July 8, 2012


Site Name: Udupi
Site Type: Hindu pilgrimage, heritage
Location:  Near Mangalore city, Karnataka state, India
Highlights: An important Hindu pilgrimage site, one of the most popular temples of Lord Krishna across India, the temple built by Madhvacharya, the idol believed to be as old as Lord Krishna
Nearest Railway Station: Udupi (Mangalore train station has better connectivity from other parts of India; Udupi station is a small one with less connectivity)
Nearest Airport: Mangalore
How to reach: Well connected by road from Mangalore
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Udupi and around Udupi
Restaurants: Udupi cuisine is popular; many vegetarian restaurants are located across the town

Udupi Krishna Temple Tower
You might have visited many temples of Lord Krishna and enjoyed the beauty of Krishna in various forms as an infant, as an adult with his consorts, playing flute, etc. However, none of those idols could match the extrordinary beauty of Krishna's idol in Udupi. Of coure, there is a reason for this if we need to go with the Hindu mythology. As per the legend, the idol was made under the supervison of Lord himself, as his wife Rukmini wanted to know how he looked like when he was a kid.

Udupi is a pilgrimage town located at a distance of around 60 kms from Mangalore in Karnataka state of India. It is famous due to Krishna temple and Udupi cuisine. In this article, let us discuss in detail about the popular and beautiful Krishna temple.



Legend of Udupi

Parasurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, defeated all the kings and donated the entire land to Brahmins. When he decided to perform a yagna, he realized that he didn't have any land. So, he threw his axe towards the ocean. The ocean moved backwards till the place where the axe fell down and thus the reclaimed land by Parasurama was named as Parasurama Kshetra. Parasurama Kshetra includes some regions in Karnataka and some regions in Kerala states of India.

He appointed Rambhoja as the ruler of his newly claimed land. The king while digging the land for doing ashwamedha yagna, killed a snake accidently. As per the advice from Parasurama, he installed a silver peetha with snake carved in it, in order to get rid of his sin. Parasurama's spiritual power was also installed in the peetha. From then onwards, the place was called as Rajatha Kshetra, which later became 'Udupi'.

Legend of Udupi Krishna

As per the legend, Devaki, the mother of Lord Krishna, wanted to see him doing his childhood pranks again. Krishna changed himself as a kid and did the pranks. Rukmini, the wife of Krishna, watched and enjoyed everything. Upon her request, Krishna assigned Viswakarma to make his own idol as Bal Krishna with a churn in his right hand and a string in his left hand. Rukmini installed this idol in her pooja room in Dwarka and worshiped daily. After the end of Dwaraka and Krishna, Arjun, Krishna's friend covered this idol with sandalwood paste (called as gopi chandan) and dug under the ground.

Wooden Chariot
After around 4500 years, a ship was proceeding from Dwarka to Malpe (near Udupi) carrying sandalwoods. Near Malpe coast, it was struck in the storm. Madhvacharya (1238 - 1317 AD), the rebirth of Hanuman and Bheem and the chief proponent of Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy, was witnessing this from the coast. He threw his vastra (apron) and calmed the storm thus saving the ship and those who were travelling. The captain of the ship presented two sandalwood lumps. Madhvacharya discovered the idols of Krishna and Balram in those lumps. He installed Krishna's idol in Udupi, thus becoming the founder of Bal Krishna temple of Udupi.

Krishna Temple

The Bal Krishna temple, the most popular and important temple of Udupi is a modest structure. Both the matha and temple are located within the same premises. The temple is also referred as Udupi Sri Krishna Matha. The main entrance of the temple is facing the southern direction. There is no tower (raja gopuram). The entrance resembles more like a simple matha's entrance.

Wooden Chariot
There is a small tower in the western direction. The entrance is always closed. From this entrance, one can get the glimpse of the main shrine of the temple. The main shrine is also closed with a window with nine square holes called as Navagraha kindi.The statue of Kanaka Dasa (1509-1609 AD), the great devotee, poet, philosopher and comper is found facing this entrance. As per the legend, Kanaka Dasa was not allowed to enter into the temple by the priests due to his caste. He was standing facing the temple wall in the western direction and started singing keerthanas. The Lord's idol turned from east direciton to west and also the wall collapses thus enabling the noble poet to view him. From then onwards, all the devotees are allowed to see the Lord only through this window. 

Once you enter into the temple, you would visit Chennakesava's shrine first. It is located behind the main shrine. Near the main shrine, the shrines of Garuda and Hanuman are found. The beauty of Krishna's idol is already described in detail. The devotees wait patiently in long queue to get the darshan of Lord and many of them rejoin the queue again and again to get the darshan multiple times. The idol is so attractive that the devotees would never get satisfied with whatever be the number of times they get darshan.

Temple Tank
The Krishna muth is also located inside the temple. Near the muth, the bhojanasala is found where thousands of devotees are served with prasad during afternoons and nights everyday. The food is delicious and hygenic.

Navagraha shrine, small Hanuman shrine and Panchmukh Hanuman idol are also found near the muth area. The shrine of Gita where Gita books in different languages are kept is a unique place. Also, there is a shrine of Subramanya who is found in the form of Sarpa (serpent) is an interesting site. As per the belief, there is a huge treasure hidden under this shrine. It was given by a Delhi Nawab who got rid of his disease due to Krishna. It is also believed that the treasure is being protected by the snakes during the nights even today.

Around Krishna Temple

No motor vehicle is allowed in the area surrounding the picturesque temple. It makes the devotees to walk peacefully and enjoy various temples and muths located in this region. The four streets surrounding the temple have eight muths believed to have been started by Madhvacharya.

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Chariot like structure made of log wood

The huge temple tank is located adjacent to the temple. It is believed that this tank is an ancient one. As per the legend, it was called as Viraja Teerth in Kruta Yug and Ananta Sarovar during Tretaya Yug and Dwapara Yug. The water from this tank is used for the purpose of Krishna's abhishek.

One golden chariot, one silver chariot and three wodden chariots are found outside the temple premises. The chariots are popular in Udupi. The chariot like structure made up of log wood is a unique one found in this town.

Krishna Temple - Main Entrance
Other Temples in Udupi

Ananteeswara TempleThe temple located diagonally opposite to Krishna's temple can be considered as both Shiva as well as Vishnu temple. Although the main deity is Shiv Linga, it is believed that Parasuram, the incarnation of Vishnu, is found in the form of Shiv Linga. The Linga idol is unusally found with a face with prominently big eyes. The conneciton of Parasuram with Udupi is already described in this article.

Ananteeswara Temple
A small Ganesha idol is found at the entrance of the main shrine. The prakara (corridor) is full of wall paintings. There are other small shrines such as Prasanna Someswara (Shiv Linga), Naga and Ayyapa located in this temple.

As per the legend, the childless couple in Vedaranyam got the darshan of Lord Vishnu. As per his advice, they visited Udupi and pured milk inside the silver peeth found with serpent images on all the four sides. Immediately, Parasuram was found in the form of Shiv Linga on this peeth.

The temple is also connected with the life of Madhvacharya. It is the site where Madhva took upanishad classes to his disciples. While taking the class one day, he disappeared in this temple.
Chandramouleeswarar Temple
Chandramouleeshwarar Temple

The small beautiful temple located opposite to Krishna temple is Chandramouleeswarar temple. Shiv Linga with the face and prominent eyes is the main deity of the temple. A small Ganesha idol is found at the entrance of the main shrine. The temple is small, well maintained and beautiful. The structure resembles Kerala temple architecture.

As per the legend, the lead ('pa') of stars ('udu') - Chandra (the Moon God) worshiped Shiv Linga in this site to get rid of his curse. Hence, the site was named as Udupa which later became Udupi. Thus, this temple is the reason for this town being named as Udupi.

Raghavendra Muth

Facing the tower of Krishna temple behind the Kanaka Dasa statue lies the small picturesque Raghavendra temple.
Malpe beach
Vadapandeswara Temple

As indicated in the beginning of this article, Madhvacharya got two idols - Krishna and Balram. He installed Krishna idol in Udupi. He installed Balram's idol is Malpe located at a distance of aorund 7 kms from Udupi. The temple dedicated Balram, the elder brother of Krishna, is a rare one. Balram is found in the main shrine; he is called as Vadapandeswara in this temple. The temple has old structure which was built on the basis of Kerala temple style. Ganesha and Durga idols are found at the entrance of the main shrine. The Navagraha shrine and Linga shrine are also located in this temple.

The religious rites for those who die due to suicides or accidents are performed in the temple tank located outside the temple premises.
Golden Chariot
The beach in Malpe is a prominent tourist location. It is located at a distance of around 1 km from the temple. It is the site where Madhvacharya calmed the storm and got the idols of Krishna and Balram in return.

If you are interested in pilgrimage, Udupi is an important site which should be visited. It is one of seven multisthala pilgrimage sites in Karnataka state of India.

Happy travelling.

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