Places to Visit » Champakulam St. Mary’s Basilica

Champakulam Kalloorkadu St. Mary's Forane Church (also called Champakulam Valia Palli) is one of the oldest Christian churches in India and the mother church of almost all Catholic Syrian churches in Alleppey District. By tradition, the original church was founded in AD 427. We have to assume that the old church might have been rebuilt and renovated many times. As with most of our ancient churches, there is not much documentation available. But, surprisingly we have a lot of information available from a few archaeological artifacts around the church.

It is believed that the first church was at the site of the present cemetery. Later, a new church was built at the land reclaimed from the river, probably in AD1151. We have clear evidence about the renovations done after AD 1151 from the inscriptions on the Champakulam Rock Cross. There are many archaeological artifacts found around the church about its history. Champakulam church was once under Niranam Church, which was founded by the Apostle Saint Thomas himself.

The Chembakasserry Kingdom was founded in 12th century based at Kudamaalor by a Namboothiri with the help of a group of Nair warriors expelled from the Samoothiry of Calicut. These kings were called “Devanarayanans”. They later invaded to the west and took over the Ambalapuzha area and moved his head quarters to Amabalapuzha. The famous Ambalapuzha temple was the palace of the king. This kingdom was called as Kingdom of Porca by the western historians with reference to the port at Purakkadu. Antonio de Gouvea reports that the Church at Purakkadu was founded by the King as a gratitude for the blessings and favours he received from the God of the Christians during his war with the Queen of Wadakkumcoor. He had a lot of Christians in his army and during the war; one of the Cathanaars blessed the Christian army and asked the king to have a private flag for the Christian army with a cross in it. He won many wars with this flag. As a gratitude for his victories, he founded a church at Purakkadu with the title of Mar Sliba (Holy Cross) and brought some Christians from Champakulam to live there. The King himself planned to carry a big cross to the site of the church, but as he fell ill the King’s brother and heir carried it and planted there. Later, the King handed this church over to the Jesuites.