Growing up in a city like Mumbai, the word ‘Udupi’ to me had become synonymous with fresh and sumptuous South Indian delicacies, vegetarian meals, or the aromatic filter coffee. But as I grew up, indulged in reading, travelling, and meeting people from different cultures, I felt guilty of stereotyping. Because the place Udupi where its cuisine comes from is far, far more and beyond than food. I was glad that my organization sent me to our Mysore office last year for a short assignment, and I could explore this quaint little sea town.
Udupi- An introduction
So, one weekend on a pleasant winter morning, a colleague and I managed to hire a reliable and affordable car in Mysore. We had booked our stay with the Malpe Seafront Cottages which had a room with a view (although distant) of the sea.
Although this sea town has a lot of religious significance, mainly owing to the Krishna Mutt, the magnificent natural beauty of this place cannot be overlooked. Rather, I would say, it was its landscape that made me fall in love with Udupi instantly. The clean beaches, the perfect weather, unpolluted air, and a cosy vibe that has become a rare affair in most tourist hotspots.
The first evening just went by lazing on the porch of our resort and enjoying the local food, taking a leisurely walk on the beach and soaking in the place.
The concierge suggested a few places nearby that would interest us as tourists. Although they sounded clichéd, we decided to explore anyway. Malpe Beach is kind of centrally located near major sightseeing points like the Hoode Beach, Paradise Lagoon, Delta Point, and the St. Mary’s Island.
The trip to St. Mary’s Island
The island was the nearest and made for a perfect start of the day. There were speed boat rentals from the Malpe Beach. The ride lasted 15 odd minutes. Our boatmen promised to show us dolphins. Winters and early mornings are usually the time to spot these sea beauties. On the way, I did see flocks of seagulls hovering overhead in search of a catch (or food from the boat passengers). And suddenly, I spotted a dark, fin-like shape popping out of the water, and within the blink of an eye a greyish dolphin dived up and back down into the water.
We finally reached the island. Thankfully, the boat gave us an hour to explore this uninhabited enclave. Picture-perfect was the only word I could think of when I stepped down from the boat. The sandy beach was strewn with shells and conches which came and went with the gushing waves. On one side were tall stone pillars, naturally formed out of lava rocks, perhaps millions of years ago. Some of them stood alone, while others were in clusters. My colleague got busy capturing every angle on her camera. I continued to walk along the shores until I found a solid rock to sit and admire the place. It was like an entirely different world, hidden in a corner of the Arabian Sea. I revisited a childhood habit after a long time and collected a handful of shells and a conch as my souvenir.
That entire day, I couldn’t get the island off my mind and that’s why I resorted to my resort room for the rest of the day.
Kemmannu- A surprise package
Next day turned out to be a notch above the previous one!
Post breakfast we drove towards the Kemmannu district. I had never heard, read, or learned about this place before I made this trip. Fortunately, we had retained our car for the entire trip. But I had not remotely expected backwaters in Karnataka! Kemmannu is a cluster of small islands with flourishing fishing villages and rural communities.
The thick clusters of coconut palms, mangroves, and the fine network of canals instantly reminded me of Kerala and I forgot that I was in a different region altogether! There were quaint little resorts as well on the lagoons, which looked appealing for a stay-over, but unfortunately, our holiday was nearing its end.
We convinced a local boatman to take us around in his dinghy. The narrow mud roads ran parallel to the water and were lined with colourful, tiled houses. The oarsman took us to show the famous Hanging Bridge, which connected the island to the mainland.
The day ended with a trip to the Delta Point, where the backwaters meet the sea. This was perfect for the evening to watch the sunset and admire the mystical and captivating beauty of Udupi’s landscape.
- For a safer and comfortable ride, always book a trusted and licensed cab from Mysore to Udupi.
- If you are living on the backwaters, don’t expect restaurants or eateries around.
- If you want to spot dolphins or explore the outdoors more, then visit before summers or after the monsoon.
With this experience, I dare say that discovering Udupi was a unique and wonderful experience!