Friday, 25 December 2015

Walking Mangalore – And the Jewel Box of St. Aloysius Chapel

The private bus you have taken for the sixty km trip from Udupi to Mangalore feels like a DTC Bus. A boisterous bunch of students from Delhi and Noida studying in the Manipal colleges are going on their pilgrimage to gorge on familiar burgers and multiplex flicks. Apparently, even Udupi food needs a change sometimes! Independence Day will be best celebrated with some MNC’s burgers and a Hollywood movie in Mangalore.

As the students engage in their typical intelligent Delhi banter like you used to, years ago, on your weekly forays into Maharashtra’s Aurangabad from your suburban hostel, it seems the bus ride has suddenly transported you back from the Konkan to your familiar city. It is too early to be thinking of going back to Delhi so for the next few minutes you dive into google to figure out the afternoon’s program.

Mangalore's Jewel Box - St. Aloysius Chapel
There was no particular reason though to come see Mangalore. You really don’t associate Mangalore with anything except maybe folks with the name Shetty who hail from the city and yes, Aishwarya Rai!. Or maybe the fact that the city is in Konkan and will be the logical end of the Konkan journey if you ever undertook it and yes; the city’s name rhymes with Bangalore.

In no time the bus deposits you in the middle of a city you are still not sure about. You have not even looked up hotels before catching the bus in Udupi. It has happened to you before. As the trip takes effect over a period of days, you let spontaneity take over. Just yards away from where you get off the bus there is a hotel with an airy large room. See, things work out themselves if you let them and this is the cheapest and biggest room you have encountered so far and that too in the biggest city!

Climbing the Lighthouse Hill


Kasturba Medical College on the way on Lighthouse Hill Road
You deposit your bag and come back on the streets with the google map showing the way to the only attraction you have in mind. It is afternoon and you have few hours of sunshine to walk around the streets. The food banter in the bus makes you realise that it is not a bad idea to have some burgers yourself later and maybe catch a movie before you head out back into the Konkan paradise in the morning.


Mangalore Ladies Club - really? - established 1923


The Idgah on the way to St Aloysius College - It is said Tipu Sultan built it with the stone from the razed Milagres Church

Cursory research in the bus is throwing the same place high up on the must see tourist attractions list of Mangalore. You are going to see the marvellous St. Aloysius Chapel. Mangalore is apparently built on hills and the undulating roads are making the progress slow. But you like what you see about the city. There is an unhurried pace to the life. Folks seem nice on the roads. Like Udupi, it seems Mangalore too is a student town as you keep bumping into groups of students. The place has a cosmopolitan feel to it. The hilly roads have always disoriented you and it is after asking for directions several times you enter the St. Aloysius College campus on Lighthouse Hill.

The 'Ferned' walls have been the feature throughout Konkan


The first view of St Aloysius College, Mangalore



A driveway with walls covered with grass and ferns lead you into the college campus. You like what you are seeing. A clean colourful set of buildings come into view. The predominant colour of the buildings is the pleasant looking grey blue. It seems you have just landed in Shimla or Darjeeling.


St. Aloysius High School in Mangalore Karnataka


The Beautiful St. Aloysius College, Mangalore


On the right is the St. Aloysius College building. The autonomous Jesuit college was established in 1885 and counts Booker Prize winner Aravinda Adiga, politician George Fernandes and ICICI Bank Chairman KV Kamath as its alumni. On the left is a sister institution of St. Aloysius High School.


But you are here for the building that is in the centre. This is the St Aloysius Chapel about which people are gushing on the travel websites. You walk around the building looking at the stained windows high above. Of course you have seen grander churches in Old Goa few days ago. So what is special about this chapel? On the front porch outside the seemingly locked front door you are still trying to figure out what to do. It is Independence Day holiday after all.

And then the side door on the left opens and a gentleman steps out. You tell him you are a tourist and have come here specially to see this church and if it is possible to have a look inside. Based on your not too pleasant experiences in Delhi churches lately where the security has become too paranoid, you are not expecting much. Of course you can come in! He is Henry Pereira and he is the Chapel Guide. Sweet!

Get Ready to be Amazed

The Jaw Dropping Painted Interiors of St. Aloysius Chapel in Mangalore

Altar with the painting of St. Aloysius
And then you step inside. Your jaw drops. The first feeling is of pure awe. You have experienced this feeling before when you stepped inside the little Jamali Kamali Tomb in Mehrauli Archaelogical Park or as your eyes adjusted to the pitch darkness and the splendid technicolour decorated walls delight you inside the grand Ahmad Shah I Tomb in Ashtur, Bidar or seeing the glint of gold plated Sone Ki Dukaan in Mahansar, Shekhawati. You have again stepped into a Jewel Box.


Everything is mindboggling about the interiors of St. Aloysius Chapel

Notice the effect of the painted floor - appears like stairs leading to the altar

360 Degrees of Vibtrant and Colourful interiors of St Aloysius Chapel

Your feet just seems to be stuck to the floor as your eyes move around in slow motion. Every inch of available surface is painted in the most glorious colours. The walls, the ceiling, even the pillars have been turned into one big canvas. Oh yes now that you notice, even the floor is painted! Between the pews there is a seemingly marble staircase leading to the altar - You are walking into the embrace of God.
While you are in the art induced stupor some more tourists have joined the group. You realise that Henry has apparently started giving his talk as he sits you all and goes through the history of the place and points to the marvels all around.


Aloysius as a Child - Ceiling Oil on Canvas Painting

St Thomas - Apostle of India - Painting over the Altar

Aloysius seeking admission to the Jesuit Order

The chapel was built by Jesuit Missionaries in 1880. The Italian Jesuits who played an important role in the education, health and social welfare of local catholic community also built the St. Aloysius College next to the chapel.


Jesus as the Friend of Children - on the rear wall of St. Aloysius Chapel

Jesus being baptized by St John

The chapel and the college are dedicated to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, an Italian aristocrat who was a member of Society of Jesus. Society of Jesus is a male religious congregation of Catholic Church which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyala and the members are called Jesuits. St Aloysius died young in 1591 at the age of 23 while caring for plague epidemic victims in Rome. He was canonized in 1726. St. Aloysius is considered as the patron of all Christian youth.


The Bust of Br. Antonio Moscheni who painted the St Aloysius Chapel in 1899















Now let us get to the glorious paintings adorning the walls and ceiling. Antonio Moscheni was an Italian Jesuit brother and painter who with a passion for painting studied the masterpieces of Vatican. His frescoes decorate the churches in Bergamo area. He wanted to renounce his artistic career to serve people. But seeing his talent, he was sent to Mangalore to paint the St. Aloysius Chapel in 1898 during the Mangalore Mission of 1878. He is buried in the Jesuit cemetery of Cochin where he died painting the Cochin Cathedral.









The Pillars are not marble - they just look like marble!

Here in St. Aloysius Chapel, Antonio Moscheni painted for two years from March 1899 to August 1901. His passionate work has made the chapel a worthy contender to the Sistine Chapel of Vatican City whose ceiling was painted by Michelangelo. Here, Antonio painted both frescoes and oil on canvas in Baroque style that uses exaggerated motion and clear details to produce drama, tension and exuberance in painting, sculpture and architecture. Each frame resonates with beauty and grandeur.





Stairway to Heaven - Painting on the floor leading to the Altar

The paintings depict the life of St. Aloysius, the Patron of the College on the main ceiling. The sloping ceiling panels depict the apostles. Also depicted are Saints on the arches. The life of Jesus Christ is shown on the walls and the ceiling of the aisles.



If Konkan blows your mind off with the natural vistas in monsoons, this little serene chapel is simply staggering with its vivid painstakingly put together collage of paintings; another example of human endeavour that is so extraordinary and yet so common across India in her architecture, culture and art.

Henry Pereira, the Chapel Guide, is passionate about his job and it is apparent that he loves showing the chapel to people. He also informs that the last restoration took three years and was done from 1991 to 1994 by an INTACH team from Lucknow. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside. Henry promises to send the photos through Whatsapp, which he does immediately. The interior photos shown in the blog all belong to Henry. You write comments in the Visitors' Book, thank Henry and emerge out of the Jewel Box.

The incredible jewel box of St. Aloysius Chapel in Mangalore, Karnataka - Chapel built in 1885 and painted from 1899 to 1901. The paintings are an unique case of Italian painting in India that rivals that of Sistine Chapel of Vatican City



Standing in front of the unassuming building you still cannot believe that every inch of the interior is covered with a veritable treasure of paintings that could rival the Sistine Chapel of Vatican City – India grows incredible every minute in your travels.

The plan is to hit the mall but it is still early evening and there is another church midway. You catch an auto for the short ride to Hampankatta locality.


The beautiful Milagres Church in Mangalore


You are standing in the parking lot of another church with its exterior again painted in the same easy on the eyes greyish-blue. This is the pleasant looking Milagres Church or Church of Our Lady of Miracles. There is a service going on inside and you hang around soaking in the sun. 


Milagres Church is one of the oldest churches in the area and was first built in 1680 by Bishop Thomas de Castro of Goa. Tipu Sultan, reportedly razed the church in 1784 and brought 60000 Mangalorean Catholics to Seringapatama as prisoners. Tipu suspected them of siding with the British in the Second Anglo Mysore War. It is also believed that Tipu built the Idgah you saw on the way to St Aloysius College with the stone from Milagres Church. Amazing how history intertwines everything around you! The captives returned to Mangalore once Tipu was killed in 1799. A chapel and then the subsequent church was built in 1811 with the portico added later.

Streets of Mangalore



 Happy Independence Day!

The nearest mall around here is the City Centre mall and it is few blocks up ahead. The walk is pleasant as you encounter Warli paintings on walls, street scenes and some remnants of celebration of Independence Day.




Beautiful Warli Art decorating Mangalore's streets

The mall is packed with holiday revellers. Here is another surprise you are seeing for the first time. You have never seen so many burkha clad women of all ages shopping in a mall with such a vengeance. They are everywhere – in twos, in threes, in big groups! What is going on? This is almost so funny seeing them with the determination and the sense of purpose as they move around holding on to their prized shopping bags. You better move out of the way before you get stomped on.

City Centre Mall in Mangalore



What the heck; no you are not going shopping yourself - you decide to feast on both burgers and pizza. Little later you decide to check on Tom Cruise’s fifth instalment of Mission Impossible. It seems like yesterday when you watched the totally baffling but absolutely thrilling original MI in Wisconsin. You still regard the third instalment as the most intense with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman starring as the best villain so far of the franchise.

Late in the evening as you cruise the wet streets of Mangalore, you realise the city is a great place to be in as your last stop in Konkan. It has been another wonderful day that started with the waves of Kodi Bengare and ended with some dazzling frescoes. Maybe next time your trip could start from Mangalore as you move down south into God’s Own Country. Tomorrow you look forward to another sortie through the Western Ghats. Konkan magic will continue.

Getting There
Mangalore is conveniently connected with trains and by air from Delhi and Bangalore. St. Aloysius Chapel and College is located on the Lighhouse Hill in the middle of the city.

Mangalore is 60 kms south of Udupi and Manipal

Travel Tips for St Aloysius Chapel
Photography is not allowed inside the St. Aloysius Chapel. Upon request the nice chapel guide will whatsapp the interior photos!

Visiting hours – Weekdays 8am to 6pm. Sundays 930am to 6pm. Free Admission

Contact Details of the Chapel Guide: Mr Henry Pereira – 9740908505 / 7204662885

References



Related Links on this Blog
http://justrippingg.blogspot.in/2015/12/trippingg-on-trains-konkan-railways-and.html

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Trippingg on the Trains – Konkan Railways and the Marvellous & Mystical Monsoons

In the monsoons, the Konkan Railways track meanders over gushing rivers and gurgling streams; flits in and and out of drenched tunnels, wraps itself around hills covered in misty clouds, loses itself in thick dewy forests to the accompaniment of cascading waterfalls, soars over soaked green paddy fields, and passes through little railway stations with no waiting passengers. Konkan Railways in monsoons is the stuff of dreamy mystical rail journeys that you always knew would find you eventually. To experience heaven on earth, the Madgaon to Mangalore Konkan railway route is a must on every train lover’s itinerary. 


Konkan Railways in the Monsoons- A Magical Journey

You have been wishing to travel the Konkan railway in the monsoons for so long and when it happens, the experience is so extraordinary that within days you are taking the train back for one more sortie across the Western Ghats. A reprise is natural.


Such unbelievable sights will keep you spellbound in Konkan

Here in Western Ghats, the train is the audience as it floats above the stage made of rivers, fields and forests where the monsoons provide their annual breathtaking performance. The spectacular performance is not only visual. It is an all-sensory delectable treat. The eyes are treated to the colours of ever changing landscape, skies and waters. The raindrops dance just beyond the windows and the water streaks create moving patterns on the glasspanes. You stand at the doorways and reach out to feel the rain on your hand and face. The smells have their own effect - the dampness in air just before it rains, the smell of rain and the smell of refreshed air after the rain - and are so distinct. The entire performance builds into an orgasmic delight.

The post is a photo journey of the astonishing route that takes you from Madgaon in Goa to Mangalore at the deep south-western tip of Karnataka and covers the 440 km journey of unadulterated interplay of railways, monsoons and the Western Ghats that has to be experienced to be believed.

The photo journey combines the two journeys on Konkan Railways. First was aboard the 56641 Madgaon Mangalore Central Passenger train. Here you had travelled from Madgaon to Udupi and then took the bus to Mangalore. And the second was the 22636 Madgaon Express from Mangalore Central to Madgaon.

Hop on and enjoy the Journey!

Goa has two major railway stations - Madgaon & Vasco. Madgaon station retains its old world charm even after all these years when you would visit Goa from Mumbai in late 1990s

Goa's own Mario adorns the Benjoe Restaurant with his characters - the food is pretty good and you pick your packed lunch here

Konkan Railways invites you to discover the Western Ghats - Madgaon Station

You have booked yourself in a second class bogie. It is surprising that a passenger train actually has a reserved coach! Except for a few other fellow backpackers the bogie is empty. The rest of the train seems to have few passengers. This is what you like about the trains down south. It is as if you have the entire train to yourself.

You have the bogie to yourself

Here we go - Balli the first station - now try comparing this station to one in UP!

Within minutes the train picks up pace and you seem to be floating among misty hills

Canacona Railway Station


One instance you are among hills, the next, above rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea - Konkan Railways brings surprises every minute

Lolieum is the last station in Goa before the train enters Karnataka

Leaving Goa!

Konkan Railway with hundreds of tunnels cutting through the Western Ghats and bridges spanning streams and rivers is an engineering marvel. For the first time Goa and Mangalore were connected directly.

Here the train emerges out of yet another tunnel as it leaves Goa to enter Karnataka.

Kali River before Karwar




Incredible Vistas aboard Konkan Railways

The stretch as the train travels from Asnoti towards Karwar is the most scenic. It seems the train floats over the sea with water stretching on both sides.

Karwar is a major Naval base on the western coast. You had planned to get down here but changed the plan. Now you will get down in Udupi









The train sways in the breeze. The sultry heat of Madgaon has melted away. The bogie feels pleasant. Assorted smells tickle the nose - the freshness of forests, the salty sea and the fried food carried by the vendors. You want to close your eyes and just lose yourself in this incredible landscape. But nap is not a choice. The picture frames keep coming and you need to collect them for an entire life's worth.

Stations keep coming and we are again on our way - Ankola Station



You remember last year when you drove to Gokarna from Hubli to enjoy a sunblessed day on the beautiful beaches


The rear bogies provide the best views especially on bends when you can see the entire worm like train





Hi Kid! We are going a-travelling. To find a stretch of ocean, a field, hillside or clouds and trees and maybe some lichens. Just a simple way to remember how to see and how to breathe.

There are two categories of rail passengers who enjoy the journeys - there are these few itinerant ones like yours truly and then there are these kids looking at the world wide eyed through the windows. You see these kids everywhere; in Delhi's Metro or here in Konkan. The kids with their unending fascination for new sights teach us adults how to stay alive every moment no matter how humdrum our daily lives or commutes become.


One thing that is constant in your travels is the motion

I dig you baby but I got to keep movin'...on - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

All through the Konkan travels your camera has been sporadically acting up. But sometimes even the unintentional blurred images tell their own story.  Another learning - even not so perfect moments of our lives have their own beauty; we just need to know where to look.



The rains are always around. The train runs into a patch of moisture laden low dark clouds. Windows are pulled down as streaks run on the glass. Few minutes later, last few rain drops hug the window bars. Konkan magic at its best. And so it goes on. 

RO RO Service of Konkan Railways at Madgaon


RO RO Service of Konkan Railways at Bhatkal Station

So far you have seen trains loaded with tractors or army trucks and tanks. But here on the western coast right from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Mangalore you are seeing these trains loaded with commercial trucks. Apparently the loaded trucks are loaded on the train at Kolad near Mumbai to be hauled upto Mangalore and back. This Konkan section is the only route where commercial trucks ride piggy back on trains. This is called RO-RO or Roll-on Roll-off service. The loaded trucks drive up from one end even as the crew sits in their individual trucks. The ticket ranges from Rs 15000 to Rs 25000 depending on the truck size. You are sure this is a far better way ecologically than having hundreds of trucks belching smoke in the the fragile environment of Western Ghats.

Kumta Station


Green Paddy Fields interspersed with hills and rivers and forests

Honnavar Railway Station on Konkan Railways


A tanker train coming in

You are green to go

The giant Shiv idol and the temple gopurum can be seen towering over the sea - Murudeshwar
Bhatkal - we are halfway to Mangalore!

Dog Day Afternoon in Bhatkal



Entire route is punctuated with rivers flowing into the Arabian Sea



Kundapura Station

Udupi where you have a wonderful time in the old town, Karkala and Kodi Bengare

Kids don't try this without expert supervision!

Selfie at Padubidri Station on Konkan Railways

Surathkal Station

The 22636 Madgaon Express at Mangalore Central station

Konkan Railways - The Reprise

The pink Mangalore Railway Station on an early rainy morning

The remarkable journey finishes at Udupi and then again begins at Mangalore. The train and Konkan beauty beckon and in a couple of days you again take to the clouds and the hills and the sea and the rain. The Konkan Railway is the ride in the amusement park that you would keep wanting to get on.

Coming from Delhi where it seems the only seasons left are the scorching summers stretching from March to October and couple of months of frigid winters; the bountiful monsoons, verdant vistas and almost four hundred kms of nature paradise of Konkan is truly heavenly. Konkan is the perfect antidote to the seared soul.


Train Timetables

Train Number
Train Name
From Station
Destination Station
Runs From Source On
56641
MAO MAQ PASS
MADGAON
MANGALORE CNTL
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

SNo
Station Code
Station Name
Route Number
Arrival Time
Departure Time
Halt Time(In minutes)
Distance
Day
1
MAO
MADGAON
1
--
13:00
--
0
1
2
BLLI
BALLI
1
13:17
13:18
01:00
23
1
3
CNO
CANCONA
1
13:51
13:52
01:00
46
1
4
LOL
LOLIEM
1
14:11
14:12
01:00
60
1
5
AT
ASNOTI
1
14:29
14:30
01:00
72
1
6
KAWR
KARWAR
1
14:57
14:58
01:00
82
1
7
HAA
HARWADA
1
15:11
15:12
01:00
102
1
8
ANKL
ANKOLA
1
15:24
15:25
01:00
122
1
9
GOK
GOKARNA ROAD
1
15:35
15:37
02:00
133
1
10
KT
KUMTA
1
15:50
15:51
01:00
159
1
11
HNA
HONNAVAR
1
16:10
16:11
01:00
179
1
12
MANK
MANKI
1
16:27
16:28
01:00
204
1
13
MRDW
MURDESHWAR
1
16:37
16:38
01:00
216
1
14
CTTP
CHITRAPUR (H)
1
16:45
16:46
01:00
227
1
15
BTJL
BHATKAL
1
17:00
17:01
01:00
236
1
16
SHMI
SHIROOR
1
17:10
17:12
02:00
247
1
17
BYNR
MOOKAMBIKA ROAD
1
17:23
17:24
01:00
258
1
18
BIJR
BIJOOR
1
17:35
17:36
01:00
266
1
19
SEN
SENAPURA
1
17:53
17:55
02:00
286
1
20
KUDA
KUNDAPURA
1
18:10
18:11
01:00
305
1
21
BKJ
BARKUR
1
18:23
18:24
01:00
327
1
22
UD
UDUPI
1
18:40
18:41
01:00
350
1
23
INJ
INNANJE
1
18:51
18:52
01:00
363
1
24
PDD
PADUBIDRI
1
19:01
19:02
01:00
373
1
25
NAND
NANDIKOOR
1
19:11
19:12
01:00
385
1
26
MULK
MULKI
1
19:21
19:22
01:00
396
1
27
SL
SURATHKAL
1
19:31
19:32
01:00
408
1
28
TOK
THOKUR
1
19:54
19:55
01:00
415
1
29
MAJN
MANGALORE JN
1
20:24
20:25
01:00
431
1
30
MAQ
MANGALORE CNTL
1
20:55
--
--
437
1



Train Number
Train Name
From Station
Destination Station
Runs From Source On
22636
MADGAON EXP
MANGALORE CNTL
MADGAON
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN

SNo
Station Code
Station Name
Route Number
Arrival Time
Departure Time
Halt Time(In minutes)
Distance
Day
1
MAQ
MANGALORE CNTL
1
--
08:15
--
0
1
2
SL
SURATHKAL
1
09:06
09:07
01:00
29
1
3
UD
UDUPI
1
09:53
09:54
01:00
87
1
4
KUDA
KUNDAPURA
1
10:17
10:18
01:00
132
1
5
BYNR
MOOKAMBIKA ROAD
1
10:45
10:46
01:00
179
1
6
BTJL
BHATKAL
1
11:07
11:08
01:00
201
1
7
KT
KUMTA
1
12:07
12:08
01:00
278
1
8
KAWR
KARWAR
1
12:51
12:52
01:00
355
1
9
CNO
CANCONA
1
13:15
13:16
01:00
391
1
10
MAO
MADGAON
1
14:00
--
--
437
1


Travel Tips
The scenic Konkan route can be extended from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Madgaon and then to Mangalore.

The trains travel practically empty during the monsoon months so you can travel general class buying tickets from the stations and getting down wherever and catching the train again the next day. 

References
The blog by the indomitable & itinerant Neeraj Jat started it all: