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My Picturesque Hometown

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By Nelson Lewis, Bahrain [ Published Date: April 3, 2011 ]

I proceeded on leave by the 03rd February evening flight, arriving home at dawn the next day.  05th February was my birthday and was celebrated with my family.  As I am not a party bird, the occasion was a low key affair without any fanfare.  Nevertheless, it was thoughtful of my children to present me useful gifts, which I hope will bring back fond memories as years pass by.  Mind you, this day was also the birthday of a Bollywood film star. 

The phrase “having a good time” is interpreted by people differently.  For me, this phrase means relaxing and unwinding in an environment devoid of blaring music, noisy dancing and ruckus, but being in the company of intelligent and/or well-travelled people, who are raconteurs narrating their experiences and imparting their knowledge.  I also enjoy the company of humorous people.  However, I hate to see the sight of Batlibois (you know what I mean), who are addicted to heady stuff.

Having arrived home, I rambled around absorbing sights and sounds of the city and laid my hands on interesting non-fictions and travelogues.  Now, I have enough reading material to keep me going for quite some time.  I was also able to shop around to buy the stuff that my friends and colleagues had requested for, as these items are cheaper in Bombay and costlier in Bahrain.

As in January 2010, this year too I made a trip during February to Mangalore and travelled in Mangalore and the surrounding areas.  I took a morning flight to Mangalore on 21st February and landed after one hour and twenty minutes.  The new airport looks very good and swanky.  However, considering that there are just twelve to fifteen flights a day, I question the rationale of having a massive airport, whose infrastructure is grossly underutilized.  Since the Central and State Governments have used public funds and not their money, it is totally another matter.  To hell with integrity, honesty and probity in life and thanks to the masses, who tolerate everything, India is a conveyor belt for sleazy politicians and civil servants.





















Further, no taxis and auto-rickshaw are allowed to ply to and from the airport terminal building.  So, should a traveller arrive at the airport without anyone coming to receive him with transport, he is left helpless - thanks to the sagacity and farsightedness of the authorities.  Again thanks to the Karnataka Government for giving these tourist taxis the opportunity to fleece poor air travellers.  In short, there is presumably a nexus and unholy alliance between the authorities and these vehicle operators.  Passengers in Bombay are very fortunate to engage taxis at the airport itself by paying reasonable fares or take the trolley with one’s belongings down the terminal building and hail a transport and reach home.  Though Bombay is amongst the ten largest metropolises in the world, we pay a fraction of what we pay to tourist taxi operators at Mangalore airport when, in fact, Mangalore could be considered as a large town or, at best, a small city.

At Karkala, I visited a 454 years old Jain temple, namely Chatur Mukha Basadi, which is an amazing piece of architecture.  As the construction of this temple has been done with stones carved from rocks and probably good quality concrete, it has lasted so many centuries and is still going strong.  Being on a hillock, a traveller gets a panoramic view of the surrounding areas of the Karkala town and a fantastic view of the Gomteshwara statue.
Thereafter, I went to the Gomteshwara site by climbing the 212 steps to reach the compound.  Again, this is a Jain monument and I was told by the priest, who interacts with visitors and tourists, serves prasad and collects donations that this statue is of a Jain King of the yore, namely King Veer Pande Bhairav Raj and this monolith was inaugurated on 13.02.1432.  We are talking about a monument that was built virtually 600 years ago.  I wonder how primitive life was then and what was Karkala’s population at that point in time?  The Gomteshwara statue is 42’ in height and sculpted from one single, solid rock.  Something amazing, marvellous and incredible, considering the fact that electricity did not exist then and technology and tools were quite basic and primitive.

From there, I proceeded to Ramsamudra and admired the lush greenery on its banks.  Through binoculars, I peered at the opposite bank.  Residents of the villages nestled and hidden in the lush greenery, had ventured out to come and do their laundry and lay their washed clothes on the rocks to dry.

Finally, I wound that day’s sight-seeing trip by visiting the St. Lawrence Church and the adjoining pond at Attur.  For three days every year in January, hundreds of thousands of people from nearby and far away places make it here to visit this shrine to make offerings, pray for fulfilment of their wishes and banishment of their problems or express their profound thanks for their problems being solved or wishes being granted.  During these three days, there are round-the-clock masses and free meals available. It sounds too good to me, but if I were urged or prodded to make a pilgrimage during these days, I would just avoid it, simply because I hate large gatherings, noise and commotion.  

I wound up my site seeing trips on 22nd February and the next day visited the office of at Hampankatta, near the Milagres Church.  It was a great opportunity to meet Ms. Violet Pereira.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to read Ms. Pereira’s coverage of different topics and events, including the brilliant photographs she has clicked on her professional, top-of-the-line “Nikon” camera and splashed on the website.  Well, Ms. Pereira is a livewire lady, soft-spoken and full of charm and grace.  The website is lucky to have such a dynamic personality on board.  

Thereafter, I went to various places adjoining Mangalore.  Mangalore is the largest town in the region, but amongst other places or settlements that I visited, I would consider Manipal to be comparatively a swanky place.  This is because it is a centre of learning and higher studies and attracts students from 38 countries and it is an upscale locality.  

I enjoyed my trip.  When one compares Goa and Mangalore, there is hardly any difference in climate, scenery, etc. I feel that Goa’s Government has realised the importance of tourism and the revenue it can generate and has done everything to develop its beaches, historical sites and other places of tourist interest and protect and safeguard the existing sites.  Moreover, Goans are very fun loving people and gel well with tourists.  The Government of Goa and the tourism industry have provided tourist with coaches, cars, guides and all other amenities.  Well, this is not the case with Karnataka.

I wonder when the Karnataka Government will introduce taxis and auto-rickshaws that run on meters.  If these vehicle operators do not want to tow the line, then their licenses should be withdrawn for the simple reason that they are not operating their vehicles to earn livelihood, but fleece passengers.

On 16/01/2010, I had the privilege to meet Rev. Father Valerian Fernandes in Bombay, a priest who has rendered yeoman services for quite a number of years in Papua & New Guinea.  I met this priest on 28th February 2011, the day that I had returned from Mangalore and conversed with him for about 90 minutes and was just left highly impressed with him.  He is a well informed personality and a walking and talking encyclopaedia.  Normally, I have not had much interaction with priests, except for two.  The priest with whom I had interacted first, specialises in marriage counselling and in matter of 15 to 16 years, has risen up to be a Cardinal.  I hope my interaction with Rev. Father Valerian Fernandess will usher good luck to him.

In the recent past, I have visited Mangalore a number of times, thus absorbing very much of this place and reaching a saturation point and I feel that I should visit other exotic places.  I would prefer to visit places in the North East, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, because they have an unique culture of their own and are lush green and hilly and are totally different to other regions of India.  How many of my countrymen know that the State language of Nagaland is English and the North Eastern States have beautiful bands and the Shillong Orchestra gave a special musical performance or rendition in honour of President Barack Obama and his entourage, when he had visited India a couple of months ago.

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Nelson Lewis, Bahrain :
"Previously, the same people were complaining that it was too small."

"Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden etc. and not Americans have strong built and are of enormous stature."

The above comments are by Mr. Praveen Fernandes.

As regads both his comments, which I have quoted above, I would like to respond.

I was not amongst the ones who said that Mangalore airport is small, though I have always expected Mangalore airport to be small because it does not have much traffic.

As regards the second comments that people of Scandavian countries are large statured, compared to Americans or people of U.S. ntionality, I wonder what made him mention about it. I have not said anything on this issue in my travelogue. Is there some confusion of any sort? Was Mr. Praveen Fernandes bogged with this issue, when he was responding to my travelogue and this may have inadvertently crept in while responding to me?

However, since he has brought up this issue, I wish to say that I have seen many Americans and some Swedes and quite a number of them are tall and/or heavily built. There was a time, I used to see an U.S. national who was 6' 8' in height. I used to look at him with awe.
Praveen Fernandes, India :
I fully agree with Jude, UAE and disagree with the writer’s opinion that Mangalore Airport is too big. Previously, the same people were complaining that it was too small. The important thing is it is built with an eye on the future. The sixth paragraph from the bottom, the writer mentions as ‘site seeing trips’… it should be ‘sight’ and not site. As far as the rikshaws are concerned, I often travel in auto-rikshaws that run on metres. It was introduced long ago. Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden etc. and not Americans have strong built and are of enormous stature.
Fredsouzamm u.s,a, USA :
Mr. Nelson Lewis has given a good account of his holidays spent in Mangalore. Somehow, I remembered those days spent going around Mangalore-Sirsi-gerusoppe-bhadravathi-Bangalore-vidhana saudha- Lal baug-Mysore-thungabhadra-Hassan-Mangalore a field trip that was only for rupees 45 for 45 students when I was in 8th std by a special bus hired from Mangalore for 5 days.

The trip was arranged by an olivet brother from Jeppu. He was teaching us social studies. I was 14 years old then. My mother helped me. These Rs.45 covered everything viz transport, breakfast, lunch, supper and two times tea and overnight stay at hotels. We were 45 students. I could remember this visit for a long time. I could also understand little bit of tamil spoken by those hoteliers here and there who gave us good puli goddel meals. Lots of knowledge was drawn from that 5 days visit and today I understand the different parts of the world.
Today Mangalore is nothing less than any part of the world.

I hope the present day children also have the same opportunities to go around Karnataka state
Siva, USA :
Very nice article. I enjoyed every bit except the rant about airport - which I felt, did not fit the otherwise excellent writing.

The photographs are great. That greenery is precious and I hope Mangaloreans will preserve it. A decade back when I see Managalore from hat hill. You could only see greenery especially coconut palms. Today more than 50% of it is gone an you see Concrete more than the palm. The huge cranes at work being used for construction look like Technosauraus busy in devouring the coconut palms. With the price of land jumping to more than 6-7 lakhs per cents in Mangalore city, I doubt any palm would be left in a couple of decade.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain :
Dear Mr. Jude,

I consider Mangalore to be a small city that has to go a long way. It is premature to expect plethora of flights from all over India and other parts of the world to arrive in Bajpe (or Mangalore Airport).

During my three trips to Mangalore in the recent past, I saw many students studying engineering (in various disciplines) and other fields travelling from remote places to Mangalore to attend their colleges. I asked them a simple question, "What they would do for their livelihood once they graduated.' They said that they would seek employment in the major metropolises of India or go abroad, simply because there were not many job opportunities in Mangalore.

That is the fact of the matter. Many small towns in the adjoinign villages are existing simply because many members of their families are working in Arabian Gulf (or other countries abroad). One classic example is Kallianpur in Udupi District. It is the Arabian Gulf money that has kept that place afloat. I saw the place which could be considered to be a small town (though certainly not a big village in 1965/1966 and then again in 2008, 2010 and last in 2010). It has not changed and it is just the game, if one ignores the superficial development after so many decades.

I hope I have been able to drive the points.
Jude, UAE:
Let us wait and see............Mangaloreans who have settled in Bombay all have similar opinions as you. Please do not misunderstand, but to me its seems like a little envy at seeing what the hometown has achieved after the exodus of the 60's, 70's and 80's. One thing I agree with you is that mentally, morally and ethically we are going backwards. Modernity has only helped in dividing our Mangalorean society on the basis of religion.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain :
Mr. Jude,

I do not foresee Mangalore being a large metropolis in the next 50 years. Today, it is a large town or, at best, a small city. On the other hand Bombay is 03rd largest, Delhi 04th largest and Calcutta the 13th largest amongst the 15 largest metropolises in the world.

It is like a family of two wanting an eight bedroom house for the sake of prestige. It is "jhooti shaan."
Jude, UAE:
Just one point. You complain about the terminal at Mangalore airport being too big when only a few flights operate today. Airport terminals are not built every day and so while building a new terminal the future growth needs to be taken into account. In the coming months and years more and more airlines will start operating from Mangalore. If not for dirty politics and arm twisting by Air India Express for whom Mangalore is a golden goose, Mangalore would already have gained the status of an international airport (presently it is a customs airport). Now that we have been promised by Moily that by November this year it will be upgraded to the status of an international airport, let us wait and see. Therefore Mr. Lewis your point that the size of the airport is unecessary and a waste is totally wrong. In a few years we may come to realise that it should have been bigger.
DR SUNIL J RAO, Bahrain :
Nelson is the shakespeare of our hospital...thoroughly enjoyed your writing, as always..
J M Bhandary, USA :
Nice travelogue with beautiful pictures of the Mangalore area. Mr. Nelson Lewis, thanks for sharing with us. Your observations and personal thoughts on the developments going on in the area are very interesting to read. Best wishes for more travels and more travelogues from you.
Ananda Padebettu, Mumbai, India :
I could recall my college days when I roamed around Karkala with my friends. Thanks for the article.
ashraf, UAE:
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain you have totally forgotten to write about muslims in karkala is there only church and temple and about tipu sultan who defeated british twice but lost third time because of some mangalorean indians traitors helped british in storing weapons, many such traitors spies are still faithfull to british till now.
Alfred Vincent Monis, Bahrain :
Nice photos and good article Mr. Nelson. We are missing your comments in EYT nowadays.
Mrs. Trescilda Nelson Edward Lewis, India :
Thank u very much for this lovely trip. Thank u again for helping me set my foot on the soils of my late father Mr. Ignatius D'Souza....SURATHKAL, after walking this earth for 56 years and wondering how Surathkal must be looking like. Thank u once agqain for letting me set my foot into the SACRED HEART CHURCH - SURATHKAL, where my dad was baptised, etc. When r v going there again so that u can put-up a even better write-up MR.NELSON???
Shaly Pereira, India :
There are many locations of natural beauty in and around Mangalore, untouched by the hustle and bustle of modern existence. Once in a way a trip to one of these places is a must - it brings us closer to nature and puts us in touch with our inner selves.

Thank you for the nice travelogue Mr. Nelson Lewis. Beautiful pictures too.
Chris Rego, UAE:
Good writeup, Mr. Nelson. Hope to see some more from you soon.
Rajanikanth Shenoy, Kudpi , India :
Nelson, with all humility, I must confess that I have never visited some of these great spots so near to my home town!

Thanks for the virtual tour and for highlighting some of the priceless ancient monuments and picnic spots!
Praveen, UAE:
Well written and beautiful pics.
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain :
Dear Mr. Dony Lobo,

I am willing to volunteer with the information.

The footprints are of the King Veer Pande Bhairav Raj, namely the Gomteshwara. When I saw them, I felt they were too large to be of humans, even those of Americans who have enormous stature, height and feet.

I can only speculate. Either the humans were of enormous size then or someone has sculpted the the footprints. Well, a qualified historian could speak about this much authority than me.

However, all said and done, I am happy that you enjoyed the travelogue.
DONY LOBO, Milagres, Doha, Qatar:
Mr.Nelson Lewis, I’ve glanced through the beautiful photos again and again and I’m sure you really must have had a great time holidaying at a good time with lush greenery all around to please the eyes.

Just one photograph I am curious about is that of FOOTPRINTS……hope you will not mind to give a brief word about the same. They remind me of the FOOTPRINTS of Jesus Christ somewhere near the Mount of Olives at the Chapel of Ascension which are supposed to be still preserved at the spot where Jesus commenced His Ascension to the Heavens.
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