A pilgrimmage to Velankanni, Tamil Nadu, India

velankanni Travel Blog

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Velankanni church seen from Hotel Sea Gate
Velankanni is a famous pilgrimmage centre for Christians in South India. It is in the southern part of the state called Tamil Nadu in India.
The Velankanni church is dedicated to Mother Mary and given the status of a Basilica. This shrine is quite famous for miracles and is visited by believers from all around the world. One can get good information on Velankanni church at www.vailankannichurch.org

The nearest town with railway access is Nagapattinam - around 30 mins by road. The nearest biggest city is Thanjavur, around 3 hours by road.

We started from Mumbai and reached Chennai by flight.
Another view of the church
From Chennai airport we went to Chennai Egmore station by car. There is a train which goes to Thanjavur from Egmore - starting at 10:30 PM - Rock Fort Express, which reaches Thanjavur at 06:15 AM on the next day. We had booked our tickets earlier. Those who wish to know the train timings and seat availability can get information at www.indianrail.gov.in

Our tour plan was to visit Velankanni, Poondi (another pilgrimmage centre near Thanjavur) and Thanjavur itself. For this we had booked our room at Thanjavur - Hotel Gnanam (www.hotelgnanam.com) - for the next day since we planned to stay at Velankanni for the first day. So, we just went to the hotel, freshened up and put our main luggage in the cloak room and started for Velankanni with minimal luggage needed for one day. We went to the main bus stand and from there caught a bus to Velankanni - this trip took around 4 hours - and reached Velankanni at about 1:00 PM.
A small church nearby
Here we had already booked our room at Hotel Sea Gate - so checked in and took a well deserved rest. By 4:00 PM we ventured out for our visit - went to the church - prayed, came out and took snaps, went near the beach and returned back to the main church. On saturday evenings there is "rosary procession" in which the statue of Mother Mary is carried by devotees around the church in a procession. We took part in this too. Remember - Velankanni is a pilgrim centre - there no other historical monuments etc. to be seen - so not much options other than to purify your soul :-)

After this we went back to our room, had dinner and went to sleep. Next day morning again it was back to church and attending prayers. Then we visited the church museum just opposite - this place has a lot many letters and gifts sent by devotees as thanksgiving for the various favours received.
Market on the way to the beach

A few points to note when you are in Velankanni - we know since we have been visiting Velankanni many times.

Water - please make sure that you do drink only bottled mineral water.
Food - the hotel where we stayed - Hotel Sea Gate (www.hotelseagate.co.in) - has a restaurant on the ground floor and serves good food.
Beggars - plenty ! - as far as possible avoid giving alms because if you give once then a full army of them will start following you!
Beach - DO NOT go into the water at the beach - it is dangerous - there are warning signs and so adhere to it. It is not worth it and if you want to get wet in a beach, reserve it for Goa! :-)

So after our half day visit, we readied ourselves for the return trip back to Thanjavur. When we reached the Bus stand (at about 12:30) the driver of a private car approached us and asked if we were interested in hiring his vehicle. He had come to Velankanni with some visitors and was going back to Thanjavur empty. We negotiated the price and for Rs.500/- it was settled. So we had a comfortable trip back and was dropped at the hotel in Thanjavur at around 4:00 PM. We checked in since we had booked our rooms earlier and settled in.

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Velankanni church seen from Hotel …
Velankanni church seen from Hotel…
Another view of the church
Another view of the church
A small church nearby
A small church nearby
Market on the way to the beach
Market on the way to the beach
A shoot the balloon stall at the…
A "shoot the balloon" stall at th…
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photo by: tholath