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19th Century Srinagar church to re-open for prayers on Christmas

Iconic structure is in the last phase of its renovation, say officials

November 16, 2021 01:24 am | Updated 01:49 am IST - Srinagar

The renovation work going on at the century-old St Lukes Church situated at Dalgate in Srinagar, on November 15, 2021. The church was built on September 12, 1896.

The renovation work going on at the century-old St Lukes Church situated at Dalgate in Srinagar, on November 15, 2021. The church was built on September 12, 1896.

Kashmir’s oldest church set up by the Church Missionary Society of England is likely to be re-opened for worshippers on Christmas, three decades after it closed down in the wake of growing violence here in the 1990s.

Officials said the iconic structure of the church is in the last phase of its renovation. The structure of Saint Lukes church is a reflection of old colonial-era church with fine stone and brick masonry.

“We are working hard to see to it re-open on Christmas. The restoration work is in the phases. We are hopeful to complete the work in time,” a worker at the site said.

The foundation of the church was laid by the famous Neve brothers, Dr. Earnest and Dr. Arthur Neve, who are among the pioneers of introducing allopathic medicine to Kashmir despite the initial opposition by the Dogra rulers.

The Kashmir Mission Hospital, which started in 1874, was the valley first medical facility opened by the Chruch Missionary Society of England. The Neve brothers, who laid the foundation of the church, were the doctors behind introducing vaccination for epidemics in the Valley, officials said.

However, the once buzzing church saw decline in the number of worshippers drastically to negligible in the early 1990s when violence erupted in Kashmir. Later, the miniscule population of Christians started holding their masses at the Church Lane church in Srinagar’s Sonawar area.

The J&K Tourism Department is renovating and restoring the church under the Smart City Project.

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