The moment we hear the name ‘Udupi’ , a spiritual town image pops up in the display screen of our mind. And at the same time, our foody mind scrolls through all the possible images of Udupi sambhar, vada, idli, and dosa. But this little town has one more image of it to show you. With a number of amazing beaches, you can prepare an unending list of places to visit and things to do in Udupi.
A few of the beaches in Udupi are as beautiful as the beaches in the islands of Andaman. In fact. the St. Mary’s Island in Udupi can definitely give you a feel of being in Andaman. Unlike the beaches of Goa and other famous tourist towns, the beaches in Udupi are clean and well maintained. In fact, while in Goa, I totally avoided the crowded beaches and instead opted for the exploration of Museums, spice plantation, Portuguese colonies and the temples of Goa.
But Udupi was altogether a different experience.
Things to do in Udupi
A day is enough if you don’t want to spend much leisure time on the beaches. The town is tourist-friendly. But it isn’t advisable to move around in autos as you might end up paying more. The minimum auto fare to any nearby place is Rs. 25. Public transport is easily available from almost all the main roads or from the city bus stand, which is way cheaper than any other modes of transport. Further, the conductors themselves will be guiding you where to get down for which place. But don’t miss your stop while enjoying the lush green surroundings from the windowless buses of the town. While here, you must not miss the following wonders.
Soak in Nature’s Beauty at the Hanging Bridge of Heroor
Surrounded by green bushes and coconut trees, the backwaters in Heroor reflect the green shade during the day and the color palette created by the setting sun in the evening. And the hanging bridge of Heroor swings to make you feel trippy in this beautiful art of nature. Mainly, the locals use this bridge to reach the other side of the village and some photographers for pre-wedding shoots. Not many people flock this place owing to its hidden location and no accessibility by public transport. It is a few kilometers from a diversion from Udupi-Murudeshwar highway in the interiors behind Bramhavar Technical Institute. This bridge isn’t meant to be a popular tourist attraction and you must take care while having fun over here just for momentary happiness. The silence and solitude of this place must be respected. This place is purely for the nature lovers and not for the tourists expecting to tick some mindblowing place off their list.
Take a Journey to the Blue Waters of St. Mary’s Island in Udupi
It’s a tiny wonder of a natural miracle. The volcanic rocks which are molded in columnar bars in the process of cooling down, add to the beauty of this island. Late noon is a perfect time to witness the clear blue waters surrounding the island. Photographers would get their picture-perfect in the absence of too many visitors. It is a perfect place for taking a dip in the sea as the rocks with the sandy bed of shells keep the water perfectly clear. Or else you can just enjoy the cool sea breeze sitting under the shades of rocks or under the canopies, searching for the horizon which will be a difficult task, as the blue sky plays the trick by merging in the sea giving it the perfect blend of its own color.
How to Reach St. Mary’s Island
You can reach this island by a ferry from Malpe beach; which will cost Rs. 250 for a round way journey. Recently, the entry to the island has been restricted in certain ways. There is an entrance gate to this island and the security guard won’t let you carry your own bottles or food products. This seems more like a way to boost up the business of the food vendors and bottle sellers on the island more than protecting the environment. Even for a small point and shoot camera, you need to pay 200 INR at the entry point.
Spend Leisure Time at Malpe Beach
After visiting the island you can enjoy the seafood available on the beach or take a long walk on the shore while keeping your children busy in the rides available on the beach. Various water sports can also be tried but do not forget to bargain 😉
Bid Adieu to the Sun at Kapu Beach
Watched over by a lighthouse this beach is clean, calm and most important of all, less frequented. Away from the main city, this beach is surrounded by lush green coconut trees all over.
The view can best be seen from the lighthouse which may charge Rs. 30 for you and your camera. You can see the sun setting off the water while enjoying chaats or a cup of coffee right at the shore of the beach. If you love the north Indian style chaats, don’t miss to fulfill the desire of your taste buds at Kashi Chatvala at the entrance of the beach. South Indian Style churimuri is also quite spicy and tasty. Leave soon to see the nightlife at Manipal, Udupi.
Taste the Legendary Gudbud Icecream at Diana Restaurant
The legend or the invention story of the Gudbud is supposed to have been staged in a function where the Diana restaurant was catering. At the end of the event when their icecream stock was almost over, a group of British men came asking for it. Now, the situation was such that they could neither say no to them nor could they arrange it on the spot. The confused vendor then haphazardly (in Hindi, gadbadi me) mixed all the flavors left with him. Surprisingly, the foreigners loved this random mixture of ice cream scoops and asked what it was called. And that’s how the term ‘Gudbud icecream’ was coined by the vendor. Gudbud ice-cream is now a specialty of Udupi and nearby regions. Only once you order this ice-cream, you would realize the kind of ‘gudbadi’ involved in this ice-cream. None of the two sets of ordered Gudbud would turn out to be the same. Traditionally they mix everything available including nuts, fruits, and dry fruits. You must specify if you are allergic to something or you wish to exclude any particular dry fruit or artificially candies. And then, just wait for the surprise served on your table.
You can either have it right at Diana restaurant where it originated or you can relish it at Hangyo cafes in Manipal.
Take the Blessing of Lord Krishna at the end of the day
The temple complex looks very beautiful at night. You can enter the mutt, see the age-old idols of different Gods. The Krishna Mutt, has a Maruti Temple (Lord Hanuman), A Nagaraj Temple, (Snake God), a Goshala, and the main Krishna Temple. The food served in Bhojashala inside the temple seems to be very nutritious as it is cooked in a traditional way in huge bronze pots in pure ghee by the Brahmin Cooks.
There is a famous legend of Kanakdasa, connected to this temple. He was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. But being from a lower caste, he wasn’t allowed entry into this temple and was leaving the premises disheartened. Moved by his devotion, God turned back to shower special blessings on him. Since then the god’s idol is facing towards the backside which can be seen from a window on the back wall.
Don’t miss the view of the kund (a pond) in the temple complex. There are other temples of Lord Ganesha, Shiva and Srimad Bhagavad Geeta Temple near the mutt which can be visited after the main mutt. This temple has a mysterious door that must be visited once.
Celebrate Laksha Deepotsava in Udupi Temple
If you are visiting the town in Diwali, before Makar Sankranti (Kite Festival) or in the month of November or December do check for different Mahotsavas of the Temple on the official tourism website. Laksha deepotsava is a very famous Utsav in which the whole temple complex is lit up with lakhs of diyas (earthen lamps). It is celebrated on the first day of the Karthik month as per the Hindu calendar.
Go on a Food Trail in Manipal
Manipal, an education capital of Karnataka, has developed to cater to the needs of the young crowd dwelling in it. Cafes with a soothing ambiance to hidden corners serving amazing delicacies, Manipal has it all. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost every week this town gets a new cafe or restaurant. Some of the most popular cafes or restaurants in Manipal are Dollops, Froth on Top, Egg Factory, Eye of the Tiger, Attil, and Ocean Pearl.
Enjoy the scenic road to Aanegudde
As the name suggests it is a small hill inhabited by the Elephant God, Ganesha. At the base of the temple is a Shiv-Parvati Temple located in a pond. To reach the main temple you need to exercise a bit and climb up the stairs and walk through the ground and right under a huge peepal tree you would find a beautifully carved and colored temple of Lord Ganesha. The interior is also beautifully carved and decorated with a two and a half feet high silver idol of the Lord.
It is a 45 minutes road journey through a river, backwaters and coconut plantations and a few more temples which you can visit if you have opted to hire a personal car. Or else, the local express buses are available which will drop you on the highway from where you need to walk half a kilometer to reach the place.
While returning, you can ask the conductor to drop you at Ambalpadi Cross from where you can walk for a while to reach a 400 years old Kali Temple.
Visit the Beautiful Places Near Udupi for a Day Trip
Udupi is a gateway to Uttara Kannada and also to the scenic Western Ghats. You can visit nearby places like Gokarna, Murudeshwara, Karkala, Halebidu, Belur, Jog Falls, Siddapur, Maravanthe Beach, Mangalore, Sirsi, Banavasi, Yana Caves and Karwar. In fact, Udupi is an ideal place to start a road trip along coastal Karnataka or Sahayadris. Read about my road trip from Udupi to Murudeshwar-Gokarna-Yana-Banavasi-Jog Falls here.
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