Drive from Rameshwaram to Pondicherry along the coast - 7th day of our 14 days long trip through east coast of India || Noida to Rameshwaram

The Zion church is also an active place of worship for the local community. Visitors can attend a service and experience the unique blend of Danish and Indian culture that is evident in the town. A visit to the Zion Church in Tharangambadi is a must for history buffs, architecture enthusiasts and those who are interested in the unique blend of cultures. The church is a great way to learn about the past and see a beautiful example of colonial architecture.

On Day 7 of our 14-day long trip from Noida to Rameshwaram and back via the Eastern Ghats of India, we left Rameshwaram, early in the morning when it was still dark. It was still dark when we crossed the Pamban bridge and started travelling past the little hamlets near the coast. It was then that we truly appreciated how early rural Tamil Nadu starts its day. 

Much before the dawn broke, people were out and about reading newspaper and sipping coffee at local joints. It was a sweet scene. We stopped at a coffee shop a little while after the sun came out and had some vadas with coffee. It was a lovely feeling. The shop was wonderfully located at the side of a road with rice fields on both sides. Birds were chirping and a cool breeze was blowing. 

 I had the pleasure of visiting Velankanni, a small coastal town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and I must say it was a truly unique experience. Velankanni is known for its famous Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, a revered Catholic shrine that attracts millions of pilgrims each year.

Our first sightseeing stop on this day was at Velankanni, where we saw the Bascilica of Our Lady of Good Health, the Morning Star Cathedral, and Old Velankanni Church. The town was clean and overflowing with devotion. We saw devotees walking on their knees on the 600m sandy stretch leading to the Bascilica.   We reached there and were surprised to find a service in progress in Hindi. Apparently there is a service schedule in various languages and we happened to visit when it was scheduled to happen in Hindi.

Velankanni is a small town located on the eastern coast of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is famous for the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, also known as the Velankanni Church. The church is a popular pilgrimage site for Christians, especially Catholics, who believe that Mother Mary appeared here in the 16th century and performed miracles.

All the beauty an devotion that we witnessed at Velankanni made it difficult to believe that this was the town worst hit by the devastating Tsunami of 2004. Hundreds of pilgrims were washed away into the sea and hundreds of bodies were recovered from beneath the sand and debris. Because they could not be identified, they had to be buried in mass graves. The town has since picked up its pieces and rebuilt. People have woven their lives around the voids and tried to move on. Now, the only way you find out about the destruction back then was by reading about it on the Internet. The town hides its wounds very well. 

In addition to the church and the beach, Velankanni has several other attractions such as the Velankanni Matha Shrine, the Nagapattinam Lighthouse, and the Velankanni Museum. The town also hosts the annual Velankanni Festival, which is a grand celebration that takes place in August and September, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists.

Another interesting aspect of Velankanni is that the Churches here are visited by people of all faiths. In fact, even the Catholics who visit the church and pay homage here, do it like it is done in Hindu traditions. So you may spot devotees clad in saffron clothes, offerings of coconuts being made on bamboo plates, and people even getting their heads shaved, like one does at many Hindu shrines. It is indeed a town of miracles. 

One of the most exciting places we visited during our road-trip from Noida to Rameshwaram is Danish Fort in Tharangambadi and there are multiple reasons for that. This blogpost will share more about the Danish fort, the amazing places to explore around it, along with specially curated list of tips by Travellingcamera.

After this we proceeded to Tharangambadi (Tranqebar) to see Danish fort and other establishments around it. Then went to Gangaikonda Cholapuram to see ruins of Chola dynasty and an ancient Chola temple.

Tharangambadi, also known as Tranquebar (the name which is more familiar to folks who studied history in India), is a small town located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. The town is home to one of the most historically significant sites in the region, the Danish Fort. Before this visit, I had never heard about any 'Danish' fort in India.

We debated on whether we should stay at Pichavaram or move on to Puducherry. Pichavaram had some exciting sounding Mangrove Forest which we could explore on boat. There was also a promise of seeing some interesting birds. We had done a similar trip at a lake in Siem Reap in Cambodia and would be visiting a bird sanctuary later in Pulicat. So we thought that we could skip that experience. We were excited about Pondicherry and were eager to reach the city.

Auroville in Pondicherry: Auroville is an experimental township located near Pondicherry that is known for its sustainable living and alternative culture. The township is home to several unique buildings and landmarks, including the Matrimandir, a spherical meditation center that is covered in gold.

Pondicherry was around 100 kilometers further up and we had time. The drive itself was more or less pleasant until we got into Pondicherry. There we faced the same traffic and narrow streets that Google often leads you into. After identifying and finalising the hotel, we checked into it and headed out for a quick dinner.

Related Blogposts - 

Brihadeeshwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple, is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the town of Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Built in the 11th century by the Chola dynasty, the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the most famous and visited temples in India.  This is one of our favourites places we explored during our 14 days road trip from Delhi to Rameshwaram.The Majestic Brihadeeshwara Temple: A Glimpse into the Architectural Brilliance of Thanjavur in Tamilnadu, India

On Day 3, when we landed in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, after a really long drive and some last minute change in plans, we were really tired. And then we were also not sure whether the hotel we had identified on the internet would meet the priority 0 items in our list of requirements for night stays. Luckily it did. And we felt that we had earned a dinner. So we went out in search for it.Hotel Gokulam and Golden Minerva Coffee Cafe in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, India || The town that provided us great food and a comfortable night stay

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