British back then loved Himachal Pradesh and settled here to escape from the heat of the rest part of the country. They made their homes there and made several countryside places. Kasauli was one of them. Yes, Kasauli was established by the British, some 70KM away from Shimla. Kasauli was a made a cantonment area and a church was built there for sacred practices. Surrounded by the lush greenery of Kasauli, in the middle of fir and cashew nut trees, this church was built by the contribution of both government and the residents living there.
A major tourist location in Kasauli, Christ Church is located on the lower Mall Road and has a cemetery in the backyard which dates back to 1850. The incredible architecture makes it look like the churches of England. This several-year-old British church is open for tourists and the local public who come here to pray (services). The church is said to be established by a graduate from Cambridge, Chaplain Thomas John Edward Steel.
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Christ Church Kasauli was known as Anglican Church
Christ Church Kasauli was earlier known as Anglican Church. It was after 1970 that this historic church was renamed as Christ Church by the authority of Churches of North India (CNI). Due to its unique design and architecture, it resembles the Anglican Church of England. This oldest church of Himachal Pradesh is now maintained by the Church of North India in the diocese of Amritsar. Before the 1970s, the Churches of England has managed this church.
Christ Church Kasauli is the oldest church of Himachal Pradesh
There are several churches in Himachal Pradesh. The reason is the colonial era when the British settled and built buildings and monuments of their interests which also included churches. Christ Church Kasauli was inaugurated on 24th July 1853.
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History of Christ Church Kasauli
A chaplain, Rev MJ Jennings was appointed to Kasauli for the first time by the great Metropolitan Bishop of Calcutta in 1844. And that’s how the concept of this church took form. Though there was no church in Kasauli, so Jennings started worship services in a barrack. Dr. Wilson visited Kasauli in 1844’s October end. After this, the foundation of the church was laid on 26th October 1844. The construction of the Church’s shed was finished on 24th July 1853. From that day onwards, the worship services were started to take place in the church.
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The tower of the church was raised as well as the public clock was also installed, led by Rev JB Brunesson in 1880. It is said that the clock was imported from W.H. Balley & Co, Manchester, England. A total of Rs. 2612 and 11 annas were spent on it. The government helped by offering Rs. 1250 while the rest of the amount was public-raised through subscription. The Authority of Bishop of Calcutta consecrated this church on 8th January 1957.
The architecture of Christ Church Kasauli
The church has been constructed with its remarkable Gothic architecture style. The stain glasses were imported from Spain and Italy. These glasses on the windows depict Saint Francis, Saint Barnabas, Jesus, and Mary. Its mysterious look makes it intriguing and attracts tourists from all across. The green tiles slanting roofs give it an appealing look. This church is constructed using dressed sandstones. The finely chiseled pillars and solid woodwork on pews (believed to be Burma teak) make this church look incredibly beautiful.
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The church is dedicated to St. Barnabas and St Francis, made in a cross shape. The sundial and clock tower of this heritage church was its unique features. As the sun rays fall on the colored glasses of the church, rainbows start to dance inside. From sunrise to sunset, the church remains drenched in colorfulness due to these glasses. The church has a cruciform floor and a statue where Christ is depicted with Mary and Joseph, bound.
Public Clock of Church started working again in 2015
The public clock of the church had stopped working and it remained like this for decades. It was 2015 that the local EME workshop along with Good Samaritan from Chandigarh repaired it and made it work again. The clock is now tickling back.
The clock tower of the church has an antiquated dial which is a wonderful piece of art. This clock is a complex machine. The pendulum of the clock is 8feet long. There are lots of gear and wheel trains which all together move to make the clock function. This turret clock was the most astonishing feature of the Christ Church.
The story behind Clock Tower’s Restoration
A person by the name Ashwani visited the church was curious to know why the clock wasn’t working. So he made inquiries, asked the caretaker of the church and the priest, but he got no answer. He met the priest and requested if he could climb up the tower to have a look. He went to the clock cabin and was left stunned to see the complex machine with 8 feet pendulum and lots of machinery. The clock was severely dusted, covered in thick cobwebs. He checked the name of the manufacturer and checked on the internet. He contacted several companies who manufactured tower clocks but all of them refused to restore it.
Ashwani was determined to bring the life back to the clock. His determination made him contact Mr. Richard White, CEng MIMechE MBHI, a mechanical engineer and Expert on Turret Clock Group of Antiquarian Horological Society, Church of England. Mr. White was into the business of preservation of Church Turret Clocks. Ashwani sent him several photos and videos of the clock. He also made a person ((from Kolkata) agree to work on this project. He paid Rs. 5000 in advance from his pocket money to the person who would come and inspect the machine. Later on, it was found that no expert was required for the repair; any instrument mechanic could repair it if provided required tools and other things. Since Kasauli is a cantonment area, a senior army official got ready to have a look.
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The army personnel came together to work on it and made it work which lasted for some 20 minutes only. The pendulum stopped its oscillation. Mr. David John (Central Research Institute) shared that there was an old man who lived in Kalka who once happened to be the keeper of this clock. The old man was supposed to know the clock’s working history.
The army persons identified the problems and worked on it. The pendulum’s spring plate was replaced as well as pulleys, shaft, gears, etc. The gong was repaired and every faulty thing was worked up. After a lot of effort and time, the clock got its life back. It took days for this. It was a nostalgic time for the old people in the area.
(Source of Clock Tower’s Restoration – https://amolak.in/web/in-kasauli-the-church-clock-is-ticking-again/)