Udupi unplugged: Explore the pristine beaches and relish some distinctive cuisine

Udupi unplugged: Explore the pristine beaches and relish some distinctive cuisine
Udupi. Photo: Manorama Online

We have all heard of the delicious dishes that originated from Udupi. And considering their dishes are there in the most popular food restaurant menus across the country, one can imagine their sheer popularity. Even in Kerala restaurants, you can have a string of popular Udupi dishes like Masala Dosa, Neer Dosa, and Mangalore Buns on their menu. Not just food, there are a lot of factors that make Udupi such a popular tourist destination in Karnataka.

Evenings at the beach
There are many splendid beaches in Udupi. Malpe beach is 6kms away from Udupi. It is a vital port and a fishing harbour in Karnataka. The infinite expanse of golden sand, elegantly swinging palm trees, clear-cut blue sky, and the soothing murmur of the sea, make it a perfect holiday destination. The Vadabhandeshwara Balarama Temple, founded by the Basel Mission, and the oldest tile factory in Malpe are located nearby. Another attraction is the Maravantha beach, which is surrounded by lush green Kodachadri hills on one side and the Pancharamanal shores on the other.

At a distance of 45 km from here, you can see the Byndoor Coast, the rocky Ottinane, and the Belaka Theertha Falls. Kappu Beach, Udyavur Beach, Padubidri Beach, and Kodi Beach are some of the popular beaches in Udupi. Many tourists come here to enjoy the evenings and enjoy the sea.

White water rafting at Seetha River
The Seetha River, which originates in Aagumbe, offers water rafting for more than 60 km. It is a popular pastime among adventure seekers. Nature camping is also possible in the areas around the river. Seetha river is also spelled as Sita and Sitha river and is a west-flowing river situated in Karnataka, which flows mainly in Udupi. You can visit Hangarakatte that has a port and shipbuilding factory. Hangarakatte is where the Sita river joins the Arabian Sea. On the other side is Kodi Bengre. River Suvarna also melds here with the Sita river just before entering the ocean. You can stopover at Mabukala Bridge which is on NH 66. It is the simplest and most accessible way to glance at the Sita River. You can also take some side roads and ride/drive parallel to the river for some distance, enjoying nature. Also, visit temple town Neelavara. Durga Amma temple and Laxmi Narasimha temples are worth a short visit.

St Mary’s Island
St Mary’s Island is a beautiful island that lies on the shores of Udupi. About 300 m long and 100 m wide, the island is famous for its salt rock formations. The cross, founded by Vasco da Gama in 1498, still exists on St. Mary's Island. The Island is an ecological gem and hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. That consists of four distinct islands namely Coconut Island, North Island, South Island, and Daryabahadurgarh Island. The shoreline made up of crystalline rocks was built at the time Madagascar Island got separated from India. Viewing the sunset resting on the crystalline rocks is one of the most captivating experiences on the island.

Kudlu Theertha
Kudlu Theertha is a scenic waterfall located amidst the Western Ghats. Kudlu Tirtha Falls, also known as Sita Falls, is located near Hebri in the Udupi district. Kudlu Tirtha Falls is located in the Someshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Legend has it that thousands of years ago sages used to meditate near the place where the pond exists today. As such, the local people consider the water of the pond to be very holy. The pond where the water drops from the mountain is not very deep. Visitors can walk to a point where they can stand under the falling water and enjoy a cool bath. However, visitors need to exercise caution while putting their heads under a thick stream of water as the water drops down with massive force. Apart from waterfalls, the place is also known for its serene atmosphere. There is one more waterfall above Kudlu Theertha called Manga Theertha but there is no direct access to this fall.

Handicraft Heritage Village
Hasta Shilpa is an open-air museum dedicated to the preservation of traditional houses and archaeological sites off the coast of Karnataka. It was founded by Vijaya Nath Shenoy, a renowned heritage conservationist, and archaeologist. On an area of 6 acres, about 30 traditional buildings have been restored here. Here you can see fascinating views of the history and architecture of coastal Karnataka.

Photo: Shutterstock Images

World-famous tastes
One of the must-visit places in Udupi is to try out the tastes. Patrode, a healthy snack made with Colocasia leaves and the spiced batter is a South Canara delicacy. You can eat it as a snack or serve it along with meals. Also, Neer Dosa is made with rice, jaggery and coconut, banana buns, Koli Saar or spicy watery chicken gravy, and multi-layered ice cream topped with dry fruits, Gudbud ice cream. Did you know that Gudbud originated in Udupi and was invented by Prabhakar Kamath? It’s made of creamy rich vanilla, strawberry, kesar, fruits and jelly. Since it was made in haste (Gadibadi in kannada) it got its name.

You should definitely try their Mundakki Upkkari which is a blend of oil, chilli powder and masala, puffed rice. Apparently, Mundakki Upkkari is the most popular street food of Udupi, Mangalore and Kundapur region. You can always see a mundakki stall during the yakshagana nights, or during any social gathering in these parts of coastal Karnataka. Even on the beaches, you can see the vendors selling Upkkari. It’s another version of the Bhel Puri but with a local twist. Coconut oil is a prerequisite of this dish. In Konkani they call it charbure upkari, in Tulu it becomes Kurle pachadi and then you have the kannada names- Mandakki upkari or churmuri.

How to reach there?
Udupi is located at a distance of 400 km from Bengaluru and 60 km from Mangalore. The nearest airport is at Mangalore. There are private bus services to Udupi from almost all the major cities and villages. Taxis are available from major cities like Udupi, Kundapura, Karkala and Byndoor.

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