Yes, Udupi is indeed famous, at least among South-Indians, for an old & much-revered Krishna temple that draws devotees form near and far. But, the stunning beaches that lie a few kilometres away from the main town of Udupi are the real hidden gems of this treasure trove!
When me and my husband were searching for weekend getaway places from Bangalore some months back, we chanced upon Malpe as a destination. And since I'm a sucker for beaches, I totally wanted to check the place out.
Bangalore to Udupi is an overnight journey - either by bus or by train. We have taken both ways of transport (the two times we have gone to Udupi) and both are equally easy & comfortable options, if you ask me. If you are planning your trip 3-4 months in advance, you can definitely book train tickets, while impromptu plans will mean you'll have to take the bus. But the AC Sleeper buses that ply from Bangalore to Udupi are extremely convenient - you get up, go to sleep and wake up at Udupi the next morning!
Malpe beach is about 6 kms from the main town of Udupi (you have to take a car or auto rickshaw from the train station or bus depot), and there are only a handful of lodging options near this beach, Paradise Isle Beach Resort being the best option that you'll get. We've stayed there two times, and we've found it to be quite nice. The best part is that it's right on the pristine sandy beach and you just have to literally cross the road to go to the sea!
|Paradise Isle Beach Resort|
|Sunset at Malpe Beach|
|Water Sports at Malpe Beach|
|In DND mode|
St. Mary's Island
Apart from the Malpe beach, the main attraction of the place is the visit to the little-known St. Mary's Island, which lies about half-an-hour's boat ride away from the mainland. You have options of availing either Government boats for the trip, or private-run boats, which charge 400/- per person for a both way journey. The boats will drop you at the island, and you can spend as much time as you like there, and catch any one of the returning boats (you just have to show them the ticket, so that they know which boat provider you have bought tickets from). The boat rides start at 8 am in the morning and the last boat leaves the island at around 5 pm, but the best time to make the visit would be in the morning, before 11 am or so, as you would want to avoid the scorching afternoon sun.
St. Mary's Island is, undoubtedly, one of the prettiest beaches existing in India. The gorgeous turquoise waters, the pristine white-sand beaches, the rocky coastline and the lush green inland area makes it a sight to behold! The stark difference between the color of the sea at the Malpe Beach and that at the island will baffle you no end - you possibly can't believe that only a few hundred meters can make such a huge difference in the color of the ocean! The water & beach at St. Mary's Island reminded me of the Thailand beaches, and trust me, you won't be able to differentiate between the two if I showed you pictures from both these places.
If you love collecting sea shells (which is not something you get to do at all beaches), then St. Mary's Island will prove to be a heaven. The beach is strewn with shells of all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors...and you can spend hours just finding unique and interesting shells all over the island!
|Handpainted walls at Kulluga Toddy Cafe|
|Rustic seating areas at Kulluga Toddy Cafe|
|Toddy - alcoholic drink made from coconut palm|
|Kori Roti & Chicken|
|Prawn Ghee Roast|
Though there are restaurants in and around the resort that serve all kinds of cuisines, our favorite haunt in Malpe was the Kulluga Toddy Cafe, which was a few meters walk from the main beach area. This quaint outdoor cafe serves authentic Mangalorean food and homemade Toddy (an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of coconut palms). The Kori Roti and Chicken are yummy and totally must-try! So is the Prawghee which is the Prawn Ghee Roast - another Mangalorean specialty. You must also try Chicken Sukka with Neer Dosa....trust us, you won't want to have any of the North-Indian fare at the other restaurants after this.
With handpainted walls, shady palm trees all around, and rustic seating arrangements, this simple cafe is great for chilling and having a long, lazy lunch. Just sit back with a glass of Toddy and relax while they serve you delicious local food!
|The backwaters somewhere on the way|
|A Krishna temple on the way to Kapu Beach|
|Gorgeous woodwork ceiling of the temple|
Apart from Malpe, the region also boasts of a few more serene beaches - Kapu Beach and Kodi Beach being a couple of the others that we had visited one morning. You get autos from Malpe beach which can take you to these other beaches. It's better to book the auto and make a round trip in it, as you might got get transport so easily while coming back from those places (they are not as popular as Malpe beach, where most of the crowd generally comes). The drive to these beaches are also pretty in themselves, with winding roads through local villages and lush greenery all around! There are also a couple of traditional temples on the way which you can stop at and check out if you like the tranquil peace of such religious places.
We generally stop for a few hours in Udupi Town on the way back. (If our bus or train is at night, we come to town in the morning and spend the day there) The few of the must-do things in Udupi town are:
- Sri Krishna Matha
Sri Krishna Matha temple
The Krishna temple in Udupi town is a famous religious place dedicated to Lord Krishna and Dvaita Matha. It attracts pious devotees from all around India, and is a must-visit if you are in the town for even a day. If for nothing else, then for the beautiful woodwork inside the temple premises and the gorgeous display of lit earthen lamps in the evening.
- Ratha Beedi Market
A visit to the Krishna Temple is all the more unmissable, because of the amazing local market that sets up around the temple complex. From aromatic spices and locally-made utensils to beautiful wood-carved products and traditional textiles, this market caters to all kinds of needs. With a melange of temporary stalls as well as permanent shops, the Ratha Beedi market is a sensory explosion of buzzing sights and sounds that you can spend hours exploring.
- Gadbad at Hotel Diana
Chole Bhature at Hotel Diana Gadbad sundae at Hotel Diana
If you are anywhere in Mangalore district and you haven't tried their famous dessert Gadbad, then you are definitely missing out! Gadbad is an ice-cream sundae that is a specialty of Mangalore region and the best place to taste it in Udupi Town is Hotel Diana. The restaurant at Hotel Diana serves up all kinds of yummy food (so it's a great place for lunch or dinner) - I can totally recommend their Pav Bhaji, Chole Bhature, Dahi Vada and Dosa from experience. But, the highlight of the meal would be the amazing sundae - Gadbad - which is basically a combination of kesar pista, strawberry, vanilla ice-cream along with jelly, dry fruits and fresh fruits, served in a tall glass! Don't miss it for anything in the world!
Udupi is also accessible from other parts of the country just as easily. You can come to Mangalore by flight and take a car to Udupi or Malpe beach. You can also take trains to Udupi and then go to Malpe by car. This place is a great option for long weekend getaways - you can easily spend 2-3 days here for a relaxed, laid-back trip. You can even stay at some of the other beaches in the region - like Kundapur and Kodi - as most of the beaches in that coastline are little-known and hence, less crowded.
If you have any more queries regarding travel to Udupi, then hit me up in the comments, DM me on Instagram or e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org ....I would always be more than happy to help!
P.S.: It feels surreal, but so, so exciting to be back to the blog after a hiatus of 7 months! #facepalm
Hope you like this post (since a lot of my social media readers had requested for this topic during my last trip to Udupi)...share it and spread the word if you find it useful. Thanks!