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Velankanni Churches


Place : Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu
Significance: Shrine of Virgin Mary
Best time to visit : August to September

Velankanni is located 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Coromandel Coast, in Tamil Nadu. The shrine here is dedicated to Our Lady of Health, the Madonna of Velankanni and is popularly known as 'Sacred Arogya Matha Church'. Virgin Mary is believed to have miraculous healing powers. Thousands of pilgrims belonging to various castes and communities flock daily to this 'Lourdes of the East'. The church has an imposing facade with tall spires and the wings present the shape of a cross. In a niche in the alter is enshrined the statue of Our Lady of Health.

In 1560, Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a shepherd, asking him for milk to quench the thirst of baby Jesus. When the shepherd returned to his master, after performing the good deed, his pitcher kept filling up with milk. Consequently, a small thatched chapel was built at the site. At the end of the 16th century, Virgin Mary appeared again in front of a lame boy, who regained the use of his limbs. The actual church was constructed after the incident.

The tradition is to offer Our Lady of Health, a candle in the shape of the respective ailment- a heart in case of cardiac complications, a liver in case of jaundice, lungs in case of tuberculosis and so on. In case of the ailment getting cured, many bring with them small gold and silver replicas of parts of the body that has been cured to donate to the church.
Some times offering are sent in sealed bottles or big hollow bamboos duly closed and thrown in to the sea with the address of the shrine written on them. Such offerings are believed to reach the holy spot. There is a small church museum which has a display of the offerings made by those whose prayers were conceded.

A festival is celebrated for ten days from August 28 to September 10 every year and pilgrims from all over the country and even abroad flock to the site, bathe religiously in the sea, have their heads shaved and then walk on their knees or roll up to the shrine as rituals.


How to get there

Air : Nearest Airport is Chennai
Rail : Nearest railhead is Trichy, Chennai and Thanjavur.
Road : Buses are available for Chidambaram, Chennai, Madurai, Pondicherry, Trichy(141kms) and Thanjavur (89kms). Buses and trains frequently run from Nagapattinam.


YOUR ITINERARY for Velankanni
(Trichy - Velankanni - Trichy - Madras - Goa (8 Days/7 Nights) )

Day 1 : Arrive Trichy - Meeting and assistance on arrival and transfer to Hotel Jenny's Residency or similar, lunch and Dinner at hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 02: Trichy/Velankanni (95 kms/1.5 hrs) - After breakfast, leave by car/coach for Velankanni, famous for the church of our Lady of Health. Said to have been built on the prompting of a vision of lady with child in arms, this church Is a place of pilgrimage for Christians all over the country. On arrival, check-in and lunch at Tamilnadu Tourist Rest House or similar. Evening free for religious activities. Dinner and overnight at rest house.

Day 03: Velankanni - Breakfast at rest house. Rest of the day free for religious activities, lunch, dinner and overnight at rest house.

Day 04: Velankanni / Trichy / Madras - After breakfast, leave Velankanni for Trichy by car/coach, lunch enroute. Arrive Trichy Railway Station to take a train for Madras (Vaigai Express). Madras is the gateway to South India. It traces its origin as for back as 1639AD, when the British East India Company first settled here near the tiny fishing village of Madrasapatnam. Transfer to Hotel New Victoria or similar. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 05: Madras - After breakfast, half-day sight-seeing tour visiting National Arts Gallery and Museum, fort St. George, Fort Museum, St. Mary's Church, Victoria Technical Institute and drive along the Marina Beach. After lunch at hotel, the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 06: Madras/Goa - After breakfast, transfer to airport for flight to Goa, lunch on board. Goa - an ancient Portuguese colony, which became a part of Indian republic in 1961, has traces of its ancient culture, largely writ all over in its churches, bungalows and layouts of the city. On arrival, transfer to Hotel Cidade-de-Goa. Afternoon, tour of Panjim city visiting - The Basilica of Born Jesus in Velha, originally built in 1560, a mixture of Portuguese and Gothic architecture. The church is famous, for it enshrines the miraculously incorruptible body of St. Francis Xavier in a marble and silver cascade. Also visit the Se Cathedral, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, built in 1562. The interior of the cathedral is adorned with gold stucco relics and paintings representing Indo-Portuguese art. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 07: Goa - After breakfast, half-day tour of beautiful beaches of Goa - Bagmolo. Calangute, Baga and Vagator. Lunch at local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 08: Goa/Back Home - After breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport for flight to onward journey/back home.



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