Manapad : History, tourism, and everything you need to know!

Along the coastlines of Tuticorin, lies a thinly populated fisherman hamlet – Manapad, a beautiful scenic landscape that truly is a treat to the eyes. This coromandel cost is roughly 60 kilometres from Tuticorin and 18 km  south of Tiruchendur, a perfect home to some of the important landmarks in Indian catholic sites such as the Holy Cross Church and St. Francis Xavier’s Grotto. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about Manapad, starting with,

History of Manapad

With its history dating back to the 1500s this little summer land is the home to one of the ancient relics. But before I tell you about the relic and its details, you need to know its story. So lets start with a quick look into the history of Manapad.

Back in the 1540s, a Portuguese ship was caught in the terrible tides of the Bay of Bengal when it was making its trip from the Cape Of Good Hope to the east. This was due to the violent storm that raged within the deep waters challenging the lives of everyone aboard the ship. The water shook the ship, damaging it terribly. Grasping for his life, the captain of the ship, a strong believer of Christ made a prayer for the lives of his men and his. He vowed that if he and his people found land, escaping the storm, they would erect a cross using a broken piece of the ship. 

Almost miraculously, the crew found land and reached Manapad. Washed ashore with them was a plank of the ship that resembled a cross.  The miracles related to the mysterious plank amazed both the crew and the locals of Manapad, that they started attributing healing powers to it. Above all, this called for a great feast and celebration. The locals and crew together held a feast, and erected the Holy Cross church at the hillock of Manapad.

As a result, even today the church is of great significance, part of the local history, and has its fame spread far and wide.

Manapad Church - Manapad review | Mittai Stories
Manapad Holy Cross Church

The story of how Manapad became India’s little Jerusalem

Now, coming to the ancient relic we read about above. Around 1530, St. Francis Xavier landed in Manapad, and took abode in one of the grottos which is now an important landmark for Catholic pilgrims in the Indian Subcontinent. It was his arrival that made Manapad a community that it is today. He lived and preached near the portugese captain’s holy cross. His way of life attracted the locals of that time, that they called him a saint even before the church titled him.

Later, upon his departure, and with the Holy cross church now fully built, Rev. John de Salanova decided to make it a place of significance by bringing in one of the ancient relics in time – a piece of the True Cross dating back to Christ. Back in 1583 an appeal was made to Rome through the General of the Jesuits Rev. Fr. Aquaviva for a fragment of the True Cross. With Pope Gregory XIII’s approval, the relic arrived at Cochin where it was received with due reverence by Rev. Mathew de Medina. Then a great procession of Catholics carried the relic across the Malabar coast and brought it to the Holy Cross Church. 

ST. francis xavier's grotto
Cave of St. Francis Xavier

Soon the event brought in immense significance to the thinly populated coastal hamlet. His Holiness Pope Leo XIII named the hamlet as “A Little Jerusalem”

The significance of the holy cross relic

The True Cross is believed to be the physical rementas of the cross in which Jesus Christ was crucified. Said to have been found during the search of sacred relics, by Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome.  Historians such as Gelasius of Caesarea and Rufinus have supported the claim that St. Helena discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to have been used at the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves. Among the three crosses, the True Cross (Jesus’ Cross) was identified by the  titulus bearing Jesus’s name.

Later, the True Cross was later broken into pieces and sent far and wide which is now possessed by a handful of churches. The Holy Cross Church in Manapad is one of these few churches and that gives it a firm mark in the map for Christian holy sites.

Manapad holy cross - Mittai Stories
Holy Cross Painting

Things to do in Manapad

This coastal hamlet is full of life, and rich in history. For the most part, its centuries old mansions, and simple huts by the beach, enhance the land of pearls which is blessed with a pleasant weather and friendly locals who are warm and welcoming. If you visit Manapad, among the tons of picture perfect places, do not miss to visit the below,

A walking tour of the holy places

Manapad’s beautiful sea shore, and tropical weather tick all the boxes for a perfect stroll across the hamlet. In particular, Take a tour of all the three churches in Manapd. Also, dive into the divinity of these places, and cherish its breathtaking architecture. For an authentic local feeling, attend one of their evening masses to truly experience the Manapad lifestyle.

The churches and places of historical importance in Manapad include,

  • Holy Cross Church
  • St. Francis Xaviers Grotto
  • St. James church
  • Church of the Holy Ghost

Do not miss the splendid view of the ocean from the view point atop the hillock. 

manapad church view - Mittai Stories
Holy Ghost Church, Manapad

A surfer’s paradise : Tranquil beaches and the Blue lagoon

The tranquil beaches and the unique wave patterns is one of the choicest places in India, to go surfing. Also, being one of the best places to surf, the several layers of accumulated ocean floor and a unique wave formation, renders this coastline a paradise of Indian surfers.

manapad ariel view
Manapad Surfing Shores | Image: Manapad Photography – Facebook

Right time to visit Manapad

The best time of the year to visit Manapad is during the month of September when the entire locale comes alive with festivities and cheer. In this month every year, the locals celebrate the festival of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. September 14 to be exact. In this the time of the year pilgrims from all over the world, the Malabar coast especially, gather here with piety and devotion. This festival holds a solid part in the hamlets history followed with reverence for generations over centuries. In short, you can witness the procession of the relic of the true cross and  join the thousands singing praises:

“Forth comes the standard of the kings:
All Hail, thou mystery adores:
Hail, cross on which life himself died and by death our life restored!

Manapad in Pop Culture

Simple locale and extravagant scenic views defines Manapad’s landscapes. Similarly the withered coast side houses and almost haunted looking ancient plastered mansions has been the backdrop of several pop culture creations. This warm coastal landscape has attracted movies that were majorly based on its locale and culture.

Manapad beach view - Mittai Stories
Manapad Scenic View

How to reach Manapad

In general, Manapad is easily accessible from Tuticorin.
Local visitors: Reach Manapad from Tuticorin is to take a bus.
Other district/state visitors: Reach Tuticorin by road or rail, and then take a bus or cab to Manapad.
Foreign travellers: Reach Chennai international airport, transit to Tuticorin and then take a bus or cab to Manapad.

Overall, Manapad has excellent transportation facilities from Tuticorin. It has well maintained roads, If you prefer to take a road trip.

Liked the post, or visited Manapad before? Do let us know your experiences in the comments below!

Finally, if you are reading Mittai Stories for the first time? Yay! We hope you enjoyed it as much we did <3

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1 Comment

  1. I can certainly see your experience in the work you write. I hope to see even more passionate writers like you who enjoy what they do. Always go after your heart.

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