Monday, January 7, 2008


the Gateway to Manipal University and Dharamstala

Because of the similarity of names, many people confuse Mangalore with Bangalore.
Mangalore is an altogether different city - about 357 kms from Bangalore.

Recently, I received an invitation to visit Mangalore.
I literally jumped up…….. because for some time past, I had actually been looking for an occasion, or rather an excuse,to visit Mangalore.

I wanted to visit Mangalore for two purposes:
· To re-visit Manipal University(I have visited it earlier, too), conceptualized by Dr. T M A Pai, who ushered into India the era of private, self financing, paid education, attracting a large number of overseas students; and
· to see one of the most exclusive resorts in India in its final stages of construction.

Introduction to Mangalore

In Mangalore, I purchased the book ‘Beware Falling Coconuts’ written by Adam Clapham.
Claphan worked as a TV producer with the BBC for more than three decades.
He spent most of his working life in India - making documentaries for the BBC.

In one of the chapters of this book, he has described his search for a good place to settle down after he had retired from the BBC.
He chose India, he explains why, and finally landed up in Mangalore where he now lives in a nice spacious bungalow.

Mangalore has its own rustic charm.
Even today, there are plenty of old style tile-roofed buildings (called Mangalorean tiles) surrounded by coconut groves and banana plantations.
In the distance, you can see fishing boats outlined against the skyline as the fishermen draw in their catch.

Mangalore is also the gate way to Udipi, where Manipal University is located, and to Dharamstala - another fascinating place.
These are the two places you must visit.


Mangalore was named after a local Hindu deity Mangaladevi.
According to local legend, Matsyendranath, an important protagonist of the Nath cult, arrived at Mangalore with Premaladevi, the princess of Kerala.
Matsyendranath converted the princess to his cult and rechristened her Mangaladevi.

But Mangaladevi died after a brief illness and the Mangaladevi Temple was constructed at Bolar in her name.
The temple was renovated by the Alupa king, Kundaverma Alupendra II, in 968 A.D.
Mangalore has a long and chequered history.
There are many historical references relating to the city.
Even a thousand years back, Mangalore was a flourishing port and trading centre.


Mangalore is surrounded by rivers on three sides.
To the south is the Netravati River.
To the west, and curving sharply inwards towards the north, is the Gurupur River.
To the west, the Gurupur River is followed by a sand bank, followed by the Arabian Sea.

The National Highway No. 17 runs through the district for more than 95 kms - almost parallel to the sea.
The distance between the highway and the sea is never more than a few kilometers.

Mangalore has several beautiful palm fringed beaches and is surrounded by lush green fields and dense forests.

Places to see

Mangaladevi Temple
The Mangaladevi Temple, situated about 3 kms from the main city, is a major place of attraction.
A colourful festival takes place here during the Durga Puja (October).

Sultans Battery
The Sultans Battery is situated in Boloor - 4 kms away from Mangalore City.
It was built in black stone by Tippu Sultan to prevent battleships from entering the Gurupur river.
The surviving portion of the fort is known as Tippu’s Well.

Sultans Battery is actually only a watchtower.
But from a distance, it gives the appearance of a miniature fortress.

St. Aloysius Church
This Church, built in the year 1899-1900, is situated 1 km away from the city’s main center. The walls of the church are covered with paintings by the famous Italian artist Antony Moshaini.
St. Aloysius College Chapel, situated on lighthouse hill, is comparable with the Sistine chapel in Rome.

Places to see around Mangalore

Gometswara Statue (54 kms)
Situated 20 kms north of Mudabidri is Karkal, famous for Gometswara - a 13 metre high statue of Bahubali, located on a small hillock on the outskirts of the town.
This statue was carved in the year 1432.
From here, you can get a good view of the Western Ghats.

Krishna Temple at Udipi (60 Kms)
Udupi is famous for its Krishna Temple installed by Sri Madhavacharya about 700 years ago.

It is believed that Lord Krishna himself asked Viswakarma to make his image out of Saligram stone.
There is no front door leading to this statute.

The main entrance is actually on the southern side of the temple.
You have to view the idol through a window.
In front of the window there is a small ‘gopuram’.

On the right side of the temple is a tank called Madhwa Pushkarani.

Manipal University at Udipi (60 Kms)
Manipal University does not need any introduction.

The foundation of Manipal University was really laid down by Dr. T M A Pai (Tonse Madhava Ananth Pai - born April 30, 1898).
Dr. Pai was an ordinary man.
He studied medicine and practiced surgery for 15 years.
Then he gave up his medical practice and established the Syndicate Bank.
After that, he diversified into education.

He started the Kasturba Medical College in 1953 and went on to establish several other colleges - medical, dental, pharmacy, allied health sciences, engineering, management, etc.
In 1993, the Government of India granted “Deemed University” status to the institutes and the Manipal Academy for Higher Education (MAHE) was established.

Manipal Academy for Higher Education was the first institute in the private sector to be recognized as a Deemed University in India.
In December 2006, the name Manipal Academy for Higher Education was changed to the more appropriate Manipal University.

Malpe Beach (6 kms from Udipi)

The beautiful Malpe Beach is situated 66 kms north of Mangalore, near Manipal.

The uninhibited St. Mary’s Island, just a boat ride away, has a fine beach and an impressive geological formation of basalt rock pillars in the sea.

Dharmastala (75 Kms)

Dharamstala has a number of Jain bastis and the famous Manjunatha Temple.

There is also a 14 metres high statue of Bahubali, which was erected in 1973.

There are two museums - one containing a wonderful collection of vintage cars - all in working condition; and the other a large assortment of different objects.
The temple provides free boarding and lodging to all visitors.
The same food is served to both the rich and poor.

Dharamstala is also the headquarters of SDM group of educational institutions running medical, dental, ayurvedic, naturopathy, engineering and other colleges throughout Karnataka.
The head is Virendra Hegde, who is worshipped in the same manner as Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
I had the fortune of meeting him personally and discussing with him a lot of things.

Kadri Temple
Kadri Manjunath Temple is located at the foot of Kadri Hills near Dharmasthala.
It dates back to 1068 and is built in the Vijaynagar style of architecture.
The ancient temple, with its nine tanks and square temple, is the highest and largest temple in the region.
The seated 1.6 m high, three-faced bronze statue of Lokeshwara, with six arms, is one of the finest bronze statues in India.

Pandit’s Health Resort & Spa
This is the exclusive resort I wanted to see.
It is located near Moodbidri on the National Highway No. 13 about an hour’s drive from Mangalore.
It has comfortable cottages; beautiful gardens and landscaping; swimming pool; meditation halls; etc. Even a helipad.
Offering all modern facilities one could possibly desire, this will be the latest holistic vedic healing resort in the country.
In its final stages of completion, this resort is an exclusive centre, meant for the rich and wealthy, and therefore pretty expensive.

Reaching there
Mangalore has an international airport (20 km from the city).
There are several flights every day from Mumbai, Bangalore and Kochi.
There are also a number of flights from the middle east countries.

Mangalore has a railway station.
Mangalore is connected to all the major cities by good all weather roads.
Where to Stay
There are a number of hotels and lodges of all kinds in Mangalore.
Mangalore is also famous for its spicy exotic delicacies.

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