By Shobha Rao Smilemaker
Mangaluru, Sep 17: I had read with fascination about the brave exploits of Rani Abbakka who hailed from an ancient town called Ullal, and so it was time to explore this place that is across the Netravathi Bridge of Mangaluru.
We were welcomed to Ullal with a large impressive statue of Rani Abbakka - the first female Indian freedom fighter who kept revolting against the Portuguese rule in the 16th century, about whom we did not learn anything in our history text books.
In its heydays, a tough sprawling fort that encircled Ullal must have witnessed repeated battles with foreigners. However with the onslaught of time, this fort with hills on one side and the sea on the other, had to face the fury of nature, and all that now remains are just few ruins and crumbling walls. We were lucky to see some remnants of the Ullal fort behind the Kote Vishnumurthy temple on the quaint quiet hill of Uchila. The temple itself had a serene ambience away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. We walked behind this temple, and explored around some old walls of whatever was left of the Ullal Fort. This place must have been a watch tower as it gave a vantage view of any enemy ship approaching from any side of the Arabian Sea.
There used to be nine lakes and other ancient temples of Rani Abbakka’s period that she would regularly visit. Some of the fort ruins are also present around the unique Someshwar shore temple - this is probably the only religious place on a hill with the fierce sea waves lashing from below. Along with seeking blessings of Lord Shiva at the serene ambience, most devotees also spend time sitting above, just watching the big rocks being literally attacked by huge strong waves. I could spend hours at this place, feeling the spray of water on my face, just watching the dance of the five elements… the sun, sea, sky, sands, swaying breeze.
But I saw the impact of the fury of nature as we continued our drive towards Ullal Beach. Here the wide scale sea erosion had damaged the coastline. The sea waters have almost touched the foundations of many houses on the beachfront. I could see huge boulders along the beach trying to protect the land in vain. Suddenly the road had caved in...there was no road left... a chunk of the road had been washed away by the sea. I could imagine how stressful it could be for the locals, a reminder that man has to bow in humility to the might of nature!
As we drove around to explore more of Ullal, I noticed some mosques and more people belonging to the unique Beary community. These are the descendants of Arabs of the first century who used to carry out prosperous trade relations with Indians at the Ullal port, which is still a bustling centre for the thriving fish industry.
The cute little Ullal railway station, seemed to be straight out of an old text book. We ended the Ullal outing at the Summer Sands Beach Resort, which was very famous decades ago and now needed a good renovation process. However the restaurant on the beachfront had a great ambience, we enjoyed watching some local small children play under the sun and the rains on the beach.
Yes Ullal can unfold new smiles, you just have make time to visit this place like a child in wonder.
Shobha Rao Smilemaker has a vision of living in a world where people use their ability to find and make smiles in any situation. She is a lawyer by qualification, a soft skills trainer by passion, a motivational speaker, a freelance journalist, a bestselling author, an avid traveler and founder of 'Smilemakers Trainings'. She can be contacted at www.shobhasmilemaker.com.