A two-part post…A unique church in Chennai…Photos from Ideal Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram…

St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica in Chennai, India.

Today’s post will be our last from tours in Chennai. In the second part of this post, we’re sharing photos of the Ideal Beach Resort located in Mahabalipuram. Yesterday’s tour in this village will be posted tomorrow when once again, we’ll be on the move to our next location, the French colony of Pondicherry.


Visiting this church was of particular interest to Tom, whose patron Saint is St. Thomas, aka “Doubting Thomas.” Humm, that’s so true.


From this site: “San Thome Church, also known as St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Thomas is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Santhome, in the city of Chennai (Madras), India. It was built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, over the tomb of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. 


In 1893, it was rebuilt as a church with the status of a cathedral by the British. The British version still stands today. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favored by British architects in the late 19th century. This church is one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus, the other two being St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain.

Image result for tomb of St. Thomas Chennai India
No photos were allowed inside the church. This is a photo of the crypt of St. Thomas found online.
According to legend, Saint Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, arrived at Muziris in present-day Kerala state in India from the Roman province of Judea in A.D. 52 and preached between A.D. 52 and A.D 72, when he was martyred on St. Thomas Mount.
It is claimed that St Thomas’ apostolic ministry in India took place specifically at Cranganore along the Malabar coast from 52 A.D to 68 A.D. His journey through Kerala is said to have resulted in numerous conversions. After spending 10 years on the Malabar coast. He is said to have traveled Eastwards across the Deccan Plateau, arriving in Mylapore in 68 A.D. 
The cave at little mount is claimed to be his favorite preaching spot. A 2000 year old never drying, a miraculous stream of water on a rock face are said to be examples of the apostle’s divine exploits. A church atop St. Thomas mount was built by the Portuguese in 1547 to mark the spot. It was on this St. Thomas Mount that the apostle was said to be killed by a lance which pierced through his back.
It was tricky getting good photos of the exterior with the traffic and crowds on the street.
His mortal remains were believed to be buried in the location over which the present day Santhomes Cathedral Basilica stands. Sometime in the 10th century A.D a group of Nestorian Christians from Persia founded the Christian village of San Thomes and proceeded to build a church over the burial site of St. Thomas. This structure fell to ruins between 14th and 15th century. In 1522 the Portuguese moved the apostle’s remains to a new tomb and church which attained the status of Cathedral in 1606.

Pope Pius XII honored the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Madras – Mylapore raising it to the rank of Minor Basilica by apostolic brief dated 16 March 1956. Massive followings and the immense devotion of people to a very ancient image of the Blessed Virgin also known as “Our Lady of Mylapore” was among the motives that prompted the Pope to bestow this honor.”

_____________________________________________
Sundowners on the beach last night.

Gosh, this is fun and it’s a bit easier to say after a few great meals and for Tom, with bacon with his eggs the past two mornings. My guy sure is a picky eater and is much more content where there is something on the menu he can tolerate. 


Let’s face it, for many travelers, including Tom, good food is a part of the experience. For me, it’s of little importance as long as I comply with my special diet and am not starving, although I do especially enjoy meals when we’re cooking for ourselves.

The pretty beach scene at Ideal Beach Resort.

Once we arrive in the UK, we’ll be cooking again, which is almost two months from now. In the interim, we’re managing better in India, figuring out what works for both of us, with our expectations in check.


This hotel, the Ideal Beach Resort, a four-star facility, is quite nice. Although its not a luxury hotel, it has everything we need. Since Indian people don’t necessarily consume alcohol (some do) the bars are seriously lacking in many hotels in India as is the case here, a closed room with a few bar stools.


Last night, we sat at a table on the beach at a tiny outdoor beach hut. It was still very hot and windy, but it was good to be outdoors, watching tourists play ball on the sand.

Swimming in the Bay of Bengal is not recommended due to severe undercurrent.

The moon was full and we were able to take a few photos. After an hour, we headed to the dining room, ordering the exact same meals from the prior night, knowing they worked well for each of us.


This hotel has not been a very social experience when there’s no particular spot where guests go to mingle. We had some wonderful interactions with other tourists in hotels along the way. But, soon enough, we’ll be on a ship where socializing is the name of the game.


Some of our readers have inquired about how we’re feeling, in light of the coronavirus about going on a cruise on April 3rd, only 25 days from today. Of course, we have concerns. 

Last night’s full moon.

The cruise line contacted all passengers, offering us a full price voucher if we choose to cancel but not a cash refund. If we canceled, we’d have to find a place to stay for 30 days, paying for hotel/holiday home and flight, most likely to the UK, leaving us with an expensive Viking Cruise Line voucher which could eventually be worthless if the cruise industry crashes.


The Viking Sun is a small ship carrying only 900 passengers. This particular cruise line has yet to have a single case of the virus on any of their ocean-going or river cruises. Our temperature will be taken before boarding and passports will be checked for recent countries visited.  Many countries are being excluded and passengers will be refused to board.


We have military-grade face masks we purchased months ago and if a single case is found on the ship, I assure you, we’ll be wearing them. I don’t know. It’s everywhere, including our own USA. Nowhere except Antarctica is free of the virus. Besides, we’re already traveled there. 

Tom’s dinner for three nights, a form of chicken Cordon Bleu with pasta and bread. He says it’s good.

Sure, we are more at risk traveling internationally than those staying housebound wherever they may live. But, if people so much as go to a market, a pharmacy, a school, a restaurant, or any public place in any part of the world, risks exist.


In the interim, we watch for and check for more information from Viking, should they decide to cancel the cruise. There’s nothing more we can do at this point. If we had to pick a place to “hide” from the virus, we don’t know where that would be. Does anyone know?


Instead, we continue with our India tour exercising good hygiene and considerable caution as much as possible. We may consider canceling any tours where there are vast numbers of tourists at any given time. We’ll research and make decisions as we go along.
That’s it for today, folks. Stay tuned.  Lots more is coming, as mentioned above, including yesterday’s interesting tours.

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2019:

The Nyala seems to be following a small forkl of kudus consisting of two boys and their mom.  It appears he’s taking a liking to the mom. For more photos, please click here.