Xavier Cave

Useful Information

Location: At the coast near Manapad, South India. 700 km south of Chennai, 2,800 km south of New Delhi.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologysea cave
Guided tours:
Address: Xavier Cave.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Xavier Cave is named after Saint Francis Xavier, who once lived and preached in this cave. According to local Church history the Jesuit missioner lived between 1542 and 1544 in a grotto on the rocky side of a hill in Manapad. He was preaching to the Parava people, a fishing community which had converted to Christianity in 1532. The Saint realized that the Parava did not know much about their new religion, because they had no one to teach them. Actually the had converted to seek protection by the Portuguese against Arab pearl traders.

The cave draws thousands of Catholics and Hindus every year. It has become a sort of unofficial pilgrimage destination.

The small cave is located only five meters from the sore, at the tip of a cape. Pounding waves sometimes flood the cave, sometimes the water in the cave is ankle deep. The cave is transformed into a sort of chapel, with a white baptismal tub made of stone and a small statue of the saint standing on an altar. Inside the cave is a small well, an opening in the ceiling allows to draw water using a bucket and rope without entering the cave. Located only 10 m from the sea the well contains sweet water. Until a few years ago, the local priests used to offer Mass in the cave. Then a chapel was was built above the cave and the mass is now held there. A granite slab at the cave entrance has an inscription memorating the history of the cave.