Exploring Chennai – The Armenian Church of Virgin Mary by Ramaa Devi


One of the oldest churches of the Indian subcontinent

Functioning only as a heritage site, the Church is opened for visitors from 9 am till 2:30 pm

The Belfry – It is famous for its belfry of six – These bells are made in London . The six bells are all of different sizes, varying from 21 to 26 inches, and weigh around 150 kg each, They are believed to be the largest and heaviest bells of Chennai

The graves of about 350 Armenians have been laid out throughout the Church


The Armenians were a select group of merchants in Madras Presidency. They walked all the way from Armenia, through the Hindukush mountains and came down to Madras.
Eliazar Shawmier, buried in the Church’s garden. Shawmier was the youngest son of a leading Armenian merchant of the city of Madras (now Chennai) on whose private chapel ground the present Church stands


When the British were trading cotton cloth, Armenians dealt with fine silk, expensive spices and gems.

Madras must have housed a small but a thriving Armenian population. Today there are none of them left ☹️😟

The founder, publisher and editor of the world’s first Armenian periodical “Azdarar”, Reverend Haroutiun Shmavonian, is buried here.

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