Friday, 15 March 2013

Lost Chapel on Pali Hill

Lost Chapel on Pali Hill

Walk through Calvario Hill Road Bandra on any of the Fridays throughout lent, during the wee hours of night and for sure you will hear gentle feeble steps treading along the way of the cross. Chanting hymns in Marathi, most of them composed by the Very Revd. Manoel Anthony Fonseca, pausing along at the foot of each of the 14 crosses that dotted the way right up to the chapel, the congregation would murmur a silent prayer at each cross.

Reaching the Chapel of Our Lady of Calvario, the flock would attend holy service and then pursue home.

The Very Revd. Manoel Anthony Fonseca, a Portuguese scholar and a prominent Marathi preacher along with his brother Peter John put together the Chapel and on 17th September, 1890 got it blessed by Dom
Antonio Pedro da Costa the 1st Bishop of Damaun.  The Chapel was attended and worshipped by folk from all of Pali hill, down to mala, Chuim, danda and other surrounding villages.

The 14 stations that once lined the Calvary hill, today stretch out just opposite Our Lady of Bethlehem church, Dongri. The church also recently celebrated 400 years on January 20th and a solemn celebration
was presided over by Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bishop Bosco Penha and Father Victor Dalmet amongst others. Just like one would attend the 14 Stations of the Cross at Calvary, the neighboring villages in and around Uttan also ascend unto the hill and recite the 14 stations today.

Most of the collection the Chapel received was passed onto St. Andrew Church, Bandra while very little was left for the maintenance of the Chapel. This gradually over time left the Chapel with inadequate funds and its upkeep dwindled. In the late 1960’s the wooden railings from the Chapel, along with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows and a number of other Church essentials were passed onto St. Anne’s Church, Pali Hill.

The engraved tombstones which detailed the names of family members buried at the Chapel are nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, a hand written note probably by my great grandfather details the names of his kin who were buried at the Chapel over the years.

Today the Chapel has zero footfalls, the only visitors and regular residents are security personnel, who spend their days and night on the holy turf, not knowing its significance and its celebrated past. The door to the Chapel is locked, the walls cracked and the roof caves in at one end, spiders and creepers have made it their permanent home.

Abandoned for years now and on its last legs, take a walk down Calvario Hill Road Bandra and take a long stare at the Chapel that once was before it all crumbles and is grabbed by Bandra’s many land sharks.