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St. Thomas Trace

In the church history, it is generally considered that the St Thomas Christian communities of Cragannore (Kodungalloor) and Palayoor were migrated to Angamally during early periods of Christian era. Why these Christians selected Angamally to migrate? Why Angamally was chosen as the seat of Archbishop House for many ancient centuries? From the ancient period onwards, the highest density of population of St. Thomas Christians was seen at Angamally, Why? Mar. Francis Ross recorded - the see of Angamali was the most ancient see of India. - the see of Mylapore which was found by the Apostle Thomas himself, was transferred to Cragannore when the Christians left Mylapore and got themselves established in Cragannore, and the see of Angamali was the continuation of the Cragannore See.” Why? According to the traditional belief, the apostle St. Thomas visited two times in India and preached gospel.

He started his initial journey to India with the traders through the silk route touching Takshasila (the capital of the Parthian Kingdom) and second time through the spice route.The land route, which was the common route followed by the traders engaged in oriental trade to fetch Chinese Porcelain and silk, and was able to reach North West India, ruled by the Parthian King Gondophoros. After his evangelization work in North India, St. Thomas is said to have returned to Jerusalem for attending the first Jerusalem council via Barygaza ( Braukaccha or Broach), which is mentioned as an important port-town in Gujarat by Periplus of Erythraen sea.

St. Thomas is believed to have come to South India after the Jerusalem council via Persian Gulf and Socotora.. Attempts to historicize the activities of St. Thomas in South India would necessitate a close at the international developments, against which the apostolic work is depicted in tradition. It was possible to reach Malabar (Kerala) coast from European countries within 40 days through spice route (sea route) with the advantage of monsoon winds. The discovery of the advantage of monsoon winds for navigation, in Northern Indian Ocean sector in A.D.45 by Hippalus, increased the sea traffic between Roman Empire and Malabar. St.Thomas established seven churches (Communities) at Muzuris(Kodungalloor ?), Palayoor, Paravoor(Kottakkavu), Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Kollam and Chayal (Nilakkal) in Malabar. Even though this belief may not be fully realistic, or otherwise if it is so, it can be pointed that there were other nearby places also, like Angamaly, Alangad, Mala, Malayattoor etc, which were enlightened by the Gospel with the visit of St. Thomas, which can be substantiated with the ancient topographical features and tracing the trade centers of that time.

Angamaly (position 10° 20¢N & 76° 37¢E) was well connected with the rivers and mountains; and it was the one of the main trade junction of spices (mainly pepper) with guardhouse, and path way to Spice route in Malabar. It is believed that St. Thomas travelled from Malabar to Thamizhakam through land route (Ghat route) crossing Western ghats. This route, starting from Muzuris to Madurai /Pandi, connects different places, mainly Angamaly, Manjapra, Malayattor, Kothamangalam, Adimali,Poopara, Bodimeetu, Bodynaikanoor and also via Admali, Munnar, Pollachi, Udmalpettu, etc. Kings, Traders and Missionaries of various religions used this route, for a long period in ancient centuries.

An account about this route, given in the Ernakulam District Gazetter is as follows: “According to tradition, St. Thomas came to Malayattor by the then familiar route, through some passages in the western ghats which linked kerala with pandien kingdom”. There is also a narration about the same fact in the famous Ramban pattu. Some historians pointed out that the initial leisure place of Apostle St Thomas was at Angamaly.

Ancient Ghat route (Angamaly to Pandi)

Coins of Gondaphores ( Ist Century)
discovered in 1857