Diocese of Dharmapuri
Diocese of Dharmapuri


In Dharmapuri diocese, the population was 3,386,652 as of the end of 2016. (The population of the whole country is approximately 20 million).


Tamil, Kannada and Telegu are the languages used in the diocesan territory.


The history of the new Dharmapuri diocese is closely connected with that of Salem diocese, from which it was carved. In 1623, Christianity came to the area through the famous Jesuit Father Robert De Nobili and his successors, and later on through the Portuguese Jesuits of Madurai Missions. In 1654, the Italian Jesuits of Mysore had their residence at Dharmapuri and began to preach the Gospel in the region as far as Tirupattur in North Arcot district. In 1674, St. John De Britto visited Dharmapuri on his way to Kolei. He stayed at Dharmapuri with his confreres, being accompanied by Father Antony Ribero. In 1687, Mysore Church began to preach the Gospel in the present districts of Salem and Dharmapuri. In spite of the Pombal decree, suppressing the Jesuits, they carried on working under the jurisdiction of Cranganore. 

In 1776, the pope handed the Madurai Missions and the Malabar Missions to the care of the Paris Foreign Missions (MEP) Fathers. In 1785, Monsignor Chapenois, MEP, Superior of the Malabar Mission was given the responsibility by Rome to look after the entire Mysore Mission, of which the old Diocese of Salem formed a part. In 1794, he was the first bishop to visit the Diocese of Salem and left there Father Abbe Dubois, MEP. This region continued to depend on Coromandel Missions, and later, on the Apostolic Vicariate of Pondicherry, which became an archdiocese in 1886. On Aug. 3, 1930, the Diocese of Salem was erected.

Because of the vastness of the diocese, the district of Dharmapuri was separated and declared a diocese by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 24, 1997. Monsignor Joseph Antony Irudayaraj, a Salesian, was appointed its first bishop. This diocese is the 15th diocese of the Tamil Nadu region.


The towns are managed by municipalities. The villages and small towns are administered by elected local bodies called panchayats.


The diocesan area is well connected by roads and railways. The nearest airport is in Bangalore city.


The diocesan territory covers a land area of 9,643 square kilometers and includes the two civil districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Hosur are the major towns in the diocese.


The per capita income in the diocesan territory is 14,585 rupees (US$313 as of August 2006). The diocese covers one of the poorest and underdeveloped areas in the state of Tamil Nadu. Farming is the main occupation. Cash crops like cotton are widely produced. Automobile, heavy engineering and electronic good manufacturing companies are present in the diocese.


Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area, which is well connected by local cable TV networks.


61.39 percent is the literacy rate in the diocesan territory.

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