St Mary’s church is one of the oldest Anglican cathedrals in Belgaum. It was built in 1869 , during the days of the British Raj.
It is located in the cantonment (Camp) area of Belgaum (Belgaum is a small city in Karnataka, bordering Maharasthra state by a distance of 100 kms).
The design of St Mary’s Church was conceptualized by one Rev. Francis.Gell and implemented with the help of the Governor of Bombay Presidency and the garrison engineers of the British army.
During the British days the church was officially referred to as the Army Garrison Church of Belgaum. It came within the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, England, the Bishop of Bombay and the army station commander. The head priest was the Chaplain of Belgaum.
The St Mary’s church is an excellent example of Gothic architecture which was so popular in the post medieval period and right upto the early twentieth century.
The Church is built from Gokak stones and teak made available from Dandeli and Alnavar. The church took around five years to construct.
The façade comprises of a beautiful arch structure with a tall stone cross fixed over the top on what appears to be the bellfry . The wall has a huge porch attached to the structure having a gallery and a driveway below.
The stone wall has a tracery fitted with a huge rose windows as its central feature, besides the typical church features like arches ,spires,vault interiors, lancet windows etc.
The roof slants downwards on either side and is tiled. The roof has several dormer windows lined across.
The side walls of the church building are buttressed by several outer projections.
The courtyard has ample space and is decorated by trees and colourful flower plants. A wide stone wall with a huge gate guards the church building.
The altar is built in teak and marble and has beautiful stained glasses (20 ft in heightx8 ft in width) fitted within a lancet arch in the background apse. They form a beautiful collage depicting Biblical episodes. The nave has benches divided by aisles. The church has a antique pipe organ, antique silver and brass candle holders. The walls are covered with memorial plaques.
The architecture is indeed magnificent to say the least and takes back one to the Victorian era.
Text and photographs (except the old photographs and the ones credited): Abhijit Rajadhyaksha