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 Jammu-Srinagar

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Diocese of Jammu-Srinagar
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There are 22 civil districts in the diocese in an area of 222,236 square kilometres.

The diocese of Jammu-Srinagar comprises the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir. It is surrounded by the international boundaries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and China from west to east. The Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab are on its south.


People speak Urdu, Dogri, Punjabi, Hindi and English.


Missionary endeavors began since 1868 in the areas of Kafiristan (now in Pakistan) and Kashmir. As a result, the prefecture apostolic of Kafiristan and Kashmir was erected on July 06, 1887, bifurcating the diocese of Lahore, now in Pakistan. The region was entrusted to the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM).

After the independence and birth of Pakistan, the ecclesiastical territory was reorganized as prefecture apostolic of Kashmir and Jammu on Jan. 17, 1952. The ecclesiastical territory was renamed as the prefecture apostolic of Jammu and Kashmir on May 14, 1968. It comprised the districts of Kashmir and Ladakh, which were part of Rawalpindi diocese (now in Pakistan) and the districts of Jammu and Poonch, which belonged to Lahore diocese (now in Pakistan).

After the Mill Hill Missionaries left the prefecture, it was entrusted to the Indian Capuchins of St. Joseph's province, Kerala, in 1978. Capuchin Msgr. Hippolytus Kunnunkal was appointed as its first Indian prefect apostolic on Dec. 28, 1978. It was raised to a diocese on Sept. 7, 1986, and Msgr. Kunnunkal was ordained bishop of Jammu-Srinagar in the newly consecrated St. Mary's Cathedral, Jammu. The diocesan curia, which functioned in Srinagar since 1952, was shifted to Jammu in Dec. 1986. After the retirement of Bishop Kunnunkal, Capuchin Msgr. Peter Celestine was ordained its second bishop on Sept. 6, 1998. Bishop Peter Celestine retired on Dec. 3, 2014 and Bishop Ivan Pereira took the office on Dec. 3, 2014.


The climate varies from tropical in the plains of Jammu to semi-arctic cold in Ladakh. Annual rainfall varies from 92.6 mm in Leh to 650.5 mm in Srinagar and 1115.9 mm in Jammu.


Wildlife in the state include leopard, Kashmir stag, bear, snakes and peacock.


Handicrafts production and export, mainly wood carvings, carpets, shawls, copper and silverware have been the traditional industries of the state.

Nearly 80 percent of the people depend on agriculture. Major crops include paddy, wheat, maize, pulses, cotton and barley. Large orchards in Kashmir produce apples, pears, peaches, walnuts, cherries, almonds, cherries, apricots strawberries and saffron.


It is the sixth largest state in India, including the area occupied by Pakistan and China. The mountainous state is blessed with lofty snow clad peaks, deep gorges, glaciers, lush green meadows and verdant valleys full of Chinar trees, beautiful silvery lakes, charming flora and fauna, making it a "paradise on the earth." It has a very rich history and a distinct culture. Some of the most sacred temples, mosques, monasteries and caves. Major rivers are: Indus, Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi.


Literacy rate is 54.46 percent. The diocese gives importance to education by running many English medium schools. Most of the Church personnel are from southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and tribals from the Chhotanagpur region.


Sufiana music is a rich tradition in Kashmir. Jabro and Alley Yate are popular dance forms in the Ladakh region. Ritual dance of Kud is performed in honour of local deities in the Jammu region.

Principal festivals of Jammu region are: Lohri, Baisakhi, and Bahu Mela. Id-ul-Zuha and Miraj Alam are celebrated in the Kashmir region and Mela Losar and Hemis festivals in the Ladakh region.

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