Situated in the northern reaches of Old Delhi, the pale-yellow St. James’ Church is a historic house of worship that's still used by the local Anglican community to this day. It was consecrated in 1836, making it one of the oldest churches in the city, and its adjacent cemetery contains the tombs of many important Raj-era officials.
Also known as Skinner's Church after the British Colonel James Skinner, who commissioned it, St. James’ Church is an excellent example of Palladian architecture. Design elements of this pale-yellow structure include a cruciform plan, porticoed porches, and a big octagonal dome. It also contains a number of beautiful stained-glass windows brought in from Europe, plus art by Italian painter Pompeo Girolamo Batoni.
While it’s not the most popular Delhi attraction, some tours focusing on Raj-era history or spirituality stop by the church. You can also arrange to visit via a private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Remember to dress conservatively; dresses or trousers and shirts covering the shoulders are preferable to tank tops and shorts.
- Services are held every Sunday at 8:30am (from Easter through September) or 9am (from October 1 through Easter).
- The church’s non-service opening hours vary, so it’s a good idea to call ahead or go with an organized tour.
How to Get There
St. James’ Church is in Old Delhi, just north of Chandni Chowk. It's a 5-minute walk from Kashmiri Gate, Old Delhi's main long-distance bus depot. The Yellow, Red, and Violet lines of the Delhi Metro also stop here. For travelers coming by car, it's about a 15-minute drive to Connaught Place, New Delhi's de facto city center.
When to Get There
The church is open throughout the year, and the interiors are relatively cool, making it a good place to visit even during the hot season. Coming on a Sunday morning for service is the best way to get the full experience. There are also services and other events throughout the year; check the church’s website for the liturgical calendar.
James Skinner first decided to build St. James’ Church after lying wounded on a battlefield at Uniara, facing the potential of his death. According to legend, Skinner made a promise to God that if he survived, he would build a church. Today, Skinner's remains are interred in the church, with a gravestone just by the altar.