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Special Grade Town Panchayat
Vailankanni Basilica1.jpg
Velankanni is located in Tamil Nadu
Location in Tamil Nadu, India
Coordinates: 10°42′N 79°48′E / 10.70°N 79.80°E / 10.70; 79.80Coordinates: 10°42′N 79°48′E / 10.70°N 79.80°E / 10.70; 79.80
Country India
StateTamil Nadu
 • TypeSpecial Grade Town Panchayat
 • BodyVelankanni Special Grade Town Panchayat
 • Total5.5 km2 (2.1 sq mi)
87.78 m (287.99 ft)
 • Total10,144
 • Density1,800/km2 (4,800/sq mi)
 • OfficialTamil
Time zoneUTC+5:30
Telephone code914365
Vehicle registrationTN-51 TN-82 PY-02

Velankanni (Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi), is a Special Grade Panchayat Town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It lies on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, 350 km south of Chennai (Madras) and 12 km south of Nagapattinam.

Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece,[1] the tiny commercial center gradually lost its importance to the larger city of Nagapattinam. The canal built to link this town with Vedaranyam still lies to the west. The Vellayar, a minor branch of the Cauvery River, runs south of the town and discharges into the sea. The town was among the worst hit by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

The town is home to one of the most visited Roman Catholic Latin Rite shrines called the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health.

Velankanni has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY - Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of the Government of India.


The 2001 Indian census indicated Velankanni had a population of 10,145. Males constitute 48% of the population and females 52%. Citizens there have an averages literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 68%: male literacy is 75%, and female literacy is 64%. 12% of the population is under six years of age.[2]

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health[edit]

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health in Velankanni, Tamil Nadu Entrance

Velankanni has one of the country's biggest Catholic pilgrimage centres, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Devoted to Our Lady of Good Health, it is popularly known as the "Lourdes of the East".[3] Its origins can be traced back to the 16th century. The church's founding is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the survival of Portuguese sailors assaulted by a violent sea storm. It is built in the Gothic style, was modified by Portuguese and then further expanded later on due to the influx of pilgrims. The church building was raised to the status of basilica in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

Annually, 20 million pilgrims flock to the shrine from all over India and abroad,[4] out which an estimated 3 million people visit the shrine during its annual festival from 29 August to 8 September.[3] The 11-day annual festival concludes with the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Mary on 8 September.[5]


St Sebastian Church at the entrance of the city

Vailankanni is located 350 kilometres (220 mi) south of Chennai and 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of Nagapattinam on the Coramandel coast, at 10°24′N 79°29′E / 10.40°N 79.49°E / 10.40; 79.49 in Nagapattinam district of Tamil nadu state.[6]


Our Lady of Health Higher Secondary School, Our Lady of Health Middle School, Our Lady of Health Elementary School, Infant Jesus Primary School (English Medium) and Christ the King High School Special School for Handicapped and Deaf & Dumb Children are five schools situated in Vailankanni town.[7]


Vailankanni is well connected by road and rail to the rest of the country. The East Coast Road (ECR) that runs from Chennai to Kanyakumari, connects the town to the rest of the country. The nearest operational airports are Tiruchirappalli International Airport, 165 kilometres (103 mi) away and Chennai International Airport, 300 kilometres (190 mi) away.


Due to the large number of pilgrims that visit this town, the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC), State Express Transport Corporation (Tamil Nadu) (SETC) and several private bus operators ply to cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Ernakulam, Muvattupuzha, Madurai, Nagercoil, Salem, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Trivandrum. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation runs a daily bus service to Changanassery and Cherthala.

The TNSTC– Kumbakonam division operates intercity buses to Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Karaikudi, Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam, Thiruthuraipoondi, Pattukkottai, Pondicherry, Karaikal and Nagappattinam from Velankanni.[8]


Velankanni railway station is a terminal station on the 10 kilometre long Nagapattinam - Velankanni broad gauge line. The foundation stone of the line was laid in 1999 and it was completed in 2010 at a cost of Rs. 48 crores.[9] The line is part of the Tiruchirappalli railway division of Southern Railway zone of the Indian Railways.

The VailankanniChennai Egmore Link Express runs daily with only four coaches from Velankanni, which then is coupled with Kamban Express at Nagappattinam Junction for its journey towards Chennai . The weekly Velankanni Express between Vasco da Gama, Goa and Velankanni is operated by South Western Railway zone.[10] Apart from the express trains, two passenger trains are also operated daily, one each to Karaikal and Nagappattinam. Special trains are operated from places like Chennai, Mumbai, Secunderabad, Bangalore, Vasco da Gama, Kollam, Ernakulam, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil during the months of August and September for the annual church feast.[11]

2004 tsunami[edit]

Vailankanni town was among the worst hit by the massive 26 December tsunami that was triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The tsunami struck at around 9.30 am on that Sunday, when pilgrims from Kerala were inside the church attending the Malayalam Mass. The water did not enter the shrine, but the receding waters swept away hundreds of pilgrims who were on the beach.[4]

The shrine's compound, nearby villages, hundreds of shops, homes and pilgrims were washed away into the sea. About 600 pilgrims died.[12] Rescue teams extricated more than 400 bodies from the sand and rocks in the vicinity and large number of unidentified bodies were buried in mass graves.


Climate data for Velankanni, Tamil Nadu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 28.5
Average low °C (°F) 21.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 54

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Velankanni Beach - Famous for Its Pristine Locations". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2004. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Hindus join in India's Marian pilgrimage". Catholic World News. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Velankanni: Death in the churchyard". 28 December 2004. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Velankanni festival ends with feast mass". The Hindu. 9 September 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Details About Vailankanni Church Campus". Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Special buses to Velankanni". The Hindu. 20 August 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Nagapattinam-Velankanni BG line completed". The Hindu. 28 February 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  10. ^ "A new weekly train to Vasco". The Times of India. 28 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Velankanni festival: Southern Railway to run special trains from Chennai, Nagercoil". The Times of India. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Tsunami sufferers question faith". BBC News. 27 March 2005. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  13. ^ "CLIMATE: VELANKANNI", Web: [1].

External links[edit]