These are excerpts from an article written in 2007 by a group of architects visiting Mangalore on a study trip. The original article posted here. All photos and written material is from that post and I do not claim to have written any of it.
“The city (Mangalore) seems to have skipped a state of evolution; and that too the tacky apartment complexes and pwd housing of the 70s and 80s. Today in between the scattered sweet houses on the sprawling hills suddenly huge new shopping complexes and hotels rise. This juxtaposition of vastly different scales even penetrated the old town. Enormous malls are being built in the heart of HampanKatta, the old commercial center of the city. In the colonial parts of the city enormous institutions cascade down terraces towards the city. Almost all of these are religious, associated with temples or churches like the spectacular St. Aloysius complex with its chapels, interiors lush with hand painted illustrations from the bible or the mission complex where the german missionaries first arrived and from all reports invented the Mangalore tile.”
“The Albuquerque tile factory is one of the few remaining working tile factories in Mangalore. on the edge of the old port its skyline of brick towers can be seen from across the river. Inside is a Piranesian landscape of chugging conveyor belts that clink as they turn corners and rise up floors through dark narrow corridors, with men working at their incessant rhythm. At the heart of this building below our feet burned the hellish fire of the kiln. This is the new factory, but seems to be on the decline because of lack of demand and raw material depletion.”
“The old docks (Tannir Bhavi) near the tile factory teem with activity. The masts of the boats cut the sky into slices and the smell of fish is everywhere. Ferries lead from here to an island that separates Mangalore from the sea. we were warned from going here by the people we spoke to because it seemed to be a hot bed of prostitution- which means we had to go see. The other story we got from the students study was that it was once a cemetery that became inhabited by some fishermen who live there still. The beach turned out to be a desolate landscape of grainy white shell strewn strip. A thin strip in between the steep slope of the sea and an undulating landscape of green leading up to the only road bisecting the island. besides some boats being built near the jetty the only other activity seemed to be the few people walking up and down the road from the mosque to temple. Men hung around in corners chatting in the little shade that they could find and the only women we saw were burkha or apron clad heading to the nursing school nearby. It seemed like a space exiled from the main city. An oddness in the air. We hear that the government plans to build golf courses and entertainment complexes on it. “
“Mangalore seemed to have an inordinate number of the following: educational institutions, banks and temples. the first people say is an overflow from the Manipal colleges close by and because the city has such a high rate of literacy; the second because Indian banking originated in this town. The temples of the city had not, as yet, fallen into the rampant commercialization that we are so used to seeing. Beautifully scaled open courtyards and low hanging roofs form silent spaces that still seem part of the everyday life of people; the Kadri temple in particular with its weather worn floor and its bathing pool above where young boys swam and showed us fish while a giant Hanuman looked on. the Gokarna temple on the other hand was a lower caste temple which had undergone a complete metamorphosis. With hordes of money coming in, it had upgraded itself with a shimmering marble floor and grotesque pouting statues of gods and giraffes into a Disneyland meets Tollywood set for marriages and snapshots. Sometimes you thank god that some of these temple trusts are not that wealthy. The temples on car street were more intimately linked with the community and were of a much smaller size and were scattered around a fairly large chowk.”
“We spent one day in the town of Manipal for a jury in the fifth year studio. they were working on creating a master plan for the tourism development of three beaches around Udupi. The work was unfortunately quite disappointing using present default ideas of spas and homestays unimaginatively and insensitively.
But, what a surreal town Manipal is. On a bald laterite hill enormous institutional complexes have transformed the town. In the middle of rural Karnataka young men drive expensive motorcycles and hop down to the pub for a beer. While Mangalore has not a nightclub, Manipal it seems has two. The air crackles with the electricity of teenage romances, unrequited love, insecurities and broken hearts.”
“Our study in Mangalore intends to build a fictional map of the city through following 20 representative actors from beedi manufacturers to teachers to migrant laborers.”