200-Year-Old Chennai Church Opens Its Doors For Heritage Enthusiasts

St Andrew’s Church was constructed by the British for worship by the Scottish neighborhood within the then Madras


September 12 was a Sunday of a unique variety for the 200-year-old St Andrew’s Church in Chennai, fondly referred to as The Kirk, as Heritage fanatics stepped into its campus for The Kirk Heritage Walk, a guided tour of the church recognized for its architectural splendour and wealthy heritage. It is part of the Madras Day celebrations. Kirk in Scottish means church.

Vanathi Gopalakrishnan, a Chennai resident of 40 years, had at all times wished to go to the landmark church. “I was awestruck” she stated wanting on the iconic pillars on the entrance, the dome held by 16 fluted Corinthian columns and the intricate decorative work.

Visitors additionally bought a uncommon alternative to climb as much as the church’s roof to have a more in-depth take a look at the tallest steeple within the metropolis, the distinctive dome, belfry and the tower clocks that tick even at present.


“To climb the spiral stairs partly through the tallest 111 3/4 foot high steeple was an experience” she stated. “The Kirk transported me to old Madras. Though Chennai has turned chaotic, this place has retained the old Madras feel.”


Consecrated within the 12 months 1821, St Andrew’s Church was constructed by the British for worship by the Scottish neighborhood within the then Madras.

The design was largely borrowed from a London church, St Martin-in-the-Fields. Rev John Allan was the primary Presbyter and Major Thomas Fiott De Havilland its architect. Raised on a marshy land on the banks of the River Cooum, the edifice stands on a basis made from 150 wells, full of stones and sand.

With latest excavations and carbon courting confirming the three,200-year-old Porkai Civilization in southern Tamil Nadu, Mathew Mathew, HR skilled, stated, “These excavations, including the one at Keezhadi, have triggered interests towards heritage sites. It feels special to stand on a well foundation. These initiatives will raise awareness on conservation. I’d love to contribute for such causes.”

Chitra Mukunnan, a visiting professor who lives in Chennai since 1977, stated she was shocked by the dome, colored with lapis lazuli inside to replicate Scotland’s blue sky everywhere in the ceiling.

“I was thrilled that the dome ceiling has the original lapis lazuli coat and has not been painted all these years. The 200-year-old church is well maintained. It’s interesting that all the beautiful work on the pillars were done by artisans from our districts those days.”

Radhika Rajkumar, a journey and tourism skilled, stated, “For a non-Christian like me the tour of the Kirk was a beautiful experience”. She cherished the collection of outreach actions of the church. “I am a Rotarian and I love projects. To learn about the number of service activities of the church to the differently abled, children, vocational training for woman supported by the congregation is amazing.”

The guests have been additionally drawn in direction of the pipe organ and the 27-feet excessive stained glass work. Members of the church additionally shared their restoration initiatives over time.

Gabriel Sathianathan, an elder who led one of many guided excursions, stated “This Heritage Walk is to celebrate God’s blessings on our City of Madras/Chennai over 382 years and our Church St Andrew’s Kirk over the last 200 years.”

There was a particular screening of a documentary on St Andrew’s Church.

The Presbyter, Rev Isaac Johnson, shared the message of the church.

Encouraged by the response, the Kirk would make the heritage stroll part of its calendar.

Dulip Thangasamy, Secretary of the Kirk Session, added, “St Andrew’s Church has for long been a favourite destination for heritage enthusiasts. But the Church has never directly organised the walks. In deference to the requests of the local heritage community, the Church administration decided to organise walks around the campus annually coinciding with the Madras Week.”

(Disclosure: J Sam Daniel Stalin is a member of St Andrew’s Church however his writing is an expert work)

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