Caught between the salty kisses of the breeze from the Arabian Sea and redolent with the fragrance from the biogeographical riches of the Western Ghats, the charming city of Mangaluru will give you an off-the-beaten-path feel while alternating between the vibe of a relaxed coastal town and a bundle of hectic urban landscapes.
The city is popular for its exquisite temples, flourishing industries and sun-kissed beaches. For those with more earthly impulses, the thought of the lip-smacking kane and bangude fry, or the pleasures of dunking tired bodies in the waters off the lovely Ullal Beach, are inducement enough.
If you are doing the scenic thing and driving down to the coast, the swinging coconut palms that frame lush green paddy fields are the first indication that the topography is about to change. As befitting a port city, what will strike you the most about Mangaluru is the veritable babble of languages you hear all around you. Tulu, Kannada, Konkani, English, even the odd snatches of Malayalam, all co-mingle in the salty air to give Mangaluru its distinct sense of otherness.
White shores and clear waters, what more can one want from a good beach? Sasithulu Beach is a little-known gem. If noisy places are not your thing, this beach is the perfect place to kick back and relax. As you zip up NH17 towards Udupi, you’ll pass Mangaluru’s best-kept secret: Surathkal Beach. With its lighthouse and close proximity to the National Institute of Technology, this is a favourite haunt of Mangaluru’s hip crowd. To reach the city’s most visited beach, drive up NH17 and leave behind Mangaluru’s chemical haze to be a part of the congregation on the Panambur beach. As entering the water is risky, you’ll have to make do with 5-minute long camel rides here.
Temples and Churches
Religion dominates society and the economy in this primarily agrarian district. Visit exquisite temples like the Manjunatha with its caves of Pandavas, Mangaladevi which come alive during Navaratri, and the Sharavu Ganapathi with its unique car festival — these are a part of the religious circuit in the city. The Kukke Subrahmanya Temple with its lush green forests, rivers and mountains surrounding the temple complex enhances the overall beauty of this temple.
The St. Aloysius College Chapel is an architectural gem with its frescoes and oil paintings. With its stained-glass windows and mosaic tiles, a trip to the city’s Rosario Cathedral will transport you back to the late 1500s.
Those with more secular pursuits in mind, however, need not despair—a drive up the Kadri Hills is just the ticket for you. With winding roads and spectacular views of the sunset, it makes for a pleasant interlude on breezy evenings.
The Phalguni River Lodge, set just outside Mangaluru, is a bunch of basic but well-run lodges, dotted around Karnataka’s national parks and wilderness areas, and have proven wildly successful over the last decade or so. A stay at this resort makes for a much-needed interlude in the middle of nature. There’s also an arboretum, a science park and a heritage centre. Back at the lodge, you have a choice of accommodation in comfortable AC rooms or suites.
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There’s something about the wind in your hair, the smell of sea and the powerful thrill of riding a wave that attracts people to surfing. The surfing ashram in Mangaluru is the perfect place if you want to learn how to ride the waves in a clean and encouraging environment. For an additional fee, you may also enjoy snorkelling in the Arabian Sea. Friendly people, delicious food and free Wi-Fi is sure to make you come back for more.
Seafood reigns supreme in this coastal town, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that they are excellent at it. A trip to Mangaluru is incomplete without a meal at any of the numerous restaurants that dot this charming city. Try the Machali which, true to its name, serves the best of all things fishy. Have some rice with coconut-infused fish curry to get that lip-smacking coastal taste. Their speciality is the Prawn Ghee Roast that will linger on your tastebuds for days. Local favourite Gajalee Seafood Restaurant is another option. This hilltop restaurant is best known for its crispy batter-fried Bombay Duck, tawa rried fish and prawn dishes.