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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.

I walk over to the prepaid taxi booking counter after quickly going through my list of preferred hotels to stay in Mangalore. I had jotted down the online hotel room tariffs from travel websites like Makemytrip.com, Booking.com, etc. and a few travel forums to bargain for a better price on arrival.

I opt for the cheapest hotel located in the city centre and make the taxi payment. Outside, one of the waiting taxi drivers checks my taxi payment receipt and mutters something to another guy in their local language. The latter immediately takes charge of my bag. The former tells me to follow the guy wheeling my bag and who I assume is the driver of the booked taxi. But when we reach the end of the footpath, he leads me towards a parked taxi. It’s only then that I realize that this guy had come along only to guide me to my taxi. He puts my bag in the car boot. Such a sweet welcome!

The city centre is about 20 km away from the airport. Mangalore is 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 okay and I get it for 800 rupees including taxes after 20% discount.

At 4pm, I leave for local sight-seeing. I had read online 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 is a popular hangout place. The first and second floor sections are full so I climb up to the third floor. Thankfully, they have a table available. 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 ask a passerby.  Before she can reply, another passerby points it out to me.

The city bus service is run by private operators. Hence there is no bus stop infrastructure. Buses stop at specific places. Boarding the bus, I pay the fare and expect a ticket in return. The floor is littered with green-coloured tickets. The bus conductor moves 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 at the temple.  I remember the hotel manager telling me to visit the temple in Kudroli after 6pm because it looks exceptionally beautiful after dusk. I get into an autorickshaw for the temple. Gokarnanatheshwara Temple is also known as 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 when compared to other parts of the state. The language for one… and food! Fish is the staple diet of most people in Mangalore.

I dine at one of the restaurants of 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 healthy appetite. Since it is around 7:15pm, I’m the first and the only diner around.

The food is delicious. After dinner, I return to my hotel…

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