Chankanai Dutch Church

Chankanai Dutch Church
Chankanai Dutch Church (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The ancient Chankanai Dutch Church (Sinhala: චංකානෙයි ලන්දේසි පල්ලිය; Tamil: சங்கானை இடச்சுத் தேவாலயம்) is located in the rural village of Chankanai in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka. Built of coral stones, the church presently remains in an evocatively ruined and roofless state.

During the 16th century, Roman Catholicism was introduced to many areas in the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka by the Portuguese and they built a large number of churches in those areas including Jaffna (Jayasinghe, 2016). The church at Chankanai was built by them in 1641 (De Silva, 1988; Hettiarachchi, 1990).

The Dutch took over the control of areas previously occupied by the Portuguese by the mid-17th century. They convert dozens of Portuguese churches to the use of the Dutch Reformed faith. The Chankanai Church is one of such churches occupied by them (De Silva, 1988).  
The church building
The church building now remains in a state of ruins. The two side walls of the main building and the chancel are still visible (De Silva, 1988). No parts of the roof remain (De Silva, 1988).

A protected monument
The Dutch Church situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Chankanai South in the Divisional Secretariat Division, Walikamam West, is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 23 February 2007.

Chankanai Dutch Church.
1) De Silva, R.R.K., 1988. Illustrations and views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796: A comprehensive work of pictorial reference with selected eye-witness accounts. Brill Archive. p.317.
2) Hettiarachchi, S.B., 1990. Proclamation, clearing, maintenance and landscaping of sites and monuments 1910-1930. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)]. Archaeological Department centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative series: Volume I: History of the Department of Archaeology. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). p.91
3) Jayasinghe, S., 2016. Nineteenth Century Catholic Church Architecture in Sri Lanka: Evolution of a Tropical Model. Bath, Proceedings of the ID@ 50 Integrated Design Conference, University of Bath.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1486. 23 February 2007. p.129.

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This page was last updated on 21 August 2022
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