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Kerala, often known as God’s own country, is home to an extensive spectrum of natural treasures. Kerala, a plethora of pilgrimages, is a popular tourist destination for nature lovers and religious pilgrims. Here, one can immerse themselves in the splendour of natural beauty while also praying and therefore achieve confirmed inner peace. Since the advent of Christianity in India, Kerala has served as a motherland, enclosing all of the country’s most beautiful churches.
Around 10 Christian groups are deemed to exist in the state, as well as numerous churches with stunning architecture. With its mediaeval churches, cathedrals, and basilicas, the state is sure to keep you enthralled. Most churches are designed in a European style and reflect the architecture that makes Kerala worthwhile to visit. Once you’ve had your fill of experiencing God’s Own Country’s wilderness surprises, it’s time to see some of the beautiful churches in Kerala.
St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Forane Church Chalakkudy
As we approached the small village of Chalakudy in Kerala, my chaperone, Jeejo Hussain, suggested that I see the St. Mary’s Forane Church. That decisiveness meant it had to be a remarkable church, and I was not let down. As we neared the end of the little walk, which led to a magnificent church, Husain’s joy was evident. The 600-year-old St. Mary’s church sits in the fourth corner of the three-square crossing. Chalakudy is one of Kerala’s Christian areas, with most Christians being Syro-Malabar Catholics. Christian faith is deemed to have begun at Chalakudy shortly after Jesus’ death, when one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, St. Thomas, came to India.
Chalakudy residents are predominantly from middle or upper-middle-class households, and spiritual and traditional values, are highly valued by them. St. Mary’s Forane Church in Chalakudy is one of the ten Foranes or deaneries that make up the Diocese of Irinjalakuda. The Diocese of Irinjalakuda was created in 1978 after the Thrissur Diocese was disbanded in two. There are 16 parishes in the Chalakudy Forane. Apostle Thomas arrived in Kodungallur, a thriving commercial centre and significant harbour, in 52 AD. The parish was founded in 600 AD, and the first church was built by the early Christian community converted by Thomas.
The church was initially designated, at Palace Road, where it remained until shifted, to its current location before 1300 AD. As a Mariyan sanctuary, the church sees a lot of devotion to Mother Mary. A giant statue of St. Mary stands in the entranceway. In October of 2000, a Marian Grotto, similar to that in Lourdes, was built on the church grounds. The interiors, with their arched ceilings, are as magnificent. The idea for the Holy Land facsimile came from Rev. Fr. Thomas Panjikkaran. The goal is to create the sensation of visiting the Holy Land in Israel and the surrounding countries.
St. Joseph’s Church, Karayamparambu
As for St. Joseph’s Church Karayamparambu, I was told by my driver that it is one of the most admirable Catholic churches in Angamaly; when we stopped here on our way from Kochi airport to Athirapally. Afterwards, he stated that the church was founded in 1960. This is one of the most significant churches you’ll see on the Kochi-Kanyakumari highway, and it’s certainly one of the most impressive. Have you been here?
St. Francis Assisi Church, Elanjipra
This beautiful church tucked behind the palm-fringed streets of Elanjipra is located halfway between Cochin International Airport and Niraamaya Samroha Resort in Kerala. Thanks to Jeejo Hussain, my cheerful driver who drove me from the airport to the resort, stopping along the way at this lovely pink St. Francis Assissi Church. Its exteriors bear an uncanny resemblance to the Disney castle, but it is significantly smaller.
St. Francis Assissi Church, founded in 1998, is located next to the Elinjipra bus stop and St. Mary’s chapel. Irinjalakuda Eparchy is its Diocesan name. Fr. Paul Madassery OFM is the Parish Priest. The church’s history is unknown, but it is worth a visit if you happen to be passing through this area. Like any other church, it has lovely architecture and a peaceful atmosphere.
St. Peter Church, Poovathingal
On my way to the airport from the Niraamaya Samroha in Chalakudy in the last week of January, I stopped at the exquisite Poovathingal Church in Pariyaram. The parish of Poovathingal and the diocese of Irinjalakuda Eparchy share this St. Peter Church on the Chalakudy and Anamal road in Poovathingal. The ceiling domes of Poovathingal Church are notable, one of which houses a statue of Jesus with open arms that rises to the top of the dome. Saint Peter, usually known as Simon Peter, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ and an early Church leader.
By Eastern Christian traditions, Saint Peter is considered the first pope of Rome, as well as the first bishop of Antioch. Jesus promised Peter a specific seat in the church. According to Christian beliefs, Peter was crucified in Rome during Emperor Nero’s reign. As a result, all early Christian denominations respect Peter as a prominent saint and the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Diocese of Rome. The Poovathingal Autorikshaw Stand and the Arabian Night’s Restaurant are close to this lovely church.
St. Antony’s Church, Konnakuzhy
On the Chalakudy Anamala road, near the Konnakuzhy Sree Subrahmanya swami temple, I spotted another lovely church. St. Antony’s Church is in Konnakuzhy, near the Swapna and Sankar store. This gorgeous church is constructed in the style of a dagoba, giving it a distinct appearance. This beautiful and spacious Syro-Malabar Catholic Church was built in 1961 and is in a tranquil area with numerous trees on the route to Athirappilly from Chalakudy. The diocesan name is Irinjalakuda Eparchy, and the parish priest is Fr. Varghese Vadakepedika.
The Bull Trichuriensis Eparchiae of H.H. Pope Paul VI on June 22, 1978, created the eparchy of Irinjalakuda by bifurcating the ancient Eparchy of Trichur, and Mar James Pazhayattil was appointed the first Bishop. Because it contains Kodungallur, the cradle of Christianity in India, this Eparchy is sanctified by the footsteps of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The Eparchy encompasses the southern half of the former Trichur Eparchy, extending from the Karuvannur and Kurumaly rivers on the north to the Chalakudy river on the south.
The Eparchy of Irinjalakuda is home to 48,932 families and 2,58,101 Catholics and spans an area of around 1180 square kilometres. Mar Pauly Kannookadan is the current Bishop. At 9 a.m., St. Antony’s Church hosts a Malayalam holy service. Holy mass is held at 6.30 a.m., 6.45 a.m., and 9.30 a.m., except on Sundays. While you’re there, you can visit the church and get tea munchies from neighbouring merchants. There is an auto depo as well as a bus service nearby.
The Little Flower Church of Angamaly
During my recent trip to Kerala, the Little Flower Church of Angamaly was one of the last churches I visited. This Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Nedumbassery is dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. It has an impressive front façade design, with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux in the centre and angels composed on both sides of the building on wings.
The Little Flower Church falls under the Kaprassery parish and the Ernakulam – Angamaly Archeparch diocese. This lovely cathedral is very close to Cochin’s International Airport. It takes about 10-15 minutes to drive there.
Please share your favourite Kerala churches in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to visit them on my next trip.