Manipal for the Traveller
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To the average freshman, college life—especially at a university town may be expected to be quite monotonous. However, one of the plus points of studying in Manipal is its very location. Nestled between the towering Western Ghats and the shimmering Arabian Sea, this quaint town offers much more than meets the eye at first glance. Be it the scenic hills and forests or the beautiful beaches—there’s plenty to keep the humdrum of academic life at bay.
Here are a few getaways:
HOODE HANGING BRIDGE
Located just 14 kilometres away, this suspension bridge is something every student is bound to enjoy and is a must-visit for every cycling enthusiast. Located on a backwater stream, the Hanging Bridge is the perfect spot for one to admire the scenic beauty of their surroundings and experience the cool evening breeze, which is a soothing balm to ward off the summer heat.
Also, worth visiting is the little island on the other end of the bridge where you arguably get the best coconut water in Manipal
Just 40 kilometres from Manipal is Karkala, a historical and religious place of pilgrimage for the Jain community. Its significant feature is the forty-two feet tall statue of Gomateshwara (Lord Bahubali), carved out of a single slab of rock and weighing a mammoth eighty tons. This statue was erected in 1432 by a Jain king in honour of the first Jain Tirthankara, Bahubali, who renounced the material world at the peak of his glory. Facing the statue is a Jain Basadi, called the Chaturmukha (four-facing) Basadi, exclusively constructed of granite. Another tourist attraction here is the intricately carved fifty-foot tall pillar called the Manasthambha, which is one of eleven such pillars. Karkala is also home to a whopping eighteen temples, each with its own unique backstory.
Around 100 kilometres from Manipal, Murdeshwar is famous for the colossal statue of Lord Shiva which can be found here. This gargantuan statue is an astounding 123 feet tall and is the second tallest Shiva statue in the world. This temple has a pretty impressive history, dating back to a few centuries. It is also the point of origin for three major rivers, the Tunga, the Bhadra, and the Nethravathi. This temple is surrounded by the sea on three sides and is located atop a hill called Kandukagiri. One cannot just shake off the feeling of awe they are beset by on visiting this place.
Kudremukh is located around 60 kilometres from Manipal. It is a hilly region located around 1900 meters above sea-level. ‘Kudremukh’, which translates to ‘horse-face’ in Kannada, gets its name from the fact that the mountain range looks like a horse when viewed from a certain angle. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, it provides a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside and the sea.
It is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna and is the largest tropical evergreen forest in Karnataka.
Just like the Hanging Bridge, Agumbe is another must visit for cycling enthusiasts. Located at 830 meters above sea-level and overlooking the Arabian Sea, the 45-km ride to Agumbe is a feast for the eyes with lush green forests on either side for most of the journey. This route, dotted with numerous waterfalls provides a breathtaking vista of the beauty of nature. The ride is made a lot more exciting by the lion-tailed macaques which keep popping up. For the more adventurous at heart, the nearby Sita river also offers rafting facilities.
Bandaje falls (now known as Arbi Falls) are a set of waterfalls located in the Charmadi ghat section of the Western Ghats in Karnataka. The waterfalls can be reached only by undertaking a trek through thick evergreen forests and grasslands with the help of local guides, and in summer the waterfalls go dry. Formed by a tributary of the Netravathi river, the Bandaje falls almost 200 feet high.
The path to Bandaje falls from Valambra goes through thick evergreen forest ending in grasslands. Locally these falls are called the Bandaje Arbi, where Arbi means ‘waterfall’ in Tulu. The name is shortened to Arbi Falls to promote tourism.
Kaveladurg, located just 18 km from Thirthahalli, Shimoga is every trekker’s dream come true. This 9th-century fort, which was renovated in the 14th century was the stronghold of the Nayakas of Keladi.
Surrounded by lush forests on all four sides, this ruined fort which consists of five different fortifications layered one on top of another proves to be a great 5 km uphill trek that leads up to a breathtakingly beautiful view. Proper trekking shoes and an umbrella or a hat is a must if the trek is being undertaken during the day as the temperatures are known to soar by mid-afternoon. The ruined palace and the temple that the fort complex houses, are definitely worth the visit for their historical importance and aesthetic value.
The entire hike up could take about three to four hours, but the view from the top is simply spectacular and will surely bring relief to your worn out legs. The place is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and is closed on Fridays. Visitors have to make sure to carry things to eat since there are no restaurants or hotels nearby.
This place is a true testament to the saying, “The climb is hard, but the view is great”. Owing to bad roads and slightly steep steps it might not be easy to get to these waterfalls but let me assure you, once your eyes feast on the majesty of the water as it gushes down the rocks and collects into the little pool at the bottom, you will feel rejuvenated.
This waterfall, located 42 km from Udupi, is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and awakened. The Kudlu Theertha Falls is situated within the lush green forests of the Western Ghats and is the first waterfall arising from the river Sita as it flows downstream into Karnataka.
Though there is a waterfall called Manga Theertha right above Kudlu Falls, it is out of human reach and is accessible only to monkeys, hence the name Monkey Falls. Carry lots of food as the trek can be exhausting and travel light. Carry bread with you if you want to see and feed the little fish that inhabit the pond. Also, make sure you have an extra pair of clothes as jumping into the cold pool of water is the best way to re-energise yourself after a long road trip.
Located just 10 kilometres from Manipal, Malpe is famous for its scenic beach, which is popular among both locals and tourists. The beach also houses a beach resort, which caters to the culinary needs of visitors. It also has a variety of adventure sports including parasailing and jet-skiing. It is also the very first beach in India to be Wi-Fi enabled, with each visitor being given half an hour of free Wi-Fi (enough to post a new status update). Just off the shore, is St. Mary’s Island, which can be visited by a frequent ferry.
ST MARY’S ISLAND
A gentle reminder of every avid Enid Blyton reader’s secret hideaway, St. Mary’s Island is an equivalent of Kirrin Island. Located right off the coast of Malpe beach, it can be accessed by ferry for Rs 200 on weekdays and Rs 300 on weekends, from 9 AM to 4 PM. While one cannot visit the island during and right after the monsoon (due to choppy waters), summertime here is an entirely different story. Having been declared one of India’s 26 Geological Monuments, complete with unique hexagonal volcanic rock pillars, the white sand, and clear waters, it is—literally and figuratively—one of the hottest places to visit. Additionally, transit to the island often requires wading through shallow waters, so avoiding shoes is a wonderful idea- unless, of course, squishy sneakers appeal to you.
Mannapalla (Manipal Lake) is one of Manipal’s prominent tourist attractions. The boating facilities at the lake attract the tourists flocking to the lake. The boat ride provides one with the opportunities to snap several photographs of the breathtaking vista around them and the numerous birds found there. Owing to the abundant rainfall in the area, the lake occupies nearly 55 acres of water, with plenty of water in the summer as well.
The lake also has a two-kilometre jogging track surrounding it, where one can breathe in the cool air when jogging in the morning. Besides, the lake also has numerous amenities near the jogging track like stainless steel garbage bins, solar-powered streetlights, and benches for the elderly.
SRI KRISHNA MATHA
For a more spiritual experience, Udupi’s famous Sri Krishna Matha is a must-visit. The temple is unique in that the idol of Lord Krishna is worshipped and viewed through a silver-plated window with nine windows, called Navagraha Kindi. The temple is open from 5:30 AM to 9 PM, however, most pujas are held between 6 AM and 10 PM, with another puja at 7 PM which is worth witnessing. After your time in the temple, do try to have food at Anna Brahma Bhojana Shale—which, despite being crowded, is the perfect conclusion to a visit to the temple.
Located on the Udupi-Manipal road, better known as Central Cinemas, the movies here are released in sync with the rest of the country.
Located on the road adjacent to AB5 back gate, is this (literally) underground gaming paradise. Armed with PS3s and Xbox 360s, it costs 80 rupees to rent a controller for an hour. Ever populated with an array of college students, seated on beanbags that several posteriors have been acquainted with over the years, burnout is any video game aficionado’s place to be.
Timings: 9:30 AM – 11 PM
Trigger is completely similar to Burnout, except that it is also equipped with pool tables and a foosball table. Also, the not-very-beany beanbags that are the norm at Burnout are substituted by far more superior couches. It is also slightly pricier- with the rent being 100 rupees per controller per hour- but justifiably so, since the controllers and the general ambience are in brand new condition. It is located on End Point road, near Crumbs Café, on a lane to the left.
MUSEUM OF ANATOMY AND PATHOLOGY (MAP)
Touted to be one of the largest of its kind in Asia, the Museum of Anatomy and Pathology (MAP) is the brainchild of Dr SS Godbole, the very first Anatomy Professor of Kasturba Medical College. From a modest collection of 650 specimens during its inception, the Museum has burgeoned to include over 3000 specimens and samples including the skulls of an elephant, a whale, and even a King Cobra.
Located directly opposite the main administrative complex (also called the EDU building), the Anatomy section houses well-preserved specimens of the human body from head to toe. The Pathology museum also houses a section dedicated to the human body including displays of well-preserved organs of the body, both diseased and healthy (not for the faint-hearted). It also has a section dedicated to inculcating awareness among the general public, regarding various lifestyle-related diseases and their impact on the body.
The museum is open from 8 AM to 6 PM on all days, except public holidays to all members of the public. While the entrance for Manipal university staff, students, and guests is free, a nominal fee is collected from the public. A visit to this enthralling museum can be aptly expressed by the words of Dr RJ Last, former Anatomical Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons, London: “It’s one of the best.”
HASTASHILPA HERITAGE VILLAGE
Located just a few minutes away from the campus, the Heritage Village is a collection of heritage homes, traditional artworks and a repository of cultural wealth. This project was undertaken by a retired bank employee, the late Dr Vijayanath Shenoy, who was deeply troubled by the razing of ancestral homes and heritage buildings by people. This led to his conviction that the preservation of our art, craft, and architectural traditions is of utmost significance.
The Heritage Village, comprising 26 buildings, restored at the cost of much money, time and effort stand mute testimony to the hard work and meticulous effort which went into this noble undertaking. The Hastashilpa Heritage Village is open to the public with tours being conducted in two sessions from 10 AM to 12:30 PM and from 2:30 PM to 5 PM.
Covered by lush forests and with a commanding view of the Western Ghats, Kodachadri is not just a tourist spot but is also an area of considerable historical and religious significance. Several monolithic structures or menhirs were built here in prehistoric times, some of these built using rocks greater than 12 feet in height. A temple dedicated to the Ancient Mother Goddess Mookambika is located near the top of the peak. The temple is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims, and it is said to stand where thousands of years ago Mookambika fought and killed the demon Mookasura. Kodachadri, which is the 10th highest peak in the state, is also a Natural Heritage site, as declared by the Government of Karnataka.
Apart from its aesthetic and historical significance, Kodachadri is also a destination for trekking enthusiasts with most expeditions starting from the village of Nagodi, located at the base of the mountain. However, as of January 2015, tented overnight camping is prohibited on the mountain. However, in case one does wish to spend the night on the summit, there is a bungalow maintained by the State Government, which has to be booked in advance.
A tranquil getaway that has become increasingly popular over the years, End Point has the added advantage of a well-maintained, manicured garden. It also boasts wonderful views of the sunrise and sunset in the valley, as well as the river Tunga, with a conveniently placed gazebo along the path.
However, entry closes at 6:30, after which visitors are ushered out by the omnipresent security guards.
One of the best ways to savour your scarce long weekends over the academic calendar is by catching the first train to Gokarna from the nearby Udupi Station. Courtesy of the picturesque views and pleasant company of peers sans the college humdrum, it might seem only minutes before you reach the temple town.
Gokarna, widely famous for the Mahabaleshwara Temple and an array of five beaches, is at the confluence of two rivers shaped like an ear. Mahabaleshwar Temple holds its prestige for housing one of the Shiva Lingas, known as ‘Atmalinga’. The temple complex stands out for its intricate design and architecture.
The beaches at Gokarna have a lot to offer. The main Gokarna beach charms oneself with its absolute beauty despite the fact that it might get a bit crowded during peak season. A short trek will lead one to Kudle beach circumscribed by hillocks and rocks. The place can easily set your appetite with its scattered shacks and small inns. Once in Gokarna, never miss out the pristine lands of Om beach. The waves are sparkling blue, the tides like to play about both gentle and rough, and it is perfect to plunge into the secluded waters. Namaste Cafe is a go-to place for some tasty delicacies and a calming ambience. Well, if you want the beaches all to yourself, Paradise and Half-Moon are where one should hit for some quality self-time.
All in all, Gokarna could hold a very special place in your travel diaries and photo albums, rejuvenating souls with the soothing touch of nature in its most unadulterated form.
One might have to dig deep into their pockets to pay a visit to this fascinating place, but it’s undoubtedly worth it, for the once in a lifetime opportunity. Situated 19 kilometres from Murudeshwara, Netrani Island, also known as Pigeon Island, appears to be in the shape of a heart from an aerial view. It takes a total of ninety minutes or less, on a thrilling boat ride from Murudeshwara, to reach this ultimate zone of tranquillity. The crystal clear, azure waters of the Arabian Sea offer euphoric experiences of scuba diving. A few of the divers claim it to be better than Goa.
With visibility of as far as 15 meters, the scuba divers can soothe their nerves with the delightful views of the various life forms and corals under water. It has a coral reef housing a multitude of corals, butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, eels, shrimps, etc. The dive shops in Murudeshwara and Goa schedule frequent trips to the island. The place is great for hiking too, making it a favourite picnic spot by the sea.
Located in the hearts of the Kudremukh National Park, Kurinjal Peak offers a 14-kilometre trek (both ways) in some of the lushest greens and breath-taking views discovered so far. The lofty hills, the rich forests, and the once-in-a-while caves combine, stirring your emotions to feel alive and rejuvenated at its sheer beauty. The lush green grasslands and the streams at the start of the trek add pearls to the experience. It is acclaimed as the third highest peak in Karnataka.
Although the distance might seem daunting at first, the trek can easily be finished by a first timer. The huge rocks and the sound of the waterfall at the peak keeps one going. An exhilarating feel sets in at the summit as the cool breeze slaps your cheeks. A few kilometres away from the base camp are the coffee and tree plantations where one can buy the purest of the products both for family and self.
The trek requires a grant of permission from the Forest Department since it is in a National Park. It is advisable to request for the grant a few days before the scheduled trip.
On a lazy Sunday morning, catch up with your friends with driving licenses by renting scooters and embarking on one of the best rides you can experience. Maravanthe Beach spans about 2 kilometres parallel to the national highway. The beach is not the only attraction, for what lies on the other side of the road is yet another water body—Sowparnika River. The view is lovely and has been gaining more attention among the tourists in Karnataka.
The vivid beach seems to be like heaven on Earth with its soft, white sand and sun-kissed rocks. The water is generally rough, and the terrain might even take steep dips. About an hour’s journey to Maravanthe will take you to a different land altogether.
SMRITI BHAVAN—DR. T.M.A. PAI MUSEUM
Located adjacent to Hotel Madhuvan Serai, Smriti Bhavan is an easily missed museum by passers-by. It is the humble bungalow of the legendary Late Dr T. M. A. Pai, who is the founder and carver of the educational town of Manipal. It’s a museum based on his life and how Manipal came to be across the lifespan of Dr Pai. The museum contains his belongings, framed photographs, and many achievements. The house also has Dr Pai’s clinic and his medical instruments from that era.
The entry for the museum is free for all. It is closed on Sundays and is open from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:30 PM to 6:00 PM. One can imagine the growth of this education town vividly while observing the place.
The city of ruins, Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Hospet Town. The ruins belong to the erstwhile medieval Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar. The architecture of the land is a mirror to the splendour of the kingdom and the fine workmanship of the sculptures.
There are two primary tourist attractions—the Hampi Bazaar area and the Royal centre near Kamalapuram. Virupaksha Temple, one of the oldest monuments in the country, dates back to the 15th century. It is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva and rises 50 meters above the ground level. Another breathtaking site is the Hemakuta Hill which contains early ruins, Jain temples, and a monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha, a form of Lord Vishnu. Hemakuta Hill offers an excellent view of Hampi Bazaar. On the east of Hampi Bazaar, a World Heritage site, Vittal temple, is an excellent specimen of the 16th-century architectural splendour and wall carvings. All in all, Hampi leaves you in awe with its ruins and excellent craftsmanship. It is one of the prioritised items in the bucket list of heritage lovers.
The town is well connected by roads from the Hospet Junction Railway Station which is about 13 kilometres from Hampi. Hospet town also has a bus station with long distance and interstate connections. It is advisable to carry enough cash for the stay as there are only a few ATMs one can find in the area.
Picture Credits: The Photography Club, Manipal
Cover Image: Vipul Mone