After going to several Hindu temples during our stay in Chennai, going to the Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica was a unique experience. The church is built over the tomb of Saint Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, which is one of only three churches in the world to be built over the tomb of a disciple. You should also make time to visit Saint Thomas Mount and Little Mount, which has the cave where Saint Thomas hid. Combined, these three locations create a truly unique experience inside of the country of India.
The original church over the tomb of Saint Thomas was built by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century and then later rebuilt by the British in the 19th century. The current cathedral was finished in the late 19th century and is in the typical Neo-Gothic style. The white exterior is quite striking especially against the blue skies. Unfortunately we were not able to enter the church while we were there, but we understand that it is very beautiful and that you are able to see Saint Thomas’ tomb.
There are several features that make visiting Saint Thomas Mount and Little Mount quite fascinating. For a small donation, you are able to enter the cave where Saint Thomas hid and there is even a rock that is supposed to have been worn down by his hand. There is also a spring that is just outside of the cave called the Saint Thomas Fountain, which supposed provided healing powers to those that came to listen to him and people still drink from it today in order to be cured. To get to the top of Saint Thomas Mount, where Saint Thomas was speared while praying in front of a cross, you climb up a steep hill and pass by many figurines denoting the history of Saint Thomas. There is a cross carved into a rock that was believed to be carved by Saint Thomas and many believers report that it continues to bleed to this very day.
Seeing both of these locations during our trip was something that was extremely memorable. It can also be a slight refuge from the hectic noises of the city as it isn’t visited by as many people as other place in Chennai.