Velankanni Church Pilgrimage

The Velankanni Church stands tall in its resplendent glory on the serene shores of the Bay of Bengal. It’s considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimage destinations for Christians in India. The church, built in the Gothic style, is situated along the Coromandel Coast around 12km south of Nagapattinam district and 350km south of Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India.

velankanni church

Velankanni Church (the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health) is located in the small township of Velankanni. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘Lourdes of the East’ and attracts people from all cultures and religions. In 1962, Pope John XXII declared Velankanni as a holy site and raised the status of the church to a Basilica, drawing around 20 million devotees every year from all over the world. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and devotees believe that Mother Mary or ‘Madonna of Velankanni’ possesses miraculous powers and fulfills the prayers of believers.

There are legends that Mother Mary along with Infant Jesus made 3 appearances here around the middle of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Her apparition is said to have first appeared to a shepherd boy, then to a lame buttermilk seller and finally to the rescue of Portuguese sailors caught in a deadly storm at sea. The Portuguese sailors built a modest chapel at Velankanni in gratitude and expanded on it whenever they came back for trading at the tiny Velankanni port.

Staying over

If you are planning on having a meaningful pilgrimage to the Velankanni Church and attending morning mass, then plan on reaching a nearby stop-over and having a base for the night. You could sleep over at the luxurious Sangam hotel in Thanjavur, have a good meal by their renowned chefs and sink into the plush luxury of their rooms. Known for their excellent hospitality services for the past three decades, rest assured that they will take care of all your needs.


Velankanni is well-connected by excellent roads and rail and there are even public bus services from different cities. The closest airport is 152km away in nearby Trichy.

Best time to Visit

The cooler winter months from October to March are the best time to visit.

If you are looking at a great place to stay on your way to Velankanni, read more at