British army and the Indian rebels became unruly. The hell-bent Indian rebels, in some places, mercilessly killed many British women and children. By the same token, some trigger-happy British officials committed massacre of innocent Indians. In a tumultuous and dangerous situation, the Church became a hide-out for the British living in the cantonment area. Being a large structure, the church shielded and saved countless British soldiers and others who, otherwise, would have faced certain death from the rampaging mob who lost their sense of balance and scruples. 

Earlier it was the cantonment church of the British army and now it is managed by the Indian Saint Paul's Church of Ambala Cantonment Board and is open to all devotees. The church was initially Established on  an area of 21 acres of prime land, now a major portion is under the control of  the Indian army for school and other army usage. As India-Pakistan border is close by, Ambala being an important Air-base, the church is very close to the runways, no major restoration work is done on the Church that was bombed in September
St. Paul church, Ambala 1942. flickr.com/p
1965 war by the Pakistani Air force. A major portion of the this beautiful church became a mound of rubble after the bomb attack.  The Air-force office has a proposal to 
 to convert the church into a war memorial. 
https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2018/04/st-pauls-oldest-protestant-church-1857.html
http://www.hoparoundindia.com/haryana/ambala-cantonment-attractions/saint-paul%E2%80%99s-church.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zion_Church,_Tharangambadi