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Udupi is a coastal district in Karnataka, carved out of Dakshina Kannada district in 1997. Udupi is popular for its food, temples, beaches and educational as well as financial institutions.
The name “Udupi” is believed to have come from the Sanskrit words “Udu & Pa” that means “stars” and “Lord“. According to legend, the Moon’s light was once reduced due to a curse by King Daksha. The Moon prayed to Lord Shiva to get back the original shine and the prayer was believed to be made at the Chandramouleshwara Temple here. Pleased, Lord Shiva restored the Moon’s shine. It is also believed that the name Udupi was derived from the Tulu word “Odipu” which is associated with the Odabhanishwara Temple at Malpe.
Vegetarian restaurants run by people who have their roots in Udupi are popular all over India and abroad as ‘Udupi Hotels’. Yakshagana folk art, Kambala buffalo race, Huli Vesha, Paryaya festival are some of the unique experiences not to be missed when in Udupi. Udupi Sri Krishna Temple and Kollur Mookambika Temple are two of the most popular temples in Karnataka.
Dr Kota Shivarama Karantha, Jnanapeetha Award winning poet and writer was born in Kota near Udupi. Udupi district has one of the highest literacy rates in the state and is 400 kms west of Bengaluru, bordering Dakshina Kannada, Shivamogga, Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada districts. With Arabian Sea on one side and Western Ghats on the other, Udupi offers both beach and forest experiences.
Official site: https://udupi.nic.in/
When to go: Udupi is at its best during festivals like Holi, Janmashtami (Krishna’s birth) and the biennial Paryayothsava. Held once in two years on January 18, the Paryayothsava marks the handing over of responsibilities to one of the heads of the eight mutts for a two-year turn. Special ceremonies, religious discourses, rathotsava and temple elephant processions take place during festivals. Across the year, Ramanavmi, Narasimha Jayanthi, Krishna
Leelothsava, Ganesh Chaturthi, Anantha Chaturdashi, Subrahmanya Shashti, Vasantha Puja, Jagarana Seva, Thulasi Puja, Laksha Deepothsava, and
Dhanu Puja are celebrated with great pomp in the temple. During Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival, ceremonies go on for eight days.
- Malpe Beach: The Malpe Beach is a virgin beach, located at a distance about 6 kms from Udupi. It is an important port and a fishing harbor in the state of Karnataka. The endless stretch of golden sand, graciously swaying palm trees, clear blue sky and the gentle murmur of the sea, set the perfect mood for an idyllic holiday. Be sure to visit the Balarama Temple and Malpe’s oldest tile factory, set up by the Basel Mission.
- Maravanthe Beach (54 km): Maravanthe wears the look of a fairyland with the picturesque Kodachadri Hills forming a backdrop to the Sauparnika River on one side and miles of unspoilt white sand on the other. Maravanthe is a uniquely positioned beach in Coastal Karnataka with Arabian Sea on one side and Souparnika river on the other. This unique combination of sea and river on each side of a highway is hard to find elsewhere and is said to be the only one in India. The golden sand, clear blue sky, swaying palm trees, and the endless shore make Maravanthe an undoubtedly attractive tourist destination. Some major tourist attractions in and around the beach are Baindur, a hamlet 45 km from Maravanthe with a lovely beach, Ottinane with its overhanging cliffs and the Belaka Theertha Falls. Water sports at Maravanthe Beach are famous and one of the favorite activities among visitors. Outlook Traveler has rated Maravanthe as Karnataka’s most beautiful beach in 2005.
- Ottinene Beach: Baindur, a hamlet 45 km from Maravanthe has a lovely beach, Ottinene with its overhanging cliffs and backwaters below Kshitija Nesara Dhama.
- Kapu Beach (12 km): Kapu is a beach village in coastal Karnataka. Kapu's long sandy beaches offer a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. With its tropical climate and a bevy of attractions that beckon tourists from across the country, Kapu is predominantly known for its greenery that surrounds the beach. One of the main attractions of the Kapu beach is the century old 130 ft. lighthouse. Other must-see spots in Kapu include the two temples of Goddess Mariamma and the Jain Basadis.
- Udyavar Beach: Pithrody Udyavar beach is popular for its long stretch of land between river and sea.
- Padubidri Beach (24 km): Let the cool shade of the rows of coconut trees unwind your nerves as you sit and enjoy the breeze from the sea at Padubidri Beach. With its calmness and serenity, Padubidri beach is your one-stop destination to relax and have fun. The beach is long and sandy with palm trees lining it. Even if you want a little adventure, Padubidri beach has you covered with numerous activities that include water scooter and banana boat rides. Padubidri end point is another interesting place, where the river meets the sea.
- Kodi Beach: Popular beach 7 kms from Kundapura city for relaxed evenings and sunset experiences.
- White Water Rafting at Sitanadi: Sitanadi (Sita River) gives the opportunity for outdoor adventure enthusiasts to explore and experience the White Water Rafting in the Western Ghats. Originating in Agumbe – the free flowing River Sita travels around over 60 km, through the lush greenery of the forest to offer you an exciting white water rafting experience. There are varying options of rafting to choose from depending on the length of the course and the time you require to spend. Seethanadi Nature Camp offers the best location for your stay as well as rafting activities.
- St Mary’s Island(10 km): A National Geological Monument, St. Mary's Island is a quaint island just off the coast of Udupi. A 30-minute boat ride away from Malpe harbour, St. Mary's Island is a geological treasure and hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The island is around 300m long and 100m wide. It is famous for its unique salt rock formations. Due to this geological importance, St Mary’s Island is declared as a National Geological Monument. Watching the sunset standing on the crystalline rocks is one of the most alluring experiences on the island. St. Mary’s Island still bears the cross that was placed by Vasco Da Gama in 1498.
- Kudlu Theertha: Kudlu Theertha is a scenic waterfall amidst Western Ghats. Kudlu Theertha falls is also referred to as Sita falls and is located near Hebri in Udupi district. Kudlu Theertha falls is situated in Someshwara wildlife sanctuary area.
- Hastha Shilpa Heritage Village: Hasta Shilpa, is an open-air museum which aims to preserve the traditional homes and artefacts of the coastal Karnataka region. Founded by the late Vijayanath Shenoy, a renowned heritage conservationist and antique collector who had at times saved many precious artifacts from garbage and waste dumps. His own house was his first museum which he later turned into a trust “Hastha Shilpa Trust” with like-minded people. Today, this museum, on about 6 acres of land, has restored around 30 traditional buildings for people to see. It offers a fascinating glimpse of the coastal Karnataka’s history and architecture.
- Manipal Museum of Anatomy & Pathology: Manipal Museum of Anatomy & Pathology houses 3000+ specimens and samples related to anatomy. Manipal is an education hub with a large number of educational institutes run by Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). It attracts more than twenty five thousand students every year from various countries who pursue medicine, dental sciences, engineering and business management.
- End Point Manipal: A scenic viewpoint and park near Manipal, 6 kms from Udupi
- Dr. Kota Shivaram Karanth Theme Park, Kota (24 km): Kota, a small village in Udupi, is synonymous with renowned writer and Jananapeeth awardee Dr. Kota Shivaram Karanth, also known as ‘Kadala Teerada Bhargava’. Here, a theme park dedicated to him has been constructed that comprises a landscaped garden, a library, an art gallery, an anganawadi and an indoor auditorium. In the garden, there's a small pool with bronze statue of Dr. Karanth in the middle. Sculptures that represent some of the iconic characters of his novels also decorate this garden. The library has a collection of all the works of the author and also from his personal collections.
- Kshtija Nesara Dhama: A viewpoint and picnic centre overlooking Ottinene beach near Byndoor.
- Belakal Theertha: Belakal Theertha near Madur and Ganganadu Falls near Sirur are two lesser known waterfalls of Udupi district.
- Barkur: A town with historic significance has ruins of two forts of Vijayanagara era. More than a dozen temples, few dating back to 8th century AD are located in Barkur.
- Kodachadri (110 km): The Kodachadri hill is a part of the Western Ghats and forms a lovely backdrop to the famous Kollur Mookambika Temple. Famed for its glorious sunrises and sunsets, this hill range is part of the Mookambika Temple Nature Reserve. The peak of Kodachadri (at an altitude of 1343 m above sea level) can be reached by a five-hour trek. Trekking in Kodachadri can be an adventurous and spiritual experience. On the western side, the hill descends steeply for about 1220 m, meeting the forests of Udupi district. The trek up to the ancient temple from this point involves a climb of 4 km through thick jungle trails. Kollur is an ideal base from which to explore the hills.
- Udupi Sri Krishna Temple: Sri Krishna Temple Thousands of devotees throng this temple town to offer prayers to Lord Krishna. It is said that the Krishna idol here is the most beautiful idol of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is depicted here as a small boy (Balakrishna). The idol is not seen directly, but through a 9 holed window called the Navagraha Kitiki. Another interesting attraction at this temple is the ‘Kanakana Kindi’ - a small window through which Lord Krishna is believed to have given darshan to his ardent devotee, saint Kanakadasa. According to legend, Kanakadasa was of a low caste and was not allowed entry to the temple. Undaunted, he went behind the temple and prayed to the Lord through a small crack in the wall. Pleased, the statue of Lord Krishna turned around and gave him darshan. Just adjacent is the Kanakadasa Mantapa, which houses a statue of the saint. There is a beautiful water tank nearby called Madhwa Sarovara with a little mantapa in the centre. The image of Lord Krishna is taken on a float during festivals. Udupi is a great centre of Sanskrit learning and the language is imparted through the Ashta Mathas (Eight Maths): Puttige, Pejavara, Palimaru, Adamaru, Shirur, Sodhe, Krishnapura and Kaniyuru, which are located around the temple.
- Anantheshwara and Chandramouleshwara Temple: These 2 temples located nearby are much older than the celebrated Sri Krishna Temple. Anantheshwara Temple is where saint Madhwacharya received spiritual education. Located opposite is the Chandramouleshwara Temple.
- Kollur Mookambika Temple (74 km): Sri Mookambika Temple in Kollur, Udupi district attracts devotees from all parts of South India. The village of Kollur lies amid the green canopy of the Western Ghats, on the base of Kodachadri Hill. Here, the Mookambika Temple, one of the seven most sacred spots of Salvation, is dedicated to the Goddess of emotional power and strength. The temple has a gold plated crest and copper roofs. Adi Shankaracharya, the great philosopher, is said to have visited this temple to perform penance. Adi Shankaracharya is also believed to have consecrated the idol of Goddess Mookambika.
- Chaturmukha Basadi Karkala: Chaturmukha Basadi is a popular 16th century Jain temple in Karkala, a taluk headquarter and town in Udupi district in coastal Karnataka. Chaturmukha basadi is located on an elevated field in the middle of coconut plantation and paddy fields. Chaturmukha translates to “four faces”. Chaturmukha Basadi is open on all four sides, with four identical doorways all leading to inner sanctum- Gurba Gruha. Temple doorways feature various Jain Thirthankaras as well as Hindu gods and goddesses. There is also a 700 year old stone temple dedicated to Lord Ananthapadmanabha (a form of Lord Vishnu). Nearby is St Lawrence Church at Attur, a catholic church christened after St. Lawrence and was built in 1839 in Karkala.
- Karkala Gomateshwara: Built in 1432, the towering 42ft monolith of Lord Gomateshwara, (the biggest one after the monolith at Shravanabelagola) standing atop a granite outcrop on the outskirts of the town, is the main attraction in Karkala.
- Varanga: A scenic basadi in the centre of a pond, 40 kms from Udupi.
- Mahalinga Temple Brahmavara: 9th century temple in Brahmavara, 12 kms from Udupi.
- Ambalpadi Temple: Ambalpadi Temple is famous for the image of Lord Janardhana and draws a large number of devotees. A Mahakali shrine with a 5ft high wooden image is also found here.
- Mount Rosary Church: Mount Rosary Church is a roman catholic church in the coastal town of Udupi. Built in 1837, Mount Rosary church is very close to National Highway 66 and an important place of worship among Christian community in Udupi.
- Basrur: Nakhareshwara and Tuluveshwara temples
- Mahisha Mardini Temple: It is considered as one of the oldest temples in the region. Located in Shivalli village, the temple architecture resembles the style of Chaluckyan style of architecture. The garbhagriha is built of black stone and the statue of Goddess Mahisha Mardini is in a standing posture.
- Kantheshwara Temple: A 10th century temple in Kanthavara, 14 kms from Karkala town.
- Kota: Narasimhadeva, Mahadeva and Amriteshwari temples
- Koteshwara: Popular for Kotilingeshwara temple
- Anegudde: Popular Vinayaka temple in the district, located on a mini hill near Kumbhashi.
- Makkekattu: Known for Nandikeshwara temple and more popularly, its dolls.Few dolls are as high as 10-12 feet. Dolls represent various characters such as king, women, warrior, animals etc. Makkekattu is 24 kms from Udupi
- Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary (55 km):Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary has been named after Lord “Someshwara” the presiding deity of the famous Someshwara Temple located within the limits of the sanctuary. It is situated in Karkala and Kundhapur Taluk of Udupi. With an area of about 314.25 sq. km., Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary has semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. The Kudremukh National Park lies to the Southeast of this sanctuary. The Agumbe Ghat located inside this sanctuary receives average rainfall of about 8000 mm and thus called “Cherrapunji of South India”. The state run Jungle Lodges and Resorts operates the Seethanadi Nature Camp in Hebri.
- Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary:Named after Goddess Mookambika the presiding deity of the famous Mookambika Temple at Kollur which is located at the heart of the Sanctuary. Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary spans over 370.37 sq km and is thick with evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests of the Western Ghats, and small patches of teak plantations. Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary forms a vital connecting link between Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary located on the southern side and Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary located on the northern side. The state run Jungle Lodges and Resorts operates the Anejhari Butterfly Camp which is located inside the sanctuary.
- Thonse Naturopathy Hospital: A renowned Ayurvedic therapy centre, 13 kms from Udupi.
- SDM Ayurveda Hospital: Another well-known Ayurvedic hospital on the outskirts of Udupi
- Divine Park, Saligrama: A spiritual centre spreading the message of Dr Swami Vivekananda
- Kodi Bengre: A unique stretch of land accessible either by boat or road, with scenic views and beaches. A houseboat is also stationed here.
- Pajaka Shetra: Philosopher Sri Madhvacharya was born in Pajaka, 13 kms from Udupi.
- Hattiangadi: 9th century inscriptions were found here, and have multiple small temples.
- Kallianpur: Known for Vijayanagara era fort ruins, Milagres Church and annual Dhakke Bali ritual
- Shankaranarayana: Known for Shankaranarayana temple and scenic views of Western Ghats.
- Suralu: Known for a beautiful palace with several ornate pieces of wooden sculptures
Art & Festivals
- Yakshagana: Yakshagana is a traditional folk dance form popular in coastal Karnataka districts. Watching Yakshagana performance is a treat to the senses due to the amalgamation of unique costumes, rhythmic music and unique performance involving dialogues, music, dance and action.
- Huli Vesha: Huli Vesha or Tiger faced dance is a dance form unique to coastal Karnataka. Huli vesha is performed by local youth during the navarathri festivals (the 9 nights long festival which often falls in the month of October).
- Vitla Pindi: Vitla Pindi, also known as Mosaru Kudike is a popular festival in Udupi city, coastal Karnataka. Vitla Pindi helps people recall childhood antics of Lord Krishna and is celebrated during Srikrishna Janmastami, which falls during the month of August-September.
- Centre for Folk, Performing Arts, Udupi: The centre aims at documenting, preserving and disseminating the folk theatre of Karnataka. This initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation and supported by the Academy of General Education, Manipal and MGM College Trust. The centre houses information on almost all forms of folk worship traditions, folk medicine traditions, folk music and cultural beliefs of the State. It maintains an archival treasure house consisting of videos, documentaries, slides, photographs. and audio tapes.
- Nagamandala: A popular ritual of worshipping snake god
- Maranakatte Temple Festival: 30 kms from Kundapura, Maranakatte Brahmalingeshwara temple celebrates an annual festival each year that draws devotees from all parts of the state. Maranakatte festival is held for about 3 days during sankranti time (mid January).
- Paryaya Festival: The colourful Paryaya Festival, where officiating priests from one of the Ashta Mathas hand over their responsibilities to other pontiffs, beckons thousands of devotees from all over the country every alternate year.
- Kambala: Famed buffalo race event where well nurtured buffalos race in a slushy field
- Patrode: An itchy, tangy dish made from colocasia leaves one should not miss when in Udupi.
- Neer Dose: A simple but tasty dosa variant made from soaked rice, served with jaggery and coconut grating.
- Banana Bun: Sweet and tasty bun, a perfect snack or quick bite.
- Koli Saaru (Chicken-Rasam): For the non-vegetarians, a rasam made by cooking chicken and spicy masala.
- Gadbad Ice cream: A multi layered ice cream with dry fruits- colourful, tasty and unique.
- Mundakki Upkari: A tasty snack made from puffed rice, spiced up with oil and chili powder.