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From 16th Century To Now, The Past Still Lives On

Discover the beauty left behind by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, the Scottish, and the Irish in Tamil Nadu

When we think of Tamil Nadu, intricate and elaborate facades of temples come to mind. But in this Southern State, Christian traditions also impose a robust cultural hold. This part of Tamil Nadu’s history began as early as 52 AD, when one of the twelve apostles, St Thomas, arrived. After that, during the colonial era, the Malabar Coast welcomed many Portuguese, Dutch, British and Italian Christians. 

As the State’s Christian population increased, so did the presence of their places of worship. Presently, Tamil Nadu is home to over 1000 churches of different architectural styles, brought over by missionaries and disciples from different European regions. If you wish to dive deep into the State’s cultural diversity, discovering these distinctly beautiful churches and their glorious past is the way to go.

The Portuguese Trail 
The Portuguese influence in Tamil Nadu goes back to before the British arrived. Unlike the British, the foremost reason why the Portuguese journeyed to the Coromandel Coast was in quest to find St Thomas, who was buried in Mylapore. Since then, the spot has been named Santhome, and grand churches have been built in his honour. Each one of them reflects uninhibited beauty and grandeur that can only be understood upon visiting them.

Velankanni Church in Nagapattinam
Lady of Glory in Pulicat
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Thomas in Chennai
Pannimaya Matha Church in Thoothukudi
Fort St. David in Cuddalore
Holy Ghost Church in Manapad
St. Xavier’s Church in Tuticorin

The Dutch Trail
Stories of how the Dutch traded muslin cloth from the Coromandel coast is replete, but how it all began is still hardly known. As per lore, the Dutch chanced upon the coast when one ship stopped at Pulicat in 1602 CE, yearning for fresh drinking water. From then on, their influence reached far and wide across the State, as seen in the number of forts and churches they established. These are a few you can still walk through to understand the State’s Dutch connection.

Holy Trinity Church in Tuticorin
Fort Geldria in Pulicat
Saint Peter’s Church in Nagapattinam
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception at Punnaikayal in Kanniyakumari

The British Trail 
The British influence in the State is a well-known fact, for this perfectly perched coastal State helped them establish lucrative trading centres at the beginning of the 19th century. As traders and missionaries flocked to the coast, they found their own institutions that continued to stand tall, reminding visitors and inhabitants of the thriving and dynamic culture of the city. To bask in the glorious past, visit the beautiful church and other monuments like,

St George’s Cathedral in Chennai
Freemasons Hall
Chepauk Palace
Doveton House
Connemara Public Library
The Scottish and Irish Trail 

When you look up Tamil Nadu, it’s no surprise that many things the State is renowned for have been credited to the Scots and Irish men, who accompanied the British in their trading pursuits during the colonial era. From Dr Andrew Bell, the Scotsman who made the State’s name stand out in the field of education, to Lord Connemara, the well-known Anglo-Irish Governor during the Colonial era–the Scottish and Irish influence has permeated deep and well. This can be well known through the many architectural wonders this State holds, especially these churches -

St Andrew’s Church in Chennai
Anderson Church in Chennai
The Holy Trinity Church in Nagarcoil 

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