Thursday, 13 December 2012

St. Stephen’s Church : Ooty Tourist attraction

The first Christian Church to be built in the Nilgiri hills is a popular tourist attraction in Ooty. Tourists flock here to witness the beautiful colonial architecture of this ancient Gothic Church. The best thing about this architecture is that it is being completely made of wood. It is been said that this wood used to construct this Church was obtained from the Palace of Tipu Sultan.

St. Stephen’s Church in Ooty

The defeat of the Mysore Tiger, made sure the British had complete control over the Nilgiri. After their victory over Tipu Sultan, John Sullivan, requested British Parliament to set up their Military base in here. It is only then British colonists started to set up their base here.  The need of Church raise after many colonists loved the environment and decided to permanently make Nilgiri their base. The Church was constructed under the supervision of Captain J. J. Underwood. The foundation stone for the church was laid on 23rd April 1829. It was decided that the materials to construct the Church from the palace of the Emperor of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. Under the order of Governor Lushington, East India Company pulled down Tipu Sultan’s palace and the available piece of Timber was transferred to Nilgiri. These timbers were transferred by loading them on the wagons and being pulled by tamed Elephants all the way from Mysore till Ooty. These timbers were used in the construction of the Church and also other public buildings which include Grammar school.

The Church was named after the governor Stephen Lushington as he was the one who piloted this project. The fascinating thing about the Church apart from the all wooden construction is the glass tainted window depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ among many others. The Church was consecrated by John Matthias, the then Bishop of Calcutta on 5th December 1830. Other important feature is V-shaped hammer like wooden structures are used instead of a hollow bell. The hammers are fastened by wires and lend a musical sound when the wires are pulled from the floor. Every year Christmas, New Year, Easter and the Harvest Festival are celebrated in the Church with great enthusiasm.