The coastal town of Mangalore serves as a wonderful base to explore many spiritual and cultural locations in the vicinity. Here are some important places that are easily accessible by road from Mangalore.
Nestled in the backdrop of the Western Ghats and being a famed Jain pilgrim centre, Karkala is home to about 18 Jain temples or basadis including Mahaveera Basadi, Anekere Padmavathi Basadi, Chaturmukha Thirthankara Basadi and Hiriyangaddi Neminatha Basadi. The Chaturmukha Basadi has a whopping 108 pillars and has three life size images of Thirthankaras and smaller images of 24 other Thirthankaras and was built over 30 years. A recurring characteristic of this small town is the black stone that you will see everywhere that gives its name as Karkala is derived from Kari (black) and Kallu (stone) in Kannada. This place is also known for the monolithic statue of Bhagawan Bahubali at Gommateshwara betta that towers 42 feet high making it the second tallest one in Karnataka and was erected way back in 1432. An anointing ceremony or Mahamastakabhisheka happens once in 12 years and the next one is slated in 2026. While in Karkala, stop by the beautiful St. Lawrence church at Attur that has a rich history and also celebrates an annual feast when pilgrims throng the place. Karkala is also home to some old temples like Anantashayana, Venkataramana, Gopalakrishna and Veerabhadra. For some quiet time head to the Ramasamudra Lake that is not just scenic but is also known to be a perennial source of water.
Distance from Mangalore: 55 km.
The temple town of Udupi is as well known for its famed Krishna temple as it is for its delectable cuisine and lovely pristine beaches. At the heart of the town is the Sri Krishna Temple or the Udupi Krishna Math that was started by saint and philosopher Madhavacharya in the 13th century. A Dvaita philosophy center, the sanctum sanctorum houses a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna. An important element of this temple is the Kanakana Kindi a small window through which his ardent devotee, Kanakadasa could see Lord Krishna. The Ashta Mathas or eight temple trusts here are in charge of the administration of the temple in rotation. Close by at Yellur, you can also see the Lord Shiva temple said to be over 1000 years. Udupi is well known for its beaches Kaup, Malpe and St. Mary’s Island. When it Udupi, sample its world renowned cuisine that evolved in the large kitchen of the Krishna Temple that serves meals every day to all devotees that visit the temple free of cost every day. One of the important festivals held here is the Paryaya that happens every alternate year that witnesses chariot processions, folk dances, cultural shoes and religious hymns. The ancient Milagres Church, Maravanthe Beach, Kollur and Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary are some places that are worth a visit from Udupi.
Distance from Mangalore: 65 km.
Sri Kukke Subramanya shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanya is worshiped as the lord of snakes on the banks of the Kumaradhara River. A revered temple, there are several rules that need to be followed by men and women who enter this temple. Legend has it that this is the place Vasuki, the king of snakes worshipped Lord Shiva to protect snakes from the wrath of Garuda. This is when Shiva sent his son Subramanya to protect the snakes. The silver Garuda tower here is said protect devotees the poison from Vasuki’s breath as it is believed that he stays inside the temple. There are manye important poojas performed here including the main ritual of Sarpa Samskara / Sarpa Dosha to alleviate issues of negativity in one’s life. Naga Pratistha Puja is performed by couples who are childless and the Ashlesha Bali is performed by people affected by Kaalasarpadosha which happens due to planetary misalignment leading to problems.
Shree Kshetra Dharmasthalaon the banks of river Nethravathi is among one of the holiest places in South India and the main temple here dedicated to Lord Manjunatha, a form of Lord Shiva is over 800 years old. The golden linga of Lord Shiva in this temple has poojas conducted by Vaishnava priests whereas all the administration is taken care by Jains. The specialty of this temple is that it is known as a place where truth and righteousness is upheld at all cost. This is where local people seek justice which is administered by the temple head or Dharmadhikari Sri Veerendra Heggade. When you are here, step into the Manjusha Museum that has an enviable collection of well-preserved artefacts as well as some old wooden temple chariots. Also stop by at Manjusha Car museum that houses the private vintage car collection of Veerendra Heggade. Photography is not permitted at both museums. This place is also known for the 39 feet tall monolithic statue of Bhagavan Bahubali as well as a temple dedicated to the Sun God. A 13 day festival called Nadavali that happens once in 12 years is well known here.
Distance from Mangalore: 75 km.
Another important Jain center, Mudabidri or Moodabidri is a quaint town by the coast. This place was ruled by the Jain family of Chowtas who moved their capital here in the 17th century and the remains of the Chowta Palace with its intricately carved wooden pillars and ceilings can be seen to date. The temples here have wooden roofs and exquisitely crafted idols carved out of precious gemstones. There are over 18 basidis in Mudabidri including Guru basadi, Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi and Ammanavara Basadi. Guru basadi is the oldest monument here and is home to a 3.5 metre high stone idol of Parshwanatha. The Jain manuscripts – Dhavala, Jayadhavala and Mahadhavala called Siddhanta in Digambara tradition are preserved here. The most ornate Jain temple here is the thousand pillared Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani basadi built in 1430 A.D. Lord Chandranatha Swami in the sanctum sanctorum here is very revered. A single stone pillar called manastambha stands in front of the basadi at a height of 15 meters. Several Jain festivals are celebrated here through the year.
Distance from Mangalore: 35 km.