A symbol of Kutchi Memons

A symbol of Kutchi Memons

The historical legacy of Mangalore forms a rich cultural nexus between different faiths, languages and traditions in the region.

Ancient Mangalore actually extended from Sharavu Ganapathi Temple in Kodialbail to Mangaladevi Temple in Bolar. 

It is said that Tippu Sultan played an important role in the development of the Sharavu Ganapathi Temple. According to historian A M Prabhu, it was a dream that Tippu Sultan had, which prompted him to donate land for the expansion of this Temple. 

What is more interesting about the region is an ancient mosque, probably the oldest in the region of Bunder or Old Mangalore port. 

Communal harmony

Tuluva and local rulers are known to have protected Muslim and Arab traders against the westerners in ancient times. It is evident from the cultural heritage left behind, that there has been a lot of  exchange between cultures and beliefs for ages creating an intricate mosaic of harmony.

This historic mosque referred to as the Zeenath Buksh Juma Masjid and Beliye Palli, is right in the middle of bustling Bunder, the old sea port trading centre, a stone’s throw away from River Gurpur and the north wharf.

The area seems to be in chaos, filled with old, dilapidated buildings and narrow lanes choked with heavy traffic. 

One’s olfactory senses are treated to the oriental aromas of spice, coffee, arecanut, pepper, cardamom, chillies, garlic, ginger, rice, pulses, onions and potatoes, apart from all kinds of utility and stationery items. 

Today, the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) is located a few yards away. Bunder, since ancient times has been the backbone of communication and commerce with many thriving sea ports, including Lakshadweep Islands, with which it shares a long history. Businessmen belonging to the Muslim and Goud Saraswat Brahmin communities are amicable and share a bonhomie. 

Another landmark

The Kutchi Memon Masjid is another landmark that is located right opposite the famed Bombay Lucky Restaurant. The KCCI is in the backyard of this Masjid. It is also referred to as Katchi Palli. Sources say that the Kutchi Memon Masjid was constructed in 1839. 

The force behind this sacred work were Patels from Kutch in North Gujarat. They were traders who settled in the area and were masters in spice trade. 

They spoke the Kutchi language and gradually blended into the Kanara culture, because of which, there has been development of the historical sea routes from the Arabian Sea to Mangalore. 

This religious centre has many ‘firsts’ to its credit. It was the first structure to get power supply and the fourth in Mangalore to be electrified in the British era in the 1930s. It was also the first to use loudspeakers for the azaan, call to pray. Also, the qutba (Friday sermon) was first delivered in Urdu here. 

Tippu Sultan has also built a Masjid at Mangalore, about 2 km from this mosque. It is called Idgah Masjid. It is located at the top of a hill called Light House Hill, in the centre of the town. Muslims from all over the district gather here and offer prayers on festive days.

Each mosque in Mangalore has its own traditions and section of devotees. It is this versatility that makes Mangalore a unique blend of culture.