NA, PR and I landed up in Mangalore in the afternoon, having gone through a scenic train route involving large bits of Kerela. SA had arrived that morning from Mumbai and had had plenty of time to figure out that our hotel (Pooja International) offered nothing by way of good meals but was located conveniently close to the station and in the heart of the city. Hence, we decided to go out for our first meal to a place recommended by my Outlook Traveler’s Guide. It was economical, no doubt. But fairly rundown and with that the Guide was abandoned. We decided to place our trust on the driver for the day, Harsha, for any meal recommendations.
Harsha took his guide duties rather seriously. Our first stop, against Harsha’s obvious disinclination to take us there, was the Sultan’s Battery. It was a fairly old structure from where Tipu Sultan’s soldiers had once used cannons. It overlooked a river and offered some great views. However, there is only so much you can do with a structure and Harsha was eager to take us to the next spot. The Americans built Vegas to give vent to that one stray vulgar strain that runs in every person. Indians, I think, decided to build garish temples instead. The Gokarna Parsvanath temple was painted a bright gold and red. Occasionally, there were statues of various gods and goddesses in fairly arresting poses and the locals seemed quite happy and proud walking around. To Harsha’s disappointment, we were out pretty early. We decided to do the church circuit next. Mangalore has some old churches built by the Portuguese and a Christian population that obviously believed in spending its Saturday evenings in prayer. Our first church was the Milagres Church (In the picture). The second one was St. Aloysius, which boasted of some really fabulous frescos on the ceilings and walls. It was also part of a college campus and we walked about, taking in the students scurrying around, unmindful of the evening sun streaming through green trees creating dappled patterns on the vast grounds. The next stop was the Rosario Cathedral, the oldest church in Mangalore. The front was apparently modeled on the St. Peter’s Basilica. A sermon was in progress here too and after all that religion; we were not exactly too pleased with the holy start of our holiday. However, the next stop, Kadri Manjunath temple, deserved a visit given that it held one of the oldest bronze sculptures in India. The temple was fairly peaceful and we watched pilgrims take a dip in a pool nearby. After sometime, feeling refreshed and fortified by the prasadam we decided to hit the beach. The action for the day was dying by the time we reached. Inspite of the approaching darkness, we could make out that the waters on this side of the country seemed calmer than the Chennai seas.
Harsha suggested a place for dinner and we trooped off to a pretty nice rooftop restaurant. The entrance had pictures of Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty tucking in a sumptitious meal. We were too tired to figure out if that was just cheesy or whether it clearly marked this place as the most popular in Mangalore. Food turned out to be quite nice though and I began my love affair with fish. After one of my yummiest fish meals ever, we headed back to the hotel and slept off to the dying sounds of traffic outside.