Mangaluru - Rome of the East

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

When I had planned to travel to Mangalore, the max I had expected out of this trip was fantastic food. Least did I know I'd return finding a second home. Here are the most prominent locations of the Gateway of Karnataka that can mesmerize anyone with their charm.

~ Nisarga dhama ~

Ever wondered what an amalgamation of multiple tourist attractions would seem like? Well, that’s precisely what Pilikula Nisargadhama offers. A one-stop destination for all nature lovers. Spread across 370 acres, the Pilikula Nisargadhama is a multi-purpose tourist attraction located at Vamanjoor. Pilikula is a vast lake surrounded by multiple gardens. In Tulu language, pili mean Tiger and, kula translates to the lake. Tigers used to come to the lake to have water, hence the name.

The Pilikula Arboretum (Pilikula Botanical Garden) extends over 35 hectares. With a wide variety of flora and fauna, the Arboretum not only contains threatened species but also has 6 acres devoted to a considerable number of medicinal plants. On the other end, there is a zoo where wild animals are not caged but are in the open. Precautions are taken for visitors. Adjacent to the zoo is the Manasa Water Park.

Pilikula also has several science centres, 3D planetarium, a golf course and a Heritage Village that displayed Tulunadu culture at its best.

Pilikula is an ecosystem on its own, and a breath of fresh air. It is a perfect destination for a picnic.

~ Sultan battery ~

There can’t be someone from Karnataka who isn’t familiar with Tipu Sultan. He constructed a watchtower at Boloor 15 years earlier to his death. Hence, is named Sultan's battery. The construction was meant to obstruct warships from entering the river, which was the primary route for the English invasion. The structure has an underground storage area where gunpowder used to be stored. History says there is a secret route from this underground to Mysuru, which is now closed by Indian Tourism Authorities. Despite being deserted, Sultan’s Battery attracts tourists and provides a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea that depicts a perfect blend of natural and man-made beauty.

~ Beach hopping ~

Take a day off and check out these famous beaches. I promise you, at the end of the day you’d be in love with beaches even if you are a mountain-person.

  1. Someshwara-Ullal Beach: The beach gets its name from the centuries-old Somanatha Temple standing on the seashore. The ‘Ottinene hill’ is nearby, and on reaching the top, it gives a breathtaking view of the Netravathi River merging and disappearing into the Arabian Sea. The lush natural vegetation of this hill also houses many medicinal plants that are highly efficient. The most prominent feature of the beach is the large rocks on the beach called ‘Rudra Shile’ or ‘Rudra Paadhe’. Apart from the Somanatha Temple, the remnants of Rani Abbakka’s fort, Queen Abbakka’s Jain Temple and Sayyid Madani Dargah are among the places to visit near the beach.

  2. Tannirbhavi beach: A ferry ride from Sultan’s Battery via Gurupura River leads to the most popular tourist attraction in coastal Karnataka, the Thannirbhavi Bach. Tanneru means cold-water and, bhavi translates to well. The beach is a much-needed escape for a nature lover. The beach is a stunning bridge between coconut grooves on one end and the clear ocean on the other. From funky sunglasses to lavish dinners, the place offers everything!

  3. Panambur Beach: Here is the most famous, the most crowded, the cleanest beach of Mangalore yet. It is believed that the name of the beach is derived from ‘Panam’ which means money and ‘ur’, which means place. The beach also witnesses several annual carnivals comprising of boat racing, kite flying, and making sand sculptures. The beach is an absolute treat for a foodie. From ice golas to perfectly cooked fresh seafood, the stalls near the beach offer a variety of delicacies that soothe your taste buds.

~ Food! Food! Food! ~

Someone like me prefers seafood over free food. And what better place than Machali and Maharaja. These two iconic restaurants are so popular that they are a tourist attraction on their own. Machali is mostly crowded because that’s how amazing the food is. They specialize in authentic Konkani cuisine, which gives the touch of native flavours to a foreign tongue. Machali is quite a celebrity as it has been mentioned as the “topmost recommended” seafood restaurant in the city by Vogue India. Maharaja is less crowded owing to its location, which is known only to the local people. Where Machali loses, Maharaja wins. You do not have to wait for hours for your food. The ambiance offered is pretty peaceful in contrast to the chaos of Machali. But both the hotels are a worthy experience and pretty much pocket friendly.

Must try: Fish thali, Neer dose with seafood curry, Squid ghee roast/ Bondaas, Anjal Tawa.

Special mention: Dasara

Dussehra/Navratri is one of the prominent festivals of India. Each state celebrates it in a different way. Each practice is passed down from the older generation. The Mangalore Dasara or Marnemi is a festival organized by Kudroli Shri Gokarnanatheshwara Temple during the days of Navaratri. The key attractions of Dasara in this part of Karnataka are the tiger dance, lion dance, and bear dance. The Royal tiger dance, also known as Pili Vesha in Tulu or Huli Vesha in Kannada is a folk dance famous in coastal Karnataka. The significance of Huli Vesha is to honour the Goddess Sharada. During Navaratri, it takes a whole new form involving young male troops joining from different parts of Dakshina Kannada. These people in the attire of Tiger backed by drummers roam around the streets and houses. These are narratives of my friends who have lived through this grandeur of a festival. Visiting Mangalore during Navaratri is a treat for any travel lover.

Mangalore or Mangaluru is ‘sihi-est’ place I’ve visited. Sihi is the Kannada word for sweet, and it perfectly describes the nature of people here. I felt so close to home when in Mangalore. Let’s just say this is my second love, first being Bengaluru ❤

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