Visit to Mangalore, Kollur, Murdeshwar and Udupi
February 20, 2019
by Santhosh Mala Visvesvaran
Have you ever started out with “A” focus on a trip and ended up doing something entirely different? Have you started with the intention of exploring architecture and ended up visiting beaches and vice versa? Well, that’s what trips really are and that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? A trip happens when you are busy making other plans.
Mangalore always meant beaches and fun life. I have heard stories from my Mangy friends about the sunny beaches of Mangalore combined with the mountains. Haven’t I always heard that Mangalore is a tropical paradise? But what happens if a trip to Mangalore becomes one that diverts itself to discover some amazing architecture, and for the believer, some Bhakti?
This was one such trip- that started with Mangalore and ended up with Kollur, Murdeshwar, and Udupi.
How to get there?
There are many ways to reach Mangalore from Chennai. There is a 16-hour train (Mangalore Express), but if one does not intend to spend too much time in commute, the best option would be to take a flight from Chennai to Mangalore, with a usual stop over at Bangalore. Else, one could opt for a 4-5 hour train to Bangalore and then take a flight from Bangalore to Mangalore. Many choices.
I took an overnight train to Bangalore and then a flight from Bangalore to Mangalore.
The Mangalore City Experience
Mangalore airport is situated on a hillock. So when we get off, we get a fresh view of coconut trees. As we drive past a beautiful river and enter the city, we begin to feel the humidity-which is not very different from Chennai, anyway. We are lodged in a place called Bunder which is home to the old port, the old mosque and the Rosario church, constructed in the 1500s. We only get a day in Mangalore so the choice was to visit the city or to visit Kolluru-Where the famous temple of Goddess Mookambika is. For everyone born into Hinduism, in the South of India, Goddess Mookambika and her association with Adi Sankara are sacrosanct. So the possibility of the first visit to Kolluru is too alluring to ignore
Kollur Shri Mookambika
We booked a taxi and got an excellent chauffeur from Mangalore Travels Corporation. He was so well read and knowledgeable and provided a lot of value. He explained to us that there is a possibility of a crowd at the Kollur temple however he assured us that we could manage. The route from Mangalore to Kolluru is very scenic and full of trees. He took us there in a record time of two and a half hours.
The temple is very beautifully built in Kerala style of architecture. We obtained “Darshan” in less than ten minutes (Which is a very rare blessing in India) and felt extremely handpicked. The Kolluru temple allows you to light tall lamps for a small price. And also the shade of a Ratha (chariot) provides the place to sit down and feel at peace. The temple was visited by more Keralites than Kannadigas, it seemed. After having completed a very satisfying visit to Goddess Mookambika, were about to return to Mangalore when our driver suggested a detour to Murdeshwar.
Murdeshwar-Lord Shiva by the Arabian Sea
This is a magnum opus. The temple is situated about 120 km from Goa and about 155 km from Mangalore. The temple is known for its architecture –The tower (Raja Gopura) and the second largest Shiva statue in the world. We did not plan to visit but it happened by sheer chance. The temple is surrounded by the Arabian sea on three sides- and the sunrise and sunset in this place are not to be missed. Little known is the fact that Murdeshwar is also a Scuba diving destination and has one of the most beautiful beaches ever. The Atma linga here is supposed to be hollow and we were also surprised to see Lord Shiva have a face (Usually there is only a Linga). We were very fortunate to witness in all its glory by night-brilliant and well lit. Though the temple is associated with Hinduism and Hindu architecture, we could witness people from all religions visiting a true potpourri of cultures. After having had a completely satisfying experience, we returned to Mangalore by midnight, to get geared for the trip next day to Udupi.
The next morning, we took a bus from Mangalore to Udupi. There are buses every ten minutes from the Mangalore bus stand and it would cost around INR 65- 70-thus far the cheapest means used in this vicinity. The drive takes between 60 and 90 minutes. Since the concert was to start at 9.30 am we went directly to the concert venue- after the concert ended at 1 pm, we visited the Krishna temple which was still open. The Udupi Krishna temple is typically Kannadiga, no Kerala influence there! Lord Krishna can be viewed only through a wire gauze –and that’s typical about this temple. We were once again very fortunate to have a quick Darshan-usually takes hours for most.
After this “out of the world” experience, we were headed towards the Mangalore airport to catch the flight back to Chennai via Bangalore.
Best places to stay and eat
It is very easy to find accommodation in Mangalore using any of the local travel sites. We were lodged in Bombay Lucky hotel, the most famous joint for Biryani in Mangalore. But we being vegetarians, we had a good array of restaurants to choose from. Janatha Deluxe was a good place for lunch-typical Kannadiga veg spread. We were also fortunate to have authentic veg food at Udupi. On the way to Kolluru and back are many veg joints, and we chose a pure vegetarian Dhaba.
Overall, though we used Mangalore as a base, this trip was not entirely about Mangalore. But it did give a good insight to the Mangalore way of thinking, the local hot spots and delicacies and most importantly the people. As women, we were respected wherever we went and were comfortable through our rides. Mangalore is a melting pot of religions so we heard as much about tolerance as we did about riots. It is not often that we find Burkha clad women visiting a Shiva temple!
We, therefore, have a good mind to visit Mangalore for the sake of Mangalore, visit the ports, hit the beaches and take a boat to Bengre. We will certainly use the services of Mangalore Travels Corporation for local drives-we would not want to miss them. And also, quite surprisingly SpiceJet seems to be the best air carrier to this sector. They were professional and on time!