If you believe that Delhi is just about Red Fort or Qutub Minar or Humayun’s Tomb, than you are sadly mistaken. Delhi is the heart of our country’s heritage. There is so much to explore in this city that one can never get enough of this place. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. The city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Interestingly, a number of Delhi’s rulers played a dual role, first as destroyers and then as creators. Being the part of The GCA team, I realized that I want to create memories all over the city. And my visit to St. James church is just a part of it. So, here goes my story. While travelling via Metro, you visit a whole different world. It not only takes you from one place to another but show you a whole different place. Every day I travel through Metro. While waiting at Kashmere Gate for a connecting train to Rajeev Chowk, I used to watch this fade yellow dome building with a cross at the top. I used to wander what that building actually is. While searching on the internet I found that building is St. James Church, one of the oldest Churches in the city. I grabbed the first opportunity that came my way of visiting that place as my GCA Task 1.
St. James Church is an Anglican church in Delhi, India, built in 1836 by Colonel James Skinner. It is one of the oldest churches in the city and also the part of the Church of North India Diocese of Delhi, situated near Kashmiri Gate, at the intersection of Church Road and Lothian Road. It was the church the Viceroy of India, attended until the Cathedral Church of the Redemption, near Gurudwara Rakab Ganj, was built in 1931. Behind the church is the bungalow of British Commissioners of Delhi, William Frazer, who is also buried in the church graveyard.
The church was commissioned by the British Colonel James Skinner, after he had vowed to build a church, while lying wounded in a battle field, if he survived. Subsequently, he built the edifice at his own expense of 95,000 Rupees, under the design of Major Robert Smith. I’m not much into religion but I definitely worship art. And This Church is definitely the perfect example of art and culture. The moment you take a step inside the place, you are surrounded with the 178 year old history that this church holds.
The Church is a beautiful and classic example of the Greek Cross & Italian Renaissance dome design. The altar is made to closely resemble that of the Florence Cathedral in Italy, with a huge octagonal dome at the centre, beautiful stained glass windows & porticoes porches. The copper ball and cross on the top, which are said to be replica of a church in Venice. The church houses several tombs. One houses the remains of the British Commissioners of Delhi, William Fraser, near the large Memorial Cross erected in memory of the victims of 1857 revolt. At the rear is the tomb of Thomas Metcalfe, who lived in Delhi from 1813 to 1853, serving as Agent to Governor General of India and a Commissioner.
Colonel Skinner died at Hansi in December 1841 and was first buried there, before being disinterred, and buried in Skinner’s Church in 1842. He lies in a vault of white marble immediately below the communion Table.
The touching epitaph written for Fraser, by dear friend Skinner: “The remains interred beneath this monument were once animated, by as brave, and sincere a soul, as was ever vouch saved to man, by his creator! A brother in friendship, has caused it to be erected that when his own frame is dust it may remain as a memorial for those, who can participate in lamenting, the sudden and melancholy loss of one, dear to him as life. William Fraser. Died 22nd March 1835.”
Visit to St. James Church was a whole new experience for me. It not only brought me closer to the history of the city that i live in but also brought me closer to a very different religion. Being born in a Hindu Family, i never got the opportunity to explore other religions. For all those, who weren’t aware about this place, i suggest you to visit the place once.