Cool Places to Visit Around Manipal
One of the many perks of being a part of Manipal University and living in this part of the country is the location itself in which this college town is situated. Resting on a plateau 8 kms east of the Arabian Sea and 65 kms north of Mangaluru, it offers a unique panorama of the Arabian Sea and parts of the Western Ghats. Owing to its eccentric location, it provides its denizens access to a plethora of terrains not far off from each other. Be it the majesty of the hills or the shallows of the beaches that quench your thirst for adventure, Manipal has it all a mere short journey away.
As a result, weekend getaways have crept their way into Manipal’s way of life over the course of time.
Here are some of them:
The Hanging Bridge – The quintessential hangout for the avid bicycle enthusiast in Manipal, this bridge is located a mere few kilometers away from Manipal and is the one place to visit when you’re in the mood for a fun ride, but not in the mood for spending any money.
It’s located atop a small backwater channel. This is the ideal spot for those who wish to enjoy the beauty of nature away from the hustle and bustle of a city.
To be fair, you could just do that within literally anywhere in Manipal itself that isn’t a part of the University, but hey, travelling is fun!
Distance from Manipal – 13.5 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Motorbike/Bicycle (there’s this long winding passage towards the end that’ll only accommodate smaller vehicles)
Agumbe – Located at a comfortable distance of around 45 kilometers from Manipal, the trip to Agumbe is in itself a joyous experience filled with beautiful vistas of Karnataka’s forest regions. The various stops along the way, which include Sunset Point, a temple and numerous waterfalls(Onaki Abbi, Barkana falls and Jogigundi falls), make the journey to Agumbe a rather eventful one. It is one of the highest peaks of the Western Ghats and receives the most amount of rainfall in all of Karnataka!
Once you get there, there’s a lot of trekking to do should you choose to do so, which, given the fact that it rains every hour or so, is quite an exhilarating experience. If you’re lucky enough to be there during the sunset, you’ll be a witness to one of the most breathtaking vistas this amazing state has to offer.
A really cool fact about the Agumbe is that Malgudi Days, a television series based on the collection of short stories by R.K. Narayan was shot over there!
A much cooler fact about Agumbe is that the make-believe town of Malgudi actually exists! The best part about this is that the house where most of the series was shot is still there. It’s owned by a kind lady whom everyone lovingly calls Kasturi Akka. You can knock on her door and they’ll greet you with the warmth and hospitality usually tendered to a long lost kin, complete with the delicious local food served on banana leaves. Getting to explore the 120 year old house where it all happened is an added bonus.
Distance from Manipal – 45 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Car (preferably an SUV)
Karkala – Karkala is a town of historical importance and is also a well-known pilgrimage spot for Jains . The famous single stone 42-foot statue of Gomateshwara (Lord Bahubali) is located about 1 km from the center of the town. Combined with the lake that it overlooks, it is a sight you would NOT want to miss out on.It’s also only 40 kilometers away from Manipal, so it’s ideal for a short trip.
The statue was erected by a Jain king in 1432, in memory of Bahubali who renounced the world at his most victorious moment. Right opposite this gargantuan structure, there is a Jain ‘Basadi’ known as ‘Chaturmukha Basadi’ which is built of granite. In front of this temple, there is a beautifully carved pillar called Manasthamhha which is nearly 50 feet high. What’s more is, this is the tallest and the most beautiful of 11 such pillars (all of which are conveniently named Manasthamhas). If all of this wasn’t enough, there are 17 other such temples in Karkala! If you aren’t religious, go check it out for its awesome art and architecture.
Distance from Manipal – 35 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus
Turtle Bay – This is a beach resort, so it’s perfect for you if you’re okay with spending a bit of money on your little trip outside Manipal. This is a place where you go about your clichéd beach holiday activities, like going on long walks along the beach whilst absorbing the breathtaking scenery, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Here’s what’s interesting about the place,though: it gets its name from the turtles that frequent this region during their nesting season of October to December. So if you want to catch a glimpse of the turtles, that’s the time to visit them. But, for the sake of all that is sacred, do not disturb them. Live and let live. Or in this case, live and let turtles breed and raise young in peace.
Distance from Manipal – 15 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Car
Heritage Village, Manipal – The Heritage Village is a private collection of heritage homes that were dismantled a long time ago, but have been restored to their erstwhile grandeur by a retired bank employee named Vijayanath Shenoy.
He underwent the pain of seeing beautiful ancestral homes being torn down in Malnad in 1983. The event lead to him being determined to one day restore their ancestral homes, which Mr. Shenoy believed to represent their heritage and their very culture. The Heritage Village stands a proud bastion of what once was and should have always been. It took him five years to complete the house he named “Hasta Shilpa”. Every traditional structure that gets taken down is restored at the Heritage Village, courtesy of Mr. Shenoy.
The State Directorate of Archaeology and Museums declared it a protected monument and started restoration work. Shenoy is also planning to establish a similar heritage village in Mysore and land has already been donated to the trust.The property isn’t currently open to the public, and one would require Mr. Shenoy’s permission to visit it.
Distance from Manipal – 4 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus, Auto rickshaw
Kudremukh – 30 kms from Karkala, Kudremukh is also a place you’d visit for a long ride amidst the wilderness. ‘Kudremukh’ literally means ‘Horse Face’. That’s an addition to your list of insults in the native language. You’re welcome. It gets this poetic sobriquet from the fact that a particular view of a side of a mountain resembles the shape of a horse’s face .
This happens to be the largest reserve of a tropical wet evergreen forest in Karnataka. A hilly region, situated 1894 m above sea level, it overlooks the Arabian Sea and is rich in flora and fauna. It’s also Karnataka’s third highest peak.
A ride along the forests can be really fun if you’re into that sort of thing. The forest is incredibly dense out here and provides fertile grounds for hiding in plain sight be a little disappointed if you’re going there solely to watch the animals. It gets an annual rainfall of 7000 mm, so packing some rain gear may be wise.
Distance from Manipal – 57 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Car
Murudeshwar -This place is another 40 kms from the Turtle Bay. You can visit it on the way to Gokarna or Goa. It houses a pretty huge statue of Shiva. It’s surrounded by the sea on three sides. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple.
The Murudeshwar temple has a history that dates back to a few centuries. Fun fact, the Shiva Idol is the second largest in the world, measuring at a colossal 123 feet. It’s only second to the largest one in Batu Caves that you’ll find on the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which measures 140 feet. That’s one reason for you to visit this place right there. Murudeshwar, that is. Not Malaysia. Although definitely check out Malaysia too if you can. It’s pretty epic.
Three important rivers, the Tunga, the Bhadra and the Nethravathi are said to have their origin here. A shrine of goddess Bhagavathi and a Varaha statue inside a cave are the major tourist attractions.
Distance from Manipal – 103 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Train (2.5 hours). A car will get you there faster, but the view from the trains is something you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
Jog Falls – If you’re a fan of high elevations, you’re in luck, because Jog Falls, the highest waterfall in the country is located near Manipal! Well, actually 180 kms away from it, but hey, that’s manageable, right? You can hitch a ride on a bike or a car there right after the monsoons. During the monsoons, the rains are way too heavy to be fun; it gets swampy and slushy and it’ll just be a lousy trip overall.
It’s 875 feet tall and fed by the Shravati river, which gets split into four streams, namely Raja, Rani,Roarer and Rocket.
Interestingly, you can start from the top and walk down the length of the fall. You’ll feel a little icky due to the dirt and littering at the bottom, but it’s still worth the trip if you’re an avid trekker. This is the fifth highest waterfall in Asia. Also, check out Linganmakki Dams (6 kms away) if you’re visiting Jog Falls.
Distance from Manipal – 165 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Train
Malpe – Ah, now we finally arrive at the local haunts of everyday Manipal students who aren’t really in the mood for much adventure, but still want to have a good time. The beaches. There are plenty of them around Manipal, and Malpe is the most commercialized of them all. It’s usually quite crowded and especially so on Saturday Nights. It’s the closest beach you can get to around Manipal.
It also has water sports like parasailing and jet-skis among others. Lots of local shops out there sell cheap street food. But between you and me, I’d advise you stay away from the golas out there. They’re nothing like what golas are actually supposed to taste like, and you deserve better than that. Recently, it became the very first beach in India with free WiFi for 30 minutes for each user (available at 4G speeds), courtesy of BSNL, so people can finally be glued to their phones even while at the beach. What a time to be alive!
Distance from Manipal – 12 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – auto rickshaw, bus
Kaup beach – It’s pronounced “Kapu”. I kid you not. It’s a relatively less crowded beach and features a cool lighthouse which was built by the British in 1901. The lighthouse is 89 feet high and has a range of 24 nautical miles (which is around 27 regular miles, which is around 9 leagues. That reminds me, read the book 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne if you haven’t already. It’s really cool. I digress. Let’s get back to the article). None of these facts will affect your trip to Kaup in any way. They’re just fun to know. You’ll have a great time there though, if you’re a beach person.
Besides the lighthouse, Kaup also has ruins of Jain Basadis that line across the stretch of sand and it also has two Hindu temples dedicated to the Goddess Mariamman. If you intend to explore the beach, you might want to watch out for the crabs if you’re venturing into the darker, siltier side of the beach. They’re sneaky and inconspicuous, so you won’t notice them until you really notice them, and the fact that they’re everywhere. Stick to the more populated side of the beach and you’ll be just fine.
Distance from Manipal – 17kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus
St. Mary’s Isles – It is a small group of islands accessible by ferry from Malpe, and you get around 2 hours to explore it before the ferry takes you back. It’s a clean and beautiful group of islands (for now. Looking at you, Jog Fall tourists who littered the area). Apparently Vasco Da Gama came here before reaching Calicut in 1498. Pretty cool,huh?
Scientific studies indicate that the basalt of the St. Mary’s Islands was formed by volcanic activity, because at that time Madagascar was attached to India about 88 million years ago! The large number of coconut trees in the place have earned it the moniker of Coconut Island.
Distance from Manipal – 17 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus and a subsequent ferry
Hoode Beach – This is the perfect place for you if you enjoy lazy, solitary walks along a beach. The place is practically deserted most of the time. No idea why.
There are a lot of water sports you can indulge in out here and it also has a bunch of shacks scattered across the beach. It also has a lot of stray dogs, for some reason, so be wary of where you step to avoid that gooey, spongy and (eventually) repulsive sensation underneath your foot.
Distance from Manipal – 12 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus
Railway Bridge – This is one of the places you can see from the End Point in Manipal and is location around 5 kms away from Tiger Circle.
This is just a peaceful location where you can go to relax for a couple of hours. The trains passing by cause the whole bridge to shake and that can be fun. You might want to exercise proper caution during the rains,though, as it gets dangerously slippery.
Distance from Manipal – 5 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Auto Rickshaw
Chikmaglur – This is a truly epic and underrated place relatively close to Manipal (around 160 kilometers). It features a lot of homestays and waterfalls and is famous for its serene mountains, lush green forests and tall mountains. It is also known as the ‘coffee land’ of Karnataka. This place is one of the largest producers of coffee in India and the plantations are a sight to behold.
Legend has it that a 17th century Sufi pilgrim, Baba Budan Giri, tucked away seven seeds of coffee in his belt, while returning from Mecca. He came back and sprung them on the fertile hills of Chikmagalur, making it one of the most rampant coffee cultivating spots in India and spawning the coffee culture of the place.
Distance from Manipal – 160 kms
Most convenient mode of commute – Bus or a car
Other cool holiday hangouts around Manipal are Goa, Gokarna,Mangalore among many others too numerous to enlist in an article.
A shout out to RightsPoyi, who organize these various tours and treks for Manipal University students. Hit them up on their their facebook page if you’d like to get in touch with them!
Keep these in mind while planning your next weekend getaway. As a word of warning, while visiting the beaches, make sure you stick to the rules set by the University and avoid swimming, as the Arabian Sea is rather unpredictable and may cost you a lot more than just a ruined trip in case of a mishap. Stay safe, travel far and wide and have a fun ride!
– Rahul Basu for MTTN
Picture credits –
Rahul Ambati, Samyukta Pingali, Keith Furtado, Siddharth Tangirala, Dhruv Verma, Fida Tanaaz, Kashish Grover, Dikshit Sharma, Shivangi Narain and Rakshith Acharya for MTTN