Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Beautiful places near Udupi

Udupi is a sleepy little temple town located in Udupi District near Mangalore. It is famous for its Krishna temple and for its vegetarian cuisine that has caused many 'udupi' style cafes to mushroom across the country.

Im not a very temple person, so I dont find Udupi itself terribly exciting. There is little else to do in Udupi other than eat and visit temples. I have been to the Krishna temple, the idol is kept in a dark little room with lots of chambers that eventually opens into the sanctum sanctorum. So Im afraid unless you have binocular vision, all you're going to get to see ( the idol is viewed from a little window ) is a glint of light. The chamber is lit with oil lamps, no fluorescent lighting here.
Other than that, the temple is relatively clean ( I believe some volunteers are taking quite an interest in maintaining its cleanliness ). I liked the temple elephant, who takes a walk through the temple occasionally in the mornings.

There is also a little elephant that will bless you in exchange for a 5 Rs coin placed in its trunk. Quite cute, but maintain distance, for when I had been there, it had a mild cold and a devotee got a surprise prasad!

There is a famous little cafe called Mithra Samaj just near the temple that serves an amazing fried snack called 'Goli Bazo' ( konkani name). Its essentially a 'bonda'.
If you've gone that far, dont miss it. It must be eaten piping hot.

How to get there:
Udupi can be reached via an uncomfortably bumpy ride by road ( dont even think of driving down, unless you're used to this sort of thing and know the roads ) The hair pin bends are treacherous. We travelled by Durgamba (non-sleeper) from B'lore. The night bus is the best way to save a day, the route is not particularly scenic and stops along the way are not great.
There is a train service due to start from Yeshwantpur to M'lore in March 07.

Where to stay:
Udupi Residency is 5 min walking distance ( with luggage in tow ) from the Udupi Bus Stand.
Service is courteous, but a bit slow. The rooms are well ventilated and clean. Bathrooms are nice.
Food is very good (try the seafood) go a little early/late for lunch, or you'll have to wait. Also try the kori roti with chicken curry.

ATMs: Ive used a Corp Bank 24 hr ATM near the Krishna temple.
Shops open after 10:30am
If you're planning to buy a sari go to Gajanana. They were extremely helpful and courteous.

The Scenery

Kapu (Kaup)

This little sea side town is 9 kms from Udupi and has a little light house located on its public beach. The light house was built in 1901 and is 27 m (89 ft) high. Its not much to look at, but the view from the top is well worth the climb. There are approximately 120 steps on the winding stair way. It takes 3 - 5 min to leisurely reach the top.
Ticket : Rs 5 per head
Timings : opens after 3:00pm and closes at 5:30pm

Do not wear expensive footwear, since it must be left at the bottom of the lighthouse. Photography is prohibited (so says a sign inside the light house). But as you can see, that didnt deter me. My camera is quite bulky and difficult to conceal.
Kunjar Giri ( more on this further down) can be seen from the top of the light house.

The beach itself was overrun by the local school kids and a few strange Caucasian tourists ( all young males) and I suspect, from their freakish behaviour, that they were on something. It is not well maintained, broken bottles and plastics lie all around. Refreshments are sold at the entrance. There is an auto stand just at the entrance of the beach.

It is a small village, 6 km from Udupi. Frequent Buses are available. Rs 5 per head by Bus. An auto from Udupi will set you back Rs.60 .
Its temple - Venkatramana Devastana, has a chariot festival that goes on for a week, where the idol placed in a wooden chariot is dragged by enthusiastic volunteers through the village streets every evening. The festival is usually in January.

The Chariot is quite beautiful and must be seen in daylight to be truly appreciated. ( it is parked in front of the temple)


It is 2km from Katpadi and is known for its fields of a green colored round-ish brinjal called 'Gool' that only grows here. The fields are walking distance from the sea shore, and its quite pleasant to even walk it up.

Mattu Beach is unspoilt on the most part and you'll find yourself pretty much alone there. With just a few fisher folk for company. There are no vendors on or near the beach.
Auto fare - Rs 40 from Katpadi and back (including waiting).

Kites and sandpipers can be seen, in addition to lots of fearless crabs.

On the way to Mattu, you'll cross a small river by bridge. On either side of this bridge, red wattled lapwings and sand pipers and little egrets can be spotted.


'Giri' means Hill. 4Km from Katpadi village is the Kunjar Hill which has a Durgaparmeshvari temple at the very top. It has steps leading all the way to the top, for those who would like to huff and puff their way up.

The road is really bad. It would have been a good place to test the mars rover. It makes for a great walk. A lot of birds can be sighted here. The road is well shaded in most places. It is best to see it in the evening ( 5-6pm ) An auto will take you right up to your temple. Do not leave any baggage unattended, the monkeys will carry off any thing they can lay their hands on. It is possible to see the Kapu light house from the back of the temple compound and a glint of the sea.
Descending from kunjar is a smaller hill, right in front of it. Construction was in progress when we went there. There is a sacred well of some sort, in a small building thats on top. It is possible to walk around this building. A large number of birds can be seen here. Red Vented bulbul, bush chat, small green bee eaters and lots of dragon flies.

An Auto from Katpadi and back with waiting charges will cost Rs 120.


Just 2 Km from Katpadi is the village of Manipur. It mostly has a number of Coconut estates and paddy fields and dairy farms. Some of which belong to my relatives. There is a small rivulet that flows through some of these. A hanging bridge has been recently constructed to replace the rickety one that existed earlier. Most of these are private estates. Do take permission of the owners and most will be glad to show you around. ( In my case, they were relatives and we didnt have this problem)
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