March 25-26, 2012 – Mangalore, India and the sea day to get there.
Our first of three stops in India, all along the west coast of the Country. Mangalore is a port that does not get a lot of tourist travel, so the facilities for handling a shipload of tourists are somewhat limited….
This is our first visit to India and we are not sure quite what to expect. We anticipate language difficulties, which always increases the level of difficulty, and lots of crowds and lots of vendors and beggars. We shall see.
We hired a driver for a half day and launched into India. While the driver said he spoke English and certainly had enough to engage us as a fare, we had a hard time understanding him and making ourselves understood. Our first stop was a Hindu Temple.
We are easing into India, as Mangalore, first stop is also the smallest of the three cities, at only 187,000 people – almost considered a village by Indian standards, considering that Goa, our second stop is 1,500,000 and Mumbai, our third stop is 20,000,000. They are all on the west coast of India, just a few hundred miles from each other.
Our next stop was at a Catholic Church, built by the Portuguese – early occupiers of this area.
Next we toured St. Aloysius, a Jesuit College, founded once again by the Portuguese and still in operation as a modern secondary and college education facility. The interior of chapel at the college had been painted by one Jesuit brother, in the late 1800’s and was truly spectacular.
“The Sultan’s Battery” a fortification from the 1700’s is typical of India. In the US a 300 year old fortification would be a National Park, with landscaping, guides, and a wealth of information. This site was located in a dirt vacant lot, covered with trash, with no signs even identifying it. If your primary needs are basic – sightseeing facilities are far down the priority list. As tourism increases in Mangalore this will probably change as the economic value is recognized.
The contrasts of India. On the left, workers sweeping the street by the port, and on the right, one of the offices of Infosys, a software development company, based in India, which does a very large amount of business in the US.
We did have a small issue with the language. We had read in one of the tour guides about a cashew processing plant that was supposedly quite interesting. The driver said he would take us there. He took us to a store to buy cashews and rather than try and explain further, the time becoming an issue, we bought a bag of cashews and went back to the ship.