Udupi, on the west coast, is the birthplace of the 12th century saint, Madhwacharya, the propounder of the Dwaita philosophy. Sri Madhwacharya set up Sri Krishna Mutt here. Eight different branches of the Krishna Mutt are now in the town, in an open square, where one can find temples, some of them over 1,500 years old. The most famous among them is Sri Krishna temple, also known as Sri Krishna Matha.
There is a recently-built five-tiered Rajagopuram atop Sri Krishna temple. However, there is no gopuram at the main entrance. Instead the arched entrance has no top Sri Krishna, flanked by Garuda and Hanuman, while Gaja Lakshmi sits at His feet.
According to legend, the idol of Lord Krishna, in the sanctum, turned in the direction of the window to give darshan to His great devotee, Kanakadasa, who was denied entry into the temple because he belonged to a so-called low caste. In fact, it is trough this window, now named Kanakana Kindi, that devotees have darshan of Sri Krishna. The viewing window has nine holes, to commemorate the nine planets. The lamp that burns by the side of Sri Krishna is said to have been lighted by Sri Madhwacharya, and has been kept burning since. To the right of Sri Krishna is Sri Venugopala. The Shaurya shaale is the place where the Mutt musicians perform during the evenings. The Anuyaaga shaale is the repository of the Lord's golden palanquin. There are sub-shrines here for Hanuman and Garda. The idols f both Hanuman and Garuda were brought from Ayodhya and installed here by Sri Vadiraja Theertha (1480-1600), who streamlined many of the Mutt's rituals. The neivedhyam for Sri Krishna is offered to Sri Hanuman as well. Sri Vadiraja also installed a statue of Sri Madhwacharya near the sanctum.
Attached to the temple is a large tank, the Madhava Sarovar, into which it is believed that the Ganga flows every 10 years through a subterranean passage. There is a quaint little mandapa, in the middle, with a sloping tiled roof. Sri Krishna temple has been providing free food to devotees for the past seven centuries.
According to the sthala purana, Sri Madhwacharya, while meditating near Malpe beach (5km away), had a glimpse of a ship caught in a storm. He rescued the ship with his yogic powers. Sri Madhwacharya, it is said, knew that the ship was carrying the idols of Sri Krishna and Balarama. He had therefore no hesitation in accepting the deities when the captain gave them to him as a thanks giving gesture. He installed the Balarama idol in Vada Pandeshwara village, near the shore, and the Krishna idol here at Udupi. Sri Krishna holds the (curds) churning rod in one hand, and a whip in the other, and sports a smile, reminiscent of His leelas as a child in Gokulam. Viswakarma, the celestial craftsman, originally made the idol for the Lord, who gave it to Sri Rukmini. Arjuna is said to have hidden it in a safe place, after the end of the Krishna avatar.
Opposite Sri krishna temple is Sri Chandramouleeshwara temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sanctum has a pyramidal roof. It is said that Chandra, the moon god, did penance here ( when it was a forest) to propitiate Lord Shiva to absolve himself from a curse inflicted by Daksha Prajapati. Udu, in Sanskrit, is star, and Pa is leader. Since Chandra is regarded as the leader of the stars, the place came to be known as Udupi. As Shiva was worshipped by Chandra, He came to be known here as Sri Chandramouleeshwara. The swayambhu Lingam is said to change colors: black in the morning, blue at noon and white at night.
Sri Madhanantheswara temple is located in the centre of the temple square, near Sri Chandramouleeshwara temple. A stone altar with a finely sculpted base (the former bali peetam) is located immediately outside the east entrance to the temple. According to the sthala purana, a childless couple were told by Lord Vishnu, in a dream, that they should worship Sri Chandramouleeshwara. After worship, as instructed by Lord Vishnu, they found a pedestal, with images of serpents at its four corners, at a spot where a sacred yagna was conducted. They poured milk over the pedestal and, as the Lord had promised, He appeared in the form of a Lingam. It is said that Lord Shiva taught archery to Lord Vishnu, during His Parasurama avatar. As a return for the favor, Shiva had requested that Vishnu appear in the Lingam form. This is the place where the incident occurred. Vishnu is worshipped here in the LIngam form, as Anantheswara, because He is the Lord of Anantha, the snake.
How to get there:
Buses connect Udupi to all parts of the state. It is connected by train to various places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Manipal, the great banking and educational centre, is just three km away. Mangalore (60km) is the nearest airport.
Accommodation: There is a Mutt guesthouse, a Brila choultry and a TTD guesthouse. There are plenty of private hotels.
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