Places to visit for International Catholic Tourists in India

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Best Places for Catholic Tourists in India

The reasons why India is often the centre of a conversation when we speak of culture is probably because of the existence of many religions. It so happens that, this diverse country is home to nine recognized communities each having their own pilgrimage sites. Talking about one such faith that is Christianity, which has a significant place in the history of India especially of the southern part of it. And ever since the introduction of Christianity by St. Thomas in 52 AD, it has contributed not only to country’s diversity but has also added in architecture marvels in India. If you are foreign to the cultures of India, exploring the catholic churches speckled here will be an experience of its own. In fact, as you continue scrolling down, you can know about what places to visit to have a spiritual holiday in India for catholic tourists.

Goa

Bom Jesus Basilica, Goa

Photo: Bom Jesus Basilica, Goa

The most visited tourist destination for sun, sand and romance, Goa is by far the best holiday place in India. But beyond just parties and beaches this place has many renowned attractions, most being churches. Here, you can find old treasured UNESCO marble, Bom Jesus Basilica, a monosodium of St Francis Xavier. St Francis Assisi happens to be one of the best Roman Catholic Churches built by the Portuguese in India in 1661. For its charming architectural wonder, Church of Lady of Rosary in Goa is famous and is believed to be a place where St Francis Xavier gave his first sermon. Also, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which by the way is one of the favourite locations for shooting of Bollywood movie. Catholic Churches in Goa are plenty and besides the mentioned, you can visit other divine sites like Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca, Church of St. Cajetan and Chapel of St Catherine.

Accommodation

Goa does not only have lavish resorts and cost-next- to-nothing tourist hostels but also a number of villas. There is no doubt you won’t have a comfortable stay in Goa.

How to get there?

Goa has an international airport, Dabolim and a convenient connectivity of rail from all major cities. Roads, however, are easily accessible from nearby cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, you can check out their bus service.

Pondicherry or Puducherry

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Puducherry

Photo: Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Puducherry

A French Riviera of India, Pondy has a special place in every traveller’s hearts for its beauty and architecture. And the older ‘French’ part of the town is where you’d probably spend most of your day during sightseeing tour. In Pondicherry tourist attractions are no less famous, but for a spiritual exploration, visit the only Catholic Church in Asia, The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes that has a sacred pond in it. This church was built in 1876 and it appears to look like The Basilica in France. Other must visit Churches in Pondy are Church of Our Lady of Good Health located in Ariyankuppam; Immaculate Conception Cathedral, a Roman Catholic mother church for the Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore. Amongst these, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a renowned shrine seated on the M.G. Road Area of Puducherry.

Accommodation

A place this good surely will have a long list of staying-options, from luxe villas to resorts taken to a higher notch. You can also find a bunch of economical and budget hotels.

How to get there?

Pondicherry has an airport only for domestic small aircraft from Bangalore but you can always drive down from Chennai or Hyderabad. Puducherry has a railway station that is well-connected to major Indian cities like Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai. Checkout their roadways service that connect Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Cochin or Kochi in Kerala

Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi

Photo: Santa Cruz Basilica, Kochi

For Catholic travellers always on a lookout for some spiritual awakening, Cochin is an ideal place to be in while in India. Not only you can run around its fabulous tourist attractions and relish its exotic ayurvedic massages but also visit churches that display architectural beauty. One which is considered to be the oldest church is Santa Cruz Basilica built in 1505, on the other hand is the church of St. George Ferona, which is also widely visited. St. Francis Church is also renowned among the locals since it is located in Kochi Fort and is known as the oldest European church in India. Another cathedral church in Kochi dedicated to ‘Our Lady of Ports,’ St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is a must visit. It holds its prominent mark as a Marian pilgrim centre in India.

Accommodation

Expect to find a long list of beach-side villas, ultra luxurious resorts, five-star hotels in Kochi. And to top things up, there are also a number of budget hotels and hostels.

How to get there?

Kochi has an international airport and it also has a railway junction linked with cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai. To travel via roadways, Kochi is well-connected to all major cities in South India. For bus information, check out their government site.

Shimla in Himachal Pradesh

Christ Church Shimla

Photo: Christ Church, Shimla

Shimla is home to one of the famous Roman Catholic Churches in India, St. Michael’s Cathedral erected in 1886. The French-Gothic architecture built in complete charcoal grey offers such intense exterior ambience of the church but despite the eeriness, you can feel spirit-lifted here. This church displays a throwback Victorian decor and it is considered to be the finest in the northern states of India. A Lady Guadalupe, which is another title for the Virgin Mary is located inside the church. Besides St. Michael, during the holidays in Shimla you will notice Christ Church because it occupies such a prime location, you won’t be able to miss it even if you wish. Despite not being a Catholic Church, you can at least pay a visit on account being the second oldest church in North India.

Accommodation

There are a couple of cottages in Shimla offering a warm homely stay but for those who like to live it large and make the most of your Indian visit, there are luxurious hill resorts as well.

<How to get there?

The closest airport to Shimla is located in Chandigarh and the convenient railway station to connect to Shimla is in Kalka, Kalka–Shimla Railway. However, private and government buses from northern places like Delhi, Chandigarh are available.

Darjeeling in West Bengal

St. Andrews Church, Darjeeling

Photo: St. Andrews Church, Darjeeling

If you are looking for a charming and historically rich place to holiday in India, the Catholic travel guide may send you to Darjeeling. Surrounded by British era buildings and a calm setting of nature, the churches here are endowed in beautiful architecture. Amongst the many, one of the famed Catholic Churches in Darjeeling is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It is widely famed for their classic architecture from the British colonial era and the blue tipped fences. St. Jude Catholic Church is also another must visit, despite a bit far off from the main town in Lebong. Besides, other famous church whose benches were once filled with British and Scottish soldiers is St. Andrew’s Church. It is an Anglican Church and even today, it still retains its charm.

Accommodation

This fabulous destination has a couple of hotels and luxurious resorts equipped with everything ultra modern. You can also find homestays and budget hotels in Darjeeling.

How to get there?

Roadways are the best way to get to Darjeeling quick and easy but if you wish to visit like the British did, well, you can board on a toy steam train from NJP (New Jalpaiguri) and Kurseong. The closest airport is near Siliguri, Bagdogra Airport.

Delhi and NCR

Anglican Church of St. James, Delhi

Photo: Anglican Church of St. James, Delhi

Reputed to have a melange of beautiful churches set in every corner of the city built by the British, Delhi can’t be a better place for a Catholic pilgrimage tour. Here, you can explore and even attend a mass in some of the famed churches in Delhi and one in particular is the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Its USB is the location in central of the city. This Roman Catholic Cathedral is one of the oldest church buildings but not as old as an Anglican church of St. James located in Old Delhi. Besides, one crown jewel that displays its ascetic exteriors and imposing interiors is the Cathedral Church of the Redemption. In Delhi, there is no way you can complete a Catholic tour because there are just so many churches, it is difficult to keep count but here are a few mentions. Red Brick Church of Delhi – St. Thomas Church, St. Michael’s Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Church.

Accommodation

Ultra-modern five-star hotels and resorts are plenty in the capital city and so are the economical accommodation options. You can also find homestays and budget-friendly hotels and fancy travellers hostels.

How to get there?

Delhi has an international airport and a major railway junction, this city is easily accessible from all parts of the country. And if you wish to drive across states, plenty of private and government buses and taxis are also available.

Shillong in Meghalaya

Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians in Shillong

Photo: Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians in Shillong

For witnessing one of Northeastern’s best destinations where the spiritual journeys are all about nature exploration and of course the beautiful and divine churches, visit Shillong. What makes it a go-to-place for international tourist is for the maximum Christianity followers, thus, many churches. But one Catholic shrine you should not miss is the Cathedral Catholic Church also known as Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians. This church is under the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and it is located amidst lush lawn. Having a gothic style of architectural, a speciality this church possesses is that, it is built earthquake proof. Besides, there are many other churches you may be spell-bounded by seeing their beauty structure with a backdrop of hills. Visit St Dominic Catholic Church, Laitkor Catholic Church and also Malki Catholic Church in and around Shillong.

Accommodation

Shillong has all sorts of accommodation, most popular are the homestays but if you seek privacy, hotels also well appointed. But for a rather nature seeking travellers, there are fabulous resorts around Shillong offering a dead-drop-gorgeous views.

How to get there?

The closest railway station and airport are both located in Guwahati, Assam making roadways the best and cheapest means to transport. Although helicopter rides are available from Guwahati airport.

Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh

St. John's Church, Dalhousie

Photo: St. John’s Church, Dalhousie

This high-altitude town of Himachal, Dalhousie is such a travel destination you may have to rub your eyes to believe that it it exists in reality. Home to some British colonial-era buildings, it also treasures a church of St. Francis. This historically rich Catholic Church is surrounded by deodar forest offering a visual treat displaying finest examples of artwork in the interiors and it is probably one of the most prominent attractions in Dalhousie. Despite following protestantism, St. Andrew’s Church is a holy site that should not miss because of its beauty, elegance and its simple architectural design. A British-style protestant church of St. John also marks its position in the best churches to visit list.

Accommodation

Here, you can find a number of comfortable hotels that offer best amenities for the budget seekers and also luxe resorts. But wherever you choose as your staying option, you will get a panoramic mountain views of the Himalayas.

How to get there?

The closest airport and railway station is located in Pathankot and you can get plenty of taxi services to Dalhousie. For bus services, you can check out their website.

Velankanni in Tamil Nadu

Morning Star Church Velankanni

Photo: Morning Star Church, Velankanni

A teensy town of Tamil Nadu, Velankanni is a popular spiritual destination that is blessed with a mega Catholic Church of Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. To see the splendour of this church alone, you will find people of different faiths and religions gather in Velankanni. You can witness the church completely built in a Gothic style with the walls painted in all white and red roofs. And being a Roman Catholic Marian Church, it is dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of Good Health. This shrine is also known as Lourdes of the East. Morning Star Church is another prime attraction for the pilgrims in Velankanni. Its unique design with a dome structured sloping roofs creates a different approach to any traditional churches.

Accommodation

The town of Velankanni does not own luxurious resorts or villas but it has a number of well-maintained hotels. You can find basic amenities with proper food and beds, besides, with the beach being quite close who would like to stay indoors?

How to get there?

Chennai is the closest and the most convenient means to get to Velankanni either by flight or rail. However, you can find state transport buses that ply regularly to Velankanni from Chennai.

Mumbai in Maharashtra

Roman Catholic Basilica located in Bandra

Photo: Roman Catholic Basilica, Bandra

Mumbai is one of the beloved cities in India and is widely visited by international travelers. It is here you find chic shopping platforms, a glimpse of Bollywood divas and a sultry ambience in almost every season. Besides that, you may come across some mass cultural meets during Christmas in their many churches. And one such place that has been a part of Mumbai for more than 100-year, Mount Mary Basilica is the city’s Roman Catholic Basilica. This Basilica attracts people for their beautiful wall murals and woodwork in the interiors. Another church that offers an exquisite charm is St Anne’s Church that is believed to be more than 125 years old. There are other shrines as well that deserves a mention and a visit like St Andrew’s Church, St Thomas Cathedral and St Peter’s Church.

Accommodation

In Mumbai, there are no shortage of accommodations, feel like a 5-star insider in their ultra luxe hotels and fabulous beachside resorts. But there are also economical hotels that offer chic decor and comfortable rooms.

How to get there?

Easily accessible by all transport means, Mumbai has an international airport and a railway junction. There are also options for sea transport from various coastal cities of India and even international cruise tours.

Kolkata in West Bengal

St. Thomas Church, Kolkata

Photo: St. Thomas Church, Kolkata

Once the capital of India during the British era, Kolkata is now famed as the Durga Puja capital. Here, you will be surrounded by old colonial buildings and a ride at the Trams is a must, while you do make sure to keep an eye for the churches. The Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary or Portuguese Church built in 1799 is a Roman Catholic Archdiocese Church of Calcutta. This church has beautiful sculptures inside including 14 stations of the cross, you can also witness the remains of the first Archbishop of Calcutta which is placed below the altar. Other Catholic Church in Kolkata is St. Thomas Church which is built in a colonial style structure. It is a Roman Catholic Latin Rite church and it is said that the corpse of Mother Teresa was kept in this church for a week prior to her funeral in 1997.

Accommodation

From swanky hotels to luxurious resorts for the wealthy, you can expect to be pampered in this city of Kolkata. You can also find a huge number of hotels that offer a reasonable fee structure and humble, comfortable rooms.

How to get there?

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is an international airport in Kolkata and it has a major rail connectivity. However, it is well connected via roadways to Assam, Bihar and other states of Orissa and the Northeast.

Dehradun in Uttarakhand

St. Thomas Church, Dehradun

Photo: St. Thomas Church, Dehradun

A gateway to the hills of Mussoorie, Dehradun is a popular city and the capital of Uttarakhand. Surrounded by Hindu Temples and Buddhist Monasteries, you can also explore Churches in Dehradun. St.Francis Catholic Church is amongst the finest holy shrines that is located on the convent road near the crowded Tibetan Market. It is believed to be one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Dehradun built in the year 1853. A visit to this church can offers solace especially during the festive season of Christmas. The city of Dehradun also has other churches offering history and beautiful architecture like St. Thomas Church, Morrison Memorial Church etc.

Accommodation

This city offers a collection of lavish resorts and 5-star hotels, you can also find forest retreats and spa. In addition, there are many budget hotels for foreign travellers on a budget.

How to get there?

Dehradun has an airport and a well-connected railway system, however, roadways are very convenient either you travel via private car or taxi. Bus services are also easily available from Delhi.

Mussoorie in Uttarakhand

St.-Paul's Church, Mussoorie

Photo: St. Paul’s Church, Mussoorie

A picturesque hill station of Uttarakhand, Mussoorie offers a charming vibe and a soothing balm to the travellers. Here, amid the emerald forests lies Mussoorie’s most historic churches called St. Paul’s, built in the year 1839 and consecrated in 1840. But what is so historically important about this church is that, it was first opened during the British rule for the British Cantonment. In order to support this fact, you can notice clamps in the hall of the church to hold the rifles for soldiers.

Accommodation

This hill station has luxurious resorts, hotels and inns for the guests offering only the best facilities so you get a comfortable stay. There are also budget accommodations.

How to get there?

Dehradun is the closest place for airport and rail connectivity, else roadways are the best option if you happen to travel from Delhi. Plenty of taxis and buses are available from Dehradun as well as Delhi.

Kohima in Nagaland

Kohima Cathedral Church

Photo: Kohima Cathedral Church, Kohima

Probably, Kohima Cathedral Church is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in India’s Northeastern state of Nagaland. This Cathedral is a mega structure that sits on a prime location in Aradura Hill overlooking the entire Kohima town. One thing this church attracts the most is the 16 feet tall crucifix, rumored to be the tallest in whole of Asia. In fact, the church’s architecture itself is a unique work of art, built in a traditional way, it appears to look like Naga Morung (youth dormitory). This semicircular building is attractive in looks and appeals the visitors to chant prayers as they wander amid the hallways and beautiful lawn outside. A visit here is an experience worth-it.

Accommodation

There may not be 5-star accommodations in Kohima but you can find close to luxurious resorts and cozy cottages offering a complete hill station vibe surrounded by clouds and nature. Home-stays are popular in this town and are especially jam-packed during the Hornbill festival.

How to get there?

The convenient domestic airport is located in Dimapur, Nagaland as well as a railway junction connecting trains from north Indian states of Delhi. By roadways, you can find taxis and Nagaland State Transport. Buses also ply on regular basis from Assam, Guwahati.

Chennai in Tamil Nadu

Annai Velankanni Church, Chennai

Photo: Annai Velankanni Church, Chennai

Tamil Nadu is often considered when it come to visiting the Christian pilgrimage sites in India. And the city of Chennai marks its position to be the best Asian destination for the spiritual tourism. Here, you can visit catholic churches of Annai Vailankanni Shrine which glorifies its architectural beauty and displays a museum of religious items. Also, a 16th century Portuguese constructed St. Lazarus’ Church is a must visit shrine, it goes by the other (local) name in Chennai as Church of Our Lady of Guidance. But that not all, this city of Chennai occupies a melange of Catholic Churches like Votive Shrine Church and St. Antony’s Syro Malabar Catholic Cathedral Church. You simply will have to expand your itinerary and stay a bit longer in Chennai to explore them all.

Accommodation

Expect ultra-comfy resorts and luxurious hotels in Chennai, there is no doubt you won’t find bliss in their beautiful hotels. There are also hostels and budget staying options. if you wish to spend less on accommodations.

How to get there?

Chennai has an international airport and a major railway system connecting trains from all parts of India. By roadways, for intercity there are many buses and taxi options, you can check out their government website.

It may come as a surprise for some but India sure is one of the best destinations for Catholic pilgrims. Owning some of the spectacular looking architectural marvels, you are for sure to have a time of your life visiting the Catholic Churches. Here you can delve into their long history, learn about the saints and the beauty of the structure itself. So what are you waiting for? Set sail ahoy on a spiritual journey to India and if any assistance is needed, you know whom to contact. Reach us at +91-9212553106 and info@tourmyindia.com also, please share, like, comment and keep following Tour My India for more similar travel blogs.

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About

Abhishek Gurung is a writer whose passion for food and travel is an unending affair. He likes going on treks and camping in the woods, loves exploring forts and architecture, he is a cycle enthusiast who likes to contribute something to the environment, travel photography and videography is another interest as he sees life in a cinematic point of view. He likes the idea of living in offbeat destination where the mode of communication is to interact with each other. Coming from Nagaland, he has visited some beautiful valleys and remote villages and appreciates nature as it is and as it should be.


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