Colonial St George’s Cathedral, Agra built during early colonial period

tall bell tower,St George’s Cathedral, Agra Cant

The very name Agra near Delhi  conjures up  the cool vision of the Mogul Mausoleum, the Taj Mahal. Countless tourists to this place do nor realize that there are many other nice monuments in Agra and other places near-by that are worth visiting. Among them are the early colonial churches built by the British to meet the spiritual needs of the Europeans- army men and government officials. These heritage sites take you right back to the colonial rule that lasted here roughly for 300 years. Yet another old and beautiful colonial Anglican church  St. George’s Cathedral, on Cathedral Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu came up on April 30, 1815 prior to this Church. Designed by Col. James Caldwell and built by Maj. Thomas Fiott de Havilland, a  military engineer, it served the colonial officials who had moved  their residence out of St.George Fort (Madras (Chnnai) to a new location.  

  St. Georges, Anglicn church, Agra cant,

St George’s Cathedral, Agra Cant. tourmyindia.

Interior, St George’s Cathedral, Agra Cant.

Interior, St George’s Cathedral, Agra Cant

Front entrance, St George’s Cathedral, Agra Cant

The St George’s Cathedral located in the Cantonment area of Agra, Uttar Pradesh, is an early colonial Protestant church built during the reign of  East India company  that already gained a foot hold in Bengal through dishonest way and was becoming a powerful proxy government for the British Crown.  It is good to know that Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg along with his friend Heinrich Plütschau  

 Agra city location map.

(both were Lutherans) were the  first  Protestant missionaries to India. They arrived at the Danish colony of Tranquebar  (Tharangampadi in ,Nagapatnam Dist.. Tamil Nadu) on 9 July 1706 from Denmark under the patronage of Danish King Frederick IV to propagate Christinity in India. Since then Protestant sect hadbegun to spread across India, in particular, Bengal.

 Having taken possession of Agra and other places in  1803 from the  mighty Marathas (2nd war),  the city became the capital of the United West Province (now part of it is Uttar Pradesh).There was a need for more churches as the Christian population here grew manifold. This happened to be the only church in north India that was visited by none other than the Prince  and Princess of Wales (king George V and Queen Mary).They attended the mass on  their visit to Agra on 17th Dec 1905.

Designed by Colonel J. T. Boileau, a  Garrison Engineer of the cantonment in 1826, the structure is a simple one, but impressive and attracts our attention with .its  yellow ocher stucco and white dressings. The church is conventional and restrained, and  the entrance being approached through a small vestibule.  

 The interior is divided into a central nave and side aisles by six Ionic columns carrying a slightly vaulted roof. The centrally located  nave,  side aisles with classical columns supporting  vaulted roof and the chancel at the east end  clearly display  elements of Gothic style which was  commonly followed by the architects for construction of churches in Europe. In this church, the chancel at the east end was  Gothicized at a later date with a carved white sandstone screen. 

The other Protestant church within the city is   St John’s Church which was also designed by Colonel John Theophilus Boileau who came to India at a very young age. The latter is close to St. George's.  The distinctive hallmark of the building is the tall  bell tower  that looks  like a finger sticking out  to the sky. The St George’s Cathedral, with its ever present and easily visible  bell tower, continues to show its close connection with the army of the  EIC and later the Raj. There are several several stone tablets embedded into its inner walls, each commemorating  a fallen soldier, far way from his home and family in a foreign land. Many of them were killed during the first major war of independence in 1857. The rebellion that had its roots in the Meerut Cantonment engulfed many northern states - Delhi and other  places were in siege. Reason. The Indian solders could not tolerate the atrocities of unjust and oppressive rule of the ESI and its army. The mob went on rampage and countless British and Indian soldiers were killed during that period. that lasted more than a year.  ..