ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL – Asia’s First Episcopal Church.
“The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling and the exhausted….”
While visiting the “Island of Attractions” in Kolkata, a 201 feet tall spire will definitely catch your glimpse. After visiting Birla planetarium,Rabindra Sadan, Nandan,Victoria Memorial , don’t forget to visit Kolkata’s another most important cultural heritage that is St. Paul’s Cathedral- Asia’s First Episcopal Church. The Cathedral is just beside Birla Planetarium. It is visible from Rabindra Sadan and Victoria Memorial.
St.Paul’s Cathedral Church, constructed in between the year 1839 – 1847 by Major W. N. Forbes and C.K. Robinson and founded by Daniel Wilson in the year 1847.
It was the first Episcopal Church in Asia and the largest Cathedral in Kolkata. It is an Anglican Cathedral in Kolkata under Church Of North India.
The Cathedral, constructed uniquely in a traditional Gothic architectural style with a central notch tower. The Cathedral consists of a great chancel, sanctuary and chapels. The total length of the Church is 247 feet along with 81 feet width and a 201 feet tall spire. Moreover the tall spire, constructed as a Replica of the famous Canterbury Cathedral’s Henry Tower and constructed with special bricks,steel trusses and fine lime plaster. The wide center of the Church is quite impressive as it highlights a stained glass west window designed by Sir Edward Burne Jones. At dusk, as the sun sets, the reflection of the sun rays on this window appears heavenly in a true sense.
In the year 1897 as the earthquake hit Kolkata, the Church had suffered many damages. In the year 1934, after another earthquake, the tower was destroyed. Hence the Church rebuilt in Indo Gothic style. The Gothic architecture made suitable in Indian climate. Before construction of the St. Paul’s Cathedral, the largest church in Kolkata was St. John’s Church. But the space inside the church was quite small to accommodate large number of Christian Community at that time. Hence St. Paul’s Cathedral, constructed with a massive interior accommodating 800-1000 people at a time. The “Communion Plate”, donated by Queen Victoria to the Church and it becomes the prized possession of the Church.
After reaching St. Paul’s Cathedral, you will first notice the large entrance gate in the north side of the Church made of wrought iron. The gate named “Sir William Prentice Memorial Gate”.
There is a statue of Bishop Heber inside the compound. He was the 2nd Bishop of Kolkata. As you go inside the Church you will feel absolute peace and silence.
Excellent plastic artistic works and memorabilia will astonish you. The roof top is curvy with hanging fans. On the southern flank of the altar lies the “Episcopal Throne”. Just behind it there is an elegantly designed wall dated 1879. The wall on the eastern side consists of paintings of the life of St. Paul. This artwork is done by Bloomfield in the year 1886. You will find an extraordinary sculpture of Bishop Heber on a kneeling posture in a font.
Towards the western side of the complex there is a library. Bishop Wilson donated 8000 books and manuscripts to the library. Even W. Gordon and Rev. J. Nath had contributed some books to that library. If you wish you can sit here and read those books and upgrade your knowledge more about The Holy Bible. There is also a marble sculpture of Bishop Wilson.
There is a well maintained garden in the complex consists of 63 species of trees, planted at the time of construction during 1847. Within the premises there is a hall “ The Parish Hall” where social functions are organized. Founder Daniel Wilson and John Paxton Norman (assassinated as the Chief Justice in 1871), buried inside the premises of the Cathedral.
The Church is the seat of Diocese of Kolkata. People from any community can visit the church. Prayer services take place everyday. The pleasant surrounding will provide you peace of mind and gives you relaxation from the worldly pains distress.
The church become overcrowded on Christmas Day,31st December, New Year Eve, Good Friday and Easter. Mid Night Service takes place on the Christmas Day.
1A, Cathedral Road, Kolkata-700071.
NEAREST METRO STATION: Maidan
Buses and Cabs are also available