Santa arrives early in Kashmir, a 125-year-old church restored to original glory

Written By: Idrees Lone WION
Srinagar, India Published: Dec 20, 2021, 06:22 PM(IST)

The government also plans to keep this heritage church a must-go place for the visitors coming to Kashmir Valley. Photograph:( WION )

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The Christian community living in the valley are excited and happy that the church has been restored

With Christmas around the corner, Santa has already arrived with a gift for the Christian community living in Srinagar. A 125-year-old church called St Lukes was shut for the last 30 years and in a dilapidated condition. The church after three decades will again reverberate with Christmas carols and prayers.

The Christian community living in the valley are excited and happy that the church has been restored. St Lukes Church was established in the year 1896 by two Christian men called Arthur and Ernest Neve. And the church is a great example of the composite culture of the Kashmir Valley which dates back centuries. 

"The government asked us everything they should be doing. It was only done after consultations with us. We are all very happy and it's like a dream come true. And not only for Christians but I think the locals who live around the area are happy that the church will have prayers again. The church was established in 1896 and it shows the history of Christianity in Kashmir. A lot of people don't know that Christians live in Kashmir but they are also surprised. With this, the message of brotherhood is sent across. There would be service over there on Christmas. We will have carol service and prayer there," said Reverend Eric in Srinagar. 

Under the smart city project, the St Lukes church has been brought back to its original glory. The Jammu and Kashmir government took the initiative to restore the church on the auspicious occasion of Christmas and threw the church open to the public. It took hundreds of artisans and labourers to restore this heritage site. With Gothic architecture, the Interiors of the church are unique as they have an amalgamation of Kashmir's craftsmanship like Khatamband Ceiling with the Gothic Walls. 

"It's a 125-year-old church, it was established in 1896 by two people named Arthur and Ernest Neve. It's a beautiful structure of gothic architecture. It's slightly different from the usual architecture we have in Kashmir. The inside interiors of the church have a Khatamband ceiling which is unique to Kashmir. It was in dilapidated condition and there were structural issues. The main structural issues have been restored. Its external facade has been restored. It has a three-floor bell tower which has also been restored. Besides that, we have used the local craftsmen to redo the place. I am happy that under the smart city project we have managed to restore this. We have done it with consultations with the local Christian community. The structure of this place is unique and it definitely will be one of the new landmarks to visit in Srinagar city," said Athar Amin, Commissioner SMC. 

The government also plans to keep this heritage church a must-go place for the visitors coming to Kashmir Valley. The Government has plans to restore all heritage structures in the Kashmir Valley to boost tourism. 

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