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St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Zero Point of Mumbai

St. Thomas’ Cathedral

Zero Point of Mumbai

Churchgate Station is one of the prime entry points to Mumbai (once Bombay) and the name refers to the St. Thomas’ Church. Once the southern portion of the island city of Bombay was surrounded by a high wall and was referred to as the Fort Area.

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St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

The wall had three gates and the one near the present day location of the Flora Fountain. Because of its proximity to the St. Thomas’ Church it came to be known as the Churchgate.

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St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

That is why the whole area towards the West of the Church is called Churchgate even today. The railway station also shares the same name.

Today the walls and the gates no longer exist as they were demolished in 1860s. After the demolition of the fort, several streets were constructed across the Esplanade, fragmenting it into several separate patches of green. The Oval Maidan happens to be one of them. (Also see: Round the Oval)

The St. Thomas’ Church stood at the north west corner of the Fort Area and served as the zero point of Mumbai. Distance along all major roads were measured from this point.

Today the church stand in the heart of Mumbai and is located just west of the Horniman Circle Garden. A plaque at a entrance of the church mentions the story of Mumbai’s zero point with a map.

It says from the church 16 mile stones were laid out, leading to the north of the city. The milestone measured 4 feet in height but are submerged by the increasing road level. Today 11 of the 16 milestones have been located.

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Mumbai Zero Point Plaque, St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

The church has been a place of Christian worship since 1718 although the foundation stone was laid way back in 1676. In the initial stage the walls of the church rose to a height of 15 feet after which the construction was abandoned.

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Stained Glass, St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

The plaque was placed on December 2018 to commemorate the tercentenary celebration of the church.

The site lay desolate for 30 years after which Richard Cobbe, the Chaplain of East India Company, took up the initiative of completing the place of worship.

The church was finally opened to public of the Christmas Day of 1718 and ever since it has served as a Christian place of worship.

However it was much later in 1816 the Church was dedicated to St. Thomas by Bishop Thomas Middleton, the first Bishop of Calcutta and the first Anglican Bishop of British India.

St. Thomas was a direct apostle of Jesus Christ, who arrived on the western cost of India on 52 CE and have said to preached the Gospel all along the Malabar cost.

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Memorial of Thomas Carr, St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

He preached across all sections of the community and have said to have made seventeen thousand converts. His followers are part of Orthodox Church of Kerala and are referred to as the Syrian Christians or Thomas Christian.

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Plaques inside St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

In July 1837 the Diocese of Bombay was formed and Thomas Carr became the first Bishop of Bombay.

The Anglican Church was converted into a Cathedral and came to be known as St. Thomas’ Cathedral, the seat of Bishop of Bombay.

Several addition was made to the former church with a clock tower being added at the western end in 1838.

In 1911 King George V and his wife Queen Mary attended the church service before proceeding to Delhi for the coronation and the transfer of capital. (Also see: Coronation Park, Delhi)

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Interior of St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

Today the St. Thomas’ Cathedral, built in Gothic style, stands in one of the busiest areas of Mumbai. The interiors serves as an oasis of peace surrounded by the most chaotic regions of the city.

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Stained glass at the alter, St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai

At the entrance of the church is the zero point plaque and next to it is a fountain. The beautiful marble fountain was founded by Parsi and entrepreneur and philanthropist Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney.

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Fountain, St. Thomas’ Cathedral

The fountain was brought from England in parts and was assembled in the church compound in 1864. Sadly it no longer functions.

The interior walls are lined with memorial plaques of notable servants of the East India Company and other notable Englishmen and women.

On the south – east corner is a memorial of Thomas Carr. The memorial represents the first Bishop of Bombay lying in eternal rest.

The other important plaques include the memorial of 300 passengers of the steam ship Cleopatra, who perished when the ship sank of the coast of Malabar on 15th April 1847 and the plaque of Jonathan Duncan, the longest governor of Bombay (1795 – 1811).

The front row of the church contains the two iconic chairs occupied by King George V and Queen Mary. Brass plates attached to the chairs mentions the historic event. Just before the two chairs is a pew, used my Mother Theresa in 1989.

The floor is paved with beautiful marble and the pillars are fitted with beautiful wrought iron fan bracket. The alter is lined with beautiful stained glass window and a lone stained glass window stands at the south west corner.

St. Thomas’ Cathedral, Mumbai is a active place of worship with regular prayer service held every Sunday. The church remains open every day 7 am to 6 pm and photography is allowed.

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