Since its release, the movie Kantara has created a lot of buzz all over India. I am one of the few who watched the film only recently. The landlord’s house caught my eye as I watched the movie. It looked familiar. It took a little bit of time to make the connection. It is one of the properties belonging to Sai Radha Resort’s owners. The cultural aspect that this movie showcased brought back nostalgic memories from childhood, and this additional link to something familiar was like a bonus that excited me!
The entrance of this Heritage House (Kantara House, if I may call it so) is an impressive 170 years old, and the western portion of the house (which you see primarily in the movie) comes from a 96-year-old home that was going to be demolished.
Every detail of this Heritage House, be it the arched laterite columns, solid wooden rafters or objects tastefully placed around the house, is an antique.
The owners told me they travelled all over Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to source material for their properties; some of their finds are from the deep interiors around Kundapura. The ‘Kantara House’ took two years to build and has been standing majestically since 2007.
Their beachside resort, where I have stayed on more than one trip to Mangalore, my ‘native’ (as a local would say when referring to their hometown), also carries similar design aesthetics.
Mangalore is a small city on the west coast of South India. One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the beach almost every Sunday. It was a family outing. Over time, Mangalore and the adjoining temple town of Udupi have become attractive to the traveller who wants a quiet and unique place to visit; the beach is an added attraction. Sai Radha Resort perfectly fills the void where there is no beachside accommodation.
Well-marked signages along the highway tell you exactly where to get off the road and take the narrow winding path leading to the resort that sits amidst gently swaying coconut trees. (Or, GoogleMaps is your friend).
The resort has a heritage block and cottages.
Sai Radha Resort
The heritage block is a replica of a home built in 1860 by a feudal landlord for his administrator (Patel). Square and fluted wooden pillars with ornate capitals, exquisitely carved doors and rafters, window frames, and other artefacts were carefully transported from the original home about 30 km from the resort and installed in the resort. The resort’s heritage block looks like a local ‘guththu’ house, complete with red oxide flooring and floral and vines designs around the windows. On the porch are antique writing desks, a wooden string hopper (idiyappam/shemige) press, an ox-cart yoke, a traditional mancala board and many other artefacts from a bygone era.
Once you step into the hall, ochre-walled corridors run on either side, with rooms both on the ground floor and the first floor. Don’t miss the brass and porcelain collection in the hall. The shelves above the windows are another typical feature of the houses of this region. Food items used to be stored away on these shelves to keep them from ants.
The cottages sprinkled around the property carry the look of traditional houses of the region, complete with red oxide floors, ochre walls and Mangalore-tiled roofs. Antique 4-poster beds in the cottages offer a good night’s rest. Watching the sunset from the balcony with the gentle sea breeze caressing your face is pure joy. Thoughtfully placed water faucets at the entrance to every cottage mean that you can brush off all the sand before you enter your dwelling
The staff are sincere in their efforts to be helpful and courteous when dealing with guests and quick in responding to guest requests. Breakfast is a simple but delicious fare where even the usual upma might taste different thanks to the Mangalorean style of preparation.The sea is a calming blue, and the beach is clean. I loved the interaction that the lifeguard had with the guests. He not only keeps an eye on those in the water but offers tips and advice on how to remain safe on the beach, which is a good thing because people generally underestimate the strength and power of the ocean.
Things to do while at the resort:
Morning walks on the beach are therapeutic.
The Kapu lighthouse beckons the visitor; it is a 2km walk along the beach and worth visiting (or you can drive over). For a fee, the resort offers boat rides to an island nearby (from Oct to May only).
The drive on the Padukere beach road is lovely, where one can pick a spot to stop and enjoy the sea and sand.
Places to visit from the resort:
One can visit several places while making the resort the base. Malpe beach, St. Mary’s Island, Krishna Temple in Udupi, Hastha Shilpa Heritage Village in Manipal, temples in Mangalore, Padubidri beach, the list is long!
The resort has 22 rooms, and the Kantara House has four rooms with ample car parking space. The property can host events and functions and has an in-house restaurant.
This resort is special because there is no other like this for at least 60km up and down the coast from Mangalore. I have friends in Mangalore who go to Sai Radha to spend some time in quiet solitude when Mangalore and its hectic social life (and gossip) get to them.
If you are looking for luxury with frills and laces, then you must go elsewhere, and I can safely say you won’t find one in this belt of land. Sai Radha Resort guarantees a comfortable, homely and enjoyable stay at a very decent price point.