Manipal is a place to experience rare moments of peaceful tranquillity. In the recent past, Manipal has emerged as a gateway for students to acquire world-class education. I waited for the monsoon to arrive to smell the most comforting scent when the rain meets the earth, the petrichor, the best season to visit Manipal. I always longed to see it as a child, waiting for a guest to come home with sweets. Manipal is a lovely small town to unwind for a few days and rejuvenate our taste buds with its diversified cuisine.

The town has two seasons: the apricate – bask in the sun between March and May and the endless rains till September from June. I wonder if someone is holding a switch to toggle between light showers and a sudden downpour. I packed my bag with an umbrella, a raincoat and a flip-flop, ready to witness the cheerful smiling face of the trees and plants around Manipal. Umbrella is essential during these months as the rains surprise so often and can obstruct your simple plan like going out for lunch.

Since the monsoon started, I decided not to drive my Thar as both the Charmadi and the Shirdi ghat roads can get landslides. I took a flight to Mangalore, which has the nearest airport to Manipal. The uniqueness of Mangalore airport is that it is one of the five tabletop airstrips in India. These tabletop runways are constructed by cutting off the top of the peak and forming it into a plateau. It sounds scary, but thanks to the experienced pilots and the ever-evolving airline technology to provide safety.

I took a window seat to capture the aerial shots from the plane, and in the last lap, we had some turbulences, but again, thanks to the aircraft design engineers and I considered the turbulences similar to the bumps on the roads.

After landing, I headed to the main exit, and I heard the whispering sounds of the trees secretly telling me that it would rain now, and it looked like the rains overheard and started to lash out. I got into the cab to watch these streaks of water pouring from the Sky, and as we passed MRPL, the roads became terrible with many potholes. The 62 Kms drive to Manipal was quick, and I checked in at Country Inn Radisson near the coin circle. The rooms were, as usual, tidy and clean, but the large glass window was foggy, and I later realised that it was not fog but some stain blocking the view outside. The rains continued while I had lunch, picked up my GoPro, and went to the terrace to take a few snaps. Oh no, I made a mistake by walking into the grief trap as soon as I realised the last time I came to this place was with Regi, and I returned to my memory lane to be with her for a while. The view from the terrace was outstanding, covering the snake-shaped road behind the hotel.

Soon I returned to the room and had a shower to prepare for Friday night dinner. I decided to go to the Bacchus Inn Restrobar in Vidhyaratna Nagar. Music, smoke, chattering, and blabbering voices around and found students in pairs, groups, and solo, and I took some time to get used to the noise levels. I liked the atmosphere with the young folks. The food was inexpensive and tasty, I finished it and returned to the room, and it was raining.

The next day I had breakfast at the hotel and took an auto rickshaw to reach Arbi falls.

Arbi waterfall is located in Arbi Kodi, 80th Badgabettu village of Udupi district. If you travel 3 km from Manipal via Alevoor, you will find a town called Dasharatha. From there, if we walk one kilometre toward the Vaishnavi Durga temple towards the east, the Arbi waterfall beckons us right next to the temple. It was a 10 minutes drive, and I got down and walked the winding road leading to the falls’ foothills. Since the rains stopped, I had a nice walk and stopped at many points to take pictures. As I moved further, the path to the falls became narrow, with wild green plants on both sides. As I reached the so-called falls, it turned out to be a stream with little water, but It would look like mini falls when the water flow was high. .I was lucky to sight some peacocks on the way, and it started to rain again

I reached the hotel refreshed and decided to have lunch at Froth on Top. The beer café is tucked in a side lane with a great view. I took the outdoor table to get fresh air, and it was raining. The food was ok, but I loved the outdoor sitting and enjoyed the rain while I had a chicken burger. I wanted to rest for a while, hit the bed around 3.00 pm, woke up at 5.00 pm, and watched the rain with a hot coffee. I heard about the baba point café on the banks of the river Suvarna. The café is secluded and has a good view of the river from the top. I hired an autorickshaw to return and experienced a funny offroading. Every time I am in Manipal, I make it a point to have dinner at Hadiqa ( the old egg factory ). It serves the best pasta in the town, but I loved their grilled fish with lemon dressing, and I didn’t find the cost as expensive as Mangalore or Banglore.

The following day was a Sunday, and I visited Christ Church and the infamous Manipal lake behind the church. After the church visit, I looked at the next stop for my lunch trip, and The Mill appeared to be a good choice for lunch. The restaurant is an old mill converted, and I noticed a board as we enter “Once the game is over, the King and the Pawn go back into the same box” Wow, what a statement to reflect on a Sunday afternoon.

Manipal offers food for all, South Indian, North Indian, Bengali, Kerala, Italian, and believe me, all at affordable and hosted in a nice ambience. Since it was the last night in Manipal, I wanted to relax with light food at Vito, and they serve handmade wood-fired pizza # thincrust # panpizza # sourdoughpizza. I chose a table overlooking the road, and being a Sunday evening, the traffic was thin and less noise, and it was drizzling. . The piped jazz music filled my ears, and the chill air was hitting my eyes. It was a romancing experience, and I was amazed by the taste of the freshly baked pizza, and the crust was crazy.

Manipal is a precious part of my life, and I said goodbye with gratitude, hoping to return soon!