An eclectic mix of cultures, a melange of interesting food and sights that include beaches, historical monuments and more, Mangalore or Mangaluru as it is known now is a port city like no other. One of the fastest-growing cities in the country, Mangaluru has seen a trajectory of development like no other. With a burgeoning IT industry, well known educational institutions, there are malls, restaurants, hotels and more now calling this city home. The city is steeped in rich history, culture and folklore with several old temples and churches and architecture reminiscent of the Portuguese and British era.
Destination on Top
An Arabian sea port and largest city and administrative headquarters of the Dakshina Kannada district, the New Mangalore Port is the only major port of Karnataka and is operated by the New Mangalore Port Trust. The old port is called the Mangalore Bunder or the Hale Bunder and is now used for fishing and ferrying small goods. Bharathi Shetty, Founder and Managing Director, Frontier Holidays says, “it has and international airport that connects it to all major cities across the globe. Presence of a seaport and access to all modes of transportation positions Mangalore uniquely has a hub for exports – particularly agricultural produce – the city accounts for more than 75% of India’s coffee, cashew and timber exports among others. Its unique accessibility has also given rise to robust petrochemicals, processing and shipping and logistics sectors. Its strong foundational educational system has given rise to some of the country’s finest medical, hospitals and engineering institutions like Manipal, Yenepoya, KREC Suratkal, NITTE, NITK to name a few.”
Mangalore is home to some stunning beaches and Tannirbavi Beach is among the better known ones and can also be reached via a ferry. The Panambur Beach 10 km to the north of the city near the New Mangalore Port is a calmer beach and best visited in the morning for fabulous sunrise views. It also hosts a kite festival. Kapu Beach is about 45 km to the north and has a lighthouse while the Malpe Beach about 60 km to the north has a beach resort. Do make time for the Someshwar Beach in Ullal, 11 km to the south of the city that has a temple and some amazing bird life. The Suratkal Beach about 15 km to the north of the city also has a beautiful lighthouse and is known for its powdery and smooth sand. Panambur in fact has been rated by department of tourism as the most popular beach in coastal Karnataka. Yathish Baikampady, CEO Panambur Beach Tourism Development Project says, “we started the first beach management company and have initiated a public private partnership and this has now a self-sustaining project. We have saved 296 lives from drowning and prevented many more that we cannot count. Maintaining the beach is also something we are doing by involving the local community. In fact we have many tourists from all over the country visiting the city as it is accessible. Also many of these are repeat tourists as the location of the city is such that you will not be able to see all its sights in one trip. And this is happening without creating any specific branding or promotion.”
Often referred to as the Gateway of Karnataka as it lies between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, Mangaluru is a fine example of religious solidarity and is home to temples, mosques and churches. Named after the presiding deity Mangaladevi, legend has it that a princess from Malabar named Parimala or Premaladevi became a disciple of Matsyendranath, the founder of the Nath tradition after giving up her kingdom. After converting her to the Nath sect, Matsyendranath renamed her Mangaladevi and she headed to settle near Bolar. However she fell ill on the way and died and the Mangaladevi temple was consecrated in her honour. Among the famous temples is the Sri Gokarnatheswara temple, known for its 10 day Dasara festivities, Mangaladevi Temple and the Kadri Manjunatha temple that was built in the 11th century. The Kudroli Sri Gokarnatheswara Kshetra is dedicated to Gokarnath or Lord Shiva and is a much revered place here. The well-known churches here include the 130 year old St Aloysius Chapel, the Rosario Cathedral and Milagres Church a beautiful Roman Catholic Church in Hampankatta. The Dargah of Hazrat Shareef ul Madni at Ullal and the Zeenath Baksh Jumma Masjid in Bunder are also well known.
If you are a nature lover a visit to Pilikula Nisarga Dhama about 12 km from city is a must. Spread across acres 370 acres this is a tropical forest and home to the Pilikula Lake. Apart from a biological park, arboretum, science centre, a lake park with boating facilities and a golf course, this also has a water amusement park. Close by is the Kadri Hill Park is the largest park within the city where children can enjoy a number of rides and a toy train. There are eight tanks inside the park and local believe that the water in these tanks have medicinal properties to cure a number of skin ailments. For a lesson in history a visit to the Bejai Museum or the Srimanthi Bai Memorial Museum, the only one in the city is a must. The building was the former residence of Col VR Miraskar and displays exhibits from his own which he collected over 40 years. The three storied building displays ancient coins, second century stone idols, 18th century brass images, lamps, life-size wooden figures, pottery, porcelain and glass from China and Japan. Also visit Sulthan Battery 4 km from the city of Mangalore that has a watchtower built by the Tipu Sultan in 1784 to prevent English warships from entering the River Gurupura. Today you can also see several boats here and this is where you can enjoy a spot of kayaking. And if all the sightseeing has got to you, well indulge in some retail therapy. Shopping in Mangaluru is a delight with myriad options from malls, high street brands to local stores. When you are here you can shop for silk saris, gold jewellery, ivory and sandalwood artefacts. Local shopping is best done in the areas of Hampankatta, Kankannady, Falnir and Balmatta. A must pick up of course is cashews as well as the Mangalorean Halwa available in many flavours.
Situated on the estuaries of Netravathi and Gurupur Rivers, Mangaluru’s cuisine is a mix of many cultures and is known for its extensive use of coconuts. Mangalorean cuisine is influenced heavily by a mix of cultures including Malabar, Portuguese, Kokani, Catholic and Beary and the variety of options is deliciously mind boggling. While part of the vegetarian influence is from nearby Udupi communities like Tuluvas, Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Mangalorean Catholics and the Bearys have brought in their own distinct elements too. Some well-known dishes here include the Mangalorean Fish Curry, Neer Dosa, Chicken Ghee Roast, Chicken Sukka, Kori Rotti (made of dry rice flakes dipped in gravy), Bangude Pulimunchi (spicy sour silver-grey mackerels), Beeja-Manoli Upkari, Boothai Gasi, Kadubu, and Patrode. Mangalorean Catholic cuisine has a distinctive Portuguese influence and pork dishes like Pork Bafat, Sanna-Dukra Maas, Dukra Maas and Unde-Dukra Maas are popular. Rosachi kadi, a fish curry made with ros or coconut milk, Beary biryani a staple of the Muslim community, Anjal (king fish) Masala Fry and Mangalore Buns are some other must have’s. The city has some interesting concepts as far as eating out is concerned like the floating restaurants run at Havana Islands. Sujit Shetty, Manager says, “we have two floating restaurants – Havana Manji and Sea Breeze and serve a lot of fresh local food. We get our seafood directly from the fishing vessels and also use homemade ingredients, herbs and spices that are ground on the traditional stone.” In fact you can sample the catch of the day and a variety of preparations of fish. Anvita Pereira who belongs to Mangaluru says, “one of the recent additions to Mangalore’s nightlife is Onyx Air Lounge and Kitchen. Located on the heart of Mangalore, it is touted as the biggest and best lounge in town. The roof-top offers a breath-taking view of the city and is a great place to plan a romantic date. I belong to Mangalore and have been to this place several times with my friends. We love the food and the wide array of cocktails that they offer. The ambience is wonderful and the staff and the service is top-notch. This place has taken the partying scene in Mangalore a level up by hosting match-screenings for the fans, as well as theme nights, presenting an entirely new look and feel, with music to enhance the vibe.” And yes a must try is the famed ‘Gadbad’ ice cream as well. The city’s proximity to temple towns of Udupi and Dharamasthala and other pristine untouched locations like the Maravanathe beach and Western Ghats also make it a popular choice for travellers.
Did you know?
- Aati Festival is one of the most important celebrations in Mangalore that involves folk dancing.
- Mangaluru is known for its unique art forms like the Yakshagana, Boothakolas and Namas.
- Pilivesha, a folk dance or tiger dance is native to Mangalore is performed during Dasara.
- Karnataka’s Surfing Festival, The Indian Open of Surfing happens in Mangaluru.
Where to stay
- The Taj Gateway Hotel Old Port Road
- The Ocean Pearl
- Goldfinch Hotel
Best Malls in Mangaluru
- Forum Fiza Mall
- Bharath Mall
- City Centre Mall
- PIO Mall
- Lotus Shopping Centres Pvt. Ltd.
- Empire Mall
- Mak Mall
- Excel Mischief Mall
- Transit One Mall
This story appeared in the May 2018 issue of Spice Route magazine here: Manglore