History of Mangalore

Mangalore is also known as Mangaluru in the Kannada language, Kudla in the Tulu language, Mangalpuram in the Malayalam language and in Konkani it is called Kodiyal. Mangalore serves as the main port city in India and it is located in Karnataka. The pleasant atmosphere of the place, the luxury of greenery that is found around and its transport connectivity through air, railways and ports makes Mangalore a great place for residential as well as industrial purposes.

Mangalore is not only an industrial sector that serves to be perfect for industrial players but at the same time it serves as a great destination for people in the southern part of India. Mangalore lies at a distance of 350 kilometers from Bangalore which is the capital of Karnataka and its location is in the middle of the mountain ranges in the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Mangalore also serves as the administrative headquarters of South Canara which is known as Dakshina Kannada and it lies in the southwestern part of Karnataka. Mangalore as a coastal city ranks eighth among the cleanest cities in India because of its broad roads, calm localities and pristine beaches.

The fort of Sultan
The Sultan Battery beholds the ancient history of this region

The name - Mangalore

Mangalore has got its name from Mangaladevi, the Hindu Goddess and till date it serves as the main port of India. Mangalore lies in the backwaters of River Gurupura and River Netravati and most of the times the Mangalore port serves as a stage for the sea traffic found on the Malabar Coast. Mangalore enjoys tropical climate as it is found to lie on the path towards Arabian Sea which is the main branch for the South West Monsoons. Nearly 75% coffee exports of India and even cashew exports in bulk are handled by the Mangalore port. Demographically, Mangalore is quite diverse because a number of languages like Konkani, Tulu, Beary Bashe and Kannada are spoken in Mangalore and it also serves as the largest city in the region of Tulu Nadu. The landscape of the Mangalore features coconut palms, rolling hills, red clay and freshwater streams. 

Mangala Devi
The Hindu Goddess, Mangaladevi who has lent the city its name, Mangalore


The Rulers of Mangalore

The earliest references to the city's name is recorded to be in 715 CE. This is made by the  Pandyan King Chettian, who called the city Mangalapuram. Ibn Batutare, the 14th Century Arabian traveler refers to Mangalore as ‘Manjarur’ in his chronicles. The local name of the city was pronounced as ‘Managaluru’ (the suffix ‘uru’ refers to a residential city). The British occupation and the subsequent anglicisation changed the name to the current ‘Mangalore’. Mangalore has a well-recorded history. It has been ruled by various powers over the last few centuries and among them, the well known rulers are:
  • Chalukyas
  • Hoysalas
  • Kadambas - the Buddhist emperor,Ashoka of Magadha ruled the Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BC. Mangalore formed part of this empire. The Mauryan regime named the region ‘Sathia’ or ‘Shantika’. From second century CE to sixth century CE, the Kadamba dynasty ruled over the region.
  • Alupas - Alups ruled the region from 567 to 1325.The Alupas were the feudatories of major regional dynasties like the Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas of Kalyani, and Hoysalas.‘Mangalapura or Mangalore was the capital of the Alupa dynasty till the 14th century. Nangalore was a leading trade zone for the Persian merchants; the Adenese merchant Abraham Ben Yiju visited Mangalore.
  • Portugese
  • Rashtrakutas
  • Vijayanagar dynasty
Bitter battles were fought for the possession of Mangalore between the British and the famous Mysore rulers Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. In fact, Tipu Sultan built a famous outpost in Mangalore known as ‘Sultan Batteri’ supposed to provide tunnel access till Mysore.The British annexed Mangalore in 1799. Mangalore remained a port in the Madrsa Presidency until India acquired independence in 1947. With the formation of Mysore State (later renamed as Karnataka), Mangalore was unified with Karnataka in 1956.

Ruler of Mangalore
The statue of ancient Mangalore ruler, King Krishnadeva Raya

The Mythological connection

The history of Mangalore is very closely related to Mythological times and it is also considered to be an important part of the Parshurama Shristi. Many rulers of the past have ruled Mangalore and the most famous rulers among them are Vira Harihararaya II and the Kadambas. Later the Portuguese conquered Mangalore and they lost the city to Hyder Ali. After Hyder Ali, Mangalore passed on to the Britishers and it was under the British rule until the Independence of India. The Britishers had taken over Mangalore from Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali’s son by defeating him. In the year 1956, Mangalore which earlier used to be an important part of Madras Presidency, was amalgamated and unified into the state of Mysore.

Legendary Associations

As per the Hindu Mythology, the entire region which is called Mangalore was an important part of Parshurama Shristi. Parshurama Shristi is the coastal region domesticated from sea by a legend sage called Parshurama. Mythological associations have brought forth the point that during Ramayana, Rama was main Lord of the place known as Tulu Nadu. The youngest brother among the Pandavas, Sahadeva is believed to have served as the Governor of Mangalore during the times of Mahabharata. Sarapady, a place near Mangalore was visited by the Pandavas when the Pandavas were in exile and used to live in Banavasi. It is also believed that the Mahabharata Hero, Bheema had also visited the place while he was travelling from Gokarma to a place called Adur that lies near Kasargod. Mangalore is also believed to be the land of fascination comprising of the Sahyadri Mountains that served as the place of meditation for great sages like Vysa, Vishvamitra, Kanva and Vashista.

Historical Reference of Mangalore

There are a lot of historical references that have also been associated with Mangalore. In the 3rd century, Mangalore served to be an important division of Maura Empire that was ruled by Ashoka who belonged to Magadha and he was a Buddhist Emperor. Greek monk named Cosmas Indicopleutus has referred Mangarouth port in his work. Roman historian Pliny has made references of a certain place named Nithrias and Ptolemy, Greek historian has also referred to a place called Nitre. Both these references were possibly to River Netravati. It has also been found that Ptolemy has also made a reference of Mangalore in his famous work Maganoor. The Roman writer named Arien called the city Mandegora. There is also a copper inscription belonging to the 7th century which has referred Mangalore as Mangalapura.

Medieval History

The Kadambas ruled Mangalore from 200 A.D. to 600 A.D. ancient history also proves the fact that Mangalore served as the capital of the Alupa Dynasty till the end of the 14th century. Ibn Battuta, a traveler who visited Mangalore in the year 1342, has stated that he first came to a place which was called Mandjaur or Manjurun and it was located on a very massive estuary. He has mentioned the fact that Mangalore served as a centre for trading where the Yemeni and the Persian merchants disembarked. Abdul Razzak who was an ambassador from Persia passed Mangalore on his way to Vijayanagar in the year 1448. He has mentioned that he came along a very glorious temple at this place.

History of Mangalore
Kadamba's coins


Moodabidri inscriptions state that a King named Mangarasa Odeya served as the Governor of the place which was called Mangaluru Raajya during the sovereignty of Vira Harihararaya II who belonged to the Vijayanagar Dynasty. Another inscription states that Mangaluru Raajya was ruled by Deeva Raaja Odeya in 1492 during the power of the Vijayanagara King who was called Veera Devaraya II. Many other powers have also fought for their hold and control over the city of Mangalore in the past. The most important and the famous dynasties that had ruled Mangalore until the arrival of the Portuguese in Mangalore were the Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and Western Chalukyas.

From the beginning of the year 1498, European influence started being noticed in Mangalore and it was during this time when Vasco da Gama, the well-known Portuguese explorer landed at an island named St.Mary’s Islands that lies very close to Mangalore and this was while Vasco da Gama was on his expedition towards India from Portugal. The Portuguese took hold of Mangalore from the rulers of the Vijayanagar Dynasty in 1520. In the year 1526, Lopo Vaz de Sampia, Portuguese Viceroy, was successful in defeating Bangara king and also his allies and because of this the trade of the region passed onto the Portuguese from the Muslims.

The entire area around Arabian Sea and the Mangalore port was under the control of the Portuguese during the 16th and the 17th centuries. During this period, the Portuguese actively took part in the dealings and the associations of local chieftains. It was in the year 1695 that the Arabs burnt the entire town in vengeance for the Portuguese restrictions on the trade of Arab.

Mysore Kingdom

Mangalore was conquered by the Mysore ruler Hyder Ali in the year 1763. Mangalore remained under the administration of Hyder Ali from 1763 to 1768 and it was between 1768 and 1794 that Mangalore was annexed by the Britishers in India. Later in the year 1794, Mangalore was taken over from the Britishers by Tipu Sultan who was the son of Hyder Ali. During the reign of Tipu Sultan in Mangalore, the entire city had to deal with the cross fires of the Anglo-Mysore relations. Treaty of Mangalore put an end to the Second Anglo-Mysore War and this treaty was signed between the British east India Company and Tipu Sultan in Mangalore on 11th March 1784.

In 1791, Mangalore was again captured by the Britishers but Tipu Sultan again inundated the city in 1793. Finally, the Britishers surrendered Mangalore in the year 1794. However, the Britishers were again abele to recapture Mangalore in 1799 due to the demise of the great ruler Tipu Sultan and also because of the fall of the Srirangapatna Empire during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. Since then, Mangalore remained under the administration of the Britishers in India until India became independent in the year 1947.

History of Mangalore
Hyder Ali with the first English Settlers


Mangalore during British Rule

Francis Buchman, a Scottish physician visited Mangalore in the year 1801 and he has put forward the point that Mangalore was a very prosperous and rich port possessing a great trade activity during that time. Rice was the main article that was exported from Mangalore port to Bombay, Muscat, Malabar and Goa. Betel0nut or Supari was the article that was exported to Kutch, Bombay and Surat. Sandalwood and Pepper were exported to Bombay while Cassia and Turmeric to Surat, Kutch, Bombay and Muscat. Other items that were exported from Mangalore port were Timber, Ginger, Choir, Iron, Cinnamon, Sugar and Salt.

Municipal Council of Mangalore came into being on 23rd May 1886 with the ratification of the Madras Town Improvement Act in 1865. This establishment was also responsible for various urban planning activities and the provision of civic amenities to Mangalore. Various Roman Catholic missions who came to Mangalore such as Italian Jesuit Mangalore Mission who came to Mangalore in the year 1878 played a very important role in the social welfare, education and health of the people of Mangalore.  

The city of Mangalore was very peaceful under the administration of the Britishers and there were some large scale improvements that were clearly visible in the city. The industrial and the educational sector of Mangalore flourished exceedingly well under the British administration. Mangalore soon turned out to be the main commercial hub for the import and export trade. In the year 1907, Mangalore was linked to Southern railway and later motor vehicles also started being used in Mangalore because of which the communication and the trade of the city increased in leaps and bounds. Many industries were brought into Mangalore with the inauguration of basal Mission in the city in the year 1834.

Mangalore City After Independence

After the Independence of India in the year 1947, Mangalore which earlier used to be a major part of Madras Presidency was amalgamated and unified with the state of Mysore and this was done in the year 1956. Thereafter, Mangalore served as the most important part of the state because of the fact that Mangalore gave Mysore the advantage of owning a coastline. During the end of the twentieth century, large scale development was found in Mangalore that served as the main commercial and the business center of the country.

In spite of the development that was found in the business and the economy of Mangalore, the city was always successful in retaining its charm like tile-roofed buildings amidst groves of coconut trees and fishing boats that were found to be silhouetted under the dark sky. The city of Mangalore at present is found to bustle with enormous business activity in the IT sector that is fast developing in Mangalore and the prosperity that has lurked over the city because of its international trade relations. Till date, Mangalore is considered to be an ideal city for trade and communication with the international countries and India is also able to acquire good income by mans of the Mangalore coastline. Steps are being taken to improve the condition of the port and even the city and the Government is making all possible efforts in this sector.

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