Velankanni Church – A place of utter serenity
Officially spelled as Vailankanni, this town is situated in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. This panchayat town was once a port that traded with Greece and Rome, but slowly lost its importance to the much bigger Nagapattinam. Quaint and calm, Velankanni is famous for its Roman Catholic shrine, Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, or Velankanni Church.
Now, what makes this shrine so famous is not only its beautifully haunting gothic structure and old-world charm, but also a history that resonates and thrills even today. Velankanni Church has its origins in the 16th century, and it is said that it was founded based on three miracles. One miracle was the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy, another was the curing of a lame buttermilk merchant, and the third was the survival of Portuguese sailors found in the midst of a violent sea storm. Despite these renditions not having a basis in written records, word of mouth is enough to get millions of pilgrims every year from India and abroad to Velankanni Church.
Built by Portuguese sailors as gratitude, Velankanni Church is one of the most-frequented religious sites in India. The Basilica is built in the gothic style of architecture, and is painted in white except for the roof that is built with vivid red tiles that catch the eye. The Feast of the Nativity of Mary is also celebrated as the feast of Our Lady of Good Health, and is attended by countless devotees.
While you’re in Velankanni, you should also visit the Museum of Offerings, the Shrine Depot, the Fountain of Revelation and the Holy Path besides Velankanni Church. Velankanni is a great place if you want to shop for handmade articles, handlooms and silk. You can also plan a trip to Tranquebar or Tharangambadi, which literally means “land of the singing waves.” A town in Nagapattinam, Tranquebar was a former Danish colony from 1620 to 1845, and is today a picturesque town situated against the sea. A walk through the town is sure to afford you some very charming examples of Danish architecture.
All in all, Velankanni is a site of utter peace and calm where religion, history and legend blend beautifully together and a visit here will leave you feeling refreshed and serene.