I would have liked to meet Mr Habban as he could have updated me about Jesus Christ. But that was many years ago and I would have to be in a time machine.
After the death of Christ, Thomas got acquainted with Habban, a merchant of King Gondophare of India.
It was with Habban that he (St Thomas) travelled to India in 52 AD and landed at the south coast of Craganore (present day Kannur) in the State of Kerala.
After building seven churches along this coast, he travelled to the eastern side and took shelter at Parangimalai which is now known as the St Thomas mount.
Had been to Chennai last week and made it a point to visit this mount and the surroundings. It was tough locating the place and I found that the railway station itself had two names, Parangimalai in Tamil and St Thomas mount in English, a first of its kind as the names of the stations are usually the same in any language.
There is a flight of 134 steps from the back side and I took that path instead of the road that is available now. Though the climb is steep, it is worth the effort.
From the mount one can see the planes landing and taking off from the Meenambakam or the Chennai International airport.
Interestingly this Mount comes under the Cantonment area Pallavaram which is also the second oldest cantonment in India.
I spent some time inside the church (or rather the old chapel which was the original one)
It houses 100 relics of the 12 apostles including the toe bone of St Thomas.
Noticed a family moving about very reverently and they spoke in Marathi the way the Kolis (fisher-folk) of Mumbai speak..
I spoke to one of them and he said that they came all the way from Vasai - Mumbai for this pilgrimage.
In the church compound I saw a banyan tree which is 175 years old.
One has to obtain permission to click pictures, but it is not an issue as they give permission to anyone on payment of Rs ten for which you get a receipt.
There were certain signs and guidelines put up at places, like this one for example which is self-explanatory (or is it?)