Churches situated in the hill stations of Kerala are always a sight to behold. Their spectacular structure, picturesque location and religious vibe attract tourists from across the world. But have you ever visited Gothic Churches?
These are churches built in the Gothic architectural style aka Pointed Architecture. This style was prevalent predominantly in Europe from the late 12th to 16th century. The unique characteristics of this style include the pointed arch, ribbed vault, flying buttresses, ornate decorations and stained glass windows.
The happy news for all the explorers is that there are three surviving gothic churches in the Idukki district that was constructed in the British era. So next time you visit Idukki, you might want to add them to your itinerary.
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St. Andrews CSI Church, Upputhara Panchayat
Remember the scene from the movie Lucifer where Priyadarshani Ramdas (Manju Warrier) meets Stephen Nedumpalli (Mohanlal) at the courtyard of a dilapidated church? Yes, this is one of the famous gothic churches in Kerala.
Located in the midst of tea plantations, this church was built in 1952 by a British man called J M Wilky. It was a Union Church where CSI, Orthodox, Marthoma and Jacobite believers offered worship. Once each of these congregations set up their own separate churches and the Peermade Tea Company shut down, St. Andrews lost its prominence. The after-effects of years of isolation, the moss-grown cemetery and the leaf-less tree right next to the church created an illusion of horror and locals started calling it the ‘Dracula Church’.
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That one scene in Lucifer has helped revive the church and made it one of the fascinating spots for tourists visiting Vagamon and Thekkady. This church is at a distance of 17 km from the Vagamon bus stop.
Check out this church and have fun creating some ghostly effect photos. But do note that this church is located in an isolated area and Google Map might be a bit misleading, so target to cover this spot well before sunset.
C.S.I Christ Church, Munnar
This beautiful church situated on a small hillock with stained glass windows, granite floors and brass plaques was built in the year 1910. There is a famous love story behind the creation of this church.
Eleanor Knight, the wife of Henry Knight, a British manager of a tea plantation in Munnar, fell in love with the beauty of Munnar and playfully requested her husband to bury her body on a hilltop after her death. As per legend, she is believed to have fallen ill the next day and succumbed to cholera. To honour her wish, she was buried on a small hill and in her memory, Henry constructed this church next to her tombstone. Later the cemetery in the church was made exclusive to the British planters. Till pre-covid, third or fourth generation descendants of the planters used to come to Munnar to only visit this church.
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The church is located 1 km away from the Munnar bus stand and can be covered by a walk of 15 minutes. In addition to enjoying the magnificence of the church, visitors can also get an aerial view of the town and hills from here. Also one can still see Eleanor Knight’s tombstone inscribed with her pet name ‘May’!
St. George CSI Church, Pallikunnu
Built-in the year 1869, St. George is 152 years old and is claimed to be the first church in high range regions of Kerala. Rev. Henry Baker Jr. constructed this church on a 15-acre land that was given by the Travancore Maharajah.
This church is a must-visit because of its unique cemetery with 38 tombstones. 36 tombs are of European people, one is that of an Indian priest Rev. M. Nallathampy who served in the church and the last one is that of a horse. John Daniel Munro, who is well known for playing an instrumental role in bringing plantation crops to Munnar, is buried in this cemetery. The horse Downy buried in the cemetery belongs to him.
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All the furniture in the church such as the wooden benches, glass worked altar, baptismal front etc. have been used since the British time. The surroundings of the church are covered by cypress trees that are assumed to have been imported from England.
The church can be accessed via road and is at a distance of 3 km from Kuttikkanam Junction and 22 km from the Vagamon bus stand.