Churches in Chennai
St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is one of the popular churches at Fort St. George. Standing today as a testimony to some of the exquisite constructions of the British period in India, this old masonry church was inaugurated in 1680 by Streynsham Master. The church features three arched aisles with a bomb-proof roof. Some of the most famous personalities and icons connected with the history of the church were Robert Clive, who married Margaret Maskelyne in this place in 1753 and Job Charnock, a reputed official in the British East India Company, who got his three daughters baptized at this church in 1889. Most interestingly, the wedding of Governor Elihu Yale was the first event to be performed in this church. At present, this has been deemed as a national monument and is maintained by the Archaeological Department of the Government.
St. George’s Cathedral
Featuring a well maintained and beautiful garden inside its campus, St. George’s Cathedral is a white colonial church located at 222 Cathedral Road. Visitors are allowed from 08:00 am to 06:00pm. Originally, St.George’s Cathedral was Anglican, but eventually came under the Church of South India at the time when the Diocese of Madras was established in the year 1835. At present, the church is the headquarters of the church of South India. The facility has a 130 feet spire. The interiors of the church are very light and airy made of stucco walls. Over and above, the added attractions of this place are the decorated roof and a number of interesting tablets and tombs that enhance the beauty of the spire.
Basilica of San Thome
Basilica of San Thome is a cathedral situated at the end of Kutchery Road in Mylapore. Several sources state that the Apostle Saint Thomas lived in South India during his last years. Originally, the Cathedral was constructed in the year 1504 and was rebuilt in the year 1890 adding a 180 ft basilica. Sources also say that inside this neo-Gothic structure, the body of St. Thomas was entombed. The cathedral also features an interesting museum that attracts people with interest in history. The museum is kept open on all weekdays except weekends between 6 am and 6 pm.
St. Thomas Mount
St. Thomas Mount was constructed in the year 1523 by the Portuguese at the peak where Saint Thomas was said to have been assassinated. Sources state that the Saint was martyred while he was praying in front of a cross that was engraved in the natural stone base. St. Thomas was one of the apostles of Christ. Following the crucifixion of Jesus, he travelled to reach the western coast of India around 52 and 72 AD. Eventually, he travelled to Mylapore in Chennai. The Little Mount region or Chinnamalai is the place where the saint spent the last few years of his life. The church is found on the bank of Adyar River.
There are about 130 steps leading to the Church of Our Lady of Expectation built on St. Thomas Mount. One of the interesting features of this place is the painting of the Madonna accomplished by St. Luke. One finds the most amazing Bleeding Cross relic here, which has stains of blood which is said to reappear even after they are scrubbed off. Sources say the Cross ‘bled’ for the first time during a Mass in the year 1558. The church yard offers and incomparable panoramic view of the entire city of Chennai.
Temples in Chennai
Located at Peter’s Road, Triplicane, Parthasarathi temple is one of the oldest temples in Chennai said to have been built by the Pallavas in the 8th century. Eventually in the 11th century, the Vijayanagar Kings rebuilt the temple. The main deity of the temple is Lord Krishna, the avatar of Mahavishnu, one of the trinities of Hindu belief. The form of the Lord in the sanctum sanctorum depicts Lord Krishna as the charioteer (Sarathi) of Arjuna (Partha), occurring in the epic Mahabharata. The temple features a colorful gopuram (tower) and a number of shrines decked with beautiful carvings. The four streets immediately surrounding this temple house a number stalls selling brilliant coloured powders, a variety of flowers, articles for worship, idols of deities, musical instruments and ornamental jewellery. The timings to visit the temple are from 6.30am to noon and from 4pm to 8pm.
Sri Kapaleswarar Temple
Sri Kapaleswarar Temple is located near Kutchery Road in Mylapore. This temple is considered as a panacea for many troubles. This was built as early as in the 13th Century. The temple is a testimony to the elements of Dravidian architecture and south Indian temple sculpture. The elegant gopuram at the entrance is about 37 meter tall and is one of the main attractions of this ancient temple. The gopuram of this temple tower has depictions of Puranic gods, goddesses and saints made in stucco.
The temple courtyard houses a â€˜punnaiâ€™ tree, which is one of the oldest trees in Chennai. Under this tree, there is a small shrine that bears testimony for how this area got the name Mylapore. In this shrine, Mother Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva is shown worshiping Shiva Linga, the formless form of Lord Shiva. The name of the consort of the presiding goddesses at this temple is Karpagambal.
In front of the flag mast of this temple, you find a shrine dedicated to a saint. The sculpture in this shrine depicts the miracle in the saintâ€™s life for which the place has got a renowned fame. One of the most distinguishing features of this temple is the bronze images of the 63 Shaivite saints. Between March â€“ April every year, the temple organizes a 10-day festival to herald the glory of these 63 saints with a colorful procession carrying each of these bronze images around the four principal streets surrounding the temple. While the main sanctum sanctorum is not accessible to non-Hindus, there are number attractions inside the temple which they can visit. The temple is kept open for visitors from 4am to 12 noon and from 4pm to 8pm.