Top 10 things to do in Mangalore, Karnataka, India
Mangalore, also known as “Kudla” by the locals, is a coastal city of India best known for its beaches, tasty fish curries and friendly locals. I have a special connection to this city as both my parents are from this place which meant I spent most of my summer holidays here, growing up.
However, it’s only now that I am a travel blogger, that I am truly exploring the city in depth. Surprisingly, there are ample natural and historical and spiritual spots to explore in Mangalore. So, here’s my list of things to do in Mangalore. I hope you enjoy it.
Here is a summary of the top 10 things to do in Mangalore. For details, click the relevant link.
The Gokarnanatheshwara temple is an exquisite temple with large elephant statues flanking the entrance and a white marble floor that highlights the red and gold coloring of the temple.
Throughout the temple, you’ll see many carvings and statues of Hindu deities. The best one is that of Lord Shri Krishna and Arjuna on a horse-drawn carriage as shown in the picture above. This scene, called the “Vishwaroopa Darshana”, is a very important scene in the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna reveals his divine form to Arjuna.
On the other side of the temple, there are statues of another important Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. You’ll see 4 majestic statues of Lord Shiva in a setting that’s supposed to depict the Himalayas, Lord Shiva’s prime meditation spot.
When you visit Hindu temples in India, make sure you wear clothes that are considered respectful and leave your footwear outside the temple. The marble floor of the Kudroli temple, even though it looks nice, isn’t friendly to your feet during hot days. So, stick to the carpeted areas to avoid getting burnt.
If you visit Mangalore, especially during the summer months, sooner or later you’ll be looking for a place to cool off from the heat and humidity. In Mangalore, there’s no better place to do it other than at Pabba’s/Ideal’s.
Ideal’s is an ice cream parlor that has been popular in Mangalore since 1975. Pabba’s and Ideal cafe are a more recent addition to the chain.
Their most cherished ice cream is Gadbad icecream, shown in the photo above. Gadbad has layers of strawberry jelly, fruits, and nuts sandwiched between three scoops of icecreams of different flavors akin to an American Sundae. Maybe it’s me and I am partial to the flavors that enriched my childhood, but I prefer Gadbad to any Sundae I’ve had. Give it a try. I assure you, you’ll visit again for more.
3. Visit Mangalore’s Beaches
Check out my detailed post about all the Mangalore Beaches for directions to each one.
Mangalore is a coastal city, so it’s no surprise that there are many beaches here. Each beach has a different vibe to it. The popular Panambur beach is crowded yet fun-filled. The ideal time to visit this beach is on a weekend evening when all the beach activities are in full swing.
If you are looking for quieter beaches, visit either the Sasihithlu beach, Tannir Bavi Beach or the Someshwara beach. These beaches are way less crowded. However, being less crowded also brings an element of danger into the picture. Make sure, you have company when you visit these beaches as some unsavory activities have recently reported near these beaches.
Pilikula is a place that’s a conglomeration of entertainment for the entire family. There’s a science museum, a planetarium, a zoo, a lake with boat rides and a Guthu House, that showcases local village life of yesteryears.
If you visit Pilikula, don’t skip the Planetarium show. Kids and adults alike will enjoy and learn from the 3D show at the planetarium that tells the story of the birth of the universe in an entertaining way.
Getting around Pilikula is easy as there are hop-on-hop-off rides that take you around the different sites. This comes at an additional cost, but on hot days, it’s worth buying this add-on.
5. Attend the Jathra Mahothsava at Shri Manjunatheswara Temple, Kadri
The Kadri Shri Manjunatheswara Temple, also known as Kadri temple, is a historically significant structure in Mangalore. It’s rumored to be built in the 10th or 11th century by the Alupa dynasty. The history of this temple is verifiable through the Lord Lokeshwar (Brahma) statue, which has inscriptions on it dating back to 968 A.D.Source: Wikipedia, which is supposed to be the oldest known sculpture in South Indian temples.
Even though the temple has an ancient statue of Lord Lokeshwar, the primary deity who is worshipped today in this temple is Lord Manjunateshwara (an incarnation of Lord Shiva).
The best time to visit Kadri Temple, is during the Makara Sankranti festival (from Jan 14 – Jan 21) when the yearly Jathra Mahothsava (procession and festivities) takes place.
One of my favorite things to do when I visit Mangalore is to eat breakfast at a drive-in restaurant. A drive-in restaurant is where you can order food from the luxury of your car.
My go-to restaurant for a drive-in breakfast is the Woodlands Hotel. The restaurant has ample parking space. All you have to do is park your car and wait for the waiter to come up to you to take your order. Don’t expect to be handed a menu, you can just ask the waiter what’s available and he will rattle off the list.
In case you are lost for what to order, here are the usual breakfast favorites: Masala Dosa, Rava Dosa, Idli, and Vada. If you would like something sweet, I recommend Sheera. End your breakfast with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
7. Try the local seasonal fruits
Due to the tropical weather, Mangalore produces a variety of fruits which you may rarely find in other parts of the country. Some of these fruits are seasonal are not available throughout the year.
Shown in the picture above is the Palm Fruit, a fruit of the Asian Palmyra palm. The fruit has two to three sockets filled with a jelly-like fruit. The fruit is mild in flavor is best eaten when the fruit is tender. You will find these fruits being sold at road-side street carts.
Other fruits you may want to try here are the Jackfruit, Jamun fruit, Kokum fruit, Mango and Seetaphal or Custard Apple.
Mangalore has some good shopping options. There are stand-alone shopping stores at Hampankatta, where you can buy mostly local brand apparel and sweets.
If you are looking for national and international brands though, your best bet would be City Centre Mall. You can shop for everything from apparel, watches, jewelry, electronics, health, and beauty. The mall is very popular among young people and is crowded on weekends.
Another mall with similar facilities and brands as the City Centre Mall is the Forum Fiza Mall. This mall is relatively less crowded that City Centre Mall due to its location.
If you are looking for a place to exercise, relax and take a quiet stroll, then Kadri Park is the place to go. It has two well-maintained concentric circular paths that are great for walking. You can see the locals, taking advantage of this path right from the crack of dawn till evening.
For kids, there are fun activities as well. There’s a train ride that takes around the park that costs only Rs. 20. Also, there’s a play area with swings and slides.
The park also plays host to various events such as art exhibitions, flower shows, and others. You’ll find street food vendors selling spicy puffed rice, mango slices and tender coconut outside the park. There’s never a dull day in Kadri Park.
Right opposite Kadri Park, you’ll find another park called Deer Park. This park, which once used to be a zoo, is smaller than Kadri Park but has some well-paved paths as well. However, the entry to this park one is not free. You have to pay a small fee of Rs. 10 for entry. It’s worth paying the Rs. 10 fee for entry, especially during the summer, when this park offers more shaded paths than its counter.
One of the main attractions of this park is the laser show that takes place every evening at 7.00 pm. The laser show is unique in that, the history of Mangalore or Mangaluru is told through the means of laser lights as shown in the video above.
I was very impressed by the show as I had never seen pictures projected directly on a screen of water before. The whole show lasts for 30 minutes and costs only Rs. 30 for adults and Rs. 15 for children. On holidays and weekends, there’s an additional show at 8.00pm.