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Home > Discover Coimbatore > Sightseeing > Vailankanni Church

Vailankanni ChurchVailankanni, one of the most important Marian shrines (dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus), in India, is often referred as the 'Lourdes of the East'.(Lourdes, in France, is one of the most famous Marian shrines in the world).

The history of Vailankanni, as a place of pilgrimage, can be traced back to the end of the 16th century. The first written reference to Vailankanni is a letter written by Fr. Paulo da Trinidade to his superior, in 1630. The chapel that existed here was referred to as 'Ermida' (Portugese for 'sub station' or a 'place of pilgrimage'). Vailankanni was made a parish (local christian community) in 1771. The shrine was granted the 'Special status as a Minor Basilica' in 1962 by Pope John 23rd, the head of the Roman Catholic church. (A Basilica is a consecrated church that is constructed facing the east in one of the classical styles of architecture and should be a celebrated place of pilgrimage).

Our Lady of VailankanniThe church in its present structure has several classical and gothic elements even after several extensions and renovations. The 93 feet high dome and the two 82 feet high Gothic spiral towers are a dominating feature of the topography of Vailankanni and can be seen miles away. Father Sebastiao Xavier de Noronha, a foreign missionary was instrumental in giving the church its present structure.

The annual feast day of the birth of Mother Mary is celebrated on September 8th. The flag-hoisting ceremony on August 29th marks the beginning of the feast celebrations and prayers. A conservative estimate of the crowds on these days would be around a lakh and a half (which is more than ten times the local population).During feast days the flag of Mother Mary is hoisted at noon and the car procession bearing the statue of Mother Mary takes place at 8.00 p.m.

Vailankanni ChurchThe month of May is also special, because it is dedicated to Mother Mary.

Location: 6 kms from the Inter State Highway, 150 kms from Tiruchi Airport, 12 kms from Nagapattinam Railwaystation

Access: Vailankanni is accessible by road. There are numerous bus (private and state), taxi and van services. From Nagapattinam Railway station to the shrine it costs Rs 120/- to Rs 150/- to travel by private Taxi. By van, it would work out to Rs 10/- to Rs 15/- per head. Local buses are not advisable because they are crowded and irregular. From Tiruchi to the shrine would cost Rs 1,750/- to Rs 2,000/- by private Taxi.

Nearest Rail hub: Nagapattinam
Nearest Airport: Tiruchi
Accomodation: The shrine offers 5,000 units of accommodation. Besides this, there are around 90 lodges offering another 5,000 rooms.

Text : Joseph Pradeep Raj R

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