Velankanni is located 12-km south of
Nagapattinam, which is one of the most
popular pilgrim spots in southern part of India. Velankanni is also called
as the Mecca of Christians. The shrine is dedicated to Our Lady of Health,
the Madonna of Velankanni and it is located on the shore. This church in
honour of Virgin Mary is popularly called as 'Sacred Arockia Madha Church'
and is visited by people of all faiths and religions.
The church has an imposing facade with tall spires and the wings present the shape of a cross. In a niche in the alter is enshrined the statue of Our Lady of Health. Many bring with them small gold and silver replicas of parts of the body to donate to the church.
Velankanni is particularly crowded during the festival period in August-September. There is a small church museum, which has a display of the offerings made by those whose prayers were conceded.
Wondrous legends surround the church-the most famous being that of the ship-wrecked Portuguese sailors, who in the 16th century, vowed to build a great shrine for the Virgin Mary, for saving their lives in a terrible storm. The greatest of miracles is the devotees in Myanmar, Malaya and South Africa reaching this church safely being picked and conveyed by fishermen. Such articles are exhibited in a hall here.
The Velankanni festival attracts thousands, clad in orange robes to the sacred spot where the ship landed. Equally famous are the Virgin Mary's miraculous healing powers - earning for the church the name 'Lourdes of the East'.
Rail: Velankanni being an important tourist place
is easily accessible. It can be accessed from
Thanjavur by rail.
Road: Buses are available for Chidambaram, Chennai, Madurai, Pondicherry, Tiruchy, Thanjavur and tourists can find plenty of buses Buses and trains frequently run from Nagapattinam.