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.


  1. AJEYA RAO 13 May, 2008 at 16:38 Reply

    It was very nice to read abt my hometown. You will find such interesiting epics in almost every temple in South canara. We from there have grown listening to these events and watching its screen adapations in form of Yakshagana.
    I have studied in St Aloysius college, the painted walls of the chapple indeed is a treat to art lovers.
    I wish You had told me before traveling there….I would have suggested few more places…Surthkal beach to be one of my favorite as it is few mintues walk from my house.

  2. backpakker 14 May, 2008 at 15:04 Reply

    Ajeya – I will definitely tell you when I go there next..as always, its been a city in transit and Ive never really seen the city..I love mythology and folk dances …in fact, I want to see a Yakshagana performance and if possible , Bhuta-nritya

    Zingtrial – Welcome to backpakker and thanks for those wishes..good to know that you found the post interesting

    Sujata -Thanks. Im glad you liked the post

    Indrani – So true ..I thrive on these stories..in fact I write a column for a newspaper on the story that makes the destination what it is today ..


  3. indicaspecies 14 May, 2008 at 15:49 Reply

    Talk about my hometown and I get exuberant too. I treasure Mangalore as a place of beautiful landscape of many rolling hills, lots of greenery, coconut palms, flowing rivers, and superb beaches.

    Lakshmi, thank you for a post that filled me up with beautiful memories.

    @Ajeya: Suratkal beach reminded me of other lovely beaches of Panambur, Thanirbavi, Malpe, Kapu, Ullal, Someshwara etc – all in Mangalore!

  4. backpakker 14 May, 2008 at 16:11 Reply

    Rash – A little bit of patience is all that I ask for.. 🙂

    Celine – Im glad that the post brought you back special memories..being at home is just a great feeling ..I feel the same when someone refers to Madras..Mangalore is so beautiful that I feel sad when i see all the real estate killing it

  5. Merisi 14 May, 2008 at 16:24 Reply

    I shall never see too many posts of yours about Mangolore, you made me fall in love with that name and the place. 😉

  6. indicaspecies 14 May, 2008 at 19:10 Reply


    That’s the price one has to pay in the name of development. My father had 16 acres of land. Now it’s all gone, acquired by the government, entire villages wiped off – all to make way for new towns!

    – celine

  7. backpakker 14 May, 2008 at 23:32 Reply

    Merisi – There is a certain lure about these names..I agree about the romantic bit..

    Celine – I wonder if this is development in the true sense of the word

    Nanditha – Thanks..Im glad the posts bring back refreshing memories..You are always welcome

    Zoey – welcome to backpakker and thanks for the comment..your pics are beautiful as well

    Vishnu – you are right..places have a longer life than people and they may be modified, but the essence remains the same


  8. Merisi 15 May, 2008 at 03:06 Reply

    You are right, of course,
    the romance of the name, the aura of a world so far and so different from what I have known, they are all very superficial notions. On the other hand, I am truly interested and would love to get to know this part of the world by travelling there. It may never be.

  9. IDriSh LAxmIdHAR 15 May, 2008 at 17:46 Reply

    hey backpakker..that was very cool of ya to share photos and information…
    very nice pics and a good work…

    i’d like to come here again..

    mind if i blogroll ya??



  10. backpakker 21 May, 2008 at 10:46 Reply

    Merisi – Im sure you will get to experience a portion of India..

    Idrish – Welcome to backpakker and thanks for your comments..will be happy to blogroll you as well

    Shrinidhi – Welcome to backpakker and thanks..Sounds good if there are houseboats in Malpe..would be ideal for a holiday


  11. Limitless Thoughts 23 June, 2011 at 15:13 Reply

    Hey can anyone guide me good places and beaches in managlore an near mangalore .Our group i splanning for a trip to managlore and we will have probably saturday morning till sunday evening to explore mangalore as we have to catch our train on sunday evening back to bangalore .Would appreciate suggestion

  12. Limitless Thoughts 23 June, 2011 at 15:17 Reply

    can someone guide me places and beaches in and around Mangalore. We are planning a weekend trip to Mangalore in mid-July.We will be there from saturday morning till sunday evening and want to cover up as many thing as possible ,as we have to catch train on sunday evening for Bangalore.Any suggestion for the trip is appreciated .Thanks

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