Thursday, 19 September 2019

All saints' Church in Kirkee, Pune, an early British colonial legacy

.All saints' Church in  Kirkee, Pune.
All saints' Church in  Kirkee, Pune. flickr.com/flickr.com/
Established in 1869,  during the colonial era,  ''All Saints Church church'' was an active one mainly serving the British soldiers of Southern Command.  It is said that important military officers like the commander in chief of the southern command, the governor, etc used to offer prayers in this church.

The !82 year old All saints' Church in  Kirkee, Pune  conducted  2138 baptisms over a period of 100 years 1837 to 1937. This church has been mainlining  a perfect record of marriages, deaths and baptisms of people associated with this one  since 1854. Hence lots of British, on a visit to India, go to this church and scrutinize the records of their forefathers who worked in India in the Raj or in the early colonial period. 

Built in sandstone and teak wood  with fine wooden ceiling in 1837, this church is 182 years old and is being well-maintained. Classified as Grade I heritage church, it was known earlier as the 'Christ Church'. Initially, the structure was a small one and in 1845 and later in 1866, additions were made to make it a large one. How come it got the new name - All Saints' church?  The assumption is that, perhaps, the church was consecrated on the first of November which is All Saints' Day world over.
According to the secretary of the church Norman Laffrey since 1854, 62 Chaplains or priests have dedicated their services to the growth of this church by taking care of the spiritual need, etc of the Christian community living here. Presently, the church is serving a big community.
All saints' Church in  Kirkee, Pune. lbb.in/pune
In the colonial period, it used to be a garrison church, catering to the soldiers and higher-ups, During services there used to be separate seating for higher officials. The pews in front still hold the brass plagues showing places where  Governor, General Officer in Command and others  would sit and the pews are provided with slots to rest their service rifles. Dating back to 1834, there are countless stone plaques in the church, commemorating their  supreme sacrifices for the country during wars. Toward the altar one can see two flags of battalion adorning the sides of the wall.

 Equally interesting is the presence of an old church bell that was cast in 1845. The bell that  weighs about 500kg is set in the bell tower at a height of 45 feet. Yet another features that enhance the look of this beautiful churches are the stained classes that weigh close to one ton. They were specially made in Belgium, They are fixed  in the west end, north face in  the altar. The damaged stained classes were replaced with new ones in 2000. There is also a nice balcony made of teak wood and in the colonial era the Garrison band would play certain numbers on this balcony adding  charm to the colonial legacy and tradition.  It is being managed by the Bombay Diocean Association and in Nov. 2012 the church celebrated its 175 anniversary  with some exciting events,

The church is in Kirkee (now known as Khadki), Pune.  It was here the British East India Company' army had defeated the Peshwas (Marathas)  army and had made inroads in the Deccan.
Post independence 1947, the defence ministry handed over the charge of this church to the Indian church trustees,  Calcutta. Subsequently it became a part of the Churches of North India. The church also contains the regimental colors of the 23rd Bombay Light Infantry.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/All-Saints-Church-completes-175-years/articleshow/17056203.cms
https://www.puneonline.in/city-guide/churches-in-pune
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/all-saints-church-takes-pride-in-military-history/articleshow/63456604.cms