Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poondi Madha Basilica

Standing outside the Poondi Madha Basilica

I had the grace of visiting the Poondi Madha Basilica near Thanjavur recently. It was a totally unplanned visit. We were passing by the highway when we saw the Board reading "Way to Poondi Madha Basilica". Having heard so much about the grace of The Poondi Madha, and how she has created many miracles in the lives of her devotees, we quickly decided to detour and reach the Basilica. It was one pm in the afternoon and the church was relatively empty. The white tower of the Basilica stood out from a distance, inviting those eager to visit the Basilica and bask in the compassion of the Divine Mother.

Rows of Statues of Saints line the path to the Basilica
 We walked slowly through the lane lined with statues of Saints, into the gates guarded by angels. There is a huge notice board giving bus and train routes from various parts of India to the Basilica along with timings. Rooms are available for those coming from other places to stay and pray at the church.

History of the Poondi Madha Basilica:
  • The original dome where the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Poondi is placed was built during 1714 - 1718 by Rev.Fr. Constantine Joseph Beschi. Tamilnadu knows him by the name of "Veeramamunivar" (வீரமாமுனிவர்) . An Italian Missionary, he mastered the Tamil language and has created several literary works that earned him the title of "Father of Tamil Prose". His "Thembaavani" and "Paramartha Guru Kadhai" are famous even today. The Tamilnadu Government has honoured him by placing his statue on the Marina Beach.
  • In 1956, the then Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Lourdes Xavier, whose tomb is seen at the entrance of the chapel, where people stop by and pray, wanted to rebuild the dome which was in a state of damage, requiring immediate attention. Not having sufficient funds to carry out the repairs, he fasted and prayed to the Holy Mother for 15 days. On the 15th day morning, he heard an inner voice and  told the people that the front portion of the church would come down on its own by that afternoon. Exactly as he said, the building collapsed. This happened on 22nd November, 1956 and the reconstruction was completed by 2nd May 1964.
  • The Holy Mother appeared to Bernadette in 1858 in Lourdes in France. Statues of Our Lady of Lourdes was sent to different parts of the World. Out of the three statues that came to India, one was brought to and remains in the Poondi Shrine. This statue is so unique, that while looking at it, one gets a feeling of looking at a live person. 

  • Since the time the statue was installed in the church, a mysterious brightness has been filling up the entire church during night time. People started special devotion to Our Lady and several miracles started happening here, which continue till day!
  • A small piece of the original cross of Jesus was brought to the church by Rev.Fr.Rayappa in 1976. One can see this below the Statue of the Holy Mother.

Relic of the Original Cross (Photo Courtesy: Poondi Matha Basilica)
  • Several thousands of devotees throng the Poondi Madha Basilica on September 8th every year, the Birthday of Our Holy Mother. A procession is taken out in an ornamental chariot which is witnessed by people irrespective of caste and religion, who gather and pray here on this auspicious day.
  • The church has a membership scheme whereby one can pay as less as Rs.100 as a monthly subscription. When the amount reaches Rs.5000/- the person becomes a life member and the person is remembered and prayed during every mass offered in the shrine.
We knelt down and prayed at the altar. Looking at the Holy Mother who looked skywards in prayer, seemed to take away our burdens and lighten our hearts. After praying we went across the church, to the Museum, which houses all the articles and artifacts given by devotees whose prayers have been answered. From parts of the body in silver for diseases and ailments cured, to stethoscopes, pens, gold and silver jewellery, house models, several articles have been donated with devotion and gratitude. Letters thanking the Holy Mother for Her grace in their lives are attached to the artifacts and bear testimony to the various miracles that happen here every day.

There is also a Depot in the Church complex which sells various items like pictures, idols, books, CDs, Calendars, Bibles, Rosaries etc. Several people are seen here purchasing articles of their choice. Holy oil and water are also available in this depot. Since it was past 2 pm, we moved out towards the restaurant opposite to the church. On our way out, several geese cackled and played in the lawns outside. We stood for a while, taking in the beautiful surroundings. 

Where is Poondi Madha Basilica:

The Poondi Madha Basilica is in Alamelupuram Poondi near Thirukattupalli in Thanjavur District of Tamilnadu.
Nearest Airport: Trichy - 45 kms
Nearest Railway Stations: - Budalur - 18 kms, Thanjavur - 35 kms, Trichy - 35 kms
Bus: Several State and Private Buses are available from Chennai, Vailankanni, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Trichy, Kallanai, Lalgudi, Pullambadi and Perambalur.
Contact Details: 91-4362-280422
The Rector,
Poondi Madha Basilica,
Poondi, Thirukattupalli Via,
Thanjavur Pin: 613105

Mass Timings:
Weekdays - 6 am, 11.15 am and 5.15 pm
First and Third Saturday of Every Month - 6 am, 9.30 am, 11.15 am, 5.15 pm
First Saturday - Prayer Service followed by Mass - 9 pm and 12 pm
Sundays - 6 am, 8.30 am, 11.15 am, 12.30 pm (English) and 5.15 pm

For further information on the Basilica check out the official website of the shrine here
Main Altar  (Photo Courtesy: Poondi Madha Basilica)
If you happen to be at this part of the world, do stop by to pray here. Peace of mind and relief guaranteed! 
Aalayam Kanden wishes its readers a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy and Prosperous 2012!

Sincere thanks to Mr. Ajoy Leo whose video of the Holy Mother has been used in this post, and to the Poondi Madha Basilica for pictures of the Main Altar and the Relic of the Original Cross.


  1. We passed through the church while we were going from Appakudathan divyadesam to Thiru anbil divyadesam..Hope u got to visit the divyadesams too

  2. @EC, I did visit Thirumeyyam.
    @Magiceye, thanks

  3. Very nice and informative too. I may visit by coming vacation.

  4. Looks like a place to visit for sure. Thanks for sharing your trip with us:)

  5. Great information, very educational :)

  6. Nice info. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Very very interesting post with nice pictures. After reading the post, I had the feeling of visited the place :-)

  8. I can feel the peace... Thank you for taking me there through your beautiful words.

  9. Thanks Latha,Saru, Harish, Niranjan, SVS Sir, and Arti for your feedback. God Bless!

  10. Interesting read and thanks for the info Priya!,I feel like visiting this Church soon.Wow!,great pics dear. So far I thought Foodbloggers need to spend for a post or topic,travel bloggers like U and Arti have to spend for each post.Its good if U have Sponsors.God Bless Dear.

  11. Thanks Christy. It is true that we could cover many more places and write all about them if there are sponsors. Hope someone is interested! The Good Lord above will take care of that when the time comes true!


  12. Maybe about 100 kms from there...not sure of the exact distance

  13. wow...such a divine place.......glad you did the post on this!!


  14. Hi, I'm from Chennai. I'll be visiting the Poondi Madha Basilica by this week end for my friends marriage. Could anyone help me to find a descent hotels nearby.

    1. Hi Ronald
      No hotels in the church premises, but there are church rooms available.


  15. Dear All

    Greets - This is johnson fernando. Around Jan 2012, we went to this great Poondi Madha Church. Before going to this church, i was asking myself/and others lots of questions and i could not get the right answer. this article is a small effort to give some info for the first time visitors.

    -If you are coming from chennai, best way is chennai to tanjore- train, and then board a taxi, taxi man will ask for 800, but can settle for 700.
    -I am sure you will get church rooms, if not i dont know what one can do- i did not see any private rooms there.
    -Newly married couples, should go with a marriage photograph and the wedding invitation, Married couples without kids should carry their marriage photograph, married couples with kids-no questions asked.
    -No AC rooms, deluxe rooms will have fan, two beds, room size will be about 15 x 15. -clean ok rooms.
    -There is no three pin plugs in any rooms, so charging your laptop and phone is a big task here, either you will have to use the corridors provision, or be without one.
    -No internet facility, no browsing centers, come just to pray, dont multitask with your office work.
    -My highspeed reliance data card gave me a very tuff time in pulling up sites.
    -Church has a canteen which serves Ok food for a very nominal cost.
    -There are taxis available.
    -From here you can go to Velankani church, Km about 110 , ruff roads, i dont recommend to take Omni, Better engage in Tavera or sumu..1800 for omni, 2600+ for Sumu - 4 hrs one way
    -you can go to Kalani a dam which is about 23 km from the church, up and down, a taxi will cost you about 500. you can spend 6 hrs there. - dont forget your swimming gear.
    -There is a sisters-run clinic there, which is good for our aged parents.

    thats it, i guess.
    If you need any more clarifications, u can mail me.

    Praise the lord.

  16. Dear Mr Johnson,

    Thank you so much for all the details provided which would be very useful for the readers.


  17. I look forward in reading more of your work. Also, I made sure to bookmark your website.

  18. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting.

    Hotels in Thanjavur near Railway Station

  19. thanks very good information,God bless you