History of St. Stephen's Church
St. Stephen's Church stands in Ooty since the 19th century. It was built by the then Governor of Madras (now Chennai), Stephen Rumbold Lushington. He felt that the British required a cathedral in Ooty. Hence, he established the church on April 23, 1829. The date coincided with the birth date of King George IV. On 5th November, 1830, St. Stephen's Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta (Kolkata), Rt. Rev. Turner. It was named in the name of the Governor as he took complete initiative of constructing the church. On the Easter Sunday of 3rd April 1831, the gates of the church were opened for the general public. The St. Stephen's Church was taken under the Church of South India in the year 1947.
Architecture of St. Stephen's Church
The architect of St. Stephen's Church is John James Underwood. He is identified as the captain of the Madras Regiment. The building materials were taken from the Tipu Sultan's palace on the island of Srirangapatna. These were the massive main beam and other timber in the church. The transshipment of materials was carried out via the Sigur ghat. This church is known to be constructed at a cost of about 24000 rupees. The ancient St. Stephen's Church has been well adorned with beautiful paintings from the lives of Jesus Christ. Stained glass paintings can be depicted on the eastern side of the church. A painting portrays Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus in her arms. The painting of crucifixion of Christ is also visible here. The western wall above the panelled doorways has been well embellished with a magnificent painting of the Last Supper. The vestry is located in the cellar in the chancel. On the left side of the chancel, the pulpit can be seen. A flight of steps is connected to it. An old fashioned structure resembling a hammer is visible in the attic of the third tier of the church. It has been fastened with the help of ropes to inverted "V" Shaped planks. These hammers function with the aid of the pulleys fastened with solid wires. When these wires are pilled they produce a rhythmic sound. These touch the ground floor through the gaps in between the planks. On the east and on the west side there are four thick iron bars. These are hung at different heights facing each other. The complete structure has been built on a tall, strong stool.
St. Stephen's Church has transport availability. As St. Stephen's Church is located in Ooty, its transport facilities are of relevance to St. Stephen's Church. Ooty is known to have a well linked network of air, rail and road ways. The nearest airport to Ooty is located in Coimbatore. The Coimbatore Airport is located at a distance of about 98 kilometers from Ooty. This airport is known to be connected to Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Cochin by Indian Airlines flights. From the airport, a taxi or a bus can be hired to reach Ooty. Nearest railway station from St. Stephen's Church is Udagamandalam Railway Station in Ooty. This Railway Station can be reached by The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (a.k.a. Toy Train) from Mettupalayam. Good roads connect Ooty to all the nearby towns and cities. Some of the other important cities of South India like Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore and Coimbatore are also connected to Ooty via roads.
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