When you pull into the port at Mangalore (officially, but not commonly, Mangaluru), on India's Malabar Coast, you'll be following in the path of centuries of traders. This city on the Arabian Sea has been a major stop on international trade routes since the 6th century. For most travelers, however, Mangalore is overshadowed by the more popular Goa, to its north, and the state of Kerala, to its south. A visit to Mangalore offers a glimpse of an India where fewer tourists venture, with opportunities to see historic temples and try the area's famously spicy seafood. Mangalore can also boast that it introduced surfing to India, thanks to the young surfers known as the surfing swamis who ride the waves along the beaches nearby. The palm-fringed stretches of sand are one of the area's principal attractions, with most largely undeveloped. The city itself is situated on the backwaters of the Netravati and Gurupura rivers and was ruled by the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th centuries until they were expelled by the rulers of Mysore. The British took over at the end of the 18th century and remained until India's independence in 1947. All these different rulers left behind a number of heritage buildings that Mangalore's residents have increasingly come to appreciate and are now lovingly restoring. However you spend your day in Mangalore, a meal overlooking the sea will likely be a highlight. An ocean breeze off the Arabian Sea pairs perfectly with spicy Mangalorean dishes including fish specialties as well as vegetarian and chicken curries.