Christianity has had long and glorious relations with India. According to the legends, St. Thomas sailed to India from Eastern Asia in AD 52. He
Spent 12 years in India, the last eight of his life in Mylapore in Madras (now Chennai). Several shrines have been created in the places associated with him. Apart from this, the advent of Europeans in India from the 15th century onwards led to the mass influx of Christians and subsequent development of Christian worship places. Some of the churches of colonial India are comparable to the best in the world and are as much a part of the heritage of India as its ancient temples. You must visit these churches and explore the fascinating world of Christianity in India.
Significence of Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage is an important part of spiritual life for many Christians. Christians see life itself as a journey, coming from God and returning to God. The pilgrim seeks to separate himself from the everyday concerns of the world, and to spend time in the presence of God as he travels to a place of special meaning. A pilgrimage is a symbol that is acted out. Back in the Middle Ages pilgrimages were very popular. Pilgrimage was long and very dangerous – not at all like a holiday! It may have taken many years. The pilgrims would usually travel in groups, and stay in monasteries or inns overnight.
Destinations Covered :
Chennai (Madras) – Thanjavur – Velanganni – Madurai – Trivandrum – Kollam (Quilon) –
Kottayam – Cochin – Kozhikode (Calicut) – Mumbai (Bombay) – Goa
Pre-departure planning is important.
Here are certain things you should watch for and plan for.
Check with the appropriate consulate or embassy in your country to find out if you will need a visa to visit the country of your destination, especially for an extended period of time. Some countries have extremely detailed and complicated entry/departure laws, and treat visits of a week or two very differently from longer stays.
If you’re traveling to one area, check the cost of living there. If it’s high you’ll probably want to budget more carefully and save some money before leaving. The lower the cost of living the less you’ll have to save, but be sure to have a back up reserve in emergency cases.
Talk to other people who have done a similar trip.
If you don’t know anyone personally, try any of the dozens of online travel web sites full of first-person travel stories covering every possible type of trip.
Plan big and loose. Read everything you can about the area.
There may be sights and attractions you didn’t know about. A rough outline of your trip might have three or four target points and a variety of ways to get between them.
You don’t want to find out that the weather isn’t what you thought, or the guide book was incorrect, after committing to 6 weeks in a specific spot.
Some trips will allow you more leeway than others. Travel plans in Asia can often be made day-by-day while summer travel in Europe should be organized at least a few weeks ahead, unless you’re prepared to hunt around for hotel rooms and train seats.
Set up a pre-trip time-line so you don’t end up with a full todo list your last week of work or school.
Things to consider are doctor’s visits for a check up, inoculations, and prescription refills; purchasing plane tickets; renewing passports and obtaining visas and other documents.
Check your insurance coverage abroad and purchasing additional travel insurance if needed. Don’t forget visiting friends and family members!
The longer the trip, the lighter you should pack. This might seem strange, but it’s true you can afford to lug a heavy bag around for a week or two, but do you want to have anything extra for a year?
Stick to the absolute basics and know what you can and cannot buy at your destination(s). There’s no point in bringing 6 months of toothpaste to Europe or buying a sarong at home to take to the tropics. If you are visiting several climates, try to arrange it so you visit the warmer places first and coldest last. That way you can purchase sweaters and long pants and not have to carry them any more than needed. Alternately, visit cold climates first and then ship unneeded layers home — or sell them off.
A good rule of thumb is to bring one outfit for the hottest day you’re likely to encounter, one for an average day, and one for the coldest.
Make sure everything goes with everything else (if that’s important to you), and remember that layers are always best.
Be prepared for uncomfortable trips. You will often find yourself in a busy, cramped, economy class environment and it could be for many hours – especially long plane trips.
If you want to arrive at your destination refreshed and able to enjoy the sights, then try a good quality travel pillow to support your head, some ear plugs to block out the screaming babies, and an eye cover to block out the sun or cabin lights.
Just avoid those cheap U-shaped pillows from airport shops – your head drops forward and you wake up with a stiff neck.
Make contact with the locals before you go.
Maybe you have a friend-of-a-friend or a foreign exchange student from high school you remember, or just found a friend through a travel web site; almost everyone is happy to welcome a foreign visitor to their home town. This might be as elaborate as a home-stay for a few weeks, or just coffee in their home town or dinner at a locals restaurant.
Christian Pilgrimage Centres in India
People went on pilgrimage for many reasons – perhaps to say sorry to God for something they had done wrong (penance), or because they were ill and wanted God to heal them. How do people decide where to go on pilgrimage? Over the years, places have become special for different reasons, and Christians decide to visit them to become closer to God in these special places.
1.Basilica of Bom Jesus – Goa
The church of Bom Jesus, “Good” or “Infant” Jesus, is known principally for the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. In 1946, it became the first church of India to be elevated to the status of Minor Basilica. One of the richest churches in Goa, it is covered with marble and inlaid with precious stones and paintings depicting the life of St. Francis Xavier. The basilica, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept, is the best specimen of baroque architecture in India. St. Francis’s body was brought to Goa almost 150 years after his death. It was a gift from Medici, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It now lies in an airtight glass coffin, placed inside a silver casket fashioned by a 17th century Florentine jeweller. The chapel attracts large numbers of visitors every year.
2.The Church of St. Cajetan, Goa
The Church of St. Cajetan is modelled on the original design of St. Peter’s Church in Rome. The Church of Bom Jesus with its facade decorated with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters, shows the application of the Classical order. The Se’ Cathedral, with its Tuscan exterior, the Corinthian columns at its portals, the raised platform with steps leading to the entrance, the barrel-vault above the nave, is yet another example of Renaissance. The paintings in the churches were done on wooden borders and fixed between panels having floral designs as in the chapels housing the tomb of St. Xavier, the arches above the altars in the transept of the Se’ Cathedral and in the nave on either side of the main altar in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Excepting a few which are in stone, the statues are mostly in wood delicately carved and painted to adorn the altars. They depict mostly the saints, Mother Mary and Jesus on the cross.
3.Christ Church & St. Michael’s Cathedral, H.P. ( This is not part of this trip )
The most prominent building on the famous Mall of Shimla is the yellow Christ Church, reputed to be the second oldest church in northern India. It still has those lovely stained glass windows for which it is so famed.
4.Church of St Francis of Assisi, Goa
This church is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The exterior of the Church is of the Tuscan order while the main entrance is in Manuline style.To the west of the Se Cathedral is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The structure is built of laterite blocks and is lime-plastered. The church faces west and has a nave with three chapels on either side, a choir, two altars in the transept and a main altar. To the north of the main altar is a belfry and a sacristy. The convent, which forms an annexure to the church, now houses the Archaeological Museum.
5.Church of the Sacred Heart, Delhi ( This is not part of this trip )
Further north, at the south end of Bhai Vir Singh Marg, is one of Medd’s more ambitious projects, the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart.
This Church displays a strong Italianate influence, with a facade of white pillars supporting a canopy set against a dark brick background, and circular arcades turrets rising above the roof to each side of the entrance porch. The lofty interior has a towering curved roof, polished stone floors and broad arches set into smooth walls, presenting a very grand look.
6.Santa Cruz Basilica, Kerala
The Santa Cruz Basilica is a historic church that was built by the Portuguese. The church was elevated to a cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558 AD. In 1795 AD, it fell into the hands of the British when they took over Cochin and was demolished.
About a hundred years later, Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887 AD. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
7.Cathedral Church of St. Thomas, Mumbai
St. Thomas’ Cathedral, the city’s first Anglican Church is situated in the heart of the commercial fort area, in Mumbai . The foundation was laid in 1672 during the governorship of Gerald Aungier, and was opened to public on the Chris Ãtmas Day in 1718, and subject to a number of later additions. Though simple in structure, the interior of the Church has some exquisite art adoration. A marble plaque at the front entrance reads: “Let all who enter this church remember Richard Cobbe, chaplain to the Honorable East India Company 1715 to 1719, this church had risen to 15 feet when the building ceased and the site lay desolate for 33 years. It was consecrated in 1816 and became a cathedral in 1837.
8.Little Mount, Chennai (Madras)
Little Mount in Saidapet is where he lived and preached. It is not much of a hill but high enough for the churches on it to be noticed from a distance. The new church, consecrated in 1971 attracts attention by unusual circular shape. However, it is the old church next door, built in 1711 as extension to shrine which the Portuguese had built in 1511, that is thronged by pilgrims. It is not impressive from the outside, but is miniscule interior has an atmosphere not found in many churches. This Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is built against and above the rock cave that was St. Thomas’ home.
Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Banks – Open Monday to Friday 9am to 2pm. Some banks are closed for lunch.
- Emergencies – For police, dial a local phone number; for ambulance call a hospital.
- Internet Access – Wifi is standard in most hotels and free in many coffee shops.
- Mail – Buy stamps at the Post Office. Convenient post offices are located all cities. Most are open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
- Safety – Pickpocketing can be a common problem. It is suggested for men to keep wallets in their front pocket. Purse snatching also occurs at times.
This site contains information with a very personal and friendly structure. It also has great links to other related sites online.
Information, internet access, maps, and train passes are available at local Tourist Information terminals. These are located at various sites around the city. Expect a wait if you arrive late in the afternoon or during lunch time. Local travel agencies are also helpful for quick information and finding hotels. There is no service charge for these services. Hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
Getting in from the airport and other arrival locations. Travel planning is about more than just knowing where you’re going. Prepares to navigate, take control and be ready for anything. This section helps you steer clear of disaster and stay open enjoy the unexpected.
- Plane – Flights arrive at the main airport near city center. If flying from European cities, you might land at a connecting airport. There is a tourist information office at the Terminal E, international arrivals, open 8am to 6pm.
- Train – A train station is on the lower level of the airport. To get into the city, follow the marked signs.
- Taxi – From the airport there is a flat-rate for the 1-hour trip, depending on traffic. Hotels charge up to $80 for shuttle service.
- Train & Bus – Trains and buses arrive a city center. This is the transportation hub for the city and is surrounded hotels.
A perfect place for exploring on foot, with local shops around every corner. You will eventually walk somewhere, it’s just going to happen. If you don’t like crowds, uneven cobblestones, heavy traffic or narrow sidewalks, take a taxi or rent a scooter.
Day 1 Arrive Chennai
On arrival you are transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 Chennai – Thanjavur
Morning embark on a full day tour of Chennai City and its various Churches. Evening you are transferred to the railway station to board overnight train to Thanjavur. Overnight on board.
Day 3 Thanjavur – Velanganni
On arrival at the railway station you are transferred to your hotel. Later excursion to Velanganni. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4 Velanganni – Madurai
Morning drive to Madurai en route visiting Trichy. Drive on and check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 5 Madurai – Trivandrum
Morning drive to Trivandrum and check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6 Trivandrum – Kollam – Kottayam
Morning drive to Kollam and tour the area. Later you are transferred to Kottayam by boat. On arrival you are transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7 Kottayam – Cochin
Morning a half-day tour of Kottayam and its Churches. Later drive to Cochin and check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8 Cochin
Morning a full day tour of Cochin City and its Churches. Evening enjoy a Kathakali Dance show. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9 Cochin – Kozhikode
Morning drive to Kozhikode and check into your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10 Kozhikode
Morning a half-day tour of Kozhikode City and its Churches. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11 Kozhikode – Mumbai
Morning you are transferred to the airport to board flight to Mumbai. On arrival you are transferred to your hotel. Afternoon a half-day tour of Mumbai City and its Churches. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12 Mumbai – Goa
Morning is at leisure. Afternoon you are transferred to the airport to board flight to Goa. On arrival you are transferred to your hotel/resort. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel/resort.
Day 13 Goa
Morning a half-day tour of Old Goa and its churches. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14 Goa – Mumbai
Morning is at leisure. Afternoon you are transferred to the airport to board flight back to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai connect to your onward journey.