Across the Netravati

To journey through Kerala’s Manjeshwaram taluk from Mangaluru in Karnataka is to come to terms with the cultural and political forces that have shaped the region’s modern history.

Visitors to the city of Mangaluru often choose to travel north to Udupi. The road south to Kasaragod in Kerala, however, is a lot less travelled, even though both towns are roughly equidistant from Mangaluru. The town of Kasaragod, merely 50 km from Mangaluru’s city centre, is Kerala’s northernmost urban centre. The journey to the town takes you past lush, verdant fields, densely populated seaside villages, and slightly larger market towns. Each coastal settlement adjoins a secluded beach with fine white sand, where the sunset turns the horizon a brooding, smoky crimson. One of these towns is Manjeshwar, the headquarters of the eponymous taluk in Kasaragod district, merely 5 km from the Kerala–Karnataka border. While its natural beauty is breathtaking in itself, what truly makes Manjeshwaram taluk a fascinating place to visit is how language, nationalism, modern state-building, and culture intersect so finely on this small strip of land.

While the northern half of Kasaragod district is politically a part of Kerala, it is culturally and linguistically a part of Tulu Nadu, a vibrantly multilingual region where Tulu, a non-literary southern Dravidian language that boasts of a rich oral tradition, is the most widely spoken language. Tulu Nadu is further characterised by the presence of many linguistic minorities who speak Konkani (Hindu and Catholic dialects), coastal Kannada dialects, Byari, and even Marathi in some parts; as well as the usage of Standard Kannada by speakers of various tongues as a formal written language.

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Updated On : 5th Apr, 2019


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