An unexpected trip to Mangalore during the long Diwali weekend led me to discover the Tannirbhavi Beach whose existence I never knew of till recently.
I was staying at my uncle’s place at the heart of Mangalore city. When I had a Sunday evening all for myself, I thought of visiting the Panambur Beach. It was then that my cousin suggested to me, “Why Panambur? Tannirbhavi is closer!” As I had never heard of this beach, I thought for myself why not.
Around 4.30pm on a balmy Sunday evening, I set off to Tannirbhavi Beach. I had just started walking towards the main road when I heard the sound of an approaching auto. I flagged down the auto and asked the driver to take me to Tannirbhavi Beach. The driver gave me a quizzical look and asked me why I had come looking for an auto in the direction I was walking when I actually had to walk in the opposite direction. In a surprised tone, I told him that I thought I was on the right track. He went on to add that going all the way to Tannirbhavi would cost me 300 bucks. I said, “What!! I thought it was close by?” Before I could say more he suggested that I go by auto till Sultan Battery and board a ferry from there which is what most tourists do. This got me thinking. I had never travelled by a ferry. I had seen ferries only in Malayalam and in Bollywood movies set in a Bengali milieu. Would it be wise to travel in one when I had a time crunch as I had to board a bus back to Bangalore at 9pm? My folks had told me to finish my trip and be back by 7.30pm and it was almost 5pm! I contemplated going back home when the auto driver re-assured me, “Madam, there will be plenty of tourists going to Thannirbhavi. You will not face problems.” Encouraged by his words I agreed to his idea and told him to drop me at Sultan Battery.
The drive to Sultan Battery turned out to be shorter than I imagined. And the auto driver was right. I saw a lot of holiday makers scattered all over the large expanse of land in front of me. As I alighted from the auto, I spotted a raised ramp with a staircase leading to the top of it. As soon as I paid off my auto fare, I raced to the ramp. The auto driver called out to me and told me that I had to board the ferry from the opposite end. I replied saying that I wanted to check out the ramp first and I would go board the ferry later.
It turned out that the ramp was a watch tower built by Tippu Sultan to look out for English invaders during his time. In all my eagerness to get on top of the tower, I forgot to take a picture of it. The only picture I took of the tower was that of its staircase. The top of the tower turned out be some sort of a lovers’ meeting point. There were so many of them. Not surprisingly, I got funny stares when I walked towards the parapet of the tower. A vast expanse of a water body which I later learnt is the Gurupura river greeted me as I stood near the wall. I went click click click. Embarassed as I was by the presence of numerous couples around me and not wanting to stay there any longer, I made a quick exit and raced down the stairs and walked in the direction of the ferry stand.
The Gurupura river as seen from the watch tower.
The flight of stairs of the watch tower.
At the ferry stand, I discovered that over there rules were a joke. People were stretching out their hands in all directions to get a ticket. Try as much as I could, I could not buy a ticket. People were pushing and shoving each other and I began to feel helpless and suffocated. It took me a good ten minutes before I finally got one. The ferry fare was just INR 5.
I joined a serpentine queue of people waiting to board the ferry. Luckily, people were following queue rules here. A ferry had just left the stand and made for a good click. I had to use my smartphone as I hardly had space to reach out for my camera. Another ferry arrived but I could not board it as I way behind in the queue.
It wasn’t long before I spotted a very large and ornate ferry slowly make its way to the ferry stand. Unlike the earlier one, this one was extremely spacious and the seats aesthetically placed. Thanks to its large size, at least a hundred people including me got into it. I grabbed a most comfortable seat on the border and unzipped my bag to take out my camera. As the beautiful vessel moved I managed to take some pictures including one of a small freight vessel. A lot of people were taking selfies and groupfies. The air was vibrant with excitement. There were a lot of children among the passengers.
A turn here and a turn there and we were at the Tannirbhavi Beach. After alighting, I joined the large brigade of tourists and holiday makers walking towards the beach. En route I noticed a church with a wide courtyard and stopped to take a picture.
In no time, the beautiful Tannirbhavi beach and the Arabian Sea were in front of me. The sun had not set. I felt so happy and kept taking pictures of sun-ny boy as he began setting. The beach was filled with visitors and the air was drowned in noises of all sorts. Children were running across, many were flying kites, a man was offering rides on a horse and the shore was dotted with stalls selling all sorts of foods, toys, and what not.
Unlike at Panambur Beach last year, this year at Tannirbhavi my picture of the sun setting turned out to be better thanks to less clouds. Here’s the best of the lot:
And unlike at Panambur Beach last year, when I had a Nokia 2300, this time I had a Google Pixel. I was all too excited to update my status on Facebook. Ha ha. This was one of the rare occasions I got to travel and I made the most of it offline and online.
As the evening wore on and the sun had completely set I looked at my watch and realised that I had to rush. As I paced up the beach I looked at all the food stalls. The one selling diced raw mangoes tossed in salt and chilli powder made me stop. I love raw mangoes and couldn’t help buying a cupful. The stuff was yummy with just the right proportion of ingredients and melted in my mouth. If it weren’t for the time crunch I would have had more of the stuff. The picture of the mangoes got more likes on Facebook than the sunset at the beach.
It was quite dark as I walked towards the ferry stand and yes there was a long queue. The same ferry on which I travelled to the beach arrived at the ferry stand and “yay” I was able to get in and grab the same seat that I sat on earlier.
A turn here and a turn there and I was at the same point that I first boarded the ferry. It was quite dark and I made a brief stop to glance at a chariot on a raised platform. I could not figure out what it was all about.
I walked to the auto stand only to realise that there wasn’t a single one in sight. I walked towards a lone bus only to get off as soon as I got in because it was headed for a different place.
I checked my phone to see if I could book a cab and to my relief I got one in no time. The journey to home was quick and all night in the bus to Bangalore memories of the beach and the mangoes lingered.