St. John's Seminary

As you come out from the gate of the church, you see a big building to your left on the other side of the road. The date when this building was built is not certain. It was there before Walter Reinhardt came on the scene. He made it his palace when he chose Sardhana as the capital of the jagir that the Mogul Emperor awarded him in 1773. This too was the palace of the Begum for practically the whole of her life-time, since the palace she built was only completed about one year before her death. The building is in Muslim style with an impressive verandah. Of course there have been many additions and alterations through the years. The roof has been redone, with metal girders replacing the wooden rafters. A dormitory, a large kitchen and modern sanitary installations have been added recently.

Of special interest are the underground rooms, where the Begum used to go to escape the heat of summer. Unfortunately the water level in Sardhana is higher than what it used to be at the time of the Begum. This most probably is due to the large Ganges Canal that flows close by. As a result, during the monsoon months, when the level of the water rises still higher, the rooms are flooded with water. An attempt at cementing the rooms proved useless. Nothing can stop the rising water. After the monsoon the water recedes, but the rooms are unfit for use.

When the Begum shifted into the palace she built, she gave this place to Solaroli, an Italian adventurer, who had become a person of influence in her court, to whom she had given her adopted daughter, the sister of David Dyce Sombre, Georgiana Sombre, in marriage.

When Solaroli left this country for his native land, he donated this building to the Catholic diocese of Agra, which was set aside to serve as a seminary for the training of future priests. But often, when vocations to the priesthood were not forthcoming, it served as a school. In fact it was with boys from here that St. Peter's College, Agra, started as an orphanage in 1846. Later the famine children, orphans as a result of a devastating famine that took a heavy toll of life in the U.P. and the Punjab, were put up in St. John's. When the Begum's palace was converted into a school and orphanage, St. John's once again provided the nucleus of this now famous college, by sending all the boys there. From the beginning of the century to World War I, attempts were made again at training future priests. It was only in 1949, that the Archbishop of Agra, Dr. E. Vanni, started the Seminary again. Since then it has not looked back and has proved an invaluable asset in raising an Indian clergy, chiefly for the diocese of Meerut.

Contact Info

Basilica of Our Lady of Graces

Sardhana P.O. Meerut District 250 342 Uttar Pradesh, India

Parish Priest +91 6398754688, Administrator +91 8445186914

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