Explore the Oldest Dioceses in South Asia

Cardinal Cheong

The cathedral of the first diocese in India.

It is believed that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle,
who is said to have reached the Malabar Coast of Kerala in 52 AD.

Christian communities developed and expanded further when
Portuguese missionaries arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries.

History of a few oldest dioceses in India as the cradle of Indian Christianity
can be dated back to the 15th century.

Find out which is the first diocese in India here.

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Diocese of Bellary

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Diocese of Bellary
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In a land area of 41,217 square kilometers, the diocese of Bellary includes three revenue districts of Bellary, Raichur and Koppal in Karnataka state.


The total population of Bellary diocese is 6,172,289, according to the Census of 2015.


Kannada is the main language across the diocese. It is also the official language of Bellary diocese. People also speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Konkanni and English.


In 1928, two districts of archdiocese of Hyderabad were formed into a new mission of Bellary. The new diocese of Bellary was established in 1949.

During the reorganization of India into linguistic states, certain territories which had become part of Andhra Pradesh state went to Hyderabad and Nellore dioceses. That made the Bellary diocese a predominantly Kannada linguistic diocese.


Karnataka is ruled by pro-Hindu political party of Bharathiya Janatha Party since May 2008. Out of 21 legislative assembly constituents in Bellary diocese, 13 are won by the ruling party. Whereas Indian National Congress has won 5, Janatha Dal -Secular has won 2 and an independent candidate has won from a single constituency. Currently, there have been number of cases of attacks on the minorities especially on Christians in Bellary.


Bellary is well connected by road to different parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa states in southern India. Bellary is well connected by rail. Currently, two railway stations serve the city, both built during British rule. The civilian Bellary airport with limited and inconsistent air services currently has no commercial services. A new international airport in Bellary is being planned by the state government.


The major occupation of this diocese is agriculture and 75 percent of the labor force is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The important crops grown are cotton, jowar, groundnut, rice, sunflower and cereals. The net irrigated area is 37 percent to the net area sown.

The main source of irrigation is Tungabhadra Dam. The canal network accounts for 64 percent of irrigated area. The important rivers are Tungabhadra, Hagari and Chikkahagari.

The western region is dogged with scarcity conditions with the failure of rains during successive years.


The percentage of literacy rate of the Karnataka state has increased from 66.64 percent in 2001 to 75.60 percent in 2011, according to Census 2011. That means 10.99 percent of literacy has increased in Bellary diocese during the last ten years. While it was 54.20 percent in 2001 in three districts in which the diocese is spread out, it has reached to the level of 65.19 percent in 2011.


The diocese is endowed with rich mineral resources. It has both metallic and non-metallic minerals. The metallic minerals include iron ore, manganese ore, red oxide, gold, copper and lead. The non-metallic minerals include andalusite, asbestos, corundum, clay, dolomite, limestone, limekankan, moulding sand, quartz, soap stone, granite and red ochre. Despite the availability of minerals in large quantities, this district is considered to be an industrially backward district.

The ruthless and illegal mining of iron ore in Bellary has caused environmental damage and also wide ranging social and economical side effects. Large deposits of iron have brought in mafia to the business.

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