Udupi, India

On the west coast, 60 km north of Mangaluru, Udupi is one of south India’s holiest Vaishnavite centres. The Hindu saint Madhva (1238–1317) was born here, and the Krishna temple and mathas (monasteries) he founded are visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.

Unwind in spiritual Udupi

The largest numbers congregate during the late winter, when the town hosts a series of spectacular car festivals and gigantic, bulbous-domed chariots are hauled through the streets around the temple.

Thronging with pujaris and pilgrims, atmospheric Udupi is also a good place to break the journey along the Karavali coast.

Beyond the spiritual realm, Udupi is a short hop to stunning beaches that line its coastline. The picturesque sands of Malpe and Kaup offer idyllic settings where you can unwind, bask in the sun, and relish the mesmerising views of the Arabian Sea.

Udupi also offers a glimpse into its vibrant culture through its annual Paryaya Festival, where the temple administration is ceremoniously transferred to a new seer every two years. The festival is a grand affair filled with elaborate rituals, traditional music and dance performances, and colourful processions that showcase the town's deep-rooted traditions.

As you might expect of the masala dosa’s birthplace, there are many fine, simple south Indian restaurants in Udupi, where you can sample these and other vegetarian favourites. The vast majority of places are pure vegetarian.

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Krishna temple in Udupi © Shutterstock

Best things to do in Udupi

From historical temples and its beautiful beaches to its delicious cuisine, here are the best things to do in Udupi.

#1 Visit the town's Krishna temple and mathas

Udupi’s Krishna temple lies five minutes’ walk east of the main street, surrounded by the eight mathas founded by Madhva in the thirteenth century. Legend has it that the idol enshrined within was discovered by the saint himself after he prevented a shipwreck.

The captain of the ship was really thankful to Madhva, so he wanted to give him something valuable as a gift. But instead, Madhva asked for a block of mud. When he broke it open, there was a perfect statue of Krishna inside. People think this statue has a special connection to the god and lots of people come to visit it. People do rituals for the statue all the time.

It is looked after by acharyas, or pontiffs, from one of the mathas on a two-year rotation system. They perform pujas (5.30am–8.45pm) that are open to non-Hindus; men are only allowed into the main shrine bare-chested.

#2 Chill out at Malpe Beach

Just a short distance from Udupi, Malpe Beach offers breathtaking vistas, golden sands, and a chance to unwind along the Arabian Sea. Malpe also has plenty of water sports to choose from such as jet skiing and boat rides.

#3 Head to St Mary's Island

St Mary's Island is actually a collection of small and uninhabited islands famous for their intriguing hexagonal basalt rock formations.

Exploring this picturesque locale presents an opportunity to relax on pristine beaches, wander through captivating rock formations, and witness awe-inspiring sunsets that cast a magical glow over the landscape.

#4 Kaup Beach

Another coastal gem near Udupi, Kaup Beach beckons travellers with its serene ambiance. This tranquil stretch of shoreline is complemented by the presence of the Kaup Lighthouse, which offers a panoramic view of the coastline.

Climbing to the top of the lighthouse provides a mesmerising vantage point to admire the vast expanse of the sea and surrounding beauty.

View of Kaup Beach near Udupi, in Karnataka, India © Shutterstock

View of Kaup Beach near Udupi, in Karnataka, India © Shutterstock

#5 Check out Anegudde Vinayaka Temple

Located approximately 30 kilometres from Udupi, the Anegudde Vinayaka Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. For Hindus, it holds great religious significance and is believed to be one of the seven sacred places in the region dedicated solely to Lord Ganesha.

Best areas to stay in Udupi

As a busy pilgrimage town, Udupi offers ample inexpensive accommodation, which is only likely to approach capacity during a major festival. From the laid-back coastal charm of Malpe Beach to the central convenience of Udupi City Center, here are the best areas to stay in Udupi.

Malpe Beach

From beachside resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses, Malpe provides a range of accommodation options to suit every budget with a fine motorway of sand chucked in for good measure.

City Centre

If you prefer a more central location, Udupi’s City Centre is an ideal choice. Here, you'll find numerous budget hotels and guesthouses.


Away from the bustle of the city, this seaside spot has a number of decent resorts right on the sand.

Browse the best hotels in Udupi.

Best restaurants and bars

As you might expect of the masala dosa’s birthplace, there are many fine, simple south Indian restaurants in Udupi, where you can sample these and other veg favourites. The vast majority of places are pure veg: for non-veg food or alcohol, you’ll have to try a posh hotel restaurant such as the Sriram Residency.

Udupi offers a delightful culinary scene with a variety of restaurants and bars to explore. From the bustling Udupi City Center, to the lively beachfront area of Malpe.

City Centre

Here you will find local eateries serving authentic Udupi cuisine and a smattering of Western grub.


This lively suburb is home to a multitude of cafes and small restaurants catering to the student population. The best places to eat are just off the 169A road.

Malpe Beach

The beachside shacks at Malpe serve tantalising seafood dishes.

Rock formations at St. Mary island, Karnataka, India © Shutterstock

Rock formations at St. Mary island, Karnataka, India © Shutterstock

How to get around

From auto-rickshaws to local buses, it is easy to get around Udupi, though most of the time you’ll be walking. Here’s how to do it.

On foot

Udupi is a relatively compact city, and many of its attractions are located within a reasonable walking distance from each other. Walking is a pleasant way to explore the city centre, markets, and some nearby areas.

By auto-rickshaw

These three-wheelers are popular within Udupi and convenient for short distances. They are readily available throughout the city.

By taxi

For longer distances, take a taxi/ You can either book a taxi in advance or find them at designated taxi stands. They can also be hired by the day for out of town trips.

By bus

Udupi has a well-connected bus network that offers an affordable means of transportation. Local buses within Udupi can also be used to reach different areas of the city, else Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates regular bus services to and from Udupi itself.

St. Mary’s island, Udupi, Karnataka © Shutterstock

St. Mary’s island, Udupi, Karnataka © Shutterstock

What is the best time to visit Udupi?

The best time to visit Udupi is during the winter months of October to February. This period is considered the peak tourist season in Udupi. The weather during these months is pleasant and relatively cooler, making it ideal for exploring the town and its surrounding attractions.

The temperatures range from 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F), offering a comfortable climate for outdoor activities and sightseeing. It's a great time to visit Udupi's famous temples, such as the Sri Krishna Temple, and enjoy the beautiful beaches like Malpe Beach.

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

How many days do you need in Udupi?

You will only need 2 to 3 days to explore Udupi. This would allow you to visit the temples, Malpe Beach, St. Mary's Island and Kaup Beach. It’s also plenty of time to try some masala dosa.

With a few extra days, you can explore the nearby areas like Manipal, but unless you’re here for a religious gaterhing, most travellers will only stay 2 nights in total.

How to get here

Most of Udupi’s visitors will arrive by train but the town can be easily reached by bus as well.

By train

Udupi’s railway station is at Indrali on Manipal Rd, 3 km west from the centre, and there are at least five trains in each direction daily.

By bus

Udupi’s three bus stands are dotted around the amorphous square in the centre of town: The City stand is down some steps to the north and handles private services to local villages

Find out the best ways to get to India.

Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 18.06.2023

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