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Cruising Article –06/22/2011

Learn about the diverse cultural influences of Mangalore

Asian cruise destinations

Although it sits off the beaten path in modern times, the Indian city of Mangalore once served as a critical hub in the spice trade across the Arabian Sea. Today, it has left behind its status as a commercial center in favor of a new identity as a resort town and melting pot of cultures, making it an ideal stop for a shore excursion during an Indian cruise.

To best experience the cosmopolitan attitude that Mangalore has developed thanks to its history as a meeting place for people from different cultures, you can explore the city's many sights on a tour of the downtown area. One of the destination's most famous attractions is Gokarnatha Temple, a religious structure built in 1912. This shrine is dedicated to Shiva, one of the most important deities in the Hindu pantheon, and features a strikingly beautiful gompuram, or entry tower. Once you get inside, you will see the temple's gorgeous marble interior, which also has silver-lined icons of Shiva and other gods.

Another important religious structure in Mangalore is St. Aloysius Chapel. This Christian house of worship is dedicated to Aloysius of Gonzaga, a Jesuit saint and missionary. Here, you can learn about this figure's life and work in India thanks to a series of frescoes painted on the walls of the chapel.

While it may not boast the history or cultural importance of the temples or chapels of Mangalore, the city's cashew factory is a great stop on any tour. Here you can watch the delectable delicacy being roasted, removed from the kernel, pressed for oil and shipped around the world. You may even get a chance to sample freshly hulled cashews or other foods made with the nut.

Mangalore also serves as a good jumping-off point for tours of other destinations in the area. In the city of Karkala, you can visit the Gomateswara Statue, a 42-foot-tall bust that is revered by people of the Jain faith. In the nearby city of Moodbiri, you can explore the Jains' most sacred structure, Chandranath Temple. This attraction is also known as the "Temple of 1,000 Pillars," making it an impressive sight for visitors of any religion.

A great way to unwind after a hot day in the Mangalore sun is to visit the Karnataka Coast. This scenic stretch of shoreline is famous for its gorgeous beaches, and you will love having the chance to stretch out and relax as you listen to the lapping of the waves on the sand.