Udupi is one of the most sacred sites in Karnataka, being the birthplace of the 12-century spiritual thicker, social reformer, and advocate of Dvaita sect, Madhawa. Tradition has it that Udupi was the part of the region that Lord Krishna reclaimed for himself from the belly of the sea. It was ruled till the end of the 14 century by the Alupa kings followed by the Vijayanagar Empire who held the sway from 14 to 16 centuries. The Portuguese landed on the coast in the 15 century and left a strong legacy. This coastal part was also under the governance of Haider Ali and tipu sultan for some time until the defeat of Tipu by the British in 1799.
The coastal district of Udupi sheltered by the soaring Western Ghats is studded with sports of great scenic beauty. Dotted with bays and estuaries and dominated by a lush stretch of paddy fields it is truly enchanting. It is as much renowned for its pure vegetarian Udupi eateries, as it is for its Krishna Temple, various Mutts, the colorful Parayaya Festival and the Yakshagana.
Manipal, 5km away is an important educational centre with numerous institutions of medical, engineering, management studies, hotel management and others. Nearby excursions include Gokarna, Murudeshwar and Karwar.
The name Udupi means Lord of stars. Legend has it that the Moon and his wives prayed to Lord Shiva to get back its shine that was reduced due to a curse by King Daksha. The 27 daughters of the king were married to the moon. Belief has it that the prayer was made at the Chandramoulishwara Temple at Udupi, creating a lingam that remains enshrined there even today. Pleased with the prayer, the moonshine was restored. The pilgrimage site of Udupi was the sanctum of 13-century saint Madhawacharaya.
Lord Krishna Temple Udupi
The famous Krishna Temple set around a large tank Madhawa Saravr on Car Street is the main attraction along with ananteshwar and Chandramoulishwar temples. It is believed that the sacred Ganga flows into this tanke every ten years. The temple is surrounded by eight 'Mutts'. The Paryaya Festival associated with these draws devotees from far and wide.
A visit to the main Lord Krishna Temple begins with a mandatory visit to the temples of Ananteshwar and Chandramoulishwar. The earliest recorded reference to this temple dates back to 1394AD. Out of the two stone images of Krishna, one 50m high is two armed holding the ends of a rope wound round his waist, believed to be Balakrishna (baby Krishna). The other one is the Venugopala form of the Lord. The main attraction of Krishna Temple is the Kanakana Kindi (Kanakana Window), a small window. It is believed that the Lord Krishna impressed with the devotion of anardent low caste worshipper, Kanakadasa, allowed him unhindered darshan through this window. Navagraha Kitiki is an exquisitely carved window through which visitors are allowed to look at the image of child Krishna. The sacred fire lit by Mahawacharya continues to bur for centuries.
When the Krishna's kingdom, Dwarka, got submerged in the ocean the idol of child Krishna is said to have made its way to Udupi disguised as some heavy load. This load used to act as ballast to balance the merchant's ships until retrieved by Madhawa and enshrined in the temple. He then anointed astha Mutts (8 Hindu places of learning and worship) around the main Krishna Temple to administer the temple. The morning and evening ceremonies at the temple are lively affairs. The sacred Madhawa Sarovar (Madhawa Tank) is on the right side of the temple. There is a little stone mandapa in the centre, around which the image of the Krishna is taken on a float during festivals.
To the wet of the Lord Krishna Temple is the ancient Ananteshwara Temple where the sage Parasurama is worshipped in the form of a lingam. a square open hall with 12 massive stone pillars stands in front of the sanctum and there is a 13m high deepa stambha outside erected during the period of Vijayanagar reign. Ananteshwar is where Madhawa was schooled in ancient Vedas who later founded the Dvaita sect.
The moon crested Chandramoulishwar Temple existed even prior to coming of Madhawacharya to this place. Situated east of the main Krishna Temple, this 11 century temple is where the Moon and his wives worshipped Siva. The biennial Paryaya Mahotasava in the month of January is a big event at Udupi.
Udupi is about 60 km from Mangalore.
Ambalpadi Temple is about 4km west of Udupi is the enshrined with an image of Janardhana. At Kadiyali, 2km west of Udupi is one of the oldest temples of this region, Mahisha Mardini.
Pajaka is about 9km southeast of Udupi is the birthplace of the philosopher saint Madhawa. An image of his has been installed at the place where he was born and nearby several spots exist associated with his life.
Manipal is about 5km inland from Udupi. Manipal is the famous as an international university town envisaged by Dr. T. M. A. Pai. It is also famous as the centre of Yakshagana. There is also recognized centre for research is language, literature and arts named after Rastrakavi Govinda Pai. Hasta Shilpa is a well-preserved wooden house with a central courtyard with majestic ambience of wooden rooms housing antiques collected from across the country. Also worth a visit are planetarium and the Venogopal Swamy Temple.
Malpe is about 6km west of Udupi. At the mouth of river Malpe is the natural harbor and important fishing centre. Endless stretches of golden sand, graciously swaying palm trees, and the gentle murmur of the sea set the perfect mood for an idyllic holiday. Across the bay is the island of Darya Bahadurgarh with the Balarama Temple and the oldest tile factory set upby the Basel mission.
St. Mary's Island
St. Mary's Island is about 5km to the southwest. A 30-minute boat ride from the harbor. This island is 300m long and 100m wide and has unique basalt rock formations jutting out into to the blue waters of the Arabian Sea in intriguing shapes. It is said that the Vasco De Gama, a Portuguese explorer landed first at this island in 1498 and set up a cross. The island is a National Geological Monument.
Kaup Beach is about 12km south of Udupi, on the west coast road NH17, Kaup has a lovely beach, an ancient fort and an old 30m high lighthouse. The temple of Goddess Mariamma here is said to be 200 years old. It houses a bronze statue of the tribal Goddess Mariamma and the deity is believed to shelter the entire village from any harm or disaster. The Jain basadis though in ruins are the other must see spots in Kaup.
Kundapur is about 39km north of Udupi across the river Sitanadi on NH 17 is Kundapur, a small port that served the kings of Bednur. There are some beautiful isolated beaches within the 10km radius of Kundapur of whichKodi, Koradi and Bijadi are quite popular. Some ancient temples prominent of which Kotilingeshwar, Annegudde, Vinayaka, Basrur Mahalingeshwar and Hattiyangadi Siddhivinayaka stand around Kundapur.
Maravanthe is about 12km from Kundapur, Maravante is a scenic seaside town. The west coast NH17 snakes its way along the coast on one side and the undulating green Kodachadri HIlls on the other. The endless golden sad and the swaying palm trees make it a popular picnic destination. Maravathe is a destination for water sport enthusiasts. A boating trip around the sea and a ferry ride in the backwaters of Sauparnika River are enchanting.
It is about 45km from Marawanthe is the lovely beach of Baindur. With its overhanging cliffs, Ottinane beyond Baindur is an ideal place for viewing the sunset. A little further are the Belaka Teertha Falls. A sacred pond here attracts thousands of devotees for an annual holy dip.
A road bifurcates from Baindur to Kodachadri Hills (1325m) about 40km from Kundapur. It constitutes one of the largest forest areas in Karnataka and provides some popular trekking terrains and opportunity to watch some exotic wildlife. The centuries old Kollur Mookambika Temple is located at the foothills of Kodachadri.
Bhatkal is about 20km from Marawanthe on NH17 Bhatkal was the main trading port of the Vijayanagar rulers. It has a 17 century Vijayanagar temple with typical animal carvings. It is also home to 42 mosques, and many ancient monuments like basti, Sultan Palli, Chinnada Palli, Chandranath Basadi, and the Khetpai Narayan Temple at Mudbhatkal.
It is 6km from Bhatkal is Netrani Island, also known as Pigeon Island. This is an enchanting spot with curved rocky formations sheltering numerous pigeons. The island is regarded as one of the finest snorkeling and diving sites in India. The abyss drops down to 34m and is popular with deep sea dive enthusiasts. The Alladuin's Cave at the mount of the tunnel reportedly leads to the core of the island.
It is about 14km from Bhatkal is Murudeshwar, sandwiched between the picturesque Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Murudeshwar is another name for Lord Shiva and the town has the tallest (37m) statue of the Lord at the foothill of Kandukagiri Hill.
The guarding deity, the temple of Jattiga, called Bagilat Jatka is close to the Murudeshwar Temple. The pristine beach here offers options for swimming and water sports. The view of the waves crashing against the rocks, as seen from a vantage point on the hillock is captivating.
The 20km from Murudeshwar is Idaguji, famous for the temple dedicated to Mhatobar Shree Vinayaka Vevaru (Lord Ganapati). The idol holds a modaka (dumpling) in one hand, and the lotus in the other. It is said to be a place of penance selected by many ancient sages and it also sponsors a famous troupe of Yakshagana.
The 20km north of Murudeshwar is Honnavar, home to the Rama Teertha, where Rama shot an arrow and created a perennial spring. The water still flows even in severe drought. The Sharavathi Bridge here is the longest in Karnataka and from the Apsara Konda Falls, the view of the sunset is just glorious.