Location: Little Mount & Saint Thomas Mount, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
It’s good to be back home for the holidays. I laze around for the first couple of days thinking what to do next. So I decide to make a small trip to Little Mount and Saint Thomas along with my Grandmother’s Sunday school.
A little on Saint Thomas background. St. Thomas AKA ‘The twin’ or was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. His most significant moment in the bible was when all the disciples had seen he didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the grave and he only would if he touched Jesus’ wound and ended up doing exactly as said. Hence also the name ‘Doubting Thomas’. And then Jesus sent his disciples to different parts to world to tell them about the good news. And Thomas was sent to India. And everything after that is just a blur. With evidence we are able to tell tiny bits of the story but other than that every one is just in the dark about what really went down in India. It’s been told that he came to North India and went to Kerela where he established some churches but that is irrelevant to this post as I’m only focusing on what happens after he meets the Tamils. I’m tamil and I feel honoured to know that one of the disciples were sent to my hometown to talk about the word and all and we err….. killed him. It was an honour to kill Thomas too (Sarcasm isn’t very evident in script form). If you didn’t know, Saint Thomas died in India. So let’s move over to our first location.
So I made my way up an small flight a stairs into the area which is supposed to be the place where Saint Thomas hid for some time from his escape from the natives. The place is now all neat and tidy which in a way was a little upsetting.
The floors were cemented, there were two churches and statue depicting apparently great saints. I’m a Christian and it isn’t in the habit (or atleast mine) of worshipping saints. The reason for my mood was because this was supposed to be the wilderness and a place where he hid and now it’s all cleaned up and nice. Now no one will know what it meant to be hiding in the wild little mount.
We enter the church and by the side of the altar is the small entrance to the cave where he hid for a while.
We squeezed ourselves through. The sealing was very low and I started feeling a bit clautrophobic. The cave was lit by a few tube and in the front was a statue of God and a few writings (obviously not apart of the original cave). Then there is this small barred window through which St. Thomas apparently squeezed himself out to save himself from the people. There is a large rock on the floor with the Hand print of Saint Thomas.
Coming out there is this big, well you cant say pillar with a stone in the middle which where you can see a foot print of St. Thomas. To the left is a small house inside which is the interesting stuff. When you enter, the first thing you will see is the ‘bleeding cross’. This cross was carved by Thomas and the magical thing about this croos is that a few times in the past, blood had seemed to ooze out of the cross. To the right of the bleeding cross was the ‘Fountain’. The story behind this fountain is that when Thomas was thirsty, he striked the rock and it created this fountain. It was a deep well and on top was board which claimed that it was the fountain which cured all diseases. The little children around all rushed to get a sip of this God given water. There is a small cup attached to a chain which served us well. Excited I was too to taste this holy water, I take the cup and practically bathed myself in it. The water, it felt……….like…….like……water?. Well it is water after all. Not that I was expecting anything. I walk out of the house to a sight of an uneven terrain filled with statue. This area is supposed to be the holy area. Though I think it has no significance to Thomas himself. It contained statues of Jesus in his different stages of carrying the cross.
Saint Thomas Mount:
This area is where you’d probably be able to see an entire summary of Chennai. Good tourist spot too. This is supposed to be the place where after Thomas was stabbed by a lance, ran all the way to this mount. There are 2 ways to get to this mount, One is by foot which is the most preferable way to get up. It’s a trek worth taking. Not recommended if your old and can’t walk much. I remember as a kid I would climb the mountain with my family every Sunday just so we could do a 5 min prayer sight see a bit and head back down.
The other way would be by transport up a gradual ascend. As we climb the mountain by bus, all the kids in the back started cheering and clapping and the beautiful sight. One of the little girls in the back shouted “Ulagamay theriyidu inga irindhu!” (I can see the whole world from here). What the kid said may not be accurate, obviously you can’t see the whole world. But that moment it felt like you were on top of the world, or atleast Chennai. The nice thing about this places that you have a beautiful view of the airport. You could spend hours watching planes take off and land.
With the church in the middle, you’d want to go in and check out the finger bone and toe bone of Thomas . Outside we have this sort of platform that over looks the city and this was supposed to be the place where the Pope blessed the multitude of people gathered at the feet of the mountain. This place has a big statue of the crucifix and a giant bowl with holy water.
We sat under the banyan tree and waited for the sun to set so we could see the city lights but didnt as it became too late. There’s also a Holy Convent which runs an orphanage. Kind of a mind changing sight from the beautiful view. Making you realise how blesses we all are for loving parents, a home and a beautiful life.
The only significance of this area is that it was the place were Thomas was buried. Though we didn’t go that day, I asked my Grandmother what exactly was there, she said that there was a big hole infront of the church when was the grave. The grave was dug up and his body was moved to Rome.
It’s good to know that India was one of the places which experienced Christ from his very own disciples. This place is the perfect place of blend of Religion and History.