The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala

2nd Dec 2014
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 1/10 by Sarah
Basilica of Bom Jesus Altar
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 2/10 by Sarah
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 3/10 by Sarah
Malayattoor Church
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 4/10 by Sarah
Parumala Church
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 5/10 by Sarah
Old Parumala Church
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 6/10 by Sarah
Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 7/10 by Sarah
Se Cathedral, Goa
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 8/10 by Sarah
St Cajetan, Goa
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 9/10 by Sarah
St. Anne's Church, Talaulim
Photo of The Beautiful Churches of Goa and Kerala 10/10 by Sarah
Basilica of Bom Jesus

When you think of architecture and India, you don’t really think of churches. But that’s ignoring a significant part of our cultural heritage, and we really should know better. We have some beautiful and significant churches, notable both for how they’re considered pilgrimages and for their architecture, that are definitely worth visiting. So here's a list of churches you should remember to visit the next time you go on a vacation to these popular destinations.

You’re going to Goa sometime soon, right? Everybody’s always either planning a trip to Goa or reminiscing about their last trip to Goa. Next time, take a time out from the beaches and visit these churches, too. If you’re heading off to Kerala, too, you need to write a few churches into your itinerary. If you want to see more churches in India, don’t forget two of the most popular ones dedicated to Mary – Vallarpadam in Kerala, and Velankanni in Tamil Nadu. The latter is particularly well located – you can stop over at Kodaikanal on your way there! They’re both claimed to be responsible for many miracles, too, so it wouldn’t hurt to light a couple of candles. You never know, after all!

Photo credits:

The Sé de Santa Catarina Cathedral in Old Goa  2 , Basilica of Bom Jesus exerior, altar , Church of St. Francis of Assisi , Church of St. Anne, Talaulim , St. Cajetan , Malayattoor Church , Parumala Church , Old Parulmala Church

This cathedral in Old Goa is the seat of the Patriarch of the East Indies, which makes it quite a big deal. It is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who was one of the Saints who Joan of Arc said appeared to her. If the stories don’t sound that interesting to you, it should impress you that this is one of the largest churches in Asia. The church tower claims a bell that’s so rich in tone that it’s called the Golden Bell. It’s considered one of the finest-sounding church bells in the world.
Photo of Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, Velha Goa, Goa, India by Sarah
The Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so as you can imagine, it is impressive. It’s also very holy/creepy, depending on how you look at it – it has the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. A public viewing of the body is held every ten years. But apart from this, it’s a beautiful church. The altars are intricately worked, while the rest of the interiors are relatively simple. The floor is also gorgeously marbled. The church is over 400 years old.
Photo of Basilica of Bom Jesus, Velha Goa, Goa, India by Sarah
St. Francis of Assisi is a bit of an odd figure – he was a Catholic friar and he did a lot of good works, but he was never ordained to Catholic priesthood. But he has been canonised as a priest and a church has been built in his honour in Old Goa. He was a wealthy young man who liked a good time – the kind who’d like a vacation in Goa, in fact – until he got a vision and he lost his taste for decadence. Perhaps the oddest thing he did was attempt to convert the Sultan in Egypt to Christianity and stop the Crusades! He’s also considered responsible for the idea of the nativity scene that we’re all so used to around Christmas, so it’s the perfect church to visit around the time. The church itself is quite beautiful, with panels that depict the life of the saint.
Photo of Church of St Francis of Assisi, Velha Goa, Goa, India by Sarah
This church, also called Church of St. Anne, is supposed to be an excellent example of Baroque architecture, though that’s not to everybody’s taste. The exaggerated and rather theatrical style needs care and restoration, for which the Church of St. Anne has sadly too often been overlooked. It’s set on the banks of Siridao river, so the setting is really beautiful. There are also tales of miracles associated with this church, whether or not you choose to believe them.
Photo of Santana Church, Talaulim, Goa, India by Sarah
This particular domed church in Old Goa is too often overlooked, but it’s architecturally very significant. It’s been modelled on the original St. Peter’s church in Rome, making it particularly interesting. It’s one of the most beautiful of all churches in Goa, so it’s odd that it isn’t more popular! The main altar in particular is an excellent example of Baroque style.
Photo of Church of St Cajetan, Velha Goa, Goa, India by Sarah
This church in Kerala is a major site of pilgrimage. If you do plan to go here, don’t go around Easter. You won’t be able to see the actual church because there are simply too many people around. This church is said to have been built on the spot where St. Thomas himself prayed, and where a golden cross appeared because of him. It’s set on the top of a hill, climbing which is part of the pilgrimage. The footprints of St. Thomas are supposed to still be there. But if you don’t go during the rush time, it’s a great trek with a very nice church at the end of it.
Photo of Malayattoor St.Thomas Church, Malayattoor, India by Sarah
Parumala is an extremely popular - so popular that the old one had to be remodelled to fit in more people. It’s also the church where St. Gregorios, commonly called Parumala Thirumeni by most people in Kerala, is entombed. It’s a huge church and has been renovated recently, though many people feel its old charm has been lost. However, to really feel what this church is all about, go during the Ormaperunnal – like an annual feast or festival, held in early November every year. It’s a huge occasion and it will be jam-packed, but it’s a real celebration. But a lot of people will tell you that the old church was more charming.
Photo of Parumala Church, Mannar, Kerala, India by Sarah