Udupi | India
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Most Indians know of Udupi as a type of inexpensive restaurant that generally serves vegetarian food in the South Indian style. Not many know of the sleepy coastal town from which this great cuisine originated, that does duty as the headquarters of the eponymous Udupi district in the Karavali, or coastal region of Karnataka. Still fewer know of its reputation as the location of a Krishna temple with rich history and a monastery established by the founder of one of the three main philosophical strains of present-day Hinduism. Many, however, have heard of Manipal, a major educational centre, and a suburb of Udupi, that attracts students from all over India and internationally. Rather confusingly, the town of Udupi lies in Udupi taluka which in turn is in Udupi district. This article covers not only the town, but also its surrounding areas, the region roughly corresponding to Udupi taluka. The taluka is one of the three divisions of Udupi district. It lies on the coast, with the Arabian Sea to its west. The other two talukas are Kundapura on its north and Karkala, which on the west, at the foothills of the Western Ghats. To the south of Udupi is Mangalore, which is the headquarters of the Dakshina Kannada district.


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History Krishna Mutt at Udupi The history of Udupi revolves around the story of the Krishna temple and matha (monastery, also spelt mutt) While the temple is believed to have been in existence for over 1500 years, the idol was installed by the sage Madhvacharya in the 13th century. He is the founder of the Dvaita philosophy, which is commonly translated as dualism. In contrast to the older Advaita (non-dualism) propounded by Sankaracharya, Dvaita philosophy holds that the human and animate souls have an independent existence from the divine Universal Soul, of the Paramatma. The adherents of the Dvaita philosophy are generally Vaishnavites, who worship Vishnu in his various incarnations, among whom Krishna is one. Legend has it that Madhvacharya used his divine powers to miraculously save a ship that was in the thick of a storm. The ship happened to have set sail from Dwaraka, the city that used to be Krishna's home, and was carrying an idol of him. The captain of the ship, in gratitude, gifted the idol to his saviour, who then went on to install it in the Krishna temple where he worshiped. In the midst of propounding his philosophy and performing miracles, Madhvacharya also found time to establish a monastic order consisting of eight mathas (Ashtamathas) in various places around Udupi. Each of these mathas was headed by one of his main disciples, and he decreed that after he passed on, they and their successors would head the main Udupi matha in rotation for two months each. One of his notable later day successors, Vadiraja of Sode Matha, who lived during the 16th century, changed the tenure from two months to two years. This practice, called Paryaya continues to this day. The handover to the new head of Udupi matha happens on 18 January on even numbered years, and is an occasion for much celebration and many religious ceremonies. Politically, the city had an uneventful history. It was ruled by various feudatories of the Mysore kings till it was taken over by the British, who then made it part of the administrative district of Kanara, which was then divided into South and North Kanara. Udupi was part of the former. After independence, South Kanara became Dakshina Kannada, and in 1998, Udupi district was hived off from Dakshina Kannada, with the city as the headquarters of the district. It had a nascent career as a financial hub till the 1960s, with many banks being established here, but most of them got nationalized. Manipal, a suburb of Udupi city, is an important educational and medical centre owing to the efforts of T M A Pai in the 1960s. Climate @media all and (max-width:720px){body.skin-minerva .mw-parser-output .climate-table{float:none!important;clear:none!important;margin-right:0!important}body.skin-minerva .mw-parser-output .climate-table .infobox .infobox{}} The weather is fairly equable throughout the year, due to the nearby Arabian sea. Temperature ranges from 30 to 35 °C in day time and is around 25 °C at night. Humidity is normally high most of the time. The rainy season is from June to September. At this time the monsoon shows its colours. Within seconds, you could find yourself soaked in rain water. The best time to visit is October to March, when the weather is cool. April and May will be hot and June to September will be wet, so if you are visiting during this time, you will spend most of your time indoors. But then, April and May is when you get the ripe mangoes, and June to September is when the rains make the area green and beautiful, so life isn't fair.


Planning a Trip

1 Get in 1.1 By plane 1.2 By train 1.3 By car 1.4 By bus Kanaka's window, Udupi Krishna temple Udupi is well-connected with the cities on India's west coast. NH-66 (formerly NH-17) runs right through Udupi, connecting it to Mumbai and Goa to the North and Mangalore and Kochi to the South. Konkan Railway connects Udupi to the same cities. The city is around 406 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka. Rail connectivity with Bangalore is good, but travelling by road is a good option, as you are exposed to the beauty of the nature. The road journey trough Agumbe ghats are really mesmerising. By plane Mangalore International Airport is 59 km from Udupi. The airport is well-connected with major Indian cities and a few Middle-eastern destinations. Pre-paid taxis (non air-conditioned) can be booked from the counter inside the arrival terminal. They take approximately 1½ hours to reach. Goa's Dabolim airport is around 300km from Udupi. Getting in via Goa is not the most practical or convenient way to get to Udupi, but if you are planning to combine a vacation in Goa, this is a good option. By train Udupi is a major station on the Konkan railway route. There are connections with Mumbai, Bangalore and Mangalore. Major trains including Rajdhani Express stop at Udupi Railway Station. A night train is available from Mangalore to Bangalore, known as the Mangalore-Bangalore express. Yeshwantpur-Karwar express is another train which connects Bangalore to Udupi and runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. By car Udupi is located right on National Highway NH-66 (formerly NH-17) connecting Cochin with Mumbai. See Karavali#Get in about the lowdown on this route. This connects Udupi with Kerala, Coastal Karnataka (including Mangalore), Goa, and the Konkan region of Maharashtra. Drive in on your own only if you are used to driving on Indian highways. Alternatively, hire a driver or take a cab. From Bangalore, you first must come to Mangalore via roads which mostly pass through zig-zag hilly roads, or ghats. NH-75 (formerly NH-48) is the road that connects Bangalore and Mangalore, which passes through Shiradi Ghat. However, the ghat roads seem to get damaged every year during the monsoon, so make inquiries in advance and decide which of the four ghats is relatively passable and adjust that portion of the route accordingly. By bus Buses regularly ply from major southern cities and Maharashtra to Udupi. Choose from the Volvos (AC buses), Airbuses or KSRTC buses depending on your budget. Private buses generally have two stops in Udupi — the service bus stand at the centre of the city, and near Tiger circle at Manipal.


Top Attractions

Udupi has some nice beaches, lush greenery, the quaint charm of a small town and many temples. Many of the places to visit are not very well known to many people outside of Udupi. If you are an adventurous person who loves nature, there is a lot to explore in Udupi. Map of Udupi Krishna temple complex Sri Krishna Temple and Mutt 13.3411274.752011 Sri Krishna Temple and Mutt, Ratha Beedi (Chariot Street), ☎ +91 820-252 0598. 5AM-9:30PM. This is the main attraction in Udupi. The Krishna Matha (or Mutt) was established by Madhvacharya in the 13th century. This is a complex of temples and monasteries located near the Madhva Sarovara, or Madhvacharya's pond. Madhva Sarovara has a "mantapa" or canopy at its centre, and the pond is often beautifully lit. Bathing at the Sarovara may or may not be possible. Inquire before taking the plunge.The main temple itself is constructed in the architectural style typical in Kerala and Dakshina Kannada, with multiple layers around the inner sanctum sanctorum, with no massive sikhara over it as is found elsewhere in South India. There are shrines to subordinate deities including Garuda and Hanuman. On special occasions, the temple area is beautifully decorated with flowers and lamps.The unusual feature of this temple is that the statue faces west, and away from the devotees. The reason for this, apparently, is that a lower-caste devotee named Kanakadasa was denied entry into the temple, so he tried worshiping from a small window outside it. The Lord was so pleased at his devotion that He turned around to face the window. The window is now known as Kanakana kindi, or Kanakadasa's window. Look for a massive Gopura (or tower) that has since been built over this window. Offerings can be made and "prasadam" can be bought inside. The temple offers free lunch to everyone at three dining halls, or Bhojana Shaalas.Outside the temple is the "Ratha beedi", or "chariot street". On major festive occasions such as the "Paryaya", the deity is taken in procession in temple chariots. The chariots themselves are usually stationed at Ratha beedi most times. All around the Ratha beedi are the headquarters of the 8 mathas, or Ashtamathas. These mathas are places of worship in their own right. There are other temples located around the area. In addition, Gita Mandira and the Rajangana, where cultural programmes and discourses held, located a short walk away. The Ratha Beedi is also a shopping street, interesting in its own right. Free.   (updated Aug 2018) Other attractions Kaup Beach, Udupi 13.466874.74982 Barkur, 16 km north of Udupi town. Barkur is a historic cluster of 3 villages where you can find the ruins of many forts, among them Simhasanagudde, Vijayanagara fort, and Nandana fort. You will also find many old Jain structures called basadis, in addition to many Hindu temples . There are exactly 365 temples in this region that is temple for a day. Majority of them are related to Lord Ganesh. 13.450874.69493 Bengre Beach, near Kemmannu (Exit NH66 after Kallianpur Santhekatte and head towards Kemmannu). An estuary around 20 km away from Udupi town, you can see the sea on one side of the road and the river on the other.  13.221674.73824 Kapu Beach (Kaup Beach), off NH66, driving south from Udupi. Lighthouse: Varying opening times, ( closes at 6:30PM). Nice, relatively unknown beach. There is a lighthouse from which one can get a nice view. It is 22 km from Manipal, MIT. ₹10 for the lighthouse. Beach is free. (updated Aug 2018) 13.356574.70155 Malpe beach, SH65, near Stella Maris Church. Visit Malpe beach where you can take fantastic pictures of the sunset in the background of St Mary's island. Nice clean beach, not inundated by foreign tourists. Free.  13.370174.78586 Manipal End-point Park, SH65, Manipal. A small cliff that overlooks the Suwarna river. From this point, you can get a beautiful view of the sea as well as the mountains. Very popular with Manipal University students. Free.  13.271574.79217 Pajaka Kshetra, Kunjarugiri (around 10 km from the city centre), ☎ +91 820-255 9013, +91 820-200 9013, +91 94489 52913. The birthplace of Madhvacharya, considered a holy place by believers. Has a temple dedicated to Durga, a memorial dedicated to Madhvacharya and some ponds, bathing in which supposedly cleanses one of all sins. Free.  13.380874.67228 St Mary's Island, Off Malpe Beach (boats are available from Malpe Beach). 8:30AM to 4:30PM. Rock formations created by a mixture of volcanic lava flow and waves. Legend has it that the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama landed here and claimed the island in the name of Mother Mary. The island also has a beautiful beach which is worth visiting. The first boat is supposed to run at 8:30AM, last boat to that island is around 4:30PM and from that island is 6PM. The boat leaves only if there are around 30 visitors. Waiting time may be about 30 minutes for tourists to arrive before the boat leaves. It is best to do this in the evening or early mornings. If visiting during noon, there is little shade to be found. Food and drinks are sold on the island. About 300 ₹ for the return ticket.  13.297174.71969 Udyavar Pithrodi, Udyavar (3 km from Udupi town. Take a boat to Pithrodi island). This is an island at the mouth of a river that is near Udyavar beach. Within 100 meters of the sea, you get an amazing view at the island. Beware of pollution from the nearby fishing mills though. Boatman may charge around ₹10 per person. 


Things to do

Volcanic rocks at St Mary's Island Udupi has some great beaches, but thankfully, they aren't big water sports destinations like Goa, though there are some options. If you are the adventurous sort, you can head south to Mulki, Mangalore where the Ashram surf retreat combines surfing with spiritualism. If the mountains are what you are after, turn east to Karkala, where Agumbe and other places provide some excellent trekking opportunities. See if you can catch a performance of Yakshagana, a Bhoota Kola or a Naga Mandala. The latter two are essentially religious rituals, but a sight to watch. The Yakshagana is a genre of dance-drama that is native to the Karavali region. The performances are advertised only in local Kannada newspapers, so it might be somewhat difficult to catch them. Also, to fully appreciate Yakshagana, you need to understand Kannada or Tulu. 13.513374.93071 White water rafting at Jomlu Theertha, Belve Village, Brahmavar-Hebri Rd. Roughly 35 km from Brahmavar, a white water rafting location. Dangerous place for swimming. Best time of visit is from July to late January.  13.360574.69892 Stay at a Houseboat, Paradise Isle Beach Resort Pvt. Ltd., Malpe Beach, ☎ +91 820-253 8777, +91 820-253 8666, e-mail: resort@theparadiseisle.com. The trip takes you to Paradise Lagoon. Package includes all meals. It is not clear if packages of shorter duration are available - call to ask. The resort also offers normal rooms, and has some options for water sports as well. ₹14,000 for 2 nights, 3 days.