Udupi is a divine shrine in the coastal region of Western Ghats. Situated about 60 kms from Mangalore, it is a fairly large and upcoming town that was sanctum of Madhvacharya, the great Sanskrit Philosopher. The famous temple here, has a fascinating idol of Lord Krishna that is richly adorned with jewels. It is the center for education, social and religious activities in the district of South Canara. It is known for the famous Sri Krishna temple. The reasons for its fame are the statue of Sri Krishna installed by the great saint Sri Madhvacharya and the penance and influence of Sri Vaadiraja yathivarenya. Another attraction of this temple is the 'Kanakana Kindi' -a small window through which Krishna is believed to have given darshan to his ardent devotee, Kanakadasa.
There are three temples in Udupi; Chandreshwara, Anantheshwara and Sri Krishna temple. Chandreshwara and Anatheshwara are the most ancient temples of Udupi.
The meaning and origin of the word `Udupi':
Udupi is known as oDipu in the Tulu language. Narayana Panditacharya in his notes called Bhâva Prakasha on the Sumadhva Vijaya records thus:
rajatapiiThapurasya oDipu ityapabhrashhTa saMGYaa
The modern name Udupi must have developed from this ancient folk name.
A different etymology is provided by certain other scholars, but there is not too much credence given to it. According to them the original Sanskrit name is derived from uDupa (uDu 'star' + pa 'lord') -- lord of the stars, namely, the moon. Udupi then refers to Shiva, who bears the moon on his head. Since there is the ancient temple of Chandramaulishwara in Udupi, the place may have been known by the name Udupi, after its ancient deity.
It is quite evident that this idea developed very recently. The author of the Sumadhva Vijaya opines that the word is of Tulu origin. The word `Udupi' also does not seem to have been associated with Shiva anywhere else in the Sanskrit literature.
Even if the word is to be considered to be originating from a Sanskrit root, one can provide a better explanation and etymology. `Udupi' also means boat or raft in Sanskrit:
uDupaM tu plavaH kolaH
The word `Udupi' can then mean a place to which Lord Krishna came (from Dwârakâ) by boat.
The Tulu word oDipu can also be associated with a more or less similar meaning. There is a temple at Malpe which is known as oDabhaaNDiishvara. There appears to be some kind of relationship between the words oDabhaaNDa and oDipu. Its Kannada version is `Udupa'. The root element of all these words is oDepu, meaning "cracking," or "breaking." Until the secret of this word is cracked, the origin of the modern word Udupi will remain shrouded in mystery.
This temple at Malpe is well worth a visit and appears to be of great vintage. It is only a short distance to the beach from the temple and so it is possible to walk to where Sri Madhva saved the ship carrying the icon of Sri Krishna from being wrecked during a storm.
The beach itself is quite pleasant to walk along. At one time cargo ships that had been decommissioned were drawn up on the beach and cut up for scrap. This was some distance to the south but was very interesting to watch.
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