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Velankanni - A Popular Holy Place in Tamil Nadu

Updated on November 14, 2014
Our Lady of Good Health - Velankanni Matha
Our Lady of Good Health - Velankanni Matha | Source

Our lady of Good Health Shrine

Velankanni is a small hamlet and it is a popular pilgrim center in Tamil Nadu.

Velankanni is particularly well-known for the Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to "Our lady of Good Health". This tiny village located on the sandy shores of the Bay of Bengal 350 km south of Chennai and 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Coromandel Coast, in Tamil Nadu.

According to a popular legend, Holy Mother Mary came into sight with Infant Jesus in Velankanni at the end of the 16th century. Since then, for all pilgrims of the world, Velankanni has been the most notable destination and almost the synthesis of all Marian Sanctuaries. Thus, the Pope of Vatican has declared Velankanni as a Holy place.

This Velankanni "Our lady of Good Health" shrine is considered a very powerful holy place in India where one is cured of any sickness when one who offers prayers with a true faith.

Our Lady of Good Health Shrine

Velankanni Church
Velankanni Church | Source

The church itself is an impressive building with exciting architecture. The Gothic style architecture is a distinctive feature of the church. Whereas the structures have been painted white, roof of the church is made by the tiles with noticeable red in contrast to the color of the walls. The atmosphere around the church is spic and span shining rays of hope and holiness.

The Basilica Complex

Velankanni Basilica Complex
Velankanni Basilica Complex | Source

History of This Church

1.Basilica, 2.Nadu Thittu shrine-site of second apparition, 3. Adoration & Reconciliation chapel, 4.Our Lady's Pond-site of first apparition, 5.Stations of the cross, 6.Stations of the Rosary, 7.Stations of the Sacraments.

.Sometime during the sixteenth century, Our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy who carrying milk to a customer. While he reached under a Banyan tree near a pond, Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to this boy, asking him for milk to quench the thirst of baby Jesus and the boy gave her some. On reaching the customer's home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk by relating the incident that occurred on his way. On inspection, the man found the pitcher kept filled up with milk and they realized that something miraculous had happened. That man, also a Hindu, wanting to see the place where the apparition occurred, accompanied the boy. As a result, a small thatched chapel was built at the site.

At the end of the 16th century, Virgin Mary appeared again in front of a lame boy, who re-gained the use of his limbs. The pond where the apparition took place is called "Matha Kulam" or Our Lady's tank. The actual church was constructed by the Portuguese merchants after the incident.

Arokkiya Madha

Mother of Good Health

Mariyamman-Mariyamman Catholic Practices and Image of Virgin in Velankanni (Tamil Nadu)
Mariyamman-Mariyamman Catholic Practices and Image of Virgin in Velankanni (Tamil Nadu)

The Location of this Velankannai Madha Church gives a significant state and federative importance to this area. It is surprising that a large number of Catholics from throughout the country as wall as all caste and religions of the Tamil natives are visiting here. This shrine is popularly known as Lourdes of the East. The Missions Estranges de Paris or French Jesuits brought the statue of Virgin Mary to India in the 19th century. Due to the heavy presence of pilgrims and peoples, appreciation of the healing potential of the Virgin Mary, people always called as Arokkiya Madha (The Mother of Good Health). The greatest importance that can be conferred to a Church is to elevate it to the status of a Basilica. It is now designated that this church, in order to be called a Basilica. The believers in Velankanni offer to Our Lady of Health, candles in many forms in days of diseases. During the days of the festival, all the rituals conducted here are resembling like a Hindu celebration. The Chapparam, the offerings, the sound of the powerful speakers and songs and the processions are just like a Hindu festivity. Even some of the local tamil people call the mother as "Mariamman'-a popular Hindu goddess. To know more appealing information about this popular shrine Go through this book.


The Basilica

The Velankanni Basilica Complex View
The Velankanni Basilica Complex View

The Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece, the tiny trade center slowly lost its importance to the larger Nagapattinam. Our lady chose this place to distribute her miracles to mankind.

Vailankanni church was built in late 16th century and made many extension later on due to increasing number of pilgrims. As a great number of pilgrims turn up here, like Lourdes in France, Velankanni is called as "Lourdes of the East". Velankanni Church is popularly called as 'Sacred Arockia Madha Church. It is a famous pilgrimage destination not only for Christians but also for people of other religions. Velankanni is one of the most visited multi religious pilgrim centers of India. A strong oral tradition attests to Our Lady's apparitions at Vailankanni. Thousands of miraculous cures are reported every year. This church was raised to the status of Basilica by His Holiness Pope John XXIII in 1962.

In this Shrine, holy masses are conducted in at least eight languages, Tamil, English, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani, Hindi and Marathi.

The Feast of Our Lady

The Festival

The most important festival here is the Feast of Our Lady. The festival always Commences on 29th of August every year, this 10-day grand festival commemorating the Feast of Our Lady is celebrated at the Velankanni Church.

Once the Holy Mother saved a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a powerful storm, which wrecked their ship. The merchants safely reached the shore of Velankanni.

On their return trip the merchants built a small permanent chapel to give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady. On succeeding visits they improved on it.

Those Portuguese merchants dedicated the chapel to Holy Mother on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Velankanni. Today, the celebration of this feast is an annual festival which lasts for 10 days and draws more than 1.5 million pilgrims.

Every year, a huge number of devotees and pilgrims are present at the ‘Velankanni Matha’ decorated feast car parade. It is the main function of the 11-day once a year feast festival of ‘Our Lady of Health’ that starts on August 29.

The decorated car procession usually begins from the entrance of the main church. Thousands and thousands of devotees attend the prayer and sanctification as well as holy mass in several languages for the festival period.

Holy masses and benedictions for the sick with the blessings of the idol of Our Lady of Health is as well performed at the main church. The special masses in Tamil, English, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Konkani and Telugu are additionally performed in the Basilica from daybreak till dusk.

Holy masses in Local Language Tamil are performed every day at Our Lady’s Tank church, early in the morning during the festival period.

Annual Feast of Our Lady of Health

  1. Annual Feast is celebrated from 29th August to 8th September. (8th September the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

  2. The Grand Annual Feast commences with the hoisting of Our Lady's Flag at 6.30 p.m. on 29th August. The Bishop of Thanjavur is the main celebrant on this day.

  3. Car Procession of Our Lady of Health, takes place at 8.00 p.m.

  4. Holy Mass is conducted in six languages, fourteen times a day during the Feast.

  5. Everyday hoisting of the Our lady's flag, takes place at 12.00 noon.

  6. The Feast Mass is celebrated on 8th September at 6.15 a.m. in the shrine open-air auditorium, presided over by the Bishop of Thanjavur.

  7. The Feast concludes with the dismounting of Our Lady's Flag at 6.00 p.m. on 8th September. The Rector & Parish Priest is the main celebrant on the concluding Mass.

  8. More than 2 millions pilgrims from all parts of India and from other countries flood the Shrine.

Prayers & Offerings

Centuries of devotion to Holy Mother both by Christians and Hindus and have evolved a union of practices borrowing basics from both religions. It is said that the portrayal of Virgin Mary as a curer of sickness and a victor over all black forces is seen by local Hindus as an attribute equivalent of Hindu Goddess Mariamman. The practices include bathing in the sea, shaving heads, walking on knees or rolling around the shrine as a ritual.

It is also familiar to find traditions of offering a candle in the shape of the respective illness (a heart in case of cardiac disease, a liver in case of jaundice, and lungs in case of tuberculosis... so on). In case of the sickness getting cured, many bring with them small gold and silver model of parts of the body that has been cured to donate to the church. Pilgrims clad in orange (or saffron) robes.

In many cases, these offering are sent by sealed bottles or big hollow bamboos duly closed and thrown in to the sea with the address of the shrine written on them. Such offerings are supposed to reach the holy Shrine.

Our Lady's Pond-site of first apparition

Velankanni Srine
Velankanni Srine

Devotees walking on their kneels towards the Pond-site

Pilgrims Towards Pond-site
Pilgrims Towards Pond-site

2012 Velankanni Festival - Vid

Other Churches representing Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health

♥ Velankanni Church, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

♥ Velankanni Church, Vadipatti, Dindugal Dist., Tamil Nadu.

♥ Velankanni Church, Soolagiri, Hosur, Tamil Nadu.

♥ Our Lady of Velankanni Church, Ernakulam, Kerala.

♥ Church of Our Lady of Velankanni, Farla, Karnataka,

♥ Our Lady of Velankanni Church, Irla, Mumbai, Maharastra

♥ Our Lady of Velankanni Church, Chandigarh, India

♥ Our Lady of Health Church, UP.

♥ Our Lady of Good Health Church, Pratappura, India.

♥ Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa.

♥ Our Lady of Health, South Florida, USA

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Velankanni Beach
Velankanni Beach

Photo Credit: Photobucket

Velankanni Beach

Visitors may also visit Velankanni Beach for shopping handmade crafts as it is an attractive shopping destination. Handloom products and silk fabrics are also available at Velankanni Beach.

Velankanni Beach - Vid

Velankanni - During the Tsunami

Velankanni was one of the most terrible hit areas in the 2004 Tsunami - (Aazhip Peralai) that came on December 26, 2004. Most horrible started happening at around 9.30 am on that evil Sunday. As the 8 am Tamil Mass was over, pilgrims from Kerala were inside the shrine to attend the Malayalam Mass. Sea water rising up to 5 feet even near Bus Stand area washed almost all who were standing near there. The killer waves entered the place of worship and a large number of people were washed away by the killer waves. Thousands of pilgrims were dead and they were buried in a single huge grave pit almost 4 km away from the church.

Velankanni During Tsunami
Velankanni During Tsunami

Velankanni During Tsunami - The day after Christmas, bodies lay strewn with indignity across a marketplace in the shadow of the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health.

Photo and News Credit: India Today

How to Reach There

By Air:

Nearest Airport is at Trichy. It is an International airport with daily domestic flights to Chennai, Cochin, Mumbai, Bangalore, Madurai, Coimbatore etc., as well as many international flights. For Timings and Booking contact: Indian Airlines

By Train:

There is New Railway Station at Velankanni. Now you can approach Velankanni by Train. For Train timings and Bookings contact: Indian Railways.

By Road:

All Major Cities in Tamil Nadu are well connected with Velankanni. For Travel package and further Details contact: Tamil nadu Tourism Development Corporation.

Vasco to Velankanni

Train No. 17315: Vasco-da-Gama - Velankanni Weekly Express will leave Vasco at 9am on Mondays and reach Velankanni at 12.10pm on Tuesday.

In the return direction, train No. 17316 Velankanni - Vasco-dagama Weekly Express will leave Velankanni on Tuesdays at 2.10pm, reach Vasco on Wednesdays at 7.40pm.

Regular service will begin on August 29 from Vasco and August 30 from Velankanni.

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Hotels & Other Accommodations

The church management offers lodging facility at a very reasonable prise, while there are many other private Hotels in this town. If you want to availing church lodging facility - You should stand on queue in the counter to book a room and rooms are always provided on first come first served basis depending on the vacancy. On the other hand, private Hotels are providing advance booking. Single rooms to cottage houses are available in plenty.

During the month of January, April, May, June, August, September, December and during each and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday - getting a room is a difficult job, as lots of pilgrims pouring-in here. For advance bookings and details. Consult: TTDC

Velankanni Related Videos

Vailankanni being situated in the Thanjavur District came under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Thanjavur. The Rev. Dr. R. Arokiasamy Sundaram showed keen interest in the development of Vailankanni Shrine and granted special spiritual privileges.

When to visit Velankanni?

Visiting Velankanni Church can be done throughout the year. October, November and February, March is just right time as the church will be less crowded and the climate will also be fine. Due to climate conditions it will be good to orchestrate during the months of October to March. The climate will be mild and cool in these months. A Visit during festival time will be a fun than a pilgrimage. Last week of August to September middle is the peak season as the festivities are celebrated. Every year millions of pilgrims from far places will be attending the car festival held on 8 September. During April to June will be very hot due to summer. During this holiday season, a large number of tourists, other than pilgrims visit the church.

Velankanni | Source

Map Of Velankanni

Velankanni, Tamil Nadu

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Group of Visitors

Group of Visitors at Velankanni
Group of Visitors at Velankanni | Source

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    • profile image

      shashi bhushan tigga 

      4 years ago

      i am student of prayer.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a beautiful building, and I'm amazed by how old it is.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great work.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Such a beautiful place and story-

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh this is interesting! I am always interested in holy places on earth!Hope to go there one day!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      sukran - A great socio-cultural for Tamil Nadu! Cheers!

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      6 years ago

      We never think of Tamil Nadu as being the place for a Catholic shrine, well presented!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this wonderful lens about this amazing destination. Wish you the best.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      There is another beautiful and unique lens. Thanks.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Another impressive and informative lens by a true lens "master".

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      6 years ago

      Absolutely fascinating to learn about the history of the church. I want to go there. :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      6 years ago

      Very beautiful and a nice virtual getaway!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Another place to visit. You made this very interesting.

    • ocoyorg profile image


      7 years ago

      It is very good that your lenses embody the all-inclusive spirit of India. Very informative.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Reading your lenses is quite an education. Thank you for presenting this information.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 

      7 years ago

      Great Lens ! Very well Presented.

    • TaraWojt profile image

      Tara Wojtaszek 

      7 years ago

      Vailankanni looks like an amazing place to visit. Thank you for sharing this beautiful place.

    • Tia Novak profile image

      Tia Novak 

      7 years ago

      I like this lens very much because I have learned something that I did not know before. Thank you for that.

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 

      7 years ago

      A nicely presented lens!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Hope you can enjoy the festival.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Hope you can enjoy the festival.

    • cynthiannleighton profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful lens! Though I've been to Chennai many times on business, as well as Coimbature, Mumbai, and all - not heard of this. If I return to India I will be sure to include a couple days for this. Thanks!!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana

      Velankanni seem like really beautiful place. 'Life' experience must be astonishing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Woe wonderful lens! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      OMG! You have shared some majestic pictures ... Our Lady of Good Health Shrine is a fabulous monument!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another amazing presentation by had me in tears with those post tsunami pictures, blessed.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful Lens with great information and such cute pictures!

    • hlkljgk profile image


      8 years ago from Western Mass

      this looks like quite a place to visit. can't wait!

    • whoisbid lm profile image

      whoisbid lm 

      8 years ago

      definitely a great place to check out with the family

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      8 years ago

      I want to visit Velankanni for the healing of my daughter Ankita.Thanks you gave the full information through this lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting place.

    • elenareviews profile image


      8 years ago

      Gald to give you the 20th like.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      That's horrible about the tsunami. I can't imagine. But what an interesting, beautiful place, though! Love the photos.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Reminds me of many beautiful temples of Tamil Nadu, the architecture and aesthetics is stunning.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      what an interesting lens, thanks for sharing it

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      It's a beautiful shrine and nice information. I've never heard of it before.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hiiiiiiiii nice lens.... I heard about this holy place before, one of my friend has told me about this....

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Beautiful lens and the image of the shrine is stunning. Well laid out lens in a neat layout.


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