Mangalore's skyline is defined by the deep red tiles used on the rooftops of the houses and industrial buildings. The tiles that are used are called Mangalore tiles and like the name suggests are native to this place. In fact I learnt that a German missionary named Plebot set up one of the first tile making factories in 1860 in Mangalore after finding huge deposits of clay in the river banks needed for this particular tile production. Now with the heavy usage of concrete many of these flourishing tile factories in Mangalore had to close down as they could not keep up with the tough competition. We had the opportunity to visit one of the few factories which still continue to do very well and manufacture these tiles in the traditional methods from the past. This was the Bharath Tile Factory located in a little town called Kallianpur in South Kanara. The tiles produced here were also used in the very famous Victoria Railway Terminus Station (VT Station) in the 1870s.
The tour of the tile manufacturing process was fascinating the clay was first compressed, placed in a mold and cut to exact measurements. This is placed in another machine and the factory logos are put on it. Any extra clay is removed and sent to be carried for firing and later glazing.
The best part was the usage of the baking kilns where the tiles are baked at very high temperatures.
At the end there is a very strict quality process where the tiles are graded into different categories.