Amongst the most famous churches of Kerala there are several that are devoted to the Christ’s apostle St. Thomas. He is believed to be the father of Christianity in India. In 52 AD St. Thomas arrived at Cranganore, and established 7 churches and a chapel in Kerala (Kodungallore, Palayur, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal, Kollam, and Thiruvankottu). Some of the famous churches in Kerala are briefed below.
52kms from Kochi on Malayatoor Hill is the Malayatoor Church which is believed to be built by St. Thomas himself. The church is built in Greco-Roman architectural style. It houses a life-sized statue of St. Thomas and his footprints engraved in a rock. The Western Ghats form the back-drop for this church, and it over-looks the scenic Periyar River. It is one of the most famous churches internationally.
St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church in Fort Kochi is a 10km drive from Ernakulam. It is the first church built in European style in India. It was initially called Santo Antonio. In 1804 the British Government changed its name to the present one. Today it is owned by the Church of South India (CSI). The tomb of Vasco da Gama is still there inside St. Francis Church. It is not an architectural marvel in any way, but it does hold a significant place in the history of India, and the history of church architectures in India.
Santa Cruz Basillica
The 500 year old Roman Catholic Church located in Fort Kochi has stood the test of time. After being destroyed by British in 1795 it was constructed in the year 1887 by Bishop Dom Joao Gomes Fereira. In 1984 Pope John Paul II proclaimed it as Basillica. Santa Cruz Basillica is a fine example of the elegant stained glass windows and huge ornate columns. The ceiling of the church is beautified by some remarkable painting depicting Christ’s life.
St. Mary’s Forance Church
At a distance of 2kms from Kottayam is one of the most ancient churches in Kerala, St. Mary’s Forance Church. It was erected in 1550 AD. It is famous for two Persian Crosses made of granite with ancient Pahalavi inscription on them. Some amazing mural paintings and age-old sculptures adorn the principal altar and the ceiling of the church. The church is consecrated to the Holy Mother and it is renowned world-wide. The famous churches in Kerala are known for their intricate stained glass work. If tourists visit during the months of November to January they can enjoy the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Feast of St. Sebastian too.