Memories of Venice.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The former Viceroy’s Church, housed in the President’s Estate in Lutyens’ Delhi, is built of red sandstone and Burmese teak and was opened in 1931.
The design, inspired by the 16th century church of Il Redentore in Venice, emphasizes the prominence of the central tower towards which the building rises in levels.
The exterior is otherwise austere. However, all simplicity is forgotten once you enter the church. The interior is rich but not loud. The hushed dignity of the carpeted floor harmonises smoothly with the dazzling interplay of the arches.
The small recessed openings in the sidewalls let in beams of sunlight that makes the otherwise dark nave feel mystical. The altar faces the east and is capped by a half dome. Above is a copy of the Madonna and Child by the 15th century Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini.
The choir gallery over the western entrance boasts a unique William Hill, Norman & Beard pipe organ, which was installed for a sum of Rs 34, 825 rupees, a fortune at the time.
Initially, the building suffered from bad acoustics and there was an unwanted reverberation. But in 1934 the ceiling of the dome was coated with an asbestos solution to rectify the problem. This finally enabled the magnificent teakwood organ to give the cathedral the beautiful music it deserved.
On festival days, surrounded by bright bulbs and forests of gladioli, you can sit among a remarkably diverse throng and sing hymns with gusto.
Where 1, Church Road, North Avenue Nearest Metro Stop Central Secretariat Time Sunday 8.30 am
House of Music