125-Year-Old Church in Srinagar Restored to 'Lost Glory' Ahead of Christmas
The foundation stone of Saint Luke’s Church, located at Dalgate area of Srinagar, was laid in 1896.
125-year-old St Luke’s Church, one of the oldest in Kashmir, was restored ahead of Christmas eve. The church had remained closed since the 1990s, after the rise of insurgency in the Valley.
The church is now being renovated to restore it to its old glory.
The foundation stone of Saint Luke’s Church, located at Dalgate area of Srinagar, was laid by Earnest Neve and Dr Arthur Neve, on 12 September 1896.
Dr Arthur had served as a medical missionary in Kashmir for more than three decades, and had played an important role in the treatment of the cholera epidemic. The church is a part of the Church of North India and Diocese of Amritsar.
“To The Glory of God," “As A Witness To Kashmir” dedicated by “The Bishop of Lahore,” reads the foundation stone of the church.
Church Renovated Under J&K's Smart City Project
The Tourism Department of Jammu and Kashmir, under its ‘Smart City Project,’ has renovated and restored the church. The government had allotted around Rs 60 lakh for its renovation, after the local Christian community approached the government and sought its restoration in 2016.
The renovation of the church began in April last year but had to be stopped after the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.
On Wednesday, 22 December, a day before its official reopening, a small group of devotees gathered for prayers at the church.
The church, located on the foothills of the Shankaracharya hillock in Dalgate, was officially re-inaugurated by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday.
The church, after its closure in the 1990s, was in a bad condition as its several structures had suffered damages. “There is no change in the original structure or designs of the church. We are only renovating it to restore its lost glory,” said a worker.
The roof of the church, which had caved in at many places, was replaced with a new wood carved ceiling, locally called as ‘khatamband’.
The Christian community in Kashmir is lauding the efforts of the administration for the renovation of the church. They are happy to see the lifeless bells of the church come back to life again after decades.
Locals in the area are jubilant over the restoration of the church as they feel that the roots of unity and brotherhood will grow stronger and will provide a boost to tourism in the area.
The small Christian population of the Valley usually used to gather for prayers at the Holy Family Catholic Church, a Roman Catholic Church, at MA Road, and one at Church Lane in Sonwar. Now, the newly-restored church will also hold prayers and gatherings.
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