Vellankani Beach is one of the most pious and scenic beaches on the Eastern coast of the Indian subcontinent. It is the perfect buzz-filled holiday spot with the bustling crowds and swaying palm trees. The beach is one of the most popular destinations in the region. The Church of Our Lady of Health is located very close to the beach which makes it a pilgrim hotspot. Vellankani has a history of religion and culture. It was a trading port for Rome and Greece only to lose its importance to its neighbour Nagapattinam later. It is one of the most visited pilgrim destinations in Southern India.
Velankanni has one of the country's largest Catholic pilgrimage centres, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. The pilgrim is devoted to Our Lady of Good Health and is popularly known as the 'Lourdes of the East' throughout the world. The origins of the church can be traced back to the 16th century where the church was first built in Roman-Gothic style. During the Portugal invasion, changes were made to the structure by their architects. The church has had a few expansion due to the growing influx of pilgrims.
The founding of the church is attributed to three miracles which are: the apparition of Jesus and Mary to a sleeping shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor and the survival of Portuguese soldiers who were assaulted by the violent sea. The church building was raised to the status of basilica by Pope John, the 23rd in 1962. It is reported that over 20 million pilgrims flock to the region from all over the world annually. The church celebrates an 11- day festival from 29th August to 8th September. During this period a total of 3 million pilgrims are believed to attend the festival.
If you happen to go to Velankanni and not indulge your taste buds in seafood, you would be missing out on an experience of a lifetime. It almost like visiting Agra and missing out on seeing the Taj Mahal. The fishermen of Velankanni pride themselves on their daily catch, and the chefs of Velankanni use age-old recipes to turn the catch into sumptuous meals. The cuisine of this region ranges from easy, on-the-go snacks to spicy curries that leave you craving for more. They are served traditionally on a banana leaf.
The locals enjoy their daily meals with a seafood dish on their plates. Sitting on the sandy shores while the salty breeze gently blows through your hair while a piping hot plate of fish fry and prawn curry is probably the best experience one can have at the Velankanni beach.
Velankanni lies on the East Coast Road, about 350 kilometres from Chennai. The town of Velankanni has a railway station which connects throughout the country. Buses from various points of the town go to the beach. It is a very popular spot, autos can also be hired from across the town to reach the beach.
1. Beach gets crowded after 9:00 AM, Early morning visits are recommended.
2. The water can rise to high tides, so be cautious while swimming.
3. Boating in Vellaiyar River is recommended, it is walking distance from the beach.
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