Ooty was the summer capital of the British India, under the Madras Presidency. Udhagamandalam, otherwise called Ooty is the Queen of the Nigiris, a town center nestled within the tea plantations of Ooty. The British gave prime status for Ooty and its plantations and many British officers were stationed in Ooty during the British era and a church in Ooty was very much a need then. The church was built in 1831 and was open for prayer on an Easter Sunday the same year.
The St. Stephens church is a lovely church located on a small hillock not very far from the Ooty town center. It was the first church to be built in the Nilgiris, exclusively for the British officers in Ooty. The church was built with wood and mortar and has stained glass art that depicts the crucifixion of Christ and Mary holding baby Jesus by hand. It has large windows on one side which naturally lights the interior. The St. Stephen’s Church is very calm and enhances a divine ambiance. Most of the wood and the main beam of the church is believed to be brought from the Palace of Tipu Sultan from Srirangapattana close to Mysore. The gangway to the Altar is carpeted and there are long wooden benches facing towards the alter just like in any other church. A pulpit is located on the left side, just before the Altar. A clock tower could be see right on top of the main elevation of the church as seen in the picture.
After the British left India, the church came under the Church of South India since 1947. There is an old cemetery right at the rear of the church where most British officers of those time were buried.
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Written by Benjamin John