Introduction to St. Mary’s Forane Church

Resting on the banks of the picturesque River Pamba, St. Maryโ€™s Forane Church in Alappuzha district is a true historical gem. Boasting of brilliant architecture, elaborate rock inscriptions, and ancient artifacts, the church reveals the deep influence of Portuguese culture in its design and aesthetics.

Location and Geographical Features

Located in Alappuzha district, St. Maryโ€™s Forane Church offers a serene setting amidst lush greenery, serene backwaters, and swaying coconut palms. Its proximity to the River Pamba adds to its charm, creating an endearing environment that captivates visitors and worshippers alike.

History of St. Mary’s Forane Church

Believed to have been constructed in 427 CE, St. Mary’s Forane Church holds a rich historical legacy. It is part of the Champakulam Kalloorkadu Marth Maryam Basilica, which is one of the oldest Syrian Catholic churches in India. The church is under the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, further highlighting its significance in the region’s religious landscape.

The church’s architecture, rock inscriptions, and ancient artifacts reflect its enduring history and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the intricate details of the church’s design, including an open-air rock cross dating back to CE 1151, showcasing the craftsmanship of bygone eras.


St. Mary’s Forane Church’s geographical location adds to its allure, with serene backwaters and swaying coconut palms dotting the banks of the River Pamba. The tranquil surroundings create a peaceful atmosphere, ideal for contemplation and spiritual solace.

How to Reach St. Mary’s Forane Church

Visiting St. Mary’s Forane Church is convenient due to its central location in Alappuzha district. Travelers can reach the church via various modes of transportation:

  1. By Air: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, located approximately 85 kilometers away. From the airport, visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Alappuzha district.
  2. By Train: Alappuzha Railway Station is well-connected to major cities across India. From the railway station, travelers can use local transportation options like taxis, auto-rickshaws, or buses to reach St. Mary’s Forane Church.
  3. By Road: Alappuzha is easily accessible by road, with well-maintained highways and roads connecting it to nearby towns and cities. Travelers can drive to Alappuzha or take a bus from neighboring areas.

Tourism in St. Mary’s Forane Church

St. Mary’s Forane Church is not just a religious site but also a hub of historical and cultural attractions that enthrall visitors of all ages. Here are some of the top attractions within and around the church premises:

  1. Ancient Artifacts and Inscriptions: Explore the intricate rock inscriptions and ancient artifacts within the church, showcasing the rich history and craftsmanship of bygone eras.
  2. Architecture: Marvel at the brilliant architecture of St. Mary’s Forane Church, which reflects a blend of traditional Kerala style with Portuguese influences, creating a unique and captivating structure.
  3. Open-Air Rock Cross: Admire the open-air rock cross dating back to CE 1151, a remarkable piece of historical and religious significance.
  4. Champakulam Kalloorkadu Marth Maryam Basilica: Visit the Champakulam church, part of St. Mary’s Forane Church complex, known for its historical legacy and spiritual ambiance.
  5. River Pamba: Enjoy the serene beauty of the River Pamba, which flows near the church premises, offering picturesque views and a tranquil atmosphere.
  6. Local Culture and Traditions: Immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions by attending religious ceremonies, cultural events, and festivities held at the church.

Tourist Activities

Visitors to St. Mary’s Forane Church can engage in various tourist activities to make the most of their experience:

  1. Historical Tours: Take guided tours of the church to learn about its history, architecture, and cultural significance.
  2. Photography: Capture the beauty of St. Mary’s Forane Church, including its architecture, surroundings, and historical artifacts, through photography.
  3. Religious Observances: Participate in religious observances, prayers, and services held at the church for a spiritual experience.
  4. Boating: Enjoy boating on the nearby River Pamba, taking in the scenic views and natural beauty of the surroundings.

Best Time to Visit St. Mary’s Forane Church

The best time to visit St. Mary’s Forane Church from November to February. This time period several festivals and events celebrated at the church, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.


While St. Mary’s Forane Church is primarily a religious and historical site, visitors can explore nearby markets and shops for souvenirs, local crafts, and traditional items. The bustling markets in Alappuzha offer a variety of products, including spices, handicrafts, clothing, and souvenirs, providing an opportunity for shopping enthusiasts to indulge in retail therapy.

Nearby Destinations

Explore the surrounding areas and nearby destinations while visiting St. Mary’s Forane Church:

  1. Alappuzha Backwaters: Take a backwater cruise or houseboat tour to experience the mesmerizing beauty of Alappuzha’s backwaters, a hallmark of Kerala tourism.
  2. Alappuzha Beach: Relax and unwind at Alappuzha Beach, known for its golden sands, serene ambiance, and stunning sunset views.
  3. Kuttanad: Visit Kuttanad, often referred to as the “Rice Bowl of Kerala,” to witness lush paddy fields, traditional villages, and a unique rural lifestyle.
  4. Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple: Pay a visit to Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, famous for its traditional architecture, religious significance, and delectable “palpayasam” (sweet milk pudding).