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Mangalore Musings

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A coastal city nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, the port city of Karnataka has some of the most scenic sights of the state.

Beaches in and around the city

The coast line of Mangalore is home to several beaches within the city limits as well as around it. The Tannirbhavi beach is a relatively quieter beach and is the place to head to for a fabulous sunrise especially if you are an early morning person. This beach is accessible by road and also by ferry from the Gurupura River at Sultan Battery. The calm and secluded waters of this beach make for a quiet getaway. Located within the city, 2 km from the New Mangalore Port is the Panambur Beach Panambur Beach that is a favourite with tourists and is usually bustling with water sport activities and has some street food options as well. The annual International Kite Festival that happens here in January every year sees the beach transform into a hub of activity. Close by at Ulal is the Someshwara Beach that has a stunning light house, a large rock formation called ‘Rudra Shilas’ and the ancient Someshwara temple that is visited by several devotees every day. This temple is said to have been built during the reign of Queen Abbakka Devi who was a warrior queen who fought against the Portuguese. The Ullal Beach next to the Someshwara Beach is a water sports hotspot and offers some stunning sunset views from its shores lined with casuarina groves.

About 25 km from Mangalore is the lesser known Sasihithlu Beach that is a less crowded yet lovely beach that you can see too. The Kaup Beach in Udupi near Mangalore has an old lighthouse and a ruined fort that offers stunning views of the surroundings. Further ahead is the Malpe Beach hugged by green palm trees and well known for its three rocky islands and a hub of activity from boating, fishing and sea surfing. When you are here, a visit to St. Mary’s Islands is a must, an interconnected set of four small islands – Coconut Island, North Island, Darya Bahadurgarh Island and South Island. Interestingly the volcanic rock formations are a geological delight and are similar to the ones found in Madagascar in Africa. Do not miss seeing the hexagonal shaped pillar-like rock at North Island and collect sea shells here. A ferry ride from the Malpe jetty to St.Mary’s Islands is a ride to cherish as you will come close to sea gulls and Brahminy kites. About 112 km from Mangalore is Maravanthe Beach which is unique as it is located on the National Highway 66. Interestingly, the Suparnika River flows on the other side of the highway so you can actually see the ocean on one side and a river on the other.  Up ahead is the Murudeshwar Beach a beach that has a famed temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, a towering statue of Shiva and a ruined fort.

Spiritual Sojourn

Mangalore is ideally located from several important places of religious significance and hence becomes a place that is an automatic point to connect to various locations courtesy its top notch hospitality services. One of the most revered of these temples is at Dharmasthala on the banks of the River Netravati that is home to the temple of Manjunatha a form of Shiva. Interestingly this temple is administered by Jains while poojas are done by Hindu priests. If you are here during the November-December time period you can be part of the annual Lakshadeepa when the town is lit up.

Located 60 km from here is Kukke Subramanya nestled in the greenery of the Western Ghats,known for its temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya worshipped as the Lord of Serpents here. The Ashlesha Bali puja and Sarpa Samskara puja conducted here are all related to warding off any problems from serpents. About 60 km from Mangalore is the temple town of Udupi well known for its Krishna temple. Dating back to the 13th century, this temple was founded by Saint Sri Madhavacharya.

At Karkala, a small town in Udupi district you will see a huge statue of Gomateshwara that towers at a height of 42 feet and is an important site of Jainism. Karkala also has 18 Jain basadis including the Hiriyangaddi Neminatha Basadi, Chaturmukha Tirthankara Basadi and Anekere Padmavathi Basadi. This apart there are several temples, mosques and churches like the Ananthapadmanabha Temple. The Mahamastakabhisheka a festival celebrated once every 12 years is when the statue of Gomateshwara is anointed with milk, water, saffron paste, sandalwood powder, turmeric and vermillion. When you are in Karkala try and see the local folk dance Hulivesha or Tiger Dance, experience the Bhuta Kola or spirit worship and also witness the Kambala or buffalo racing, Korikatta or Cockfighting and Nagaradhane or snake worship. Mudabidri or Moodabidri situated 31 km from Mangalore also has an interesting Jain heritage. Known for The Thousand Pillars Temple or the Saavira Kambada Basadi, there are many other Jain temples here including the Ammanvara Basadim the Leppada Basadi and the Guru Basadi, and others. Interestingly the town is inhabited by many Roman Catholics and has about 11 churches too. Do stop by the 16th century Igreja da Santa Cruz Hospet or Hospet Church built by the Portuguese when you are here. The Lakshadweepotsava an annual five day festival is celebrated by the Konkani speaking population of the town and is an important event in the town’s calendar.

Gastronomy Beckons

If you thought that Mangalore was all about beaches and spirituality, think again. One of the most loved aspects of the city is its cuisine and the best part is that there are unique dishes that are native to the city and its surroundings for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. A mélange of influences including the Bunts, Billavas, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Mogaveeras, Mangalorean Catholics and the Muslim Bearys makes Mangalorean cuisine a gastronomic delight like no other. Distinctly spicy, the cuisine is coconut based and makes extensive use of curry leaves, ginger, garlic and chili. Being on the coast, it is well known for its sea food and the Mangalorean Fish Curry is a popular dish here. Fish Pulimunchi is another traditional Mangalorean dish where the fish is cooked in authentic local spices with coconut and tamarind. Also the Bangude Pulimunchi made from spicy sour silver-grey mackerels and Neer dosa or wafer thin rice-crêpes are popular here. The Chicken Ghee Roast made with clarified butter and spices and Chicken Sukka made with a dense paste and coconut are other must tries. Kori (meaning chicken) rotti a combination of red-chili based chicken curry and crisp dry wafers made from boiled rice is a Mangalorean Bunt specialty. If you like snacking the Mangalore Buns – a sweet, soft, fluffy puris made with ripe banana and plain flour served with spicy coconut chutney and sambar are a must try. Also sample the Goli Baje a popular snack especially with your evening tea or filter coffee. Made with flour, curd, chopped onion, coriander leaves, coconut, jeera, green chillies and salt, this is deep fried and delectable.  Kadubu is a steamed idli cooked in a jackfruit leaf mould that gives it a distinct taste and flavour. The Patrode made from colocasia leaves smeared with rice flour, spices, tamarind and jaggery is like a steamed dumpling that is sliced and shallow or deep fried is a local delicacy too.

Mangalorean Catholic food includes dishes like Pork Bafat, Cabidela and Kalleze un Kiti, Sanna-Dukra Maas idli fluffed with toddy or yeast, Dukra Maas served with Unde a leavened bread, Bifa Maas a beef dish, Bokrea Maas or mutton and Kunkda Maas or chicken as well as Rosachi kadi, a fish curry made with coconut milk. The Sheveo Roce and Pathal Bakri or fried rice flakes dipped in chicken gravy are also distinct to them. There is an extensive use of jackfruit, bamboo shoot, breadfruit, raw banana and sweet cucumber in the cuisine here. Being close to Udupi, there is a clear influence of its cuisine here. This is essentially vegetarian fare that comprises Saaru or rasam, Hulli or sambar, Menaskai, a variation of Sambhar, Holige or a sweet chappati, Kosambari a salad of lentils and Rasayana a sweet juice or squash. And do not forget to try the Gadbad a signature ice-cream served in a tall glass with layers of ice-cream, jelly, dry-fruits and fresh fruits. Haldikolyanche Patholi or a sweet rice dessert is layers of thin, flat and long rice cake packed in fragrant turmeric leaf. Interestingly most traditional desserts use jaggery made of palm instead of sugar. Kashi halwa made with ash gourd, Sweet Moong Dal Khichdi a Konkani dessert topped with ghee, Pineapple Kesaribath made with semolina and Ashtami Unde, chickpea flour ladoos a specialty of Konkani households of Udupi made for Krishna Janmastami are some local sweets. Chanedali panchakajjaya a mixture of five ingredients offered to God, Jackfruit payasam a sweet dish made from ripe jackfruits and the Banana halwa made with ripe banana are traditional desserts that you must try.

This story appeared in the June 2018 issue of Spice Route Magazine here: Spotlight Manglore

Do read my Mangalore Travel Guide for more information on the city and what you can see and do.

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