Manipal is a beautiful university town located on the rocky hinterland of the Malabar Coast of south-west India, about 8 km east the Arabian Sea. Located on a plateau, it has a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea to the west and the Western Ghats to the east.
Also sometimes known as a cosmopolitan village, Manipal is home to the renowned Manipal University that attracts close to 25,000 students every year. I am one of them. Manipal is the perfect place for those who like to venture out to the unexplored. Every student in Manipal waits for holidays and long weekends; long enough for a short trip, but not long enough to go back home. The wide network of the Konkan Railway and buses available is liking an icing on the cake. Given below is a list of places that every Manipal student must visit during the course of their stay in Manipal.
Probably the most commonly known holiday destination, Goa is every student’s favourite. Cheap alcohol, wild parties, crazy hippie atmosphere is all that one wants while on a vacation with friends. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a place to just chill peacefully, Goa offers you that too. It is just five hours away by train from Manipal and the best time to visit is from the middle of November to the end of March.
A more peaceful and less commercial version of Goa, Gokarna is purely blissful. Just a few km off the National Highway 17, it is a 3-4 hour train journey from Udupi station. Go there alone, or with a wolfpack, you’ll end up having a lot of fun. The sand, the calm beaches, and the food - everything here is just perfect! Stay at one of the beach shacks, and sleep on the beach under the starry sky, instead of a resort or a hotel (depends on what you prefer). Namaste Cafe’ at Om Beach is famous for its parties and delicious food.
An absolute treat for all those interested in adventure and trekking, Coorg is a must! Located on the Western Ghats, and just a 6-7 hour bus ride away from Manipal, Coorg is like the dreamland of the philosopher. Nature is at its best here. You can relax your body and mind with special Ayurvedic massages.
A hill station which can be reached by bikes or cars, Agumbe is about 50kms from Manipal. It receives the highest rainfall in Karnataka, and has one of the highest peaks in the Western Ghats. Situated at a height of 830 metres from sea level, it overlooks the Arabian Sea. The best part is the drive to Agumbe which is an exhilarating experience. Another place for the adventurous, Agumbe is known for the deadly snakes, dangerous hairpin bends and monkeys on the way, and rafting in the Sita river.
Kudremukh literally means ‘horse-face’. Another amazing drive, it is named that because the faces of the mountains look like that of a horse’s. It is the largest reserve of a tropical wet evergreen forest in Karnataka. Situated 1894 m above sea level, Kudremukh overlooks the Arabian Sea. The pristine green forests offer a holiday that can be truly rewarding.
- Jog Falls
One of India’s highest waterfalls, Jog Falls is just three hours by road from Manipal. The best time to visit is July and August, when the monsoon is at its peak. Jog Falls is the fifth highest waterfall in Asia. During months of summer, when the water levels are low, you can actually walk down to the bottom of the falls.
A place with a huge Shiva statue, Murdeshwar can be visited on the way to Goa or Gokarna. The idol stands 123 feet high into the sky and is the tallest Shiva idol in the world. The temple situated on a hill, is surrounded by the sea from three sides. The 2-3 hour train ride to Murdeshwar from Udupi station is the best part about this trip.
- Turtle Bay
It is a beach resort, and a little distance away from it, on the Highway, there is a beautiful stretch of road that has the sea on one side, and backwaters on another. The resort is named after the turtles that can be spotted during the nesting period from October to December every year. Turtle Bay offers you pristine sands and clear blue waters for a calm weekend getaway, including nature walks along the coast, snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming.
Yes, the border of God’s own country is just 75 km away from Manipal! The 3000-year old Bekal Fort is one of the oldest, and best preserved forts in Kerala. It is shaped like a large keyhole, surrounded by a beautiful beach, and is a popular shooting location for filmmakers. The song ‘Tu Hi Re’ was shot here.
- Malpe Beach
At a distance of 10 km from Manipal, and easily accessible by periodic buses, Malpe Beach is clean and perfect for a nice evening away from everything else. Students frequent this beach, that is also famous for its beach resort and amazing seafood.
- Kaup Beach
The lighthouse at Kaup beach is a popular student spot, and hence, crowded at all times. It was built by the British in the year 1901, and is situated 15 km away from Manipal.
- St. Mary’s Island
With a regular ferry service to and fro from a place near Malpe Beach, St.Mary’s Island is a small and beautiful island in the Arabian Sea. Vasco da Gama is said to have touched the island in 1498 before he reached Calicut. A couple of hours on the island is enough for exploration of the whole place.