163km (101 miles)
07.08.2008 - 07.08.2008 22 °C
Mangalore – Facts:
- Mangalore is hilly with winding disorienting streets.
- Mangalore is one of the fastest developing cities in India.
- Known as the "open drain city", due of raw sewage being dumped into the river and ocean.
A country divided
At our school visit today we learn that there is only one toilet used by the girls but no toilet for the boys. We unanimously agree to spend a significant proportion of our fund raising money on providing basic sanitation facilities for the schools we visit. It costs less than US$ 1,500 to build a toilet block!
Four days, approximately 700km, 2 states, 2 languages and 3 major cities later, we finally hit the Arabian Sea and the Malabar coast on the opposite side of India. We’ve crossed from urban to rural, mountain to coast, sun to rain. We’ve been through India’s high tech capital of Bangalore, through small rural hill towns where people live a hand-to-mouth existence in makeshift ‘tents’ with no power.
We’ve been ripped off at fuel stations, been questioned by police at road blocks but been greeted like long lost cousins in remote villages and invited into people’s homes for tea. We’ve passed business men working in city tower blocks and watched local farmers working their oxen by hand in small rice paddies. The differences across India are as vast as the nation itself.
Our spark plug is causing us problems today, probably not helped by the constant swirling monsoon rain and flooded roads. We stop to undertake the necessary repairs when we are pushed aside by a rickshaw driver from the gathering crowd. Without so much as a word he resolves our problem by re-connecting the electrics and stripping the thick cable down to the wire using his few remaining teeth! In the West, the norm is to keep your head down and go about your own daily business but in India we are constantly humbled by people's willingness to provide help.
Our challenge today involves a stop at the small town of Udupi, 58 km north of Mangalore along the west coast, where pilgrims come to visit the 13th century Sri Krishna Temple. An elephant is on hand for puja (worship) – he will relieve you of Rs 100 before blessing you on the head with his trunk. Non-Hindus can view the deity but men must enter the main shrine bare chested. It’s a pretty, bustling town and well worth a visit.
We have been wet through for most of the 8 hours driving today but on arrival at Murudeshwar we forfeit a much needed shower to go and explore. The hotel sits on the tip of a peninsula overlooked by an enormous 40m high idol of the deity Shiva (apparently the tallest in the world) and a stupendous 83m tall gopurum (monumental tower at the entrance to a temple). It looks almost eerie against the stormy clouds. The beach is a hive of activity with fishermen tending to their nets and selling their day’s catch.
Hours of rain: All of them.