A trip to ‘My Mangalore’

Over the last two decades we four friends and our families have planned enough number of vacations together, if we executed them with the same speed with which we discussed the trips, we would have travelled the globe at least twice πŸ™‚ Of the zillion plans made over pints of beer, we have successfully seen through fewer than a handful – work schedules, travelling spouses, kids’ schedules and such other hurdles made things a bit hard.

Whenever we got together for a meal, all our kids would huddle and laugh as we went about discussing a new place to visit (our most latest being destination Alaska). Thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic, and I am sure much to our children’s relief, we do not meet often sparing them the ‘torture’ of having to endure us as we build another castle in the air of a trip.

Recently, while chatting about my blog on Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve with two of them, I casually asked about visiting Mangalore. While that set the tone, a lunch meeting sealed the idea into place. The stars aligned in our favour and exactly to the date, a month later Suman, Sangita, Suman’s lovely daughter and I set out to see my hometown, Mangalore, the city where I was born and brought up. We were to be accompanied by my young adult son too, but when he could not make it, we thought the young lady might drop out too (for lack of company). But she came along. We thought her brave to go along with three ‘aunties’ πŸ˜‰ Oh at the end of the trip, she said she was game any day to go along with us on any of trip that we plan in the future πŸ™‚ So….that speaks for us I guess πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

The conversation that got us started about this trip.

The city of Mangalore is a small coastal town, where, when I was growing up, everyone knew everyone else and life started and ended at the end of the street you lived on…well, almost. It is now a burgeoning city, with new roads connecting what used to be the outskirts of the city back in the 70s and 80s and even the 90s, apartments mushrooming in every 2400 sq ft sites, new restaurants serving Mangalorean fare and giving the old iconic eateries a run for their money, and even boasting of its own microbrewery. Despite all this, it would not take more than two hours to show my friends my Mangalore. So to make things a bit more interesting for my well-travelled buddies, we added a few interesting and unique stops in the vicinity of Mangalore.

On Day 1, we left Bangalore at what I call the ‘sacred hour‘, making us hungry for breakfast as we had been up at an unearthly hour and on the road about 2 hours now. We stopped at what is my usual spot on the Bangalore-Mangalore Highway only to find out that the hotel has had a name change yet again (3rd time in a matter of 2-3 years) and the restaurant did not seem to be in operation. The small ‘hotel’ next door served decent idli-vada-dosa but when busloads descended on the small place (travellers WITHOUT MASKS can be unnerving!) we made haste. Our next stop was for lunch just off the highway in Mangalore. While Sangita looked forward to her Mangalorean fare which is mostly seafood and chicken – sadly for her, the rest of us hard core vegetarians were limited to only partaking in her excitement, no mas. Back in the car, and 40 minutes later we arrived in Kaup at one of the most beautiful resorts by the beach, possibly one of the best closest to Mangalore.
Once we settled in, we waited for the sun to reach a certain degree in the horizon so that we could go for a swim in the sea. The soft sand under our feet and the gentle waves (it was low tide at the time) and a very enthusiastic lifeguard who took time to educate every guest about how to be safe in the sea made for a lovely time! We walked along the beach to the Kaup Lighthouse right in time for the sunset but a tad bit late to visit the lighthouse itself. It was only on the way back when the tummy started growling and calf muscles started aching that we realised that we had walked quite a distance! We gobbled our dinner and called it a day.

After breakfast, Day 2 saw us check out of the resort and head out to St. Mary’s Island with the intention of taking the first boat out at 10.30 am. I told my co-passengers to look forward to some ‘entertainment’ – blaring Bollywood remix songs from the boat’s loudspeakers which invariably stirs the dancer within everyone on the boat – even the ones with two left feet πŸ™‚ Not our day, we were unlucky (or spared the trauma?), the crowd stayed subdued and focused simply on getting to the island. Once we reached there post a 20-minute boat ride, my friends were simply awestruck by the breathtaking beauty of the island. I would say, visiting St. Mary’s island is worth everyone’s time simply because it is one of a kind in India. We walked along the edge the water and an hour later were ready to hop back on the boat for the return. No dancers this time too 😦
With the noon sun on top of our heads, it felt nice to get back in the car and head to Manipal for a leisurely lunch. Post lunch we visited Hasta Shilpa in Manipal (another must-see in my opinion) and drove to Mangalore and checked in to the hotel. We spent the evening seeing ‘My Mangalore’; the house I grew up in, the school I went to and ate the famed veg puff at the bakery opposite the school gate, the venue of my parents wedding celebrations and visited the chapel at St. Aloysius College. (By the way, I must be the only Mangalorean who has not attended the Midnight Mass there during Christmas!).

Day 3 saw us visit the ‘Shri Tribhuvana Tilaka Choodamani Basadi’, commonly known as the ‘1000 pillar basadi’ in Moodabidri, an hour away from Mangalore. The basadi or Jain temple was built by a local chieftain in 1430 and got a facelift in the 1960s. The upper wooden structure has the look and feel of local temples in the area while the lower level carries the typical architectural style of Jain temples in stone. It is not as grand or large as the temples of Gujarath or Rajasthan or our very own Hoysala temples in Belur, Halebid and Somanathpur, but is still an imposing place of worship with an air of dignity, quiet and peace around it. The temple is dedicated to the 8th Thirthankanara Chandraprabha.
In the evening we visited the Sultan Bathery, Tipu Sultan’s watch tower and took the ferry to the beach at Tannir Bhaavi. While this section of the beach is new development, the one that I would frequent as a child is only a few 100 metres away. The ferry is for crossing the Gurpur river and reach the narrow strip of land beyond which lies the beach. This ferry-ride was a first for me too, and I would say, one of those things that you can give a skip, especially after the lovely beach/resort at Kaup.
Late in the evening we were told about a ‘Kambala‘ (buffalo race) taking place in a nearby town, an hour from Mangalore. While none of us were keen to watch it and that too amidst thousands of people, that it still takes place and has an audience goes to show that the sad tradition is here to stay. Given a choice in a non-pandemic situation, between a Kambala and ‘Bhoota Kola‘, I would opt witnessing a Bhoota Kola if there was one taking place while in Mangalore.

Day 4 we journeyed back to Bangalore, with that sense of satisfaction of having ticked a trip off the list.

Mangalore is 350km from Bangalore.
We took the Nelamangala-Hassan-Sakleshpur-Uppinangady route.
Highway work is going on (finally!!) on a stretch of about 30km between Hassan and Sakleshpur making motorability a bit tedious because of bad roads and diversions.

We ate at:
Day 1:
Breakfast at Hariprasad Hotel, a few kilometres after Yadiyur, adjacent to Kalinga Hotel. We always ate at Kalinga, but the restaurant seems non-existent now.
Lunch at Gajalee Seafood Restaurant in Kadri, Mangalore. It is a fine dining restaurant set in a charming old bungalow in the compound of the Circuit House.
Dinner was in-house at the resort.

Day 2:
Breakfast was in-house at the resort.
Lunch at Hadiqa in Manipal. An open air restaurant and a favourite among the students at this University Town. The menu is continental in nature and portions adequate.
Evening – Puffs at Vas Bakery, Bendoor followed by Ice cream and Cutlets at the iconic Pabbas, leaving no room for dinner!

Day 3:
Breakfast in-house at the hotel.
Lunch at Hotel Sai Palace’s multi-cuisine restaurant called ‘House of Flavours’ that is new and very popular in Mangalore, needs prior booking on weekends.
Dinner at The Ocean Pearl Hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant ‘Coral’.

Day 4:
Breakfast at Ashritha Hotel’s Surabhi Restaurant in Sakleshpur, another place that we have been stopping at religiously over several years now! They never fail the ‘taste-test’ when it comes to Idli-Vada-Dosa breakfast.

Accommodation:
In Kaup – Sai Radha Heritage Resort
In Mangalore – BMS Hotel

Pic Courtesy: Sangita, Sumanya and her lovely daughter.

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