Where on earth can you witness hefty buffalos running 100 metres through mud and slush in under 14 seconds? The answer folks is a few hundred kilometers away from the city in Mangalore during the Kadri Kambala festival! And that’s where three of us – Venkatesh, Sandeep and I headed on the Dec 10-11 weekend.
Bekal Fort was on my list of places to see – I’d missed it during my earlier visit, so we hired a cab on Saturday and drove down to the fort. It’s about one and a half hours away from Mangalore and we reached around 3 in the afternoon. From the fort, you get a sweeping view of the sea and Bekal beach, which seemed quite deserted. Of course, it was the middle of the afternoon and though it was winter, we were still getting sufficiently roasted.
The only objects on the beach were a whole load of fishing boats. After walking around the ramparts, we spent some time watching the going-ons of people on the beach below the fort. At around 6 pm, with the sun about to set, the policemen starting blowing on their whistles. It was closing time.
We left the fort and stopped at a fishing village by the road and watched the sunset. A gaggle of kids spotted us and surrounded us and demanded that their pics be taken. Even they seem to know that the world has gone digital and wanted to immediately see them just after we took the pictures!
The sun turned into a pinkish ball and quickly set against the fishing boats swaying gently in the waters.
Sunday morning, it was time to head for the Kadri Kambala race, which turned out to be just a few kms from the hotel we were staying in. We landed at the venue at 8 am. Way too early we realised, as they were just beginning to put up the banners. We walked around the venue and tried to find the best place we could stand to get a view of the races. The buffalo racing event was only in the afternoon. The rest of the morning there would be races for kids, women, men and then followed by tug-of-war : all of these conducted in the slushy field prepared for this purpose. It was fun too watch as they fell all over the slush trying their best to outdo each other.
After a few hours, we headed for lunch at a place called Abhimaan nearby. The culinary theme of our trip was fish, so we ordered rounds of fried fish and curry and Venky and Sandeep ordered garlic naan, which for some reason seemed particular delicious in Mangalore!
After witnessing a round of events, we took respite in the shade. The two boys tried to catch a quick nap before the actual races. I was busy watching the going-ons of all the different groups preparing the buffalos. It all seemed really time-consuming and complicated. One of the buffalos had gone wild and was running out of control till they managed to tame him down. Finally, the races started and we stood at the finish line to get pictures of the buffalos charging in.
Rajesh, who had earlier sent me all the information on the races landed up at the field to say hello. The inaugurations to each race was long and rather painful (for so for me, as I didn’t understand much of what was being said!). The commentary was non-stop, each speaker going on and on aboutâ€¦ buffalo racing, I presume!
Every time the buffalos would come racing in, we’d quickly step out of the way at the last moment. I didn’t quite like the idea of being trampled by these big heavy creatures so I would take a picture and then scamper for safety. One set nearly ran into the crowd, but besides that they seemed to have good brakes and stopped just before they could inflict any great damage.
By 6 pm we were as tired as the racing animals who were heaving and panting, after what obviously doesn’t come naturally to them!
We headed back to the hotel, freshened up and then went to the Liquid Lounge (which I had discovered on my last visit to Mangalore!). From there, we headed to the bus stop at 8.30 pm, heading back home to Bangalore after a hectic, but enjoyable weekend!
– The Mangalore Album
– More about Kambala, here and here.