Discovering Afghan Church At Colaba, Mumbai City


On my way back from Deccan Odyssey, I had a day to myself for Mumbai sightseeing. Blessed that I am, was fondly invited by our family friends to come over and spend the day with them at Colaba. I had never been to anyone’s house in Colaba which I am told is the best place to live in Mumbai. I must say it cannot be truer. You are at the tip of the city. See beautiful views of the city’s skyline against the ocean, see the ships passing by from your balcony, and have almost no pollution. The town is just a small walkable distance away. On my way to Colaba, I saw this handsome church called Afghan Church.

Afghan Church, Colaba, Mumbai
Towering heritage building in the city of Mumbai

Afghan Church, Colaba, Mumbai

Heritage building

The narrow tall structure was definitely 19th CE and hence inviting. So after soaking in the fresh air at Colaba sea face, I went to see the Church in a heritage building. Since it was not a Sunday I expected it to be closed. I had already noticed its exceptionally high spiral that I was later to discover was a condition to allow the building of this church. The spiral was supposed to be an indication for the sailors heading this way. The next thing that caught my eye was the massive recessed arch doorway that looked majestic even though not in the best of state.

The recessed Arched door at Afghan Church, Colaba, Mumbai
The recessed Arched door at the heritage structure


I looked around and read a notice on the board that told me that the foundation of this church was laid in 1847. It was completed in 1858 while the spire was completed in 1865. And it was only in 1995 that the building was declared a heritage building. A man sitting there was quietly observing us. When we asked him if it is possible to go inside the church and see it, without saying anything he got up and opened the door for us.

Altar of the heritage monument
Altar of the heritage monument

Gothic Style of Afghan Church

It is a beautiful church from the inside as well, built in the typical Gothic style. High vaulted ceilings, with stained glass windows on the walls and at the altar, give away the timeline and patrons of the church. Since we were the only ones, it felt a bit surreal, but it gave me ample time and space to absorb the building. A marble plaque on a wall tells that the church was built in memory of innumerable soldiers who lost their lives in the battle of Sind and Afghan in 1838-43. And hence the Church is popularly known as the Afghan Church though the official name is The Church of St John the Evangelist.

Inside view of the heritage monument
Inside view of the heritage monument

Point to Ponder

By this time our man carried a not-so-happy impression on his face. I asked what happened and he said why did you come inside with your shoes on. I said, I never thought that you cannot take shoes inside the church. Neither is there a notice saying ‘No Shoes’, but if this was the case, you should have told me. He said it does not matter whether shoes are allowed or not. The question is do you go to your temple with shoes, to which I said No? He said, “If you do not go to your God’s home with shoes, do you think you should go to another’s God’s home with shoes on?”

He had a point and he had me thinking. Should you treat God the way that God’s religion demands? Or should you treat each God like the one you believe in?

I clicked some pictures. And was happy to have seen another heritage structure on my tour. Came out smiling to see another church in the same area. Still pushing back my neck to see the tip of the spire.

If you are on a Mumbai tour, visit this heritage place among other city attractions.

Recommend you to read the following blog posts on Museums and other Places to visit in Mumbai.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum – Celebrating the city

Mani Bhavan – Mahatma Gandhi’s imprint

RBI Monetary Museum

Banganga – Ancient heritage

Exploring the Street Art in Bandra

Cathedral of the Holy Name, Colaba



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