Mangalore: Opportunities Galore

My last weekend in Manipal and I finally got around to exploring “what there is to see” in Mangalore. While, Mangalore is not the BEST city I’ve been to in India, it does have its merits. Most notably, the St. Aloysius Chapel, Bejai Government Museum, and St. Francis Xavier’s Church.

The St. Aloysius College

The St. Aloysius College, the Chapel is a part of the college

From where the bus dropped us off, it was a short walk to the  St. Aloysius Chapel. The Chapel is located inside of St. Aloysius College, which was built in 1882. The college is named after the Saint because he had power, wealth and influence but gave them up in order to serve others – a model for the students (though I don’t know how many would give up wealth, power and influence). There was a caretaker there and he was especially helpful in telling us about the Chapel! He was very knowledgable and kind. There is a wonderful guidebook available to purchase (since it’s nearly impossible to take enough note and remember everything the caretaker says) to remember the church, and a postcard book with beautiful photographs on postcards of different paintings in the Chapel (technically photographs aren’t allowed…but I just wanted to get the scope of the Chapel).

The scope and beauty of the Chapel. It was gorgeous.

The scope and beauty of the Chapel. It was gorgeous.

The ceiling of the chapel (picture below) and behind the altar depicts the life of Aloysius Gonzaga (the individual the Chapel is dedicated to). Aloysius was the oldest son and the heir to the Marquis of Castiglione in Italy. He wanted to live a life fulfilling God’s will, and gave up his right to the marquisate to his younger brother. Aloysius was in Rome when the plague broke out. Victims of the plague were left in the streets to die, and he joined a group of volunteers who helped the plague victims. He eventually became weak and died himself the age of 23 years.

On the sides of the ceiling the apostles are depicted, each with an item to identify who they are, based on their stories. For instance, St. Peter is depicted with a rooster at his feet – because after the crucifixion he denied Jesus three times  before the rooster crowed. Another interesting apostle, two down from Peter is St. Thomas. He is noted as the Apostle of India, as he first came to Kerala and later Tamilnadu. He holds a spear in his hand (which was used to kill him). He is the apostle who did not believe Jesus had risen until he stuck his finger in Jesus’ wounds.

The ceiling!

The ceiling!

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Painter of the Chapel, Antonio!

The sides of the Chapel depict the life of Christ, from Adam and Eve to his Crucifixion and then when Peter was sent out to start the Church. Under the gallery there are three of Jesus’ parables (stories), and these are my favorites, particularly the parable of the Prodigal Son. In the story a foolish son decides he is ready to leave his father’s house and asks for his inheritance early. He leaves and squanders it, becoming broke. Ashamed he must return to his father’s house, and he says he is not worthy to live in his father’s house and would instead be his stable boy. His father forgives him and takes him back as his son with open arms.

The walls were painted as a fresco (applying powder to the fresh lime plaster, as the plaster dries, the paintings and colors are embeded within). The Chapel took 2 years and 5 months to complete. The frescos cover about 600 sq. meters of the walls of the chapel – the ceiling oil paintings (on canvas, then sewn up onto the ceiling) cover about 400 sq. meters. Dust from Mangalore and mold from the monsoon had taken their toll on the church and from 1991-94 the chapel was restored to much of its former glory. It is beautifully kept today!

The walls of the church are covered with the paintings of the artist Antony Moshaini of Italy. St. Aloysius College Chapel, an architectural gem, comparable with the Sistine chapel in Rome. There is a bust of him outside of the Chapel. He looks like a goofy goober!

After the Chapel, the next stop was the Bejai Museum (a.k.a. the Seemanthi Bai Government Museum). It is named after the mother of the officer V.R. Mirajkar of British Raj who used to own the house and much of the museum collection. It is the city’s only government museum. What is really unique is that it links modern history with the 16th century. The museum provides an insight into Asian history and heritage through the collections of ancient and foreign, China, bronze statues, smoking containers, furniture, and paintings. While deceiving on the outside, the museum is well kept on the inside. At the Rs. 2 to get in, it is definitely worth the trip!

Outside of the museum

Outside of the museum, the museum is actually a house that has been gutted to just house the objects

A small display outside of different stone statues

A small display outside of different stone statues and plaques

The museum was well kept inside

The museum was well kept inside, this was the painting gallery

It was a short walk from the Museum to the Bharat Mall to get lunch. This mall is not as big and fancy as City Center Mall – I would recommend that one, if you want to visit a Mall in Mangalore. On the walk we came across the St. Francis Xavier Church in Bejai. While we didn’t go inside, as it was locked, it was interesting to walk through the cemetery and see one in India. I don’t usually think about it, but they are all over the place in the US, and due to cremation in Hinduism, I haven’t come across many in India.

The St. Francis Xavier Church - there was a picture of the church on the wall by the staircase in the Museum!

The St. Francis Xavier Church – there was a picture of the church on the wall by the staircase in the Museum!

The cemetery, it was a rather large one!

The cemetery, there were a few on either side of the path leading up to the church

After we ate at the Bharat Mall (just ok food there, mall food…) and caught a bus back to Manipal! A great morning exploration!

The Bharat Mall, a mall like any other...

The Bharat Mall, a mall like any other…

*There are lots of other sights to see in Mangalore, including the Sultan’s Battery (though friends who had gone before told me it was bit disappointing, as all it is, is a stone platform…), movie theaters (and some that play movies in english!), Kadri Park, other gorgeous churches – including the church that stands as the dioceses in the region, many beautiful temples and the City Center Mall. A quick internet search reveals different places to see! 

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