History, Culture, Hikes: Discover The Other Side Of Dharmasthala

The Dakshina Kannada region in Karnataka has much to offer, including Moodabidri and Mangalore. With lush forests courtesy the Western Ghats on the East, and beaches to the West, there’s something for everyone in this temple town an hour away from Mangalore. Within the region is a smattering of religious establishments in the forests, along the riverside, and atop hills. Adopting the area as their own, the maintenance and development by the temple authority has resulted in spots that even non-religious tourists should visit, so here’s our roundup of things to do in and around Dharmasthala.

Manjusha Museum

Manjusha Museum

A private museum opposite the Dharmasthala Temple, the two-floored building was initially established to record, curate, and preserve the history of the area. The discovery of Jain settlements nearby unearthed many artefacts, carvings and art, some of which are displayed with information for visitors. Among other things are also various cameras, a small collection of taxidermy animals and birds found in the area as well as palm manuscripts

Vintage Car Museum

Vintage Car Museum

The Vintage Car Museum houses cars right from the early 1900s. Collected from across the country, what’s cool is that every single one of them was used by or for erstwhile royalty, including a Studebaker that Mahatma Gandhi rode while touring the state. Meticulously maintained from the outside and within, they’re all in working condition too! If that’s not vintage enough, just pop over next door to the intricately carved wooden chariots for a photo op.  

SDM Manuscript Library


Deep dive into history at the manuscript library that has a collection of over 3000 literary pieces found in and around the area. Due to state borders being drawn relatively recently, find manuscripts in Kannada, Tulu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Sanskrit among other old languages. Having invested heavily in preservation methods, if you’re lucky you might catch the inspection and preservation process of a palm-leaf manuscript while you’re there.

Bahubali Statue

Bhagawan Bahubali Statue

No, it’s not the Bahubali you’re probably thinking of. This 39 feet monolith statue is a 20 minute climb past the main Dharmasthala temple complex. The best time to visit is right after sunrise (before 9:30 am), and post sunset once all the lamps are lit. The hill offers a birds’ eye view of the green surroundings, and has small shelter structures for you to cool off as well. 

Jamlabad Fort

Narasimha Ghada Fort

Built by Tipu Sultan over an older structure’s ruins (you’ll be able to tell due to the difference in the wear and tear of whatever little exists) on a monolith hill, the 18th century fortification is named after his mother. Now better known for its hiking and trekking potential, most people happily use the remaining stairs to reach the summit. The trail is open from 6am - 4pm, and can be accessed after paying a small entry fee. Be prepared to carry plenty of snacks and water, as there are no facilities nearby.