In the Footsteps of St. Thomas

In the Footsteps of St. Thomas

When the Portuguese traders arrived in Kerala in the 1600s, they were surprised to find thriving Christian communities dedicated to St Thomas. It was believed, following Christ’s resurrection, he came on a trade route from the Middle East and moved through the countryside preaching and teaching about Jesus. It was at Madras, now Chennai, that he was martyred.

Join us as we travel in his footsteps from coast to coast, beginning our journey at Chennai, visiting the Mount of St Thomas and San Thome Basilica. We then move south, stopping at the world heritage site of Mahabalipuram and on to Velankanni, the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health. From here, we continue to Madurai to see the magnificent Shree Meenakshi Temple, ascend the mountains of the Western Ghats with their tea and spice farms, and end our journey on the coast at Cochin.

The pilgrimage will be a mix of the holy and the holiday, with time for reflection and also time for fun and relaxation, exploring and shopping.

“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

Group tour: In the Footsteps of St. Thomas

London – Chennai – Pondycherry – Trichi – Vellamkanni – Madurai – Munnar – Cochin – London

Itinerary:
Thursday 22nd September – Fly to Chennai

Depart Heathrow, or another regional UK airport of your choice, flying Emirates Airlines. The flight from Heathrow leaves at 14:15 and arrives Chennai next day at 08:25.

Friday 23rd September – Chennai

On arrival in Chennai we transfer to the Accord Hotel and meet the rest of the group. After freshening up, we head out to see the city. First we make our way to St Mary’s Anglican Church for a service of Holy Communion, the oldest British building in India (fondly known to locals as the ‘Westminster Abbey of the East’), before making our way to the Hindu temple of Kapaleeshwarar, a grand and impressive example of Tamil temple architecture with thousands of trademark colourful carvings.

Overnight in Hotel Accord, Chennai

Saturday 24th September – Chennai

Today we ascend St Thomas’ Mount, where it is believed that the apostle was martyred, and later visit his tomb in the Roman Catholic Basilica of San Thome. Our day also includes a stop at the largest mosque in Chennai, the Wallajah Masjid, built from granite in the old Mughal style.

Overnight in Hotel Accord, Chennai

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Sunday 25th September – Drive to Pondicherry

This morning we leave Chennai and drive south along the Coromandal Coast to Mahabalipuram, the ancient and stunning ‘temple by the sea’. After lunch we continue south on the coastal road down to the French colonial seaside town of Pondicherry. There will be an opportunity to take an evening stroll along the famous beachfront promenade.

Our overnight stay is at the charming heritage hotel Maison Perumal.

Monday 26th September – Drive to Velankanni

Today we leave Pondicherry and head further south as our pilgrimage takes us to the site known as the ‘Lourdes of the East’, the Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health in Velankanni.

We check in for an overnight stay at the Hotel Clinton Park Inn.

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Tuesday 27th September – Drive to Trichy

We have a leisurely morning with the option of exploring the shrine and Velankanni town, before an afternoon drive to Trichy, where we check in to the Hotel Breeze Residency.

Overnight in Hotel Breeze Residency

Wednesday 28th September – Trichy

Today is a day for fascinating temple visits. In the morning we 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.

Overnight in Hotel Breeze Residency, Trichy

Thursday 29th September – Drive to Madurai

Today we travel west to the city of Madurai where we check into the GRT Regency Hotel, and head out for a fascinating and thought-provoking visit to the Gandhi museum.

Overnight in GRT Regency Hotel, Madurai

Friday 30th September – Madurai

The Shri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is arguably the finest and most fascinating temple complex in India, and is a major pilgrimage centre in the south. The site houses several shrines surrounded by 14 large colourful gateway towers. Just a mile down the road, we also stop to visit the impressive 17th century king’s palace of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, built in an interesting blend of native South Indian and Islamic styles. The afternoon is at leisure and a great opportunity for shopping.

Overnight in GRT Regency Hotel, Madurai

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Saturday 1st October – Drive to Munnar

Today we leave the frenetic city of Madurai and head to the cooler climes of Munnar, the old British hill station surrounded by tea estates and green hills. Here we check in to the T & U Resort for two nights.

Overnight in T & U Resort, Munnar

Sunday 2nd October – Munnar

This morning we visit the Tea Museum, as close as you can get to a working tea factory around Munnar, and have a wander around the tranquil surroundings and plantations. In the afternoon we join the local community at CSI (Church of South India) church.

Overnight in T & U Resort, Munnar

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Monday 3rd October. Drive to Kumarakom

Leaving Munnar we descend to Kumarakom (stopping at a spice farm en route). Kumarakom is situated in the famous backwaters of Kerala, and we check in to the Punamada Resort for a 3 night stay.

Overnight in Hotel Cocobay, Kumarakom

Tuesday 4th October – Kumarakom (day trip to Cochin)

Today we have a day sightseeing in Cochin where we visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Jewish synagogue and St Francis Anglican Church. We also make a visit to the Mattancherry palace with its Keralan style murals depicting Hindu temple art, portraits and exhibitions of the rajas of Kochi. In the evening we will witness traditional Keralan dances before returning to the hotel for dinner and a well-deserved overnight rest.

Overnight in Hotel Cocobay, Kumarakom

Wednesday 5th October – Kumarakom

Today we take a relaxing backwater cruise and end the day with a service of Holy Communion.

Overnight in Hotel Cocobay, Kumarakom

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Oct Thursday 6th October – Fly to London

Transfer to Cochin airport for return flight home via Dubai leaving Cochin at 10:30 and arriving Heathrow at 18:40.

The cost per person sharing a twin or double room:
£2,465
Single room supplement:
£415
The cost includes:
  • International flight with Emirates Airline in Economy Class.
  • Daily breakfast and dinner at all hotels
  • Daily breakfast and dinner at hotels, lunch arrangement in the local restaurants.
  • Accommodation in a sharing twin or double room with en-suite facilities (Check-in is 1400 hrs and checkout 12 noon. Early check-in late checkouts are subject to availability).
  • All arrival/departure transfers, long drives and sightseeing by a chauffeur driven private air-conditioned coach.
  • Services of a local English-speaking representative for all arrival and departure transfers to assist you at the 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.
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
  • 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 £400.00 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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