A brief trip to Manipal – Part 2: Malpe and Kaup

by Purnendu Singh


Jan 24, 2011

Day 2 was reserved exclusively for ‘sightseeing’. After advice from some local students, we zeroed in on three places: Malpe, Backwaters and Kaup. Since we were high on newly gained wealth from the previous day’s competition, we decided to go luxury class and booked a cab. The driver was a nice guy who even knew Hindi; he suggested that we keep Malpe as the first on the list and Kaup the last before our departure to Mangalore.



Malpe harbour


Malpe is a sea port and a fishing harbor, about 6 km from Udupi. When we reached there, we could see hundreds of fishing boats and some ships at the harbor displaying colorful flags. The whole area of course was stinking of fish; it’s another thing that the smell of fish is almost like a perfume to me. There is also a modest shipyard where a ship was under construction and a Coastguard vessel was waiting for repairs.


Lava rocks


On the tourist map, other than being famous for its harbor, Malpe is also important because it’s the boarding point for the ferry to St. Mary’s Island. St. Mary’s Island, allegedly named so by Vasco da Gama on his voyage to India is a special place. Made of igneous lava rocks, this island was formed due to sub volcanic activity 88 million years ago when Madagascar, still attached to India, began its drift towards Africa. A testimony to that event, the island has columnar lava rocks in clear hexagonal pattern, the only similar rock formation being the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. This island has been accorded the status of a Geological monument by the Government of India.


Roman columns

To be frank, I was not aware of this when we reached the island. But one look at those rocks, and you would feel that something was different! Due to my modest knowledge of geology, I suspected that the beautiful almost Roman pillar like rock formations we were seeing were lava rocks. Only when I read about it later, did I realize what important place I had just been to. The time we were there, we spent it playing in water, posing for and taking photographs, going on a small hike on a rock and finally enjoying delicious fish fry off a vendor who was serving it smoking hot. 88 million years down the line, the place has turned into a picnic spot!


Picture perfect !

From Malpe, we started for the promised backwaters, it was somewhere off the Udupi- Mangalore highway. The road was very bad and poor car was huffing puffing and bumping like anything. We were only hoping that the destination was worth all the trouble; and it indeed was! Well, we were bowled over the instant we reached there. Those backwaters were natural beauty in its most wonderful form! Lush greenery, coconut groves, canals going for miles, wooden bridges and a beautiful lake…. it was almost magical! On the bank of the canal, there were some huts with boats parked in their front. An old man came and offered to take us on a boat ride for Rs 100; we promptly complied. It was a beautiful ride in all that beauty… very peaceful and fulfilling. So, a few hours, more poses and photographs later, we left the place happily.


Lighthouse at the Kaup beach

The last lag of our journey was the Kaup beach. Lying on the highway between Mangalore and Udupi, it boasts of a beautiful sand beach and a lighthouse. By the time we arrived at the beach, it was late evening and the place was pretty crowded. There were a few shacks with open air bar selling liquor but we chose to stay clear of those areas for the time being. There were also provisions for adventure watersports like speed boats, banana boat etc, but again we were out of time so no go. We chose to go up the light house and have a view of the surrounding. It was an old lighthouse with spiral stairs. The view from the top of the sunset at the Arabian Sea was breathtaking. Too bad we had to leave now …

Road Map

View Larger Map

Malpe and Kaup, Flickr Photoset

Shipyard at Malpe Shipyard at MalpeShipyard at MalpeSt Mary's IslandSt Mary's IslandHexagonal lava rocks
St Mary's IslandLava rocks Lava rocks Lava rocks Lava rocks Lava rock formations
St Mary's IslandWaves Hexagonal rock patterns Roman columns Cocoanut ! Fish !
Beautiful beach St Mary's IslandMalpe harbourA view of the backwaterscanalPicture perfect !

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  • Location: Karnataka, India
  • See: Malpe/ St. Mary’s Island, Kaup Lighthouse, Backwaters

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Purnendu Singh

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  1. The Floating Clouds

    Hey, I have been to St. Mary's Islands too and have blogged about it; but when we went there was absolutely nothing available on the island, not even a shanty selling water/chai, forget fish fry. Have mixed feelings about it being a touristy picnic spot now 🙂

  2. The Floating Clouds

    Forgot to say, superb pictures!

  3. Shadows Galore

    Thanks ! Frankly speaking, I am not very comfortable with monuments and natural treasures becoming picnic spots. The Indian tourists have an uncanny ability to litter and spoil even the Taj Mahal into oblivion. Even in this trip, saw many people throwing plastic bottles and metal cans everywhere.


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