WCCM Pilgrimage to India “Christian Ashrams and St. Thomas Churches”
Wednesday 29th January – Thursday 15th February 2020

This WCCM pilgrimage follows in the tradition of meditative visits of engagement to the sub-continent begun in 1998 with the first Way of Peace event.
On this occasion our encounters will be in South India, which we last visited in 2015. Here, in the most Christian part of the country, the tradition goes right back to the visit of St. Thomas the Apostle. St. Thomas is said to have founded eight churches, and we will visit several of them. Although the actual presence of St. Thomas is hard to prove, we will see clear relics of Christian practice from the fifth century.
There are very important roots of the Christian Meditation movement here also. The Hindu saint Sri Ramana Maharishi strongly influenced Swami Satyananda, and hence John Main himself. Ramana also inspired the founders of the Christian ashram at Shantivanam, later made famous by Bede Griffiths. Fr. Bede played a significant role in the development of the Christian Meditation Community.
At the heart of our pilgrimage will be visits to three important Christian ashrams – Shantivanam, the “forerunner” of Shantivanam known as Kurisumala, and the Aanmodaya ashram. We will all stay at Shantivanam. The other ashrams can accommodate smaller numbers, and some will stay in local hotels in these cases. All participants will have the opportunity to stay in at least two of the ashrams if they wish.
We will also visit fabulous Hindu temples, ancient mosques, remains of the Jewish presence in South India, and World Heritage religious rock carvings. We will enjoy scenic road, rail and boat trips, and may even find time to enjoy some of South India’s beautiful sandy beaches.

The Itinerary
Day 1: Wednesday 29th January 2020: International Departure

1340 Depart London on Emirate Airlines flight, arriving Dubai 0040, to connect with 0235 flight to Kochi (Cochin).

Day 2: Thursday 30th January 2020: Arrive Kochi

0755 Arrive Kochi. Stay at Club Mahindra Beach Resort, Kodungallur, for three nights.

Overnight in Club Mahindra Beach Resort

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 3-4: Fri.-Sat. 31th Jan. - 1st Feb. 2020: Visit To churches

Two days of local visits, including two churches said to be founded by St. Thomas, India’s oldest mosque, and a Jewish cemetery and museum.

Overnight in Club Mahindra Beach Resort

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 5: Sunday 2nd February 2020 – Drive to Kottayam

Drive to Kottayam via the St. Thomas church of Kokkamangalam, for a three night stay at Hotel Windsor Castle

Overnight in Hotel Windsor Castle

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 6-7: Mon.-Tue. 3rd-4th February 2020 – Visits in and around Kottayam

Two days of visits in and around Kottayam, including the Orthodox Seminary, the 1000 year old Thazhathangady Masjid, and the Jerusalem Marthoma Church.

Overnight in Hotel Windsor Castle

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 8: Wednesday 5th February 2020 – Boat ride, Drive into the hills

Morning boat ride on Kerala’s famed backwaters. Afternoon drive into the hills to the small town of Vagamon. Option to stay at the Green Hill Estate, Vagamon, or the nearby Kurisumala ashram, for two nights.

Overnight in Green Hill Estate

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 9: Tursday 6th February 2020 – Kurisumala Ashram

Full day visit to the Kurisumala Ashram.

Overnight in Green Hill Estate

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included


Day 10: Friday 7th february 2020– scenic drive to the city of Madurai

Whole day scenic drive to the city of Madurai, for a two night stay at Hotel Heritage Madurai.

Overnight in Hotel Heritage Madurai

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

day 11: Saturday 8th February 2020 – Madurai

Visit Madurai’s world famous Meenakshi temple, and enjoy some free time in this exciting city.

Overnight in Hotel Heritage Madurai

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

day 12: Sunday 9th February 2020 – Drive to the Camaldolese Benedictine ashram

Drive to the Camaldolese Benedictine ashram of Shantivanam for a two night stay.

Overnight in ashram of Shantivanam

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

day 13: Monday 10th February 2020 – Shantivanam Ashram

Full day to join in the life of the Shantivanam Ashram.

Overnight in ashram of Shantivanam

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included


Day 14: Tuesday 11th February 2020 –Travel to Kanchipuram

A day of travel, by road and rail, to the temple city of Kanchipuram. Option to stay at GRT Regency Hotel, or at the Aanmodaya Ashram.

Overnight in GRT Regency Hotel

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 15: Wednesday 12th February 2020 –Aanmodaya Ashram

Whole day in the Aanmodaya Ashram.

Overnight in Aanmodaya Ashram

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 16: Thursday 13th February 2020 – Drive to Chennai

Drive to Chennai via the World Heritage sites at Mahaballipuram. Stay at the Park Hotel.

Overnight in Park Hotel

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included

Day 17: Friday 14th February 2020: Visits to the St. Thomas churches

Visits to the St. Thomas churches in Chennai. Farewell dinner and late evening transfer to airport. 0400 Emirates flight to London via Dubai, arriving London 1225.

St. Thomas churches


Day 18: Saturday 15th February 2020: fly to London

0400 Emirates flight to London via Dubai, arriving London 1225.

St. Thomas in India

The Mar Thoma Indian tradition is clear that St. Thomas arrived in India, landing in what is now North Paravur, in AD 50 or 52. He lived in India until his martyrdom in Chennai on 3 July 72. He spent most of the intervening years in Kerala, where he baptised, and founded eight churches.

There was a significant Jewish presence in South India at that time, and it was in this community that St. Thomas preached. His converts became known as “Nazranis”, the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

There is a record of “John” a “bishop of India and Persia” at the Council of Nicea in 325. When the Portuguese first arrived in India in 1498 they were amazed to find that the Christian faith had reached India before them.

Christian Ashrams And St. Thomas Churches

Tour Cost

The cost per person sharing a twin or double room£2,910
Single room supplement £646
Cost Includes:
  • International flights as per the itinerary
  • All group travel in India
  • Accommodation on full board basis
  • All entrance and guide fees
  • Full ATOL and ABTA bonding
  • Services of Kenneth Wilson as Tour Leader in India
  • £200 donation to WCCM
Cost Does Not Include:
  • Dinner out on day 14
  • 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 etc.
  • Tips and gratuities
  • 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.
E :- enquiries@soulofindia.com          Call Us: 020 8901 7630
  • 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. 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.
  • If you wish to join the tour and fly from any country other than United Kingdom please contact us for land only arrangements.
E :- enquiries@soulofindia.com          Call Us: 020 8901 7630
  • 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
  • To get a competitive quote for comprehensive travel insurance click here