Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves

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Udupi is like you Smell the sea, and feel the sky; Let your soul and spirit fly- Van Morrison. There are three great elemental sounds in nature- the sound of rainfall, the sound of wind in a primaeval wood, & the sound of the ocean on a beach. These three sounds bring an outburst of joy in me. Hence I decided to discover nature’s third sound. I visualized how the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it is sent away. 

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Skyline after Sunset

All the same, I was in a dilemma about which waves to choose for bare feet & salty hair. Therefore my mother was at a rescue, and she casually suggested visiting Udupi and Gokarna. The idea of sandy beaches and the refreshing sea breeze convinced me to pack my bags for Udupi. Snuggled between the Western Ghats mountains and the Arabian Sea lies Udupi. Lush green Konkan Belt and beautiful plum-fringed beaches. It also carries a scent of mustard, hot chillies, roasted peanuts and curry leaves.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Swaying Palm trees

“Udupi”  has been derived from the word “Udupa”, meaning Moon in Sanskrit and is associated with the establishment of the ancient Chandramouleshwara temple. Its coastline extends over 320 kilometres, perfect for a tranquil walk along the sandy shores to enjoy the simple, laid-back lifestyle and mouth-watering Udupi culinary delights. Since my mom was already holidaying in Bangalore at my brother’s home, planning a lazy beach bum vacation was apt. I may sound greedy here as I added Gokarna to my trip, but why miss that beach when I am already halfway? Booked an early flight to Bangalore from Delhi, along with a cab that will continue with us throughout the trip. Though you can also pick a direct bus to Udupi, a round trip costs around 1050 INR (approx).

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
The coastal beauty of Udipi

The roads are to be the most beautiful part of the journey. The 9hrs drive from Bangalore to Udupi is one of the most scenic drives, full of green forage & tall swaying coconut & palm trees. I was awestruck at the picturesque scene, where the sunlight played along with the lush greenery. There are a few routes to drive to Udupi, but Shiradi Ghat or Charmadi Ghat is the most scenic. We reached our destination late evening, so we checked into our hotel-Karthick estate, along the highway. However, there are multiple choices to stay in Udupi, from budget hotels or motels at the cost of 700 INR/per night to other resorts going up to 6000 INR/per night. I spent the evening at the hotel, exhausted due to the long travel. I brought in a delicious Udupi veg Thali for dinner & hit the bed early.  

Hotel Karthick Estate

I shrugged my weariness with a filter coffee to kick start my day and quickly got dressed to explore the flavours of this quaint town has to extend. Udupi is not only renowned for its culinary tradition but is also known for its steeped history & mythology. Udipi is a pilgrimage centre called Rajata Peetha and Shivalli. Besides being the temple city, it’s been named Lord Parashurama Kshetra. Another thing that made Udupi famous is Kanakana Kindi (a tiny peephole in Udupi Shree Krishna Temple, through which Lord Krishna gave Darshan to saint Kanaka Das). I mark off my tour with Sri Krishna Temple, the Matha with a typical Kerala style architecture, and eight mates that surround it date back to the 13th century. As we neared the Matha, divine devotion and radiating spirituality could be learned through the chants.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Krishna Matha

The temple opens as early as 4.00 am, but visiting is from 5.30 am to 9.30 pm. Vaishnavite saint Shri Madhvacharya founded this seat of worship, & one unique charm of the temple is that- the idol is worshipped through an intricately carved window with a nine-hole called the Navagraha Kindi. At that place was a long queue of devotees, so we took the VIP entry, which cost me 250 INR/per person. We did Darshan of Lord Balkrishna and took Prasadam offered at the retort. To a more considerable extent than Matha, I was interested in the food originating from that place.

Entrance to Krishna Temple

I gave directions to a Mitra Samaj restaurant in Udupi’s temple square that has been serving since 1949 for breakfast. The restaurant uses no onion or garlic. The taste of Goli Baje, a Maida savoury, deep-fried in coconut oil and served with freshly ground coconut chutney, was soul-filling. However, I ordered the Kadubu Olle, made from Rava batter and steamed in the leaves of a native palm, and dished out hot with chutney. Indeed a mouth-watering start to a day!

Decorated Chariot


We then headed towards Maple beach, one of the most sought-after beaches of Udupi. Yet, before I could see the shore, the foul smell of fishery caught my nose. Ignoring the scent, I moved ahead on the beach’s white sand, dotted with swaying palm trees & several street hawkers on the sidewalks. I decided to walk on the shore while the cold waves touched my feet and millions of seashells scattered along the path. As a little child, I held my mom’s hand & started to walk along the stretch.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Way to Maple Beach

I wanted to sit for a while, but it was scorching hot, the sand on the sea beach began to burn under my feet, and then I walked upon the pavement. On the sidewalk of Malpe beach stood a man with a small wooden cart selling Churu-Muri or spiced puffed rice. It’s a part of the delicious street food in Udupi. It’s just so incredible. While munching Churu-Muri, I spotted a boating point from where the ferry took people to St.Mary Island.

Ticket Counter for St.Mary Island

St. Mary Island is an inhabited island open exclusively for tourist visits. Also known as Coconut Island and Thonsepar, are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi. It is situated just 4 miles from the Malpe beach, 30min ferry ride to reach the Island. This Island is renowned for its distinctive geological formation of columnar rhyolitic lava; a sub-aerial subvolcanic activity formed these basalts at St. Mary’s Island. As per scientific studies, rifting of Madagascar around 88 million years ago led to volcanic eruption resulting in this columnar rhyolitic lava creation.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Columnar Rhyolithic Lava

The historic fact states that in 1498, Vasco da Gama landed at St. Mary’s Islands on his journey from Portugal. One of these islands, as a dedication to Mother Mary, was named O Padrão de Santa Maria before proceeding to Kozhikode in Kerala. The exciting part of the beach was it was covered with seashells, not sand. The Island is beautiful and pristine, providing visitors with an endless coastal line of sea-green water. The ferry timing is morning from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, and prices are Rs 300/ person. The ferry is operational after Monsoon, around mid-week of September to May end. I travelled to St. Mary in December, but it felt like summer was damn hot & humid. But I suggest not missing this gorgeous Island, hopping on a ferryboat.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
St.Mary Island

Quickly, my next destination was Hastha Shilpa-The Heritage Village. Hasta Shilpa, literally translating to ‘Creation by hand’, is an open-air museum conceived by Vijayanath Shenoy in Manipal. It incorporates several heritage houses resurrected the age-old and extraordinary craftsmanship and masonry once prevalent in South India within the confines of the Village. Hasta Shilpa is a quiet bastion of the brilliant South Indian architecture of a forgotten age. Due to the hot weather, I skipped my tour to the Hastha Shilpa, though if you visit Udupi, make time for it. Their tour timings: are 10 am, 11:30 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm; Combo tours: are 10 am and 2 pm, & the cost of the ticket is 200 INR/per person.

Way to Hastha Shilpa

Alternatively, I opted for Anupam for my lunch as it was nearby, somebody who likes experiential binging, this is the place to be. I fix up my carving for Chicken ghee roast & Neer Dosa. After lunch, I returned to my hotel before heading to my next destination. Close to 5 pm, I went to one of the most beautiful beaches of Udupi -Kaupe beach. It is 10 kilometres from the central city and is famous for its tall lighthouse on the rocky hills. I went up the tower to soak myself in the breathtaking view of the coastline, the dotting fishing boats & the setting sun that broke into thousands of colours from yellow to orange & red.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
LightHouse at the Kaupe Beach

The sand on the beach turned pale yellow, and the water shimmered as the sunset hues spread across the ocean. The entire phenomena were ethereal, and it was the second most beautiful sunset I had experienced after the Radhanagar beach in Andaman. I sat looking at the setting sun until it got dark.

Udupi- Land of Moon with scent of mustard, chillies & curry leaves
Sunset at Kaupe Beach

Later that evening, I proceeded to the Woodlands to try Bisibele Bhath, known initially as Bisi Bele Hulianna, a dish made from spicy red gram, rice and vegetables. I desired to dine at the Woodland brand, made by K. Krishna Rao, an uneducated-Puthige matt trained cook, who commenced the first Udupi cuisine-based Sri Krishna Vilas Hotel in 1927. After dinner night, I went too early, exhausted from the day tour & heat.


How to Reach: 

By Air:  

The nearest airport is Bajpe Airport in Mangalore, 48 km from Udupi. However, you can take a flight to Bangalore or Hubli too. From the airport connected can take a taxi or bus to reach Udupi.

By Rail:

Udupi railway station is well connected with the rail network, which makes your journey comfortable and relaxed. Konkan Railway network is the central railway which connects the city with many other cities and states. 

By Road :

Roads are well linked to major cities, which can be covered with various luxurious and passenger buses. Bangalore, Mangalore, Jog Falls, Coorg and Madikeri are well connected to Udupi. You can also drive your vehicle.

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