(Part I of a three-part series)
Coastal tourism is a new emerging concept in India, but people have been drawn to water since ancient times. The ability of water to nurture has led man and nature to evolve and civilizations thrived across the globe.
The serenity of a beach, the clear waters and being in the abode of nature is something that most of us desire. To break away from the mundane chores and the daily rat race, we all tend to seek peace in nature.
Having an avid interest in Maritime studies, I decided to explore the shape of coastal tourism in our country and explore beyond Konkan and Goa. I wanted to travel south and experience the exuberance of the untapped potential of costal tourism in India and to see landscapes I had never seen before.
Mangalore or known as ‘Mangaluru’, is a small and beautiful port city in Karnataka. It is unique not only for its location but also for the beautiful cultural blend that one encounters, while exploring this hot yet pleasant city.
The place is adorned with ancient temples along with the brightly painted recent ones which is like witnessing time travel in a single frame. It is not just temples though, as we cruise through the not so busy roads, beautiful churches block the view and you are immediately mesmerized by the varied hues which the sight beholds!
As I dwell in the plains, I immediately wanted to see the beaches and feel the breeze and sun on my skin and hence headed straight to see the much talked about beaches of Mangalore.
Kapu beach and Hoode beach are a must visit. They are clean and devoid of litter, less inhabited and ooze out tranquility.
Kapu beach is around 13 km south of Udupi and 40 km north of Mangalore. It is known for its lighthouse, the three Mariamma temples and a fort built by Tippu Sultan. Kapu was later rechristened as Kaup by the British.
Another breath-taking view, with coconut grooves at the background is the Hoode beach. It is a lesser known beach and hence, is the perfect destination for those who wish to retire in the nature’s arms with little to no distractions.
It is located around 17- 20 Kms from Udipi and has a surf club, for the adventurous lot. Beyond these, there is a long list of scenic beaches which would make you want to stay a day extra in Mangalore.
The best part about travelling to these beaches is crossing through Udipi which is a quintessential for foodies like me. Managlore and Udipi have a variety of places that serve traditional, lip-smacking local food at decent prices.
There is another part of town which is lit by beautiful cafes, serving multiple cuisines which make up for a fun evening. The city has a whammy feel to it as opposed to what people perceive about it, and living those beautiful shades is fantastic.
Sea food is delectable but it is not the only craze. The South Indian cuisine here is a must try for its Udipi variant along with amazingly refreshing, and hard to miss sorbet which are relished across all age groups.
Contrary to the popular notion of this city being a humble place, you would require more than a day to absorb everything in parts and not in its entirety.
The magnificent temples are a reminiscent of the existing and bygone. Some of the famous temples which are flocked by people from far and wide are Kadri Manjunath and Mangala Devi. There are many more such temples, which are perfect for a spiritual seeker.
Not only are these temples unique for their religious aspect but also for their splendid architecture, delicious Prasad and the fragrance of Mogra offerings that lingers along the temple complex. In these iconic temples, cleanses is the soul.
Lord Shiva is revered as the most important deity while most of the temple architecture has striking resemblance to the Kerala style of architecture.
The city of Mangalore has a historic past which is fascinating for a history buff. Karkala or better known as Karla is located in the Uidpi district of Karnataka.
A 60 km drive from Mangalore to Karkala runs amidst almost empty roads with few people and coconut vendors to quench your thirst, with vegetation on both sides. This lush green sight soothes the eye as we head towards our destination.
Jainism is also widely practised in Karkala, and is a significant pilgrimage destination for the Jain community, owing to its historical importance in the Jain religion.
The colossal statue is carved out of a single stone and measures 41.5 feet (13 m), and is popularly known as Gommateshwara (Lord Bahubali). Installed at Karkala on 13 February 1432 and accoladed for its grandeur, this statue is located about 1 km from the centre of the town.
There are about 18 Jain Basadis in Karkala, including the Chaturmukha Basadi, Hiriyangaddi Neminatha Basadi, and Anekere Padmavathi Basadi, all of which are listed with the Archaeological Survey of India.
This entire region is like a giant Jain complex with ancient structures, each with significant history.
While the sweet smell of the ancient hung over me, I headed to Moodbidri, which is half n hour’s drive from Karkala. Here once again, I encountered a beautiful Jain temple, known to have 1000 pillars.
Saavira Kambada Basadi, is yet another example of the slightly borrowed yet traditional temple architecture, prevalent throughout Mangalore. As one enters the temple it makes one feel nostalgic, despite seeing the splendour for the first time.
There is an overall calmness which invokes spirituality. While glancing at the remains of the now faded remnants; an eerie feeling grips you of how powerful it is to withstand the battle against time.
Mangalore is like a surprise package with a perfect blend of the old and the new, and something to cater to every individual. There are many scenic beaches to stroll down upon.
You may find lists of places to visit online but I would recommend you take out some time and venture out on your own to find your own fascinating stories.
I am convinced about that we as a country have so much to explore and develop these costal spots as tourist destination.
With that mind and an infectious euphoria, I decided to venture a little farther. More about it in the next part of my serendipity across the coastal towns of Karnataka.
(This post was first published here in The Tilak Chronicle.)
Tiya Chatterjee is a Delhi-based Maritime Archaeologist, with a background in History, Archaeology and Museology.
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.