44. A Konkan Far Cry

@Mangalore, Karntaka, India.

There was so much about Mangalore for which I wanted to visit the place, but there were reason which would held me back, most important of them being the communal clashes, most prominent one among them being the 2008 Anti-Christian violence and the desecration of holy places, statues and books. I wouldn’t prefer to be at a place of violence, whatever may be the reason. I would have rather gone to the Buddhist monastery at Coorg and spend a long time there other than being among hooligans who destroy property, as nobody has the right to destruction. But when I visited the place, it was more peaceful than anywhere else. All those hatred seemed to have been blown away for then, may be waiting to come back during the next whirlwind of that lack of religious tolerance which will serve as an excuse to destroy property for the vandals and attack people for the sadists. As the fact still remains that people are basically born evil, religion has to decide if it is to make them good or bad, but it is still in that perception and the intellectually inferior people will always keep religion as an entity and place it above God and justify their actions with it. But at the end of the day, all the destruction is more of the devastation of art, literature and architecture; the churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are examples of architecture while Bible, Quran, Gita and Torah being literature and all those statues and pictures are art which are to be respected unless we are going into an age of barbarians.

There is a large contrast between religion and these wonderful works of art; never does science get desecrated in these situtaion. It is always the art and literature which suffers; the architecture which is vandalized, just because some people don’t understand its value or are too adamant to accept them. If such a thing could happen in London without the help of any organized religion, I would expect the same thing to happen in a nation where there is so much importance to religion; this importance, which I thought would help people has been backfiring since a few years ago. When someone like Tipu Sultan captured nearly one lakh Christians and destroyed twenty seven churches including Milagres Church, there was a permanent loss of life, but there was the huge loss to architecture as well as all the art and literature which was inside those churches. From what is learned about him, there is not much wonder, and as he was allied with the French of that time who were not really the angels, I wouldn’t have expected a much better performance. The current Milagres Church is fine, but as reconstructed from what was destroyed by Tipu, it can’t be considered that original thing which was to contain the soul of the time; this has enough size, but I would wonder how it looked like before its destruction. To add to it, there are no good tea shops near the church; no king is responsible for that though.

The suffering which the arts field suffers still continues, not just in the form of vandalization, but also because it is being avoided by the common man who ignores the arts specialization for science, commerce and it’s professional courses. Just like it is said that people who lives outside India knows better about the nation and it’s art forms, the people of our current world has been so much behind the cash they can earn by studying something which does not make them a better person with a good attitude towards the other mortals as well as the society; no wonder there are not much morals left in this world, they were all flushed away by science and the profit motive world of commerce. They might still believe or not believe in a supreme power and might or might not go to temples or churches, but at that point, they all will clash and the science will gain the upper hand due to their education without human values and their viewpoint might be just the same as all those hooligans who destroy property. They might be the people who already destroyed art by making fun of them and for them, the religion will be different from spirituality; it will be a mask which they will wear to provide help for all the evil they commit and plan to come up with even worse things. At that moment when religion becomes the ultimate excuse, even God will abandon these people forever leading to perpetual damnation.

Still, the first thing I noticed at Mangalore was the City Centre Mall, as it had Cafe Coffee Day, a change from eating Ghee Roast and Masala Dosa so many times a day. I would surely prefer the malls back at Cochin though. There was the small, but still kind of beautiful St. Rita Church and the Church of Holy Cross of Hospet a.k.a Igreja da Santa Cruz Hospet, an ancient church; the only church that escaped the procedure of the demolition of churches by Tipu Sultan, may be due to its location; it was not easy to reach there even as there were roads leading there. Chauta Raja of Moodbidri also played a part in saving the church in one of the greatest acts of religious tolerance at a time of wars and hatred. It looked quite old as it is, and it was more like made in Kerala style with some Gothic elements added to it in lesser amount. It also looked like a traditional Kerala style house with verandahs on both sides of the main entrance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see houses in this model in Kerala, as I have seen the most complicated structures already, which are of such large size that they should have rather been castles or forts than houses. But the church still remains small enough not to inspire people looking to build those large palaces for them to live alone in a season of riches.

St. Joseph’s Seminary and the church related to it forms another big structure; mostly on the upwards direction exists the church building. It has somewhat a Gothic appearance even as it lacks many properties due to its simiplicity. The Church of the most Holy Rosary or the Rosario Cathedral which was earlier destroyed by Tipu, now stands as a wonderful building. It was after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington defeated Tipu that the re-construction of the church was to take place. It is significant that the Duke would go on to defeat Napolean, the leader of the French too, who were allied with Tipu. A Napolean-Tipu alliance attack was not to be, and the new building will go lots of changes until it reached the current form with a dome and bell tower. St. Antony’s Jacobite Syrian Cathedral came as a surprise for me, not just because I didn’t expect it there, but also because of its name. It was certainly new and there was no question about its beauty. With its looks and the surroudings with lots of coconut trees, gave the feeling of being in Kerala again and the inside of the church building was even more sensational with the roof being the best part, even as there was not too much area inside considering the fact that it looked bigger and more stretching from the front. St. Aloysius Chapel inside St. Aloysius College is another architectural marvel, mostly from the inside, the Jesuit brother Antonio Moscheni painted and made it so good that some people even compared it to the Sistine Chapel of Vatican.

Shri Gokarnanatha Temple is one of the most beautiful temples which I have ever seen; even as it is not that huge and imposing structure as the Thanjavur, Kanchipuram or Mahabalipuram temples, there was so much of peace and spirituality which existed with the renovation’s modernity; for a temple which was originally built by the greatest social reformer of South India and the leader of Reformation in Kerala which transformed the state in such a way that it came close to what was mentioned in relation to the festival of Onam; something which is believed to have existed during the time of the king Mahabali. As this temple was built by the great Guru who always stressed the need for the spiritual and social upliftment of the downtrodden people and the man who contributed to the fall of the caste based evils in Kerala, this has more importance than what is viewed by just a common man’s view. As one enters into the temple between the two elephant statues which stand on both sides, he is entering into a world of art and architecture which is powered by not only tradition, but also modernity. There is that combination which clicks; the visit to Shree Mangaladevi temple and a number of other temples in the area couldn’t reacreate that feeling; it made me wonder where the boundary between modernity and tradition was drawn.

Diving out —>