By Daru Vamanjoor
Feb 11: My stay in Dubai has made me clear one thing. Non-Indians (even North Indians at times) are not very familiar with Mangaluru as they are with Goa or Kerala. Goa and Kerala are easily recognizable as tourist destinations. But Mangaluru is not. Mangalureans would then introduce Mangaluru as it is geographically situated above Kerala or a few kilometers away from Bangalore.
However, geographically and culturally Mangaluru is no way lesser than Kerala or Goa. In fact, Mangaluru is a part of the rich Western Ghats that runs from Gujarat - Maharashtra border till Kanyakumari along with Goa and Kerala. There arises a question. Why is not Mangaluru a well-known tourist destination of South India?
File Photos by Dayanand Kukkaje
Mangaluru has islands (Kudrus), backwaters, beautiful sea shores, rivers, several religious places, hills, historical places and a rare cultural heritage. There are no factors to portray Mangaluru as a less preferred tourist destination. If there is anything, it is the incompetent vision of our political leaders for Mangaluru.
Our political leaders have been making repeated attempts to make Mangaluru a Smart City. Nandikoor thermal power plant, MRPL, Kudremukh iron ore project, proposed Niddodi thermal power plant and ongoing unscientific Yettinahole river diversion projects are not what Mangaluru desires. In fact, these and such similar other projects have been no way related to the growth and well-being of real Mangaluru.
Today, Mangaluru needs vision. The vision to develop Mangaluru by protecting its historical and heritage beauty and to promote the geography, culture and diversification on the globe.
Basically, Mangaluru is an agricultural land. Our cultures and local languages such as Konkani, Tulu and Beary are interdependent. Today, there has not been practical attempt from the government to protect Mangaluru and its heritage. Well, I am not against modernization. Roads without footpaths within the city, ongoing Yettinahole project and cutting down old trees in the Valencia area are few examples as to how the government is planing its future for Mangaluru.
Several fisherman have lost their life at the Alive Baagilu at Mangaluru. The sea shore of Mangaluru has been facing serious issue of sea erosion. These and similar to these are the issues that needs to be addressed in Mangaluru. Certainly, Mangaluru needs development which should be supportive to the growth of Mangaluru and not another concrete jungle like Bengaluru or like polluted New Delhi.
Promoting Mangaluru as a tourist destination would not only generate revenue to the citizens of the city but also encourages its citizens to preserve and protect city's heritage. Goa and Kerala (Coorg, Chikkamagaluru to some extent) have been successful in implementing this.
For instance, the increase in the number of consumers would surely encourage a toddy tapper to continue his profession for few more years. This would be the same case for agriculturists, fisherman, owners of Mane Oota and Ganji Ootas.
If Mangaluru is promoted as a tourist spot, we would see tourists and foreigners witnessing historical Kambalas, cock fights, bathing at waterfalls, climbing hills and enjoying spicy fish fries at reputed Mane Ootas like Hotel Narayana or Giri Manjas.
Well, who would take the initiative ? It should be we, individuals.
The Kite Festival organized by Team Mangalore is a great example for a private initiative which has now become a festival of Mangaluru. Recently, anglers of Mangaluru have come together and have formed an association of like minded enthusiasts. They have also held angling competition few months back. The butterfly park started by Sammilan Shetty at Belvai, 'Rani Abbakka Tulu Adhyayana Kendra' and 'Tulu Baduku Vasthu Sangrahalaya' run by Professor Tukaraam Poojary at BC Road, Private Island 'Farangi Kudru' run by Joseph D'Souza at Kemmannu, regular trekking activities led by famous trekker Dinesh Holla are some inspirations we Mangalureans can take to promote Mangaluru as a tourist destination.
Yes, its time for us citizens to come forward to make Mangaluru a better place.. better place without altering its natural and real beauty.