Most visitors dismiss Mangalore, now officially renamed Mangaluru, as a stopover between Goa and Kerala, or as a strategic hub from which to access Coorg and Hassan. However, this bustling multicultural town is packed with history and some visit just to relish its famed coastal cuisine. Named after the ancient temple of Mangaladevi at Bolar, 3km from the city centre, Mangalore was one of the most famous ports of south India and frequented by Arab traders.  It was already well known overseas in the sixth century as a major source of pepper; the fourteenth-century Muslim writer Ibn Battuta noted its trade in pepper and ginger and the presence of merchants from Persia and Yemen. In the mid-1400s, the Persian ambassador Abdu’r-Razzaq saw Mangalore as a lucrative “frontier town” of the Vijayanagar empire, which was why it was captured by the Portuguese in 1529, and later Tipu Sultan and the British. Nowadays, the modern port, 10km north of the city proper, is principally known for the processing and export of coffee and cocoa (mostly from Kodagu), and cashew nuts (from Kerala). It is also a centre for the production of beedis (local cigarettes).

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