Chris and Lora's Season of Pilgrimage 2008-2009 travel blog

With new and old friends - we finally meet up with Chris's...

Interesting painting in the Fort Museum at Fort St George







Paan-walla: often eaten as an after-meal digestive and mouth freshener, these little...

San Tome Cathedral - it is believed that the remains of St....

Interior of San Tome Cathedral



Chapel under the cathedral

It is common to see women wearing long strands of jasmine flowers...

Colorful and intricately carved South Indian temple


Interior of St. Andrew's Kirk, the Anglican church we visited with John's...

Chris and John in front of the library at the Mar Thoma...

St. Thomas mount

View from St Thomas mount

Cool tree at St Thomas mount

Chennai (previously known as Madras) is India's 4th largest city (pop. maybe 8 million). My (Chris's) friend John lived here growing up - when he wasn't away at boarding school. We rented a room in the home of some friends of John's cousin - a really cute bed & breakfast type of place.

Lora and I toured the city - we saw Fort St. George (built by British East India Company around 1640), Chennai's coastal beach (we were told it is the 2nd longest in the world), and ---, the most important Hindu temple in Chennai. We also toured some interesting Christian sites, including SanThome Basilica, which is believed to be built over the tomb of the Apostle Thomas. While Christians of all sorts make up about 3% of India's total population, their numbers are much higher in the (Indian) South. Chennai, for example, is about 10% Christian.

One interesting thing to note about the historic Christian communities of Southern India is that almost all of them trace their heritage to the Apostle Thomas, who is believed to have brought the Christian gospel to India before dying there. In fact, when the first European explorers, traders, and missionaries arrived in India, they found a Syriac-rite Orthodox church already in existence! My friend John comes from the Mar Thoma Church, which I mistakenly thought to be Protestant. In fact, John explained to me that it is actually from the Orthodox stream, but it broke off in the 1700s due to a desire to conduct services in the local language instead of in Syriac. We also attended a Sunday (English-medium) service in "the Kirk," an beautiful old Scottish Presbyterian church originally founded by the British (or Scottish, I guess I should say).

We rounded out our Chennai stay with visits to some of John's family and friends, before taking an overnight train to Bangalore.

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