Once Upon a Trip…to Coorg (Part-1)

Spoiler alert: The protagonist will not reach Coorg by the end of this blog.

We had just returned from a month long trip to the US. We came to learn about an upcoming conference in Mangalore, India and that to us meant a new destination to explore. We saw this as an opportunity to visit the state of Karnataka and decided to submit a paper to the conference.

We worked day and night for this paper, i.e., exactly one day and the night that followed. Look, at the time we were not the best of researchers. This was our first attempt at writing a paper and we had no one to guide us. So for us, a paper meant a compilation of stuff from Wikipedia and other sources on a topic. And that’s exactly what we did. We did have an idea of what plagiarism meant and were, thus, meticulous about what we were writing.

Long story short, we wrote the best paper we had written up to that point in our lives and submitted it to the conference and it got accepted. That is how good of a researcher duo we are. Now that we had an official reason to visit Karnataka, this trip started to take shape. Financing the trip was not a big deal this time around as we had saved some money (in dollars $) from our trip to the US which was a fully-funded trip. We made our train reservations, registration and accommodation for the conference and headed to Mangalore.

The Auditorium where the conference was held.

The conference was three days long but the schedule was tight for each day, except for the last day, which had just the closing ceremony and then the day was for us to do….whatever.

The closing ceremony function for the conference.

Having presented our paper in the conference and after hours of listening to other speakers and sometimes napping on the melodious talks of some, the conference finally concluded and our trip actually started. The only thing that had gone against us for now was that we love to travel light and the conference gave us each a thick ‘book of abstracts’, which we had to carry with us wherever we went next.

We had not intended on visiting Mangalore but rather on going to Coorg which was about 140 km from Mangalore city. We enquired about the buses to Coorg and got to know that there were buses in the evening. Taking a bus early evening would have landed us in Coorg late at night, so we decided to take the last bus, later at the night, so that we can reach Coorg early morning and start exploring it. Now that we knew our departure time from Mangalore, we had several hours to kill and decided to take a small city tour.

We consulted our good friend Google and asked it the question that we usually ask: ‘Places to visit in city XYZ’. We came to know about a beach and a few temples which were famous in the city. One of the temples, the Kadri Manjunath Temple, was not very far from where we were, so we decided to go there first.

The Kadri Manjunatha Temple is located south of Kadri hills and is an ancient 10th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Unfortunately, we arrived there at around 1 pm and the temple was closed. We were not able to see the bronze idol of Lokeshwar (identified as Brahma), which is considered to be the best bronze statue in the country. We did take some pictures of the outside courtyard of the temple, but couldn’t stay very long as we had removed our shoes well outside the temple premises and the floor was really hot during this time of the day.

Kadri Manjunatha Temple.

Next up in our ‘places to visit’ list was the Panumbur Beach. We knew it would be too hot to be visiting a beach at this time of the day but we had time to kill and there was a possibility that this may be our only chance to visit Mangalore. So we headed towards the beach. We had to take a bus to reach there. The entrance to the beach is actually a little away from where the bus drops you. We finally made it to the beach.

Entrance to the Panambur Beach.

We took a stroll along the beach and spent some time there. We were thirsty and found an ice-cream vendor. We went up to him to buy a bottle of water. Now let me remind you at this point that there are thousands of languages (and dialects) spoken across India and it can sometimes be difficult to communicate with local vendors. This was not the case here, though. Seeing us talking in Hindi, the man asked us where we were from (in Hindi). In the conversation that followed, he told us that he was “tadipar” (fugitive) from Uttar Pradesh and had come to Mangalore several years ago to escape arrest. We did not get into details with him on that matter. He did give us a discount on the water bottle though. I mean he charged us the MRP and not the increased beach price. Well after this weird yet interesting encounter with this guy, we stayed in the beach area for a couple of hours before heading back to the city centre.

We had spent the major part of the day and it was evening by now. However, we had also exhausted ourselves in the process and did not want to do much more. However, as we had already decided to visit a famous temple and had kept it for the last, we were determined to visit it. This temple was the Kudroli Gokarnath Temple or the Gokarnanatheshwara Temple. It is dedicated to Gokarnanatha, a form of Lord Shiva, and thus the name.

The temple has a massive compound with marble flooring throughout. The temples in the complex are decorated with murals showing various scenes from mythological legends and epics. We roamed around the vast complex paying our respects to the deities. The day started its decent toward the night as the daylight began to diminish. The beauty of the temple complex amplified as the sky became darker. The golden colours of the temple glittered in full glory and it was a sight to behold.

The Kudroli Gokarnath Temple in Mangalore.

As I always say, there is some aura in a place of worship. All the tiredness of the day started to vanish. We decided to spend more time in the calm setting of the temple rather than going to the hustle of the city. At some point of time there was an Aarti (prayer) in the temple and the people rang the temple bells in unison. It felt like music and the kind of music which relaxes your body and mind.

We spent a good couple of hours in the temple, although the time flew by unnoticed. We planned to get some dinner and then head to the bus station where we had to board the bus to Coorg. We ate at some restaurant nearby and went to the bus station. We freshened up there and made some preparations for the bus journey.

Finally in about an hour or so our bus arrived and we got in to, in a way, start our actual planned trip to Coorg – Scotland of India.

Like our day in Mangalore, this blog too has become long and we have not even reached Coorg. To not make it super long and boring, I am dividing the blog into two parts. So here is the Part-1 of the blog which we can call as…’Heading to Coorg’, maybe. In the next part, I will tell you about the place which was meant to be – Coorg, so please stay tuned and I will be back with Part-2 soon.

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