Lost in Pilikula

Pilikula is the all-in-one travel destination of Karnataka

Pilikula Biological Park in Mangaluru

The crystal-clear water of the lake is mesmerising. Reflecting the blue sky with its pillow-soft clouds, it has a soothing effect on the senses. I lose myself in its calming vibes. I look around, and what do I see? The green, green park surrounding the lake that is equally bewitching. Well, I am at Pilikula Nisargadhama. Located near Mangaluru, this theme park is much more than a regular tourist spot, which I am to discover now.

Many things to see

Spread across 370 acres, this integrated theme park is situated in the picturesque village of Mudushedde in Vamanjoor, at a distance of around 15 km from Mangaluru. On reaching the place, I couldn’t wait to explore its many attractions, including an enchanting lake park with a boating centre, a biological park, an arboretum, a science centre, a heritage village, a water amusement park and a golf course. Being a nature lover, I started with the lake.

Pilikula Lake owes the origin of its name to the fact that it was once the favourite haunt of tigers that would come to the lake to quench their thirst. In fact, Pilikula means ‘Tiger’s Lake’ in Tulu. Beautiful and serene, this lake, spread over five acres, is a major attraction of the park. As geese and ducks drifted lazily in the lake, I took a boat ride to experience the calmness of the lake in its most exhilarating form. It was idyllic, to say the least.

Right next to the lake is the arboretum, which is an obvious effort towards the conservation of biodiversity. This 35-hectare botanical garden is home to around 60,000 plants of over 225 endemic and endangered plant species found in the Western Ghats. Walking around the garden was an experience in itself, and an educative one at that. The vermicomposting units and medicinal plant gardens are very informative, and hence attract a number of people interested in Ayurvedic medicine, including myself. I also learnt that training sessions in organic farming are held on a regular basis here for the benefit of local farmers. I had to drag myself out of the arboretum as I had many other attractions to explore.

A leopard in Pilikula Biological Park
A leopard in Pilikula Biological Park

Next on my list was Dr Shivaram Karanth Biological Park, spread over an area of 82 hectares. Home to a variety of wildlife, this biological park is a treat for animal lovers. From the majestic big cats like tigers, lions and cheetahs to the deadly reptiles like King Cobra, not to mention many colourful varieties of birds and insects, this zoo showcases more than 50 wildlife species found in the Western Ghats. The best part of this zoo is that the enclosures are designed to closely resemble the natural habitats of animals. It was heartwarming to note that animals were not confined to cages. This is not all. The zoo also acts as a rescue centre for orphaned animals from the region and special enclosures are arranged for the same. The zoo also holds many wildlife awareness programmes on a regular basis to promote biodiversity conservation. I also learnt that this zoo has been recognised as a major zoo by the Central Zoo Authority of India.

Right next to the zoo is the Manasa Amusement and Water Park that provides an array of joy rides, water slides and other attractions. A major hit with families. Though the allure of soaking myself in water was hard to resist, I skipped it. I was keen on spending more time at the other attractions.  

For some culture

So, I headed straight to the Heritage Village or Artisan Village Complex, a must-visit for connoisseurs of art, heritage and culture. Spread across 35 acres, this village complex showcased the arts, crafts and traditions of Dakshina Kannada. While the exhibits included a Guthu House, nagabana (serpent shrine), kambala (buffalo race) track, areca nut and coconut gardens, I ended up spending a lot of time at the Guthu House. Being an architectural marvel in itself, the Guthu House was a true replica of the traditional house of coastal landlords. The rich interiors with their intricately carved pillars in wood were noteworthy.

Artisans in Heritage Village
Artisans in the Artisans Village Complex

As I proceeded further, the artisan village, with its many cottages dedicated to traditional arts and crafts of the region like pottery, carpentry, wood carving, stone carving, toddy tapping, jaggery making, handloom weaving, cane and bamboo craft, oil processing, and fishnet weaving among others, caught my fancy. It was wondrous to note that each of the items prepared by the artisans here was made with traditional tools and equipment. A six-month training facility is also available in all the above arts and crafts to deserving students, I was told. Owing to the quality-consciousness and rare craftsmanship of the artisans here, the products they make here are in great demand.

Obviously, my final stop was at Parampara, the outlet that displayed and sold all the awesome arts, crafts and products made at the artisan village. I had no control over my purse now. Beaten rice packets, jaggery, oil, cane and bamboo handicrafts… The list went on.

By then, it was evening. Time to drive back to Mangaluru. It was a day well spent in a place where art, heritage and nature meet.

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Lost in Pilikula

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