Church Tour to Kerala - 08 Nights / 09 Days

Cochin – Kumarakom – Houseboat (Alleppey) – Kovalam – Trivandrum departure

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Day 01: Arrive Cochin By International Flight

Arrive Cochin at International airport. Upon arrival, meet & greet by our representative and transfer to hotel for check-in. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 02: Cochin

Breakfast at hotel. Later proceed to Visit The Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Vallarpadam--‐ Ernakulam is a famous centre of pilgrimage. People from all parts of Kerala and outside, irrespective of caste or creed go to the church to seek the blessings of Mary, the mother of Jesus, popularly known as "Vallarpadathamma" .This is an ancient Christian Church built in 1524. Portuguese merchants headed by Vasco da Gama enthroned this miraculous picture of Our lady of Ransom at the shrine. The church was dedicated to the Holy Spirit, which was the first of its kind in Asia.

The beautiful church was however destroyed by a heavy flood in 1676. The church was re‐established in 1676 and the famous picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected by Portuguese who brought it from their native land. The picture is believed to have miraculous powers. The Portuguese built the first church on the site of the present church in 1524. It was destroyed in a flood in the late 17th century and a new church was built on the same spot in 1676. It was declared a special church by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and in 1951 the Union Government declared it a major pilgrim centre.
After this visit the Old Town covering St. Francis church, Fishing Nets and the Jew town.
Overnight stay at hotel in Cochin.

Day 3: Cochin - Palayoor & Kottukavu Church - Cochin Approx 250 kms up and down

Breakfast at hotel.
Morning drive for excursion tour to Palayoor Church & Kottukavu Church.
Palayoor church. This church was established by St. Thomas, Christ's apostle who is believed to have reached Kerala in 52 AD. The church is noted for its portrayal of St. Thomas' illustrious life. The 14 granite statues at the entrance display selected events from the apostle's life. Also noted are the wood carvings on the jubilee door based on biblical events.
Later visit Marthomalayam church. (According to Christian tradition, St. Thomas landed here first). After visit Marthoma Church, drive to Maliankara St. Thomas church – is the first Christian church in India, founded by St. Thomas, the apostle in 52 century AD, the saint is believed to have visited Kodungalloor as part of his preaching of Christianity from Ethiopia to China. Kodungalloor was then known as Muziris.
Afternoon visit Kottukavu church at Paravur was the next center where the Apostle preached the Gospel and founded a church. According to the Ramban song the Apostle succeeded in receiving into the Christian fold one thousand seven hundred and seventy persons at this center.
After drive back to Cochin. Overnight stay at hotel in Cochin.

Arthunkal Church

Day 4: Cochin – Arthunkal – Kokkamangalam –Kumarakom Approx 50kms / 01.5 Hours

Breakfast at hotel.
Morning drive to Kumarakom enroute visit Arthunkal & Kokkamangalam.
Arthunkal Church ‐ St Andrew's Church, Arthunkal is one of the biggest pilgrimage centers of Kerala. Though the church is in the name of St Andrew, it is the St Sebastian's feast that has brought fame to Arthunkal. The feast attracts tens of thousands of deists from all parts of Kerala and from the neighboring states of Tamilnadu and Karnataka. Every year, the feast gets off to a colorful start on the 10th January to the accompaniment of native music and fireworks. The main feast is celebrated on the 20th January, when the statue of the saint is taken in procession.

The octave is on the 27th January. It is for the main feast that most of the pilgrims come. The Octave is considered the feast of the local people.
In good old days, most of the pilgrims used to come walking along the coast. Those from the eastern regions used to come in country boats up to Alappuzha and walk from there. The people of Arthunkal used to arrange local accommodation for the pilgrims in their compounds, as most pilgrims used to spend one day or two in Arthunkal after their long journey. This used to give rise to a community life spread across the whole village. Now, with modern means of communication, the pilgrim class that come walking has practically disappeared. But there are many who still choose to trek the whole distance to the church as an act of special deism.

Kokkamangalam Church - St. Thomas sailed to Kokkamangalam where he preached the gospel for about a year. 1600 people converted to Christianity through him according to the narration in "Rampan Pattu", an ancient form of Christian folk-song prevalent in Kerala. He formed a Christian community at Kokkamangalam and enshrined a Cross for the faithful. This cross was later cut off by saboteurs, and thrown into the Lake Vembanad, through which it floated up to Pallippuram, where it is enshrined The Relic of Apostle St. Thomas enshrined here was brought from Ortona in Italy by Pope John Paul II in November 1999. Special Novena prayers are held on Friday evenings to venerate the Relic. Devotees who aspire for jobs in foreign countries seek the intercession of the Apostle here.
After visit continue drive to Kumarakom. Upon arrival transfer to hotel for check-in.
Overnight stay at hotel in Kumarakom.

Day 5: Kumarakom

Breakfast at hotel.
Morning drive to excursion to Manarcaud Church - Puthupally Church and also visit the ancient churches Cheria Palli and valiapalli. (In 50 kms radius from Kumarakom)
Manarcad St. Mary's Cathedral, is a Jacobite Syrian Christian Church located about 10 km from the town of Kottayam and a destination for people on annual pilgrimages seeking the blessings of the Virgin Mary. The practice of the eight--‐day fast and the celebration of the Feast of Virgin Mary's birth between September 1–8 every year form part of an ancient tradition that continues to attract millions of devotees.During fast days, hundreds of thousands of people from the far corners of the world come to Manarcad to seek the blessings of the Virgin Mary During his 2004 apostolic visit, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and Supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, elevated St Mary's to the status of 'Cathedral' and 'Universal Marian Pilgrim Centre'.

Puthupally Church -The existing church was rebuilt and consecrated in AD 2003 transforming it into a composite shrine of three churches. The church of St.George was retained and the verandas on either side of it were replaced by a chapel in the name of St. Mary on the north side and a chapel in the name of St.Bahanan on the south side. It was a marvelous idea by which the St. Mary’s chapel of 1557 and St. Bahanan’s church of 1640 were revived and rebuilt on either side of St. George’s church of 1750.The main altar of St. George church is in the name of St. George and those on the left and right are in the names of St. Thomas and St. Gregorious of Parumala respectively. The main altar of St. Mary’s chapel is in the name of St. Mary and those on the left and right are respectively are in the names of Morth Shmooni and Mortha Yulithi. The main altar of St. Bahanan’s chapel is in the name of St. Bahanan and those on the left and right are respectively in the names of St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Dionysius and His Grace Kuriakose Mar Gregorious of Pampady. Thus there is the presence and blessings of nine intercessors in the new shrine. Devotees throng the shrine irrespective of religion, caste and creed, to make their supplications before St. George who never fails to respond.

Thousands visit the church throughout the year and particularly during the feast of St. George, including the 10 days preceding and succeeding it.

The Kottayam Cheriyapally is one of the oldest churches in Kerala, India. Built in 1579, the church is well preserved. The architectural style of the church is European, with galleries, pillars, cornices and pediments. The walls are adorned with beautiful murals made in Oriental and Western styles on biblical and non biblical themes.

The Valiapalli - built in 1550 and Nestled on the top of a hillock with the Meenachil River at its foot, this ancient Syrian Knanaya Church is among the largest and the oldest in town. Valiyapally is next to Cheripalli This is the mother church of most Christians in this area. The church was built by the descendants of Syrian Knanaya Christians, though the history of Kottayam in the early centuries of the Christian era is largely obscure;
After visit drive back to Kumarakom. Overnight stay at hotel in Kumarakom.

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Houseboat

Day 6: Kumarakom – Houseboat (Alleppey) Approx 56 Kms / 02 Hours drive

Breakfast at hotel.
Morning drive to Alleppey and board Houseboat from Jetty.
Enjoy the Cruise in the scenic Kerala Backwaters in a houseboat. The houseboat is equipped with all amenities and will provide you the comfort of home.
While you cruise along the backwaters visit the Champakulam Kalloorkadu St. Mary's Forane Church (also called Champakulam Valia Palli) is one of the oldest Christian churches in India] and the mother church of almost all Catholic Syrian churches in Alleppey District. Believed to be established in AD 427. Rebuilt many times and the many rock inscriptions found around the church tell us about the history of the church. The open air Rock Cross at Champakulam church is one of the most ancient ones with clear documentation of its antiquity up to AD 1151. There are many archaeological artifacts found around the church about its history. Champakulam church was once under Niranam Church, which was founded by the Apostle Saint Thomas himself. Champakulam Church had very friendly relations with the Jacobite Syrian group and had a pivotal role in many ecumenical efforts in the Eighteenth century. Enjoy Lunch, Dinner & Overnight stay on the houseboat.

Day 7: Houseboat (Alleppey) –Kovalam Approx 160 Kms / 04 Hours drive

Morning enjoy breakfast at Houseboat and disembark the houseboat at Alleppey and drive to Kovalam enroute visit Niranam Church & Parumala Church.
Niranam Church- It is believed that the church was founded by St. Thomas the Apostle, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, in AD 54. The church was reconstructed several times since then. The stones in the church shows the reconstruction in 1259.Niranam Church witnessed a number of historical events in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church history including the establishment of a Catholicate in India. The first Catholicose and second Catholicose of the church were ordained at Niranam Church (in 1912 and 1925). Four of the Malankara Metropolitans of the church died while staying here and two were buried here. The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was renovated during the year 2000. There are five altars at Niranam church. The main altar, the central one, is in the name of Saint Mary. This is used for regular services of the church. There are two altars on the north and south of the main one. The altar on the northern side is consecrated to Saint George and the altar on the southern side is consecrated in the name of Saint Behnam. There are two smaller altars, to the front of the main altar. The north among these is in the name of Saint Thomas. It is also the shrine of Mar Thoma II. The southern among the small altars is consecrated to Saint Stephen. This is also the shrine of Mar Thoma V.

Niranam Church

Parumala Church - Parumala Church is the tomb church of Saint Geevarghese Mar Gregorios or Parumala Thirumeni. He died on 2 November 1902 at the age of 54.. Many testimonies to the saintly intercession of Mar Gregorios made Parumala Church and the tomb a centre of pilgrimage. In 1947 Mar Gregorios of blessed memory was declared a saint by the then Catholicos of the church, His Holiness Baselios Geevarghese I. Upon arrival transfer to hotel for check in.
Overnight stay at hotel in Kovalam.

Day 8: Kovalam - Thiruvithamkode - Padmanabhapuram Palace - Kovalam

Breakfast at hotel. Morning excursion to Thiruvithamkode church. The Thiruvithamkode Church (Arapally) built by St. Thomas in 63 AD. The St. Mary's church at Thiruvithamkode in Kanyakumari district have been established by St. Thomas the Apostle is all set to become a centre of pilgrimage. The church, known among local people as ‘Thomayar kovil,' is one of the oldest in the world.

After visit Church you can also visit Padmanabhapuram Palace --‐ The palace was constructed around 1601 A.D. the palace complex continue to be the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hall mark of traditional Kerala style building art. After sightseeing drive back to Kovalam. Overnight stay at hotel in Kovalam.

Day 9: Kovalam - Trivandrum Approx 18 kms / 40 min drive Trivandrum – Departure By Flight

After breakfast check out from hotel and departure transfer to Trivandrum airport to Board flight for your onward destinations.

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