Last Updated on April 7, 2021 by Soumya
On my last trip to coastal Karnataka, I discovered so many hidden gems. Extremely offbeat destinations that were barely known to the world outside. One of those was the St. Lawrence Church in Attur, Karkala, also known as the Attur Church.
With an architectural style that seems to be a mix of Gothic and Romanesque, the Karkala Church looks straight out of a fairytale. It almost reminded me of the Neuschwanstein Castle of Bavaria Germany. To add to that, the church has a long and interesting history dotted with numerous miracles. If you are a culture vulture like me, you know that you cannot miss seeing a church like this.
I am glad that I made this pit stop at Karkala to explore the beautiful church of Attur. However, when I came back, I realized that there wasn’t much information online on how to visit this place. That is why, I crafted this detailed guide for curious travelers like you. I hope this guide to St. Lawrence Church Attur will help you plan your trip easily and see the best that this basilica has to offer.
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History of Attur Church
St. Lawrence Church in Attur-Karkala has a long and illustrious history behind it. It is believed that a church existed in the area as early as 1759 before the Catholics of Karkala were imprisoned by Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu Sultan, surviving Catholics came back and built a small church at Nakre in 1801.
The current shrine of the Karkala Church was built only in 1839 when the Nakre church fell short of space. Legend has it that the small statue of St. Lawrence (which you can still see at the church today) miraculously chose the spot for his new shrine. And it was at the foot of Parpale Hills in Attur!
For the next 150 years, the church remained a small shrine. However, as the number of pilgrims and believers grew, the need for expansion became evident. New constructions started in 1994. The semi-Gothic façade that you can see today was built and the entire church was restructured in 2001. What you see as the entrance to the church today is a fairly new addition. But a gorgeous one, nevertheless!
In August 2016, St. Lawrence Church was elevated to the status of a Minor Basilica, the 22nd in India.
St. Lawrence Church and its miracles
The Church of St. Lawrence in Karkala is believed to be the site of many miracles. Devotees flock to this place to get their fatal diseases cured, be blessed with babies, and find suitable jobs. They often burn huge candles, some towering up to 3-4 feet, in order to get the wishes fulfilled.
St. Lawrence Basilica is located in a small village called Attur, about 4km from the Karkala bus stand, at the foot of Parpale Hills. Karkala is a small town in the Udupi district of coastal Karnataka and home to some of the most revered Jain basadis and Bahubali statues in the region.
What to see at St. Lawrence Church in Attur?
- The façade: If you are an art or architecture lover or none, the façade of Karkala church will not cease to impress you. You will notice essential Gothic elements such as an evident focus on verticality, pointed arches, and huge stained glass windows. The whole ensemble is quite akin to a fairytale castle from Disney and makes for a worthy Instagram picture.
- The shrine: The main shrine of the church is also worthy of a tour. It is beautifully decorated in yellow and consists of a statue of St. Lawrence. Here, you will also see some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in India.
- Statue of St. Lawrence: At the end of the shrine, right outside the rear door, you can also see the miraculous statue of St. Lawrence displayed in a glass case. Apparently, this is the same statue that firmly stood ground at Attur when devotees were looking for a new place to build the church in 1839.
- Pond of miracles: At the far end of the church is a stepped pond called the Pushkarini. Devotees believe that the water of this pond heals the diseased. Hence, this pond is often referred to as the Miracle Pond.
- Attur Jatre: The Jatre or the Attur Festival is the annual religious and cultural festival of the church. It is held every year for 5 days between 21st and 28th January. It includes a traditional praying ceremony called the Novena followed by a feast.
The church is open between 6am – 7pm every day. Have a look at the mass timings here before planning your trip depending on whether you wish to attend the mass or not.
Tips for visiting Attur Church in Karkala
- Dress respectfully since this is a functional religious space.
- Come here early in the morning or later in the afternoon to get splendid pictures of the church façade. Otherwise, it gets too difficult to avoid the glare of the sun. All my pictures here were taken around noon and you can clearly see the sun on the top. I would have loved a softer light any day.
- It can get very hot here during the day. Even though there isn’t much to do outdoors, I highly recommend carrying your sunglasses, water, and sunscreen. By the way, clean drinking water is also available at the far end of the shrine.
- There are clean toilets here close to the miracle pond.
- If you wish to preplan your trip to the church using local help, please connect with Poonam Shetty from Dream Holidays, Manipal [+91 96865 74959] and/or Roshan Pinto from R.R.Tours & Travels [+91 98453 31926]. Both of them come highly recommended in the region.
Attur Church FAQ
What is the significance of the Attur Church pond?
The water of Attur Church pond is believed to possess miraculous healing powers. Therefore, it is an important stop in the journey of all devotees and believers.
What are the mass timings of St. Lawrence Church Attur?
Mass timings of St. Lawrence Church in Attur vary by the day of the week. On weekdays, it is usually at 6:30am. Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday have a list of timings that you can check here.
Where is St. Lawrence Church Attur located?
St. Lawrence Church is located at the foot of Parpale Hills in a small village called Attur in Karnataka. The closest town is Karkala which is around 5km away from the church.
How to get to Attur Church in Karkala?
The distance between Karkala and Udupi is 38km (24miles) and between Karkala and Mangalore is 53km (33miles). You can easily book a bus ride between Udupi to Karkala here. The journey takes an hour. From Mangalore you may not get a direct bus. Check out KSRTC and Red Bus for various options.
The closest airport to Karkala is the Mangalore Airport which is 45km (28miles) away. Trains only come up to Mangalore and Udupi. So you will have to take a bus after that.
Once you get to the Karkala Bus Stand, hire a tuk-tuk to get to St. Lawrence Church in Attur which is only 4km away. Tuk-tuks will usually charge you a two-way fare. You can also ask them to wait (for an extra charge) while you explore the church which should not take more than a couple of hours.
Attur Church Travel Essentials
- Udupi is the best place to stay when traveling to St. Lawrence Church in Karkala. Find the best hotels in Udupi.
- Check out Tripadvisor Reviews here for Udupi.
- If you are looking for specially curated tours for the Attur Church, please feel free to connect with Poonam Shetty from Dream Holidays, Manipal [+91 96865 74959] and/or Roshan Pinto from R.R.Tours & Travels [+91 98453 31926]. I highly recommend both of them for their local insights and ability to provide the best travel experiences.
- Before planning your trip, check out our ultimate list of the best places to visit in Coastal Karnataka and find out what to eat in Coastal Karnataka.
- Karkala and Udupi are sunny and hot throughout the year. Do not forget to pack your sunscreen and hat.
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Disclaimer: My visit to St. Lawrence Church in Attur was part of the 6-day coastal Karnataka tourism circuit organized by India Tourism Bangalore – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.