The coastal city in South India known as Mangalore, or Mangaluru, is just beginning to come into its own as a destination. Unlike other stops on an India cruise, like Dubai and Mumbai, Mangalore is far more laid back. Home to a variety of low-key beaches, sacred temples, and historic sights, a Mangalore cruise destination is a great place to catch your breath. Of course, you could spend all your time here going from temple to temple, like the 9th century Mangaladevi Temple, which honors the god Shakti, or Gokarnanatheshwara Temple, which is universally adored for its peaceful, ambient atmosphere contrasted with complete grandeur.
When you go off the beaten path in India on your Mangalore cruise, you’ll quickly discover that quality is better than quantity when it comes to sightseeing. What Mangalore lacks in things to do it makes up for in incredible restaurants, parks, and beaches, like Panambur Beach, which is considered one of India’s most popular and cleanest beaches. When you’re done beach and temple hopping, stop into one of the city’s top restaurants for traditional South Indian cuisine, like Mangalore buns or one of the region’s famous fish fries.
Just outside of Mangalore is a town called Sultan Battery, which is best known for its watchtower and historic Jain temple nearby. Travelers can climb to the top of the watchtower for a panoramic vista of the Arabian Sea in the distance, which is particularly pretty at sunset.
Head on a tour of the Mangaladevi Temple for a trip back in time to the 9th century. An afternoon walking the temple’s grounds will give you a new appreciation for Hindu heritage in Mangalore. It’s said that Mangalore was named partly in honor of this significant temple.
In the center of Mangalore you’ll find a powder-blue Christian church called St. Aloysius Chapel, which was built by missionaries in 1878. Paintings on the ceiling and church walls all tell different religious stories. It’s a must-see for history buffs curious about the movement of Christian tradition in India. Guided tours are free.
Your stop on a Mangalore cruise should include a relaxing afternoon or a romantic sunset at Tannirbhavi Beach, which you can get to from Mangalore by ferry or by traveling across the Kuloor Bridge via car. Nature lovers will appreciate the sea breeze and fresh air. There’s even a park dedicated to rare species of regional trees.
Pilikula Nisargadhama offers a little bit of everything for travelers and is one of the biggest attractions in Mangalore. There’s a science center, a planetarium, and a zoo where you can see leopards, tigers, lions, rare snakes, and other exotic species up close. It’s a perfect excursion for kids and families. Plus, a recreation of a historic village offers a quaint restaurant and items from local artisans.
You’ll be amazed as you approach this incredible red and gold temple, which was built in 1912 to honor the divine god Shiva. Walk inside and marvel at the ornate interior of the temple, where paintings throughout the temple tell stories of the rich Hindu tradition. It’s a must-see any time of year as you stop on your Mangalore cruise.
The New Taj Mahal Café
If you’re looking for a traditional Mangalorean breakfast, come to the New Taj Mahal Cafe for coffee and the area’s famous Mangalore buns. It’s casual and inexpensive, but also offers daily specials and lunch fare, too.
Pabba’s Ice Cream Shop
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Pabba’s, a quaint dessert place in Mangalore where the ice cream has attracted a cult following. It’s one of the best spots for treats in Mangalore, where dozens of flavors include the classics and some fun surprises, like jackfruit, roasted almond, tiramisu, and more.
Pallkhi is one of the oldest spots in the city, and the restaurant rooftop makes for a particularly romantic dinner during your time in Mangalore. Vegetarian options abound here, plus plenty of locally sourced seafood mains like tandoori garlic prawns or masala fry crab.
For a casual atmosphere there’s Maharaja, which touts itself as family friendly and laid back. Try dishes like the chicken thali, or the crab roasted in ghee. Rich flavors, thalis, and authentic North Indian dishes are done consistently well here, whether you’re hungry for butter chicken, biryani, or crispy paneer.
Because of the area’s geography and proximity to the sea, the area around Mangalore has always been enviable and attractive for trading as early as the 1500s. Later, the British fought to claim the area, and finally succeeded in taking over Mangalore for Britain in 1799. More recently, Mangalore is becoming known as a relaxing beach destination and a spot for hopping from historic temple to historic temple. Today, Mangalore is growing commercial jobs and becoming a hub for information technology (IT) careers.
When your ship docks at your Mangalore cruise destination, you’ll be located about 20 minutes from the heart of the city. The port is in the process of improvements, but it already has some much-appreciated amenities like free wifi, souvenirs, and duty-free shopping. The port was established in 1974 and is one of the largest cargo ports in India.
Once your Mangalore cruise ship docks in port, a 10 minute-walk will get you to the edge of the port where you can hail a taxi. Taxis will take you into the city of New Mangalore in less than 20 minutes. Uber and the ride-sharing app Ola Cabs have begun to grow in popularity in this part of India. During your time in New Mangalore, taxis and ride-shares are the easiest options for getting back to the ship, and you can explore other sights in the city center on foot.
If you’re shopping at a market or souvenir shop, you can haggle and bargain with your vendor to snag a deal. Beyond the duty-free shopping in the port area, the market and mall scene is good for clothing, jewelry, and handmade local goods. Head to Central Market for snacks, fresh produce, and vegetables, and to interact with locals as they buy food items in this bustling market. There’s a shuttle bus from the New Mangalore port to City Center Mall as well, which is a good option for travelers interested in brand name clothing. It even has a movie theater if you want to catch a film.
During your time in New Mangalore, use the official currency of India, the rupee, to make purchases. Credit cards are generally accepted in New Mangalore, but it’s a good rule of thumb to check before using one while out at a store or restaurant, and to carry extra rupees just in case. Don’t forget to tip 10-15% of your total bill when at restaurants, or round up to the nearest rupee for your taxi driver.