Kambala: A Dekho Apna Desh vacation that’s got the potential to draw world tourists

Burly buffaloes, beautiful beaches, and big fat food trails – these were the key ingredients used by an innovative Indian travel agency to concoct the perfect Dekho Apna Desh vacation package.

At a time when people are cooped up indoors fearing the frequent changes in the Covid-19 travel regulations, Bangalore-based Arjun Tours and Travels curated an unexplored, yet local experience specifically for Namma Bengaluru. This means zero hassle for Garden City travelers: No RT-PCR tests, no quarantine, but just good old intercity fun.

Although hassle-free, the agency believes in ‘Responsible Fun.’  The road trip from Bangalore to Mangalore followed all Covid safety protocols. The cars were sanitized. The drivers wore face masks throughout the journey. The culinary stopovers were at restaurants of repute.

While currently the trip is restricted to domestic travelers, the package that offers an immersive cultural experience of Tulunad has the potential to draw tourists from across the world, once the travel restrictions are lifted.


Kamabala: A Buffalo Holiday

The three-day trip curated by Arjun Tours & Travels in March centered on Kambala, a rural sport that’s widely popular in the Tulunad region. However, the sport remains invisible to those outside the region. The event, which concluded on March 31, saw April bringing back fond memories of the rural extravaganza.

What is Kambala?

Kambala is a proud partnership between a man and a beast. An able-bodied farmer from Tulunad joins hands with a water buffalo that’s native to the land. Together, they race against several man-buffalo teams.  The winning duo takes it all. While the farmer gets the prize money, the victorious buffalo enjoys a lavish feed of fresh fruits and vegetables.

History of Kambala

The history of Kambala dates back to thousands of years ago, when the South Kanara region was ruled by kings. Back then, the royalty and rich landlords organized Kambala for farmers to celebrate the final day of harvest.

For these farmers and their prized buffalos, the race was a measure of pride and glory.  The tradition continues to this day.

Thanks to travel agencies like Arjun Tours & Travels, one can witness this fierce race from a special spectator box.

Ravi M, Director of Arjun Tours & Travels, believes that at times of pandemic, people should be able to travel safely and responsibly.  “We ensure that our guests are well taken care of. We follow all Covid safety protocols throughout our trip. The Kambala package was designed for the month of March, where we got to see a cultural sport that’s confined to the Tulu region Karnataka. As part of first destination of Dekho Apna Desh campign, we chose to highlight Kambala in Mangalore and witness the traditional buffalo race, which I am sure has the potential to attract tourists around the world,” said Ravi.

Capt. Brijesh Chowta, the man behind Mangaluru Kambala, said that the rich tradition has the potential to draw tourists from around the world. “One of the primary reasons we started Kambala in Mangalore is because Mangalore is like the capital city of Coastal Karnataka. A lot of people are moving in from villages to cities. Kambala, being the identity of Coastal Karnataka, we wanted it to be exhibited in the city.  That’s how the idea of Kambala shaped up four years ago. Although Kambala might look like a sport for outsiders, for us it reflects our rich tradition and culture. We want people from all over the country and all over the world to come experience Kambala. We have big plans to promote Kambala in the next few years,” said Capt. Chowta, who is also the President of Mangaluru Kambala Samiti.

The fast and furious Kambala is a rustic sport that will make India proud. With its manifold race categories and magnificent players, we are sure Kambala will soon emerge as a global attraction.

 Road to Kambala: Scrumptious Stopovers

1. Hotel Mayura: Breakfast on the highway

Hotel Mayura is the first restaurant to be built on the Bengaluru-Mangaluru highway.  This 150-year-old brand boasts over 60 items on the menu, with over 15 varieties of dosa alone. Menthiya Dosa, Open Butter Masala Dosa, and Kaara Baath are among the foodie favorites.

2. Layered Tea at KT

The small hole-in-the-wall joint, just a few blocks from the main Mangaluru city, makes a unique layered tea. While the frothy decoction floats gracefully at the top, the milk gently settles at the bottom. The video below beautifully captures the magic of KT tea.

3. Seafood Feast at Toddy House

We knew toddy comes in many flavors only after our visit to the famed Toddy House in Mangaluru. Steamed fish in plantain leaf, Kori Roti, and Prawns Masala were some of our favorites.

Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence
Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence
Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence










4. A stroll on St. Mary’s Island

Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence

5. Lunch at Thimappa’s

Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence

6. Dinner at Shetty’s Lunch Home

Photo Credit: Leesona Lawrence

7. Chill out at Ideal Ice cream


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