Ullal is a tiny fishing village perched on the southern sand pit of Mangalore. The fabled “Rome of the east”. Built on 10 hills with several old Churches and Cathedrals same dating back to the 16th Century having its very own ‘Sistine chapel’ of the St. Aloysius one could very well perceive the Roman overtones.
Coming off the highway tht links Cochin to Goa is a steep high road that certainly doesn’t prepare you for the startling beauty of the Arabian Sea. But there she is lying lazily in hues of blue & green, an Arab dough, or a fishing trawler edging past, the horizon.
Ullal has all the romanticism of a single winding road that connects the fishing village on the North to the gigantic Someshwar Rock on the South. Lying like a beached whale, with the ocean frothing and surfing on the 3 sides, it broods over the beach, carrying memories of its heroic Abbaka Rani. On a promontory to the Left is the Temple of AbakkaRani dating back to the 16th Century. A vibrant queen, who defended this coastal hamlet from the —– Portuguese fleets, she fell a victim to court intrigues and treachery, a handsome bronze of the Queen on horse back –& shield graces the Center of Ullal.
The other boast of Ullal is the Summer Sands Beach Resort, —– red tiled roof, beckons you in and again your breath is simple taken away by the mirage like effect of the Ocean show caused by the swaying palms. Once you do pass that moment of reverence, you loose your breath once again to the riot of colours that’s breaks upon your inner eye. Suddenly its summer and the vibrant colours of each of the sun drenched villas proudly proclaim it. There’s a lift in your heart and the soft respectful voice of Rahul the gate keeper directs you to the reception. You wonder whether you are already at the beach, because you are treading sand, boats, nest and anchors, add to your excitement as you taste the salt on your breath. Childish squeals rend the air, a wide expanse of green borders on a large swimming pool, palms hammocks, colonial sun chairs, weave an atmosphere of wellbeing. Between the palms, the ocean plays hide and seek, a covered passage of granite and kadaba stones leads to the Restaurant simply elegant with wide brick arches and a high tiled ceiling, walk through windows titles “Memories of Joanna” Apparently the owners are the 6th Generation from the renounced Joanna and the restaurant is a celebration of the ancient culture and tradition of the Albuquerque Family. The restaurant conveys a distinct British colonial style in the décor the antique furniture and the menu boasts many of the recipes handed down 6 generations especially the amasing fish curries.
From every table at the restaurant one can see the Ocean , and the large windows reflect it over and over again, its nearly like dinning Alfresco de la mer!
Carrying the theme outside is an arched ——– arches within arches, the wooden floors give it a warm earthly feeling. The landscape is still at the embryonic stage but we are told that there are elaborate plans for water gurgling , pools and bridges, cosy nooks and wooded grottos.
Abutting the 2 eateries is an outdoor amphitheater with the surf a 20 yards away. Ideal for those contemplating flower weddings at a beach, it can hold a goodly crowd of 1000 – 2000 guests.
But coming back to the villas, recently transformed, retiled and refurbished sparkling new, with muted elegance of modern ceiling, ethnic drapes and a very elegant glass& tiles W.C surrounded by private patio and gardens they seem as attractive place to spend time in along with the other attractions of the resort.
While the club house is going through its own metamorphosis and will soon be a full fledged spa with ayurvedic and naturopathy applications the resort is moving towards a more eco friendly atmosphere. Vehicles will be parked at the entrance parking lawns and buggies are being used to ferry guests / luggage around. Cigarettes are conspicuous in their absence and liquor is not vended at the Resort.
The Resort exudes a certain inner Peace you cant place a finger on it, but it is there and that is what draws you back again and again so that “peace finds you” as their slogan promises.
The village of Ullal is famous twice over, for its Famous Queen Abbakarani who reigned in the 15th century , a veritable freedom fighter, defended her coastal bastion against the marauding Portuguese & defeated them in a sea battle and the other is the beautiful Summer Sands Beach Resort which has come up in the very area that the queen took her morning constitutional.
Wedged between Kerala & Goa, a suburb of Mangalore, a port city, The Summer Sands , a must for Beach lovers doing the coastal circuit on the west coast. It is no more a point of transit but has now become a destination in itself. The magic starts at the very gate itself, where you sight the mighty Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea glistening like a sheet of glass at the end of a serendipitous path of palms. The place has a certain wild beauty and you can’t be surprised if a curious hare stops & stares or a peacock decides to dance just for you.
The villas and there are only villas are a burst of colour, spacious & airy with French windows that open out onto a sit out and lawned gardens. Some of the guests were very involved in a bar-be-que on the sit out, while others just lounged away in the sun.
Peals of laughter round the expansive pool, make it the heart of the resort. Through the sun was overhead , parents gave up the lost battle to cajole the little ones out of the water, the bar which overlooks the pool was my next stop, tastefully done with lithographs of Mangalore a 10 years ago and also displaying a little history of the Albuquerque family which own the resort. The Mojito was inspiring so the barman Rahoul coaxed me into having what he called a “Dirty Mojito” which was even more inspiring.
The bar called the ‘Alexis Lounge’ who by the way is the patriarch of the Albuquerque going back 6 generations, opened out into a corridor which leads you directly to the sea, if you cant resist the call of the sea, but if you follow your stomach, you take a turn to the left which is the fine dinning “Memories of Joanna” the goodly spouse of Alexis, highlights the trophies of Joanna’s prowess in the culinary world, try the fish Murmuro which is her very own recipe piquent and spicy so much so you refuse dessert in order to keep the taste of it a little longer. Chef Chamul has a array of succulent Kababs , roties & naans, I would recommend the sholay Kabab. Though I was plied with Chocolate brownies, ginger preserve & all varieties of ice cream I managed not to succumb.
Evening time & the beach dinning is the place to be, a jetski is drowning away but its not for me. With the ocean flirting with your table as it were, the murmur of the sea & the stray seagull call, it is sheer bliss to sit there under the stars and nurse your ‘Mirch Mumtaz’ while you contemplate your tiger prawns in butter garlic sauce & your ‘Pacheles’ lying in a bed of dangerous dark gravy. The strains of live music waft up to the beach, the perfect setting for a perfect evening.
A smiling young man walks up and asks “ has peace found you Sir?” I look at him mystified “ You know , you have to be in a place where Peace finds you”, he smiles, I smile and I give myself up to the moment