History and Geography
Chapter 3 In India
From the Historical Beginnings to the Fifteenth Century
To reach the maritime routes of India/Southern Asia from the Middle East sailors had first to navigate the Persian Gulf, and from there, after crossing the Sea of Oman, make landfall on the west coast of India. From southern Mesopotamia (from the city of Basra, today in southern Iraq) to Kerala the voyage could last around three months and was undertaken in the sailing season when the winds were favourable for ships with sails. It was in Kerala, today a state in South India, that the community of the Church of the East developed, principally along the southern stretch of the west coast of India, which is also known as the Malabar Coast. Christianity also developed on the south-east coast of India towards Madras (today called Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu). Some think that in the sixth century there were also Christian colonies in Punjab, around the port of Tana (near Mumbai, formerly Bombay, on the north-west coast of India). The evangelisation of India is complex, with Christianity entering India in several different regions.
According to the Church of the East’s tradition, it was St Thomas, one of Christ’s twelve apostles, who was the first to evangelize Kerala from the time of his arrival in around 52, where he founded seven churches after landing at Cranganore. It is for this reason that the Christians of India are also called...
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