In the Footsteps of St. Thomas: A Pilgrimage to South India with Holy Trinity Eltham

In the Footsteps of St. Thomas:
A Pilgrimage to South India with Holy Trinity Eltham
Led by Father Brett Ward and Father Robert Pyne
February 2019

Pilgrimage to India
South India is captivating. The traditions associated with St Thomas the Apostle In Kerala and Tamil Nadu offer us the opportunity to experience an ancient strand of Christianity. The inspiring landscape and architecture (especially the Hindu temples) we’ll see as we travel from west to east will also open up to us some of the fascinating sights and sounds of Indian culture.

Join Father Brett Ward and Father Robert Pyne on this pilgrimage through south India – scroll down for the full itinerary.

In the Footsteps of St. Thomas:
A Pilgrimage to South India with Holy Trinity Eltham

London – Cochin – Kumarakom – Munnar – Madurai – Trichy – Pondicherry – Mahabalipuram – Chennai – London

Itinerary:
DAY 1 – THURSDAY 7TH FEBRUARY 2019: OVERNIGHT FLIGHT FROM LONDON TO COCHIN

Meet at Heathrow to board Emirates flight EK0002, departing Heathrow at 13:40 and arriving at Dubai after midnight at 00:40 (7 hour flight). At Dubai transfer to connecting Emirates flight EK0530, departing Dubai at 02:45 and arriving at Cochin at 08:05 (3 hours 50 minute flight – arriving on Friday 8th February).

DAY 2 – FRIDAY 8TH FEBRUARY 2019: ARRIVE IN COCHIN AND RELAX

Arrive in Cochin International Airport at 08:05 and transfer 25km to Club Mahindra Cherai Beach, north up the coast from Cochin.

After freshening up at the hotel, in the afternoon we will drive 15km to Kodungallur, where Thomas is said to have landed and built his first church, at the Marthoma Pontifical shrine, where we plan to celebrate Mass.

Overnight in Club Mahindra Cherai Beach

DAY 3 – SATURDAY 9TH FEBRUARY 2019: CHURCHES OF ST. THOMAS

In the morning we will visit another of Thomas’ churches, the Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Pilgrim Church in North Paravur, and also the Muziris Heritage Project.

Afternoon at leisure in the hotel.

Overnight in Club Mahindra Cherai Beach.

DAY 4 – SUNDAY 10TH FEBRUARY 2019: TO THE BACKWATERS, VIA FORT COCHIN

This morning we check out of the hotel early and drive 25km into Fort Cochin for the 08:00 Holy Eucharist at St Francis CSI church. Following this we will explore some more churches in this historic port town before sitting down to lunch together – a good place for lovers of seafood.

After lunch we will drive further south through the backwaters to check in at the Punnamada Backwater Resort, stopping on the way at St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church at Kokkamangalam, another of the 7 ½ churches founded by St. Thomas.

Overnight in Punnamada Backwater Resort

DAY 5 – MONDAY 11TH FEBRUARY 2019: BACKWATER CRUISE

Today we will enjoy a cruise on the backwaters of Kerala with lunch on board.

Church group India Kerala

Overnight in Punnamada Backwater Resort

DAY 6 – TUESDAY 12TH FEBRUARY 2019: DRIVE TO MUNNAR

Check out of the hotel to commence to 170km drive up into hills to the cooler climes of Munnar, a hill station surrounded by tea gardens.

Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Munnar

DAY 7 – WEDNESDAY 13TH FEBRUARY 2019: EXPLORE MUNNAR

Today we will explore Munnar and the surrounding area with stops at the Tea Museum and CSI Church.

Overnight in Fragrant Nature, Munnar

DAY 8 – THURSDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2019: MUNNAR TO MADURAI

Today we descend 150km down through the hills to the bustling ancient temple city of Madurai, where we will check into the calm oasis of the Heritage Madurai hotel.

Overnight in Heritage Madurai

DAY 9 – FRIDAY 15TH FEBRUARY 2019: TEMPLES OF MADURAI

The Shri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is arguably the finest and most fascinating temple complex in India, and is a major Hindu pilgrimage centre in the south. The site houses several shrines surrounded by 14 large colourful gateway towers.

Church Group tour to India Madurai

Just a mile down the road, we also stop to visit the impressive 17th century king’s palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal. The afternoon will be at your leisure and a great opportunity for shopping.

Overnight in Heritage Madurai

DAY 10 – SATURDAY 16TH FEBRUARY 2019: MADURAI TO TRICHY

After breakfast we will check out of the hotel and drive 135km to another famous temple city, Tiruchirappalli, or Trichy for short.

Overnight in Sangam Hotel, Trichy

DAY 11 – SUNDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2019: TEMPLES OF TRICHY

Today is another fascinating day for temple visits. In the morning we will stretch our legs before climbing the 326 steps up to the Rock Fort to visit its historic temples, and in the afternoon we explore the magnificent and colourful Ranganathaswamy Temple. Sunday Mass is held at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church at 5.15 am, 6.15 am & 7.30 am & 6.30 pm.

Overnight in Sangam Hotel, Trichy

DAY 12 – MONDAY 18TH FEBRUARY 2019: TRAIN FROM TRICHY TO PONDICHERRY

Early start this morning to make our way to Trichy Railway Station to board the train to Pondicherry – the “Puducherry Express” (Train number 16858) departing Tiruchchirapali (Trichy) at 05:25 and arriving at Puducherry at 10:00 (4h 35m in 2-Tier AC Class).

On arrival at Pondicherry we will transfer to hotel Maison Perumal. We may have to wait some time for our rooms if early check-in is not available.

Afternoon at leisure to wander and explore Pondicherry.

Overnight in Maison Perumal, Pondicherry

DAY 13 – TUESDAY 19TH FEBRUARY 2019: EXPLORE PONDICHERRY

Morning guided tour of the French colonial seaside town of Pondicherry, with the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in Maison Perumal, Pondicherry

DAY 14 – WEDNESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2019: PONDICHERRY TO MAHABALIPURAM

Today we will drive a couple of hours up the coast to Mahabalipuram and visit the ancient shore temple, and check into the Ideal Beach Resort.

Church group tour India Mahabalipuram

Overnight in Ideal Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram

DAY 15 – THURSDAY 21ST FEBRUARY 2019: CHENNAI SIGHTSEEING

In the morning we will drive into Chennai, home to San Thome Basilica, a cathedral supposedly built over the tomb of St. Thomas. We will also visit St. Mary’s Anglican Church – the oldest British building in India – and on to climb St. Thomas Mount, the hill on top of which it is said that St Thomas was martyred by the spear, drawing our pilgrimage to a close.

Overnight in Leela Palace, Chennai.

DAY 16 – FRIDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2019: INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE

Early morning transfer to Chennai International Airport to board Emirates flight EK0545 departing Chennai at 09:45 and arriving at Dubai at 12:40 (4 hour 25 minutes flight). At Dubai transfer to connecting Emirates flight EK0003, departing Dubai at 14:30 and arriving at Heathrow at 18:20 (7 hour 50 minute flight).

The cost per person sharing a twin or double room:
£2,685
Single room supplement:
£765
The cost includes:
  • Return International flight from London to Cochin and Chennai to London with Emirates (via Dubai) in Economy Class
  • 14 nights’ accommodation in hotels with en-suite facilities (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in late checkouts are subject to availability)
  • Daily breakfast and dinner at all hotels
  • All arrival/departure transfers, long drives and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Train tickets and reservations as per itinerary (Trichy to Pondicherry) in 2-Tier AC
  • Services of a local English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at airports
  • Services of English speaking guide during sightseeing as specified in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to all monuments during sightseeing as specified in your itinerary
  • Mineral water while traveling
  • Full ATOL bonding
The cost does not include:
  • India visa fee. You can now apply for visa on arrival in India- please click here for more information. https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
  • Lunches not mentioned above
  • Any expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone calls, beverages, gratuities etc.
  • Camera fees at monuments and other places of interest.
  • Travel Insurance: It is essential to have adequate travel insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
Please ensure:
  • It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover
  • It provides cover for your whole trip
  • It covers you for all activities
  • It covers all your pre-existing medical conditions
  • Keep your Policy Number and Insurer’s 24-hour Emergency Number handy with you

If you wish to book this tour, please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £500.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.

CONTACT US

To enquire or make a booking on this tour, please call: 020 8901 7630 Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm

TESTIMONIALS:
“I cannot recommend this company enough. Safe to say India has got under our skin and into our hearts, and when we visit again we will definitely be booking with this company - if you are thinking of going I urge you to do the same.”- Gillian and Ashley Iredale
``The whole experience was great, the most relaxing day of the holiday was the cruise up the backwaters when the whole group experienced it together``- Margaret Fortune
``A whole variety of experiences- worship, culture, scenery, friendliness of the people & their hospitality``- Daphne Brindle
``Being in India and witnessing the faith that the people of India have, Hindus, Muslim or Christians, seeing with my own eyes the devotion the people have`` - Steve Breward
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