Although Mangaluru and Dakshina Kannada have several spectacular sites to offer, they are not marketed as well as other coastal destinations like Goa and Kerala.
Mangaluru conjures up images of narrow, winding streets lined with coconut palms, towering arenas and expansive terracotta-tiled bungalows. The main draw is its unique cultural identity, distinctive cuisine, an exciting mix of languages ââand a mix of temples, mosques and churches. Nestled on the coast on the estuary of the Netravati and Gurpur rivers, this thriving warehouse makes a pleasant and convenient stopover between Goa and Kerala. It is indeed the best place to start your journey to the sights of Dakshina Kannada, a dream land with lush green forests, fields, winding rivers and a fantastic coastline.
For spiritual people, there are a multitude of places of worship. Start with the usual darshan at Mangaladevi temple, from which Mangaluru gets its name. Equally interesting is the Kadri Manjunath temple which houses the magnificent bronze images of Lokeshwara. Nine water reservoirs with waters deemed to be therapeutic adjoin the temple. You can also get a glimpse of Chola architecture at the Kudroli Gokarnath temple nestled at the foot of a hill. The area is also a foodie’s delight, with many delicious seafood dishes native to here, as well as âgadbadâ ice cream and others.
Mangaluru’s venerable steeple churches are a reminder of the town’s strong Christian association. Some of the most impressive are the Rozario Cathedral, whose dome is said to have been modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, the Milagres Church and the Chapel of St. Aloysius College with its magnificent biblical frescoes. adorning the walls and ceilings. With its priceless collection of rare artifacts and exhibits, Aloyseum, the college’s private museum, is worth a visit. Equally impressive is the Shreemanthi Bai Memorial Government Museum with its splendid collection of artifacts. Among the most notable mosques in Mangaluru are the Jumma Masjid in Bunder, the Idgah Mosque in Lighthouse Hill, and the Durgah of Syed Mohammed Shareeful Madani in Ullal.
St Aloysius Church in Mangaluru
Dakshina Kannada will impress you with its rich, unique and distinctive cultural heritage. âIntrinsic to the coastal areas of Tulu Nadu are the many rituals and seasonal festivals like ‘bhoota aradhane’ and also ‘Nagamandala’ (a unique ritual of worshiping snakes), celebrated by the locals. In addition to these, you can see Yakshagana and other traditional dances that are only specific to this region. says Eulalia D’Souza, owner, Lia Tours & Travels.
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âThere are other bountiful goodies like the Pilikula Nisargadhama, a sprawling 300-acre integrated nature and wildlife park with boating facilities, an animal safari, a mini aquarium, an arboretum and a science center. The cashew processing plants and the 120-acre Soans farm, a horticultural wonderland, are also worth a visit, âshe adds.
âFor beach lovers, there are pristine beaches, like Panambur, Sasihithlu, Someshawar, Tannirbhavi and NITK. Sasihithlu Beach even hosted the world’s premier surf festival and kite competitions. Only a few beaches like Panambur, Sasihithlu and NITK have very basic amenities. However, most of them lack infrastructure such as roads, quality accommodation, restaurants and facilities to become tourist hot spots. Although some private operators have developed water sports in Tannirbhavi and Panambur, they are not managed in a very professional manner, âsays Manoj Kumar, Managing Director of My Trip Guide.
Mangaluru has no shortage of fabulous beaches, but lacks vendors for its beauty. There have not been many government supported development projects in this region. âDakshina Kannada district should take inspiration from neighboring Udupi tourism. Beautifying the beaches and improving infrastructure have helped them develop in leaps and bounds, as the district administration has taken tourism seriously, âadds Manoj.
However, cruises are a popular tourist facility in Mangaluru. âWe have been remarkably successful in recent years, handling nearly 35,000 foreign tourists in one year by cruise ships in Mangaluru port. From just four to five of them, we added nearly 30 cruise ships before COVID-19 hit us hard and brought all of our cruise ships to a standstill, âEulalia D’Souza shares.
Dakshina Kannada already has everything it takes to call itself a tourist hub. âIt is very unfortunate that the tourism department has made no concerted effort to promote the myriad of tourist attractions. Karavali’s captivating dance forms, colorful rituals, Kambala (a traditional buffalo race) and lip-smacking cuisine need to be showcased, marketed and promoted. Most events like Kambala and festivals are not announced in advance and tourists are notified after seeing them in the newspapers, âsaid Ravi Menon, Managing Director of Arjun Tours and Travels.
Although it is the only important place in Karnataka that is well served by air, water, rail and road, little progress has been made in promoting tourism. âThe main problem is the lack of precise and complete tourist information. Adequate awareness and promotion is sorely lacking. Mangaluru Tourism does not have a website or an office to distribute tourist brochures, maps, etc. Several times, we have printed advertising material to distribute to our customers, âsays Eulalia D’Souza.
Explaining why the tourism potential of Dakshina Kannada has not been fully exploited, Manoj says: being an exciting tourist destination. Much of Mangaluru’s hospitality industry has been designed by the Mumbai lobby, where tourism is limited to restaurants and bars. No Mangaluru visionary has looked beyond this level. In the Karnataka tourist entity, there was no proper representation of Dakshina Kannada. Promoting a destination involves a lot of hard work, commitment and investment. This can only be done by the state tourism department working with onboard stakeholders in promoting the events.
Eulalia D’Souza agrees that tourism in Dakshina Kannada needs a major boost. âWith the second wave of the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions, business was absolutely nil. It is not just a testing time, but difficult and turbulent times are ahead for the entire traveling fellowship, with no help coming from where or from anyone, âshe said. She also adds that Karnataka needs to soak up the tourism marketing lessons of neighboring coastal states familiar with tourism like Goa and Kerala. “It only takes a positive push and a willingness on the part of the officials concerned to promote while they are sure there is enormous potential. We just need to wake up from this deep slumber with a updated promotional technology and showcase our beautiful coastal city, âshe suggests.
Susheela Nair is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer and photographer, contributing articles, content and images to several national publications in addition to hosting seminars and photo exhibitions. His writings cover a wide range which also includes travel portals and guidebooks, brochures and table books.
All photos from Manoj Kumar, my travel guide.