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Hey guys, I’m back 🙂

Swarupa at Raja's Seat in Madikeri

Wishing you all a very happy New Year full of health, happiness, success!

I guess most of you all must have had a rocking time during the holidays and especially on New Years’ Eve… partying, bringing in the New Year at some beautiful locale, etc. yeah? 😉

Well, I spent the last night of the year like any other night… but I did have a wonderful time some ten days before Christmas holidays. I was in a beautiful coffee land, enjoying a lovely spell in the amazing mountains and beaches in Karnataka – the south-western Indian state next to Goa.

And now it’s time to share with you all my 12 day adventures in five part series:

My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part I): Mumbai to Mangalore  

My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part II): Mangalore to Madikeri  

My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part III): Madikeri to Chikmagalur

My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part IV): Chikmagalur to Udupi  

My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part V): Udupi to Mangalore & Mumbai  

Here’s the beginning of my five part travelogue… happy reading 🙂

December 14th, Mumbai/Mangalore

My Jet Airways flight from Mumbai lands at Mangalore Airport at 3pm. As usual my luggage is one of the last to arrive in the baggage belt: my dear little red bag easily identifiable from the other red ones by cute stickers – five “golden bordered red stars” and a shiny pink bunny – and of course, my initials.

I wheel it near the prepaid taxi booking counter and pull out my list of hotels to stay in Mangalore. The list has been made after going through travel websites like Makemytrip.com, Booking.com, etc. and a few travel forums. I jotted down their online booking tariffs so that I can bargain for a better price on arrival.

I choose the cheapest hotel located in the city centre and book a prepaid taxi. Receipt in hand, I walk out of the departure hall. One of the waiting taxi drivers approaches me. He checks my receipt for the taxi number, mumbles something to another guy who immediately takes charge of my bag, and then tells me to follow the guy wheeling my bag.  He must be the driver of my taxi. When we reach the end of the footpath, he leads me towards a parked taxi with the driver at the wheel. It’s only then that I realize that this guy has been very kind enough to guide me to my taxi. He puts my bag in the car boot. Such a sweet welcome!

The heat of the scorching sun doesn’t escape me inside the taxi. The city centre is about 20 km away from the airport. I find Mangalore slow-paced and more like a small town. Yet, this coastal city is the second most important city in Karnataka after Bangalore and the state’s major port for the export of coffee, spices and cashew.

The taxi enters the Hampankatta area in the city centre. That’s where my hotel is located. Hotel Megha Residency is a boarding & lodging place but I’m fine with it because I’m going to make an early start for Madikeri the next morning. The room shown to me is decent and I get it for Rs.800 including taxes after a fair 20% discount but unfortunately… no English music TV channels!

At 4pm I leave my room for local sight-seeing. I had read in the internet that there’s not much to see in the city besides temples, churches and mosques.  For a small city, Mangalore packs in a large ethnic diversity. The local dialects too are different – Tulu and Konkani, which are different from the state language Kannada. Some Muslims speak Urdu, others Byari, a local dialect.

I decide to visit two temples, the Mangaladevi temple and the Gokarnanatheshwara Temple. But before that I head for the Ideal ice-cream parlour, a much talked about place in travel forums. It’s just close by, near Hampankatta signal, a crowded shopping area.

The ice-cream parlour turns out to be a much sought after place housed in a three-storeyed building! All the tables were occupied in the crowded first level hall. Ditto, in the second. So I climb up to the third floor and find one table free.  I order the popular item on the menu – Gadbad. It turns out to be fruit salad with two large scoops of different flavoured ice-creams. Bad choice – I mostly avoid consuming colourful food or drinks unless they are natural colours. The fruits aren’t to my taste and the added colourings make me feel sick.

I leave the place and head for the bus stop to catch a bus going to the Mangaladevi temple.  The hotel manager has told me that the bus stop is just round the corner. I’m unable to find it so I stop a nun walking by.  Before she can answer, a guy passing by points it out to me – the place just outside the main gate of a church where a few people are waiting… for the bus, I guess.

The city bus service, I discover a few minutes later, is operated by private operators. That accounts for the absence of a proper bus stop. Inside the bus, I pay my fare and expect to receive a ticket for it. I see the bus floor littered with green-coloured tickets so I’m surprised to see the bus conductor move away after taking my money. I see him collecting money from the passengers without giving them tickets. None of them bother to ask for it. But I do, out of habit. “Ticket?” He smiles and gives me the ticket.

Mangaladevi Temple is an old and highly revered place. The city is named after Mangaladevi, the presiding deity of the temple. I spend some time inside the temple.  I remember the hotel manager telling me to visit the temple in Kudroli after 6pm because it looks exceptionally beautifully at dusk. I check the time and then get into an autorickshaw for the temple which is also known as the Kudroli temple because it is located in the city’s Kudroli area.

Kudroli Temple1

Kudroli Temple

Kudroli Temple5

Temple pond…

Kudroli Temple3

Fountain in the temple pond…

Kudroli Temple4

It’s a lovely full moon night and the peaceful atmosphere adds to the beauty of the place.

Kudroli Temple2

Coastal Karnataka has a different feel to it than the other parts of the state I had been to earlier. The language for one… and food! Fish is the staple diet of most people in Mangalore.

I dine at one of the restaurants in Hotel Prestige which is owned by Bollywood actor Sunil Shetty. A seafood restaurant because I love seafood. I order a Bacardi Breezer with Jamaican flavour, fish fry, neer dosas (lacy rice-crêpes), and prawn curry. I think I have a very healthy appetite. Since it is around 7:15pm, I’m the first and the only diner around. Romantic English songs softly play in the background. I sit back and enjoy the music, sipping my drink. I hear Enrique Iglesias singing “Somebody’s Me” and I feel a sudden warm sensation.

The food looks delicious making me forget about taking photos.  After dinner, I take an autorickshaw back to my hotel.

Coming up next:My Adventures in Coffee Land (Part II): Mangalore to Madikeri