Context: The Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, one of India’s minor basilicas situated in Sardhana in Uttar Pradesh, was constructed in 1822 by Begum Samru, a woman of humble origins that came to be popularly known as the only Catholic queen of India.
About Begum Samru:
- Begum Samru (1750’s – 1836) was a Muslim who converted to Catholicism.
- She was a nautch-girl (dancing girl) who became a warrior and an aristocrat.
- She was a shrewd leader who was able to find a favourable position in the ever-dynamic political terrain of 18th century northern India.
- While she had first supported the waning Mughal empire, from the 1790’s the Begum began to provide service to the rising Marathas, before joining the British to ensure that she could maintain her landholding rights if they emerged victorious.
- It was in a kotha (household) she met Walter Reinhardt, an Austrian mercenary whom she married.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Graces:
- It is one of the 23 minor basilicas of India, and the only one in the north, after the church was bestowed the status by Pope John XXIII in 1961.
- The architect was an Italian engineer, Antonio Reghellini.
- Completed in 1822, it is commonly believed that the church was built as a replica of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
- The structure consists of a blend of architectural styles, of Indian and Islamic features added to a European cross-plan church.
- The church’s domes lie next to large steeples reminiscent of Islamic minarets, while the central altar contains pietra dura or parchinkari designs that are found in the Taj Mahal and Red Fort.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) Who among the following was associated as Secretary with Hindu Female School which later came to be known as Bethune Female School? (2021)
- Annie Besant
- Debandranath Tagore
- Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
- Sarojini Naidu