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Velankanni

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Best Time: Oct-Mar Read More

Ideal duration: 1 day

Nearest Airport: Mdurai Check Flights

Velankanni Tourism

Quaint and calm, Velankanni is a little hamlet tucked away in the state of Tamil Nadu, on the coast of Bay of Bengal. It is a famous Roman Catholic pilgrim centre and is visited by thousands of devotees for its shrine of ‘Our Lady of Good Health’ aka Mother Mary. Inspired by the Lourdes in France, Velankanni is also known as the “Lourdes of the East”. It has become one of the vital Marian sanctuaries of the world.

Though it is very religiously charged, Velankanni is worth exploring for the rich culture it holds of the colonial rule. The Virgin Mother appeared to the people and solved the problems they had. Her visits were cut into three events; appearing in front of a shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor and protecting Portuguese traders from drowning during a storm. This gave her the name 'Our Lady of Good Health'. The church of Our Lady of Good Health was built in Gothic architecture and was modified by Portuguese and then further expanded later on due to the influx of pilgrimages.

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History of Velankanni

The now tiny town was once a port and people of this region traded with countries like Rome and Greece, which was the ancient commercial centre of the western countries. It only converted to a pilgrim centre due to three miraculous events that took place in the region. The legend goes to say that sometime in the 16th Century, Mother Mary appeared twice before two different village boys and asked them for milk for her infant son, each and the boys obliged. The first one was amazed to see his milk tank still full on returning home. The latter was, instead, cured of his crippled leg. She then told the disabled boy, who could walk perfectly to ask the wealthy merchant of nearby Nagapattinam, to build a chapel for her at the place of miracle. Sometime later, a few Portuguese sailors were also saved from their doom in a sea storm, in a similar fashion. The village then gained its religious importance and came to be identified as one of the most important pilgrimage spots among the Roman Catholics. Eventually, the village of Velankanni became a substation of Nagapattinam Parish. In September 1771, it rose to the status of Parish. On 3rd November 1962, His Holiness Pope John the 23rd raised the Shrine to the status of ‘Basilica’. Because of its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, the sacred place was once

Culture of Velankanni

The culture of Velankanni has an aura of austerity, faith and devotion. The village has an influx of pilgrims all through the year, and the tiny town accommodates to cater to the need of the devotees and their religious spirit. The spirituality and holiness of the place are such that it is believed to have healed the pilgrims of all kinds of sicknesses and diseases. As per custom, the sick place a wax replica (available in the nearby shops) of their deceased body parts in the church and pray for their recovery. Other events include mundan and ear-piercing ceremonies of young babies as the site is considered auspicious. The village celebrates its annual ‘Arokkaiyamatha Festival’ for ten days from 29th August to 8th September. The ceremony commences with the hoisting in a grand procession followed by a parade. 8th September is celebrated as the day of ‘Feast of Nativity of Mary’ which commemorates the safe landing of the Portuguese sailors who later established the original shrine. The festival concludes with the lowering of the flag. Other than this, some customs are practised in the village on a regular basis, like recitation of hymns with a chariot procession every Saturday, the Blessed Sacrament display at the Church every month etc.

Restaurants and Local Food in Velankanni

Try the fresh fish fries available at the sea side, but only if you are satisfied with cleanliness. Other than these one might find a handful of restaurants in the town to eat out.
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One Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in the city. Start off by paying homage to Mother Mary at the renowned Morning Star Church for Our Lady of Vailankanni. Proceed to the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Popularly known as the ‘Lourdes of the East’, this is where most miracles of Mother Mary have been witnessed. Spend the latter half of the day, soaking in the tranquillity and serenity of the place at the Velankanni Beach.

Day 2: Next morning, head off to one of the other wonderfully architectures churches, the very famous Velankanni Church, a Roman Catholic Basilica. Visit the museum adjacent to the church. Before heading home, don’t forget to pick up some of Velankanni’s fine silk and handloom products from the local market.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Picturesque scenery. Religious significance.

What's Not So Great?

A little difficult to access. Summers can be harsh.

For Whom?

Velankanni is a great getaway for those living in and around Tamil Nadu. Also perfect for the catholic community since it is the location of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, mother of Jesus Christ.

How To Reach Velankanni

Velankanni is a bit difficult to reach as it can be reached by road only. The nearest airport is in Tiruchirapalli and the nearest railway station is in Nagapattinam. You have to hire a taxi or hop on a bus to reach Velankanni from these towns.

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