Monday, September 10, 2007

Remembering the Mutiny

If you're in Old Delhi, take a rickshaw ride past Church Mission Road. Amidst the dilapidation and chaos, you'll spot a brick-red building, neatly painted and maintained.

This is St Stephens Church. It is all of 140 years old, but wears its years lightly.


The church was built ten years after the 1857 'Sepoy Mutiny', in memory of Christians who died during the Siege of Delhi. It is in a rectangular Romanesque style, but to truly appreciate its real beauty, you have to view it from the side (which is kinda hard, given how crammed the sides are, with other buildings!).

The inside of the church has surprisingly high ceilings - the decoration is baroque, and the stained glass circular Rose Window is beautiful. The interior is still in good shape. If you want to take a look, go on a Sunday morning, when the church is open.

Here is what St Stephen's looked like in 1872: see what I mean by having to look at it from the side? The arches are elegant - they're made of yellow sandstone and are beautifully carved. I also like the pleasing proportion of the really tall bell-tower.



The Mutiny - also called The First Indian War of Independence - was the first wide-spread uprising against the British East India Company. The rebel forces gathered under the banner of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Fighting was concentrated primarily in North India.

Delhi saw a great deal of violent bloodshed, and indeed, marked the turning point in the war. When the rebels lost the Siege of Delhi, it brought about the end of the Mughal empire.
Bahadur Shah's sons and grandsons were killed, and he was exiled. In 1858, control over India was transferred from the East India Company to Queen Victoria, thus marking the beginning of the British Raj.

3 comments:

Rev. Mohit H. Hitter said...

Hello Deepa,
I am the present priest at St. Stephen's Church, Fatehpuri. Even I was not sure to which period that black and white snap belongs. Thank you for letting me know. We are celebrating the 141st Anniversary of the church on Sunday, the 26th October 2008. the prayer is at 9.30 am and it will be followed by a festive lunch. The anniversary is called 'Urs' because it is the first indigenous church of Delhi. It was built by Indian resources and not British money. The only church of the time where worship was in Urdu and not English. We still worship in Urdu though the dialect we use is devanagari. Just thought I would add to your info. Also, there is a caretaker who can open the church during weekdays, preferably by informing me first. In the present scenario, we think it is necessary.

Rev. Mohit H. Hitter said...

Hello Deepa,
I am the present priest at St. Stephen's Church, Fatehpuri. Even I was not sure to which period that black and white snap belongs. Thank you for letting me know. We are celebrating the 141st Anniversary of the church on Sunday, the 26th October 2008. the prayer is at 9.30 am and it will be followed by a festive lunch. The anniversary is called 'Urs' because it is the first indigenous church of Delhi. It was built by Indian resources and not British money. The only church of the time where worship was in Urdu and not English. We still worship in Urdu though the dialect we use is devanagari. Just thought I would add to your info. Also, there is a caretaker who can open the church during weekdays, preferably by informing me first. In the present scenario, we think it is necessary.

mohit said...

Hello Deepa,
I am the present priest at St. Stephen's Church, Fatehpuri. Even I was not sure to which period that black and white snap belongs. Thank you for letting me know. We are celebrating the 141st Anniversary of the church on Sunday, the 26th October 2008. the prayer is at 9.30 am and it will be followed by a festive lunch. The anniversary is called 'Urs' because it is the first indigenous church of Delhi. It was built by Indian resources and not British money. The only church of the time where worship was in Urdu and not English. We still worship in Urdu though the dialect we use is devanagari. Just thought I would add to your info. Also, there is a caretaker who can open the church during weekdays, preferably by informing me first. In the present scenario, we think it is necessary.