The Basilica of the Holy Rosary commonly known as Bandel Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in India, situated in a small town “Bandel”, in Hoogly district of West Bengal. Now, Bandel is a suburban town of Calcutta which is well connected by local as well as Express train services from Howrah. It takes about one hour by local train.
This church stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Founded in 1599, it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Our Lady of the Rosary. It also serves as a Parish Church, ( means, in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events.) It is one of the most prominent historical churches in West Bengal as well as in India.
Around the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese began using Bandel as a port. During or around 1571, they were given permission by Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, to build a town in Hoogly. As they began settling around the area, their Priests began to baptise the natives – and by 1598, Catholics in Hooghly numbered around five thousand, including natives and mixed races.
In 1579, the Portuguese built a port on the banks of the River Hoogly, as well as a Fort. The following year, Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor’s full permission to preach the Catholic faith publicly, and erect churches. Thus this Portuguese memorial was constructed in 1599, after a century of Vasco Da Gama landed in India, in 1498.
This first church was burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632. A newer church, constructed by Gomez de Soto (also spelt John Comes de Soto), was built over the ruin in 1660. The key stone of the older church can still be seen on the eastern gate of the monastery, bearing the date 1599.
On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the Bandel Church as a minor Basilica.