A date with the coast

By Lasika Kannan

To explore more of Karnataka I set off to Mangalore with colleagues for a team member's wedding on the evening of the January 25, 2011. From Bangalore, we took a sleeper bus, which was just about decent. After a long night's bus ride in the cold with no bed sheet (I had forgotten to carry one) and bad roads after Hassan, we reached Mangalore at 7 am the next morning, which was Republic Day.

The place where we stayed was calm, serene, quaint and beautiful. After a shower we explored the city as suggested by our hosts. We visited the store Parampara, which sold local handicrafts, followed by the Phalguni Cashew Centre where we picked up cashews of different kinds (cheese-coated, honey-sweet, pepper-roasted, etc). We then headed to the 'Ideal Place' — Mangalore's best ice cream parlor, where we dug into flavors like Gudbud, Falooda, etc (these weren't  as enticing as expected).

Our next stop was the St Aloysius Chapel. Built in 1884, it is an architectural marvel. The walls and ceiling are painted in two techniques: Fresco (fresh lime walls are painted and the colors get embedded into the wall) and oil-based. Italian artist Anthony Moscheni takes credit for this marvelous creation.  The central row of paintings on the ceiling depicts the life of the Portuguese saint Aloysius Gonzaga to whom the college and chapel are dedicated. The floor is made of brick, which gives it a three-dimensional effect.

Next we visited the Gokarnatha Temple, built in 1912 for the Billava community who were not permitted to enter other temples. The area is dotted with Shiva temples.

It was a hot and sultry afternoon and by 2 pm we were hungry. We tried vegetarian Mangalorean food at Ocean Pearl restaurant. After trying the Neer Dosa, we returned to the hotel to relax before leaving for the wedding at the church, followed by the reception.

We hit the sack by midnight and set out the next morning to St Mary's Islands, Malpe near Udupi in a hired SUV. En route we stopped to pack lunch at Diana (a local restaurant) and after a comfortable two-hour drive, reached Malpe beach. Here, we took the 30-minute ferry to the island.

Nature was at its best once again. We had a fun time jumping on the rocks (I slipped, fell and bruised my back), playing in the water, collecting shells and screeching at the sight of an approaching crab, not to forget clicking away at each other. How we all wished we had carried a  change of clothes!

On our way back we stopped to visit the Krishnamata temple (the idol is dressed in diamonds from head to toe and can be viewed only through a window) at Udupi and the surrounding temples. Rafting and canoeing had to be dropped due to time constraints. A quick adieu to the groom's family before an even quicker bite of chaat at a local stall, just to make it in time for our bus back to Bangalore.

I had always wanted to go on an all-women trip with my best buddies. Though that is yet to happen, this trip with my women colleagues was indeed pleasant and fun!

Lasika Kannan is an analyst by profession and an avid traveler by passion. She blogs at The Jaunty Albatross

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