Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Historical St. Michael's Cathedral, Shimla - a legacy of the British Raj

St. Michael's Cathedral , Shimla, HP  just dialcom
Shimla city, Himachal Pradesh location map. slideshare.com
The popular hill station Shimla, now the capital of Himachal Pradesh  was once the summer capital of the Raj and lord Curzon, in particular, was fond of this place not only for its fine, cool climate but also for its inspiring and serene surrounding  around here. He was the one who established  the first golf course in India and one of the highest  in the world then at Naldhera which is near by. The Golf course, at Naldehra at an altitude of 2,200 metres with a par 68, 18-hole,  is a famous one. Lord Curzon, a powerfu British administrator named his daughter as Alexandra Naldehra after this place.   As there were many European settlers who took refuge in the hill station and the surrounding areas during the hot summer season, their population grew up very fast.  So there was the need for  additional churches to fulfill the spiritual needs of the people.  Shimla has the  rare distinction of having many colonial churches up on the hill. One of the earliest one being St Michael's Cathedral, a  Catholic Church with an amazing  architectural style. If you are on a trip to Shimla, it is worth visiting this church, a legacy of the British Raj  
St. Michael's Cathedral , Shimla, HPjusttourmyIndia.com
Opened for the public in 1885 within the city limits, it is a beautiful and majestic structure that boasts of typical French - Gothic style of architecture. Equally impressive is its interior.  It was  designed by none other than  Henry Irwin, a famous architect who was  the then Superintendent Engineer and Architect of PWD in Shimla.


St. Michael's Cathedral , Shimla, HP
This first Roman Catholic church - St. Michael's Cathedral  incorporates a nave, a vestry, a confessional room, a baptistery room and two aisles. It is not a big church, but can hold about 400 worshipers at a time. The church remains closed during the months of heavy snowfall (September to early December). This place of worship was often referred to as the 'Ripon  because the  construction  work was on when Lord Ripon (1880-1884) was the Viceroy of India. The cathedral has one of the finest and oldest organ in the northern state.  The other fine attractions are old glass tapestry and a precious old statue of "Our Lady of Guadalupe",  a gift from Mexico.
Historical St. michael's Shimla. HP. themanali.com
The church carries on all the church activities such as marriage ceremony, baptism, the First Holy Communion and the Confirmation Mass, confessions, etc. The Friday Mass tradition is an interesting one here. It comes under the  diocese of Shimla-Chandigarh that covers  an area of over 83,000 kilometres in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. The present diocese has 43 parishes and a large clergy  serving more than  54 communities.  Close to the church is an old library  that was built in 1910 and designed in typical Elizabethan style.  It has good collection of books mostly related to Christianity and also a good collection of ancient scriptures. 
St Michael's is close  to various local bazaars like Lower Bazaar and Lakkar Bazaar where  you can buy authentic  traditional handicrafts and fresh produce from Shimla https://www.tourmyindia.com/states/himachal/st-michaels-cathedral-shimla.html
https://www.trawel.co.in/city/shimla/st.-michael's-cathedral-catholic-church-shimla