The Mangala Devi of Mangalore
This is probably my nth trip to Mangalore . But as always, it has been a city in transit and never quite the destination. Except for a couple of official trips that I had made during my last job. It is a city that I’ve seen in bits and pieces and this time it was no exception.
I had flown in from Bangalore – the trains were running full and I did not want to hazard a bus journey what with the status of roads . My parents were coming to Mangalore by train from Chennai on a beautiful coast ride and we were going to Sringeri on a pilgrimage . As my flight landed early, I had a few hours to kill and I asked the cab driver to show we around Mangalore.I had time to see one temple – the Mangala Devi temple . I had wanted to see the frescoes housed in St Aloysius College Chapel, but the college exams were on and visitors were not allowed .
The road from the airport was beautiful. We crossed bridges built across the backwaters , passed a few hamlets with small tiled houses and gazed upon lush fields filled with water. We were driving from Kudla , which is the Tulu name for Mangalore meaning junction. Located in the confluence of the Netravati and Gurupura rivers , this is a city with myriad names,communities and dialects. Called Maikala by the Bearys, Kodial by Konkanis, Menguluru by Kannadigas, the city has been in the map of several global historians and explorers . Wiki says that the Arabic traveller Ibn Battutua wrote about Manjarur while Greek historian Ptolemy referred to Maganoor . However the town called Menguluru today owes its name to a deity Mangala Devi whose temple attracts pilgrims all over . There are many stories about this Goddess who lent her name to the port city, Mangalapura , but this is the most elaborate story we heard there,a lore that has travelled down the ages.
A demoness, Vikashini wanted to avenge the death of her father, Hiranyaksha by Lord Vishnu. So she prayed to Lord Brahma who granted her a boon that she will bear a son of Lord Shiva who will be invincible. Her son, Andhakasura threatened Lord Vishnu who approached the Goddess to kill the demon. It is said that the Goddess in the form of Rakteshwari jumped into the ocean and killed him.
A yuga passed and Parashurama was looking for a piece of land to continue his penance . He approached Varuna, the Lord of the Seas who refused. A provoked Parashurama flung his axe and carved a portion of the land from the sea . The claimed coastal region, known as Parashurama Kshetra is today parts of coastal Karnataka ,Maharashtra and Kerala .
The story goes that Parushrama continued his penance at the place where the Goddess killed the demon and a temple was built here .As several years passed by , Tulu Nadu was ruled by a king called Bangaraja .It is said that the Goddess appeared in his dream and showed him a shrine buried under a mound . The king rebuilt a temple there and it was called Mangala Devi. Later on , Kundavarma of the Alupa Dynasty renovated the temple under the guidance of two sages Matsyendranath and Goraknath who had come from Nepal . As we left the temple, we realized that this is not just a story, but the identity of Mangalore.