Velankanni Beach has a number of shops situated in and around it. Very quaint in their setting, the aforementioned shops offer a traveller or a tourist with a soft spot for shopping, an experience very different from most other parts of the country. From instant photo studios to eateries to small shacks selling CDs and DVDs, Velankanni successfully manages to combine modern merchandise with old-fashioned grace with ease.
Some also sell wax replicas of body parts that are meant to be offered at the church. This reflects the fact that most of the visitors to Velankanni come to ask for healing, keeping in line with the legends that surround this fine town. Swimming is a favoured activity, and whilst the sea is irregular and quite deep, many hundreds can be seen taking a dip throughout the course of the day.
Velankanni Church, known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, is the most popular attraction in the holy town of Velankanni. Originating as a thatched chapel during the mid-sixteenth century, it later became a Parish church in the year 1771.
In the year 1962, a special status of a minor basilica was granted by Pope John XXIII. The shrine is kept open from five in the morning to nine in the evening, and daily services include masses given in Tamil, Malayalam and English at various points of the day. Novena prayers, a rosary and evening prayers are carried out at six in the evening as well.
In 1974-75, an extension of the basilica was built keeping in mind the design of the Basilica in Lourdes, France. The Velankanni Church has come to be known as the Lourdes of the East over time. A pilgrimage to the church is common during the time of the feast in September and Christmas season.