Poondi is a small village located in Thiruvaiyaru Taluk
(also spelt as Taluka), about 35-kmaway from
Thanjavur. It is considered as
one of the Roman Catholic Pilgrim centre similar to Velankanni, which
houses the famous Poondi Madha Shrine that attracts pilgrims from all over
India. Poondi Madha Shrine has been raised to the level of Minor Basilica
by Pope John Paul II on 3rd August 1999.
Poondi is flanked on the northern and southern sides by the rivers Cauvery and Colleroon. Poondi Madha Shrine is a celebrated place of pilgrimage for over half a century now. Poondi is not only having religious significance but the lush greenery and the two rivers, which have made Thanjavur the 'Granary of Tamil Nadu', makes Poondi worth visiting. People belonging to all faiths visit this church.
Veeramamunivar the Italian Jesuit missionary, who was a renowned Tamil scholar, built a church at this very same place and dedicated it to Mother Mary.
A Blend Of Gothic And French Architecture
The present structure of the shrine represents a mixture of Gothic and French architecture. The highlight of the structure is the row of statues of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, saints like Francis Xavier and also one of Veeramamunivar (Constantine Joseph Beschi) on the facade, above the portico.
An Interesting Tale
An interesting story behind the structure goes like this one day Rev. Fr. Lourdes Xavier, Parish Priest of the church in 1955 noticed the bad shape of the roof and consulted an engineer who told that except for the central roof, the rest of the structure was quite strong. He recommended that it was enough to demolish only the roof.
After a while on one rainy night, the roof of the church collapsed, leaving everything else intact, thus saving the cost of demolishing. Shortly after this, the number of pilgrims to the Shrine was on the rise and kept increasing as accounts of miracles and cures started to spread.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Budalore, about 10 -km from Poondi. Budalore is on the main railway line between Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) and Thanjavur.
Road: Poondi is also accessible by road either from Thanjavur or Trichy. Regular bus services are also available from Thanjavur and Trichy.
The Church Authorities usually provide accommodation to the pilgrims. Visitors can also stay at the hotels in Thanjavur.