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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Udupi, UDupi, Udupi

Uḍupi literally means ‘the place where Candra or Moon was blessed by Śiva’.

Candra or the deity Moon is also called as Uḍupa. He is said to have performed austerities here to rid himself of the curse of Dakṣa Prajāpati. He was redeemed by Lord Śiva. A temple dedicated to Candramauliśvara[1] is situated here now. Another ancient temple of Ananteśvara is situated right opposite the Candra-maulīśvara temple. Both the temples belong to the period 7th to 9th century A. D.

Uḍupi is also called Rajatapīṭhapura. It is now famous for its Kṛṣṇa temple and the eight Maṭhas[2] established by Madhvācārya.[3] The Kṛṣṇa temple was also built by him after he secured the beautiful image from a big lump of yellow clay which had been used as a ballast by a ship. The ship was about to sink when Madhvācārya saved it by using his divine powers. He then obtained that heap of clay as a present at his own request. After recovering the image he carried it on his head to the present place and built the temple.

The image of child Kṛṣṇa is in the standing posture holding the churning rod in the left hand and a rope in the right. Sculptured out of the Śālagrāma stone[4] and worshiped by Rukmiṇī, it was later secured by Arjuna[5] who hid it in clay before his departure. This is how the local legends describe the origin of the image.

Location of Uḍupi

Uḍupi is one of the most famous and popular places of pilgrimage, especially to the Vaiṣṇavas. It is in the South Kanara district of the Karnataka State in south India. It is situated on the seashore at a distance of 60 kms. (37 miles) to the north of the city of Mangalore.

Specifications of Kṛṣṇa Temple

  • Image of the Kṛṣṇa temple is 38 cms.[6] in height.
  • The temple is built of black granite stone. It is rather a small structure.
  • To the right of the main entrance is the Madhvasarovara, the temple tank.
  • The main entrance gate is facing north whereas the deity is facing west.
  • It can be seen only through a small open window, known as ‘Kanakana kiṇḍi’.[7]
  • When Kanakadāsa,[8] the famous devotee of Kṛṣṇa was denied entrance into the temple because he belonged to a low caste, he prayed to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart for darśan. In response to his prayer, Kṛṣṇa’s image turned towards the west where Kanakadāsa was standing and an opening appeared on the wall mysteriously, thus enabling him to see the Lord.

Festivals of Kṛṣṇa Temple

The main festivals of the Śrī Kṛṣṇa temple are:

  1. Saptotsava - a seven-day festival celebrated during the middle of January
  2. Madhvanavamī - the day on which Madhvācārya disappeared from the world
  3. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Jayantī - birthday of Lord Srī Kṛṣṇa in August-September
  4. Lakṣa-dipotsava - on the day of Utthānadvādaśi generally in November
  5. Paryāya- mahotsava
  6. Rāmanavamī
  7. Narasimhajayantī
  8. Anantacaturdaśī
  9. Makara-Saṅkrānti
  10. Dīpāvalī


The pontiffs of each of the eight maṭhas[9] got a two-month term to worship the image of Kṛṣṇa in the temple. Since this was considered very small period, Vādirāja,[10] the best of the pontiffs at that time, raised it to two years. So, there is a change of guard, the next pontiff taking over the responsibility of running the Kṛṣṇa temple, every two years, during the last part of January. This is called Paryāyamahotsava.

Other Significant Places

A few more holy places around Uḍupi worth visiting are:

  1. Ambalapāḍi with an ancient temple of Janārdana and Mahākālī
  2. Daṇḍatīrtha is a tank built by Madhvācārya
  3. Nadyantādi is the place where there is a maṭha and two bathing places called Gadātīrtha and Gautamakuṇḍa
  4. Kaḍtila or Setutila where Madhvācārya established the image of Gopālakṛṣṇa


  1. He is a form of lord Śiva.
  2. Maṭhas means monasteries.
  3. He lived in A. D. 1238-1317.
  4. It was built by the divine architect Viśvakarma himself.
  5. He was the Pāṇḍava hero.
  6. It is 15 inches.
  7. It means ‘Kanaka’s Window’.
  8. He lived in A. D. 1508-1606.
  9. Maṭhas means monasteries.
  10. He lived in A. D. 1480-1600.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore