Mangalore, India

                                               Buddha at Gomateshwara Jain Temple

March 26, 2012

Mangalore (Mangaluru in the local Kannada language) is a city on the southwest coast of India.  It is a busy commercial port and has been part of trade routes for a long time.  It is the chief port city of the state of Karnataka, and they export a lot of coffee, and most of the nation’s cashews.  The climate is tropical and the area is subject to monsoons.  The population is about 785,000.    According to our tour guide, Mangalore, above all, is a university city.  Education is very important to the people all over southern India, and Mangalore is a perfect example of a city that wants to provide education to its people.  Our guide told us that the literacy rate in India is about 75%.  However, in the south the rate is about 95%, while it is much lower in the north.  The unemployment rate in Mangalore is 5% - far lower than anywhere else in India, and the houses and general tone of what we saw was more upscale than anywhere else we’ve seen in India.  We did not actually go into the city of Mangalore.  Our tour took us outside the city, through suburbs or small villages.  In some areas there were houses that would qualify as McMansions in the United States.

The tour we chose was called ‘Gomateshwara Statue, Soans Farm & Moodabidri’s Temple’.  The trip involved a 90-minute bus ride through the countryside, to visit two Jain temples and a farm that grows primarily pineapples and coconuts. 

Jainism is an offshoot of Buddhism that does not believe in spreading their religion overseas, and the monks give up their worldly possessions.  Some go so far as to give up their clothing.  Given that, it is not surprising that the huge statue of Buddha that we saw at Gomateshwara temple was naked (see photo above).  The 42 foot tall statue is unusual in that it is carved from a single block of granite.  The reason the Jains do not travel on water is that they believe that to do so would kill organisms, and they do not believe in killing anything.

When we got to the Gomateshwara temple we climbed over 200 steps to get to it, in the tropical heat and humidity.  The temple dates from the 10th century A.D. and is still an active place of worship.  The design on the red plaque the symbol of Jainism.

When we left the temple we headed for Soans Farm.  This farm is known for its innovative agricultural techniques, which include finding a way to make use of hilly terrain for planting, and using only water from the seasonal monsoon rains.  The farm is a botanist’s paradise, as all the unusual trees are labeled, so those who are unfamiliar with them can know what they are.  The owner of the farm gave us a guided walk through a portion of the farm, explaining various things to us and answering our questions as we walked.  

Our walk ended in a grove of giant Burma Bamboo (the plants grow up to one inch per day and get to be at least 30 feet tall; this photo gives an idea of exactly how large the bamboo stalks are).  In the grove a buffet lunch was set up, with waiters in formal attire.

The food was a taste adventure, as every state in India has a different cuisine.  It was delicious, especially the dessert, which was made from a local variety of pumpkin and served with vanilla ice cream.

Our final stop was in the town of Moodabidri, where we went to the Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi,or Temple of the 1000 Pillars.  A western realist would look at the temple and say there are not 1000 pillars.  A Jain would say that the reason you can’t see 1000 pillars is that you are not ready to see them all.

As is usual in India, cows were everywhere. 

The temple dates from the 15th century and is built from several kinds of stone.  It is still in active use today.  As you can see from the photos the detail in the carving is beautiful.  The houses in the photo to the right are just outside the temple wall.  The bus ride back to the port was uneventful.

The last photos in the album are from the sail-away.  Do check out all the photos in the album.  As we sailed away, there were people on the dock waving to us and taking photos, and the workers on one of the ships also stopped what they were doing to wave and take photos.  Our stay in Mangalore was nice.  The people were friendly and it was nice to see a part of India where the extreme poverty is not evident.

                                             Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi

© Susan L. Stone 2015