Established in 1640, Bandra's iconic Mount Mary's Basilica is a sanctuary of serenity

Established in 1640, Bandra's iconic Mount Mary's Basilica is a sanctuary of serenity

The church stands atop a hillside, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, commonly known as 'Mount Mary Church', is a prominent Roman Catholic Church in Bandra, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Established in 1640 and restored in 1761, the church stands atop a hillside overlooking the Arabian Sea - making it a popular destination for tourists from all over the globe.

The church is said to possess magical healing powers, enabling it to fulfill the deepest of desires of its patrons. So read on to unravel the history and mystery of this iconic landmark in Mumbai.

Mount Mary Church: Tales as old as time

In the late 1500s, a Jesuit priest had the idea to build a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, near Bandra. It started out as a simple mud structure on a hill with a stunning view of the Arabian Sea. Over time, the number of people visiting and praying at the chapel increased, and eventually it became a proper chapel in 1640, to meet the growing demands of people.

The cathedral endured a terrifying incident in the 1700s when a roving pirate army of Muscat Arabs besieged it. The Virgin Mary statue was severely damaged during this invasion, having its right arm severed, and the church was completely demolished.

The statue of Our Lady of Navigators was transported from a side altar in the neighboring St. Andrew's Church to replace the damaged one, restoring the place of worship. The broken Virgin Mary statue was painstakingly restored in 1761, and the cathedral was rebuilt in all its former splendour. The townspeople created a miniature detachable statue of baby Jesus to fill the space left by the original right arm's absence and placed it there.

By the end of the 19th century, the church went through a few more changes. For example, a flight of stairs was built on the north side of the hill in 1879. Another change was the addition of a portico on the front of the church in 1882. The elegant design of the chapel was created by the famous architect, Shapoorji N. Chidambhoy.

One of the most striking features of the church is the statue of Mother Mary. Unlike the usual depictions of the Holy Mother, this one holds the child on her right arm instead of her left.

The architecture

Mount Mary Church is characterised by its imposing façade, which is composed of a combination of gothic and neo-Romanesque elements. On the ground floor, the main entrance is a large and eye-catching door, which is flanked on either side by windows.

The central portal above the church features an emblem inscribed with the initials "A.M." This emblem is a representation of the Latin phrase 'Ave Maria', which the Angel Gabriel used to welcome Mother Mary.

Two small lilies gracefully surround the crown structure, and the interior of the church is adorned with intricate fiberglass mural paintings, depicting various aspects of the life of Mother Mary. At the center of the sanctuary is a statue of the Virgin Mary cradling Baby Jesus, which stands atop a seven-storied high altar. Directly below the altar is a marble plaque depicting the Last Supper.

Best time to visit: Mount Mary Fair

The Mount Mary Fair, which commemorates Mother Mary's birthday, is the ideal time to visit the church. The Mount Mary Fair aka Bandra Fair, is an eight-day celebration commemorating Mother Mary's birthday, believed to have been going on for three hundred years.

Every year, a large number of devout pilgrims visit the shrine to partake in the festivities, which traditionally begin on September 8th. On this day, the church celebrates a grand feast known as the 'Feast of the Nativity'.

After the fair is over, the Church of the Holy Virgin embarks on a nine-day "Novena", which is a period of prayer dedicated to Mary. This Novena extends the festivities to an impressive 17 days, adding to the significance and attraction of the yearly Mount Mary Fair.

Famous places nearby

Knock Knock

Apart from Mount Mary Church, there are many other places to visit in and around Bandra.

From Bandra Fort and Bandra Bandstand to Joggers Park and Father Angel’s Church, you can also explore numerous things when in this vicinity. You can also visit Bandra Linking Road, for a session of fun street shopping or take drive through Mumbai's famous Bandra Worli Sea Link.

Location: Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra West

[The nearest train station to the church is Bandra Railway Station]

Timings: Monday - Saturday, 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM - 8:30 PM; Sunday - 10:30 AM - 8:30 PM

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