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Bandel Basilica in Hooghly, Wikimedia

Kolkata, Dec 23, 2016: Travellers to West Bengal can now soak in the Yuletide spirit with a special tour package covering Mother House and important Christian centres including the 417-year-old Bandel Church on the banks of the Hooghly river, it was announced on Friday.

The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) has announced the start of a special chartered bus service that would take tourists on a tour to the Mother House and well known churches of Kolkata on Christmas eve.


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At the iconic Bandel Church, one of the oldest churches in eastern India that was founded in 1599 by Augustinian monks, visitors will be greeted with a unique display of light, music and water.

“Each year over 100,000 visitors, cutting across religious beliefs, visit the Bandel Church during the Christmas season. This year an added attraction would be a colourful display of light, sound and water at the newly erected musical fountain,” said Prior of Bandel Church, Salesian Fr T L Francis.

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“The visitors would get to see larger-than-life sized statues of popular Christian saints like Mother Mary, Mother Teresa, Don Bosco, St Joseph, St Francis Xavier and others. There is also the life size Station of The Cross depicting 14 scenes from the final hours of Jesus’s life with 54 statues and a Christmas crib depicting the birth of Jesus,” he said.

Other draws include a nine-feet statue of Jesus Christ with open arms in front of the Bandel shrine.

“Also on display would be the historic ‘Mast’ from which the Church and the town get their name and a renovated grand ‘doorway’ that leads to the Church’s precincts,” said Francis.

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The Portuguese ship’s mast was a votive offering to the Church from the captain of the ship that was miraculously saved in a tempest in the Bay of Bengal in 1655. The Archaeological Survey of India had declared the mast a heritage item.

The Bandel Church had last year been restored and put on display the mast that had fallen in a storm in 2010. (IANS)


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