“If you feel disappointed that something didn’t happen as expected, don’t worry, there is always something better waiting for you ahead.”
The trip to Udupi and Murudeshwar came out as the last minute plan B when our trek to Naramsimha Parvatha (Western Ghats, Karnataka) got cancelled due to seemingly improbable reasons—we swear, the trek wouldn’t have been as much fun.
Where Is Udupi?
If every beach is compared to ambered beads, the coastline of India is like dangling necklace.
Udupi is one of the pearls shining on the southwestern edge of the Indian subcontinent.
If you are familiar with Goa, Udupi lies in the state of Karnataka around 300 kilometres (6 hours drive) southward from the popular tourist spot.
Bangalore To Udupi Distance
There are 2 routes to reach Udupi from Bangalore—the shortest being a 406-kilometre drive which takes approximately 8 hours. Practically, a total of 9 hours if you stop for food and rest.
Udupi is a pilgrimage site—one out of the seven pious ‘Muktisatalas‘ of Karnataka. Lined across its shore are minor ports at the estuaries of small and lesser-known rivers like Udyavara and Sita that empty their waters into the Arabian Sea.
Bangalore To Udupi NH 75 – Saturday, 12 am
We hit the National Highway NH75 or popularly known as Tumkur road at around midnight and were out of Bangalore by 1:55 am, speeding at 140 kilometres/hour.
The route that we took was Bangalore -> Hassan -> Belur-> Charmadi -> Ujire -> Belthangady -> Karkala -> Udupi.
I would better call the route our race circuit because we zoomed past these locations. We took a diversion on the State Highway (SH 57) to continue on Belur road.
While driving through the deserted streets of an unknown town that looked ghostly under the dead silence of the night, we steered slowly, blindly trusting the off-the-road shortcuts that Google Maps persuaded us to take.
Our high-spirited travel songs from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara to Dil Chahta Hai hummed down to tune with the tales of the paranormal. In the sheer darkness, with only our headlights to guide us, the NH after crossing Belur led us through a thick forest cover with undulating roads and sharp turns.
With barely any vehicles passing by us, we sped through the roads like there was no tomorrow. We found a speeding car that had earlier overtaken us to have driven through the bushes at one side of the road at the next turn. Though the driver seemed to be fine in one glance, we dared not stop at such a location to help the sole person inside the car.
Note: The NH73 (Karnataka) has no street lights over a long stretch. Small villages like Attigere, Charmadi, Kakkinje fall on the way, separated by strips of dense vegetation (more like a jungle) and uninhabited areas. Avoid passing through this area in the dead of the night.
At 9 in the morning, we passed through Karkala. In between, we found the cleanest public toilet ever on a highway and exploited it very well before commencing our journey. As we struggled to keep our eyes open, it was best considered to halt for a while and take a short nap.
The morning drive was pleasant with welcoming greenery and cool air pacing along. Before reaching Udupi, we stopped at a local restaurant to have a heart breakfast of ghee masala dosa.
1. Visit Kaup Beach With Lighthouse
Udupi To Kapu Beach
Kaup or Kapu (in Tulu language) beach is 16 Kilometers (18 minutes) south of Udupi—follow a straight route on NH 66 and it will take you to this calm and scarcely crowded beach.
The Kaup beach lighthouse timings are 5pm to 6pm—it offers a panoramic view of the captivating scenic landscape around.
We reached there at around noon and the sun felt quite hot even for the month of November. The lighthouse on this beach seemed to be dressed in black and white jailer costume.
At one corner of the beach, the boulders and rocks form a cluster that leads to a huge rock-hill, on top of which the lighthouse stands towering over the land. Once you climb the stairs to reach the lighthouse, you will discover that the viewpoint next to the lighthouse offers a Ummm…. a fantastic lover’s spot.
Prepare to get uncomfortable and embarrassed as young couples get cosy in close vicinity. Alternatively, look ahead towards the sea to catch the glimpse of Humpback dolphins if you are lucky, we were!
If you are facing the sea, still searching for dolphin fins, turn to your right you will see the beach continues to stretch as far as the eyes can see. Colourful boats of fishermen wait for their sailors in the bright sunlight.
Just when you turn around with your back facing the sea, you will find a small stream of water emerging stealthily from the coconut groves—a tiny version of a backwater, I must tell you. It is a shallow flow of water you can dabble in once you get down from the lighthouse and cross over to reach the stream.
Refresh yourself at the shops and shacks near the entrance—they offer cold drinks, water, and snacks. Sit silently on the benches close by and watch the ruffling sea in sheer retrospection.
2. Watch Sunset At Marwanthe Beach
The Marwanthe beach is where you can witness the wrath the sea causes on the land in the monsoon season. The waves hit past the rocks present adjacent to the road to prevent the sea water from reaching it.
Running parallel to the coastline is NH66. As the road converges towards the sea, you will find stunning view similar to Marine Drive in Mumbai. You will realize you are driving parallel to the beach.
If you happen to visit Marwanthe beach in the non-monsoon months, be there at sunset.
Get out of your car, pass over these rocks and reach the slanting shoreline receding into the sea. Swimming could be dangerous here although the farther ends of the beach might be safe to go inside the waters.
Watch the sun extinguish into the sea—right when it is bright yellow, then, turns to lurid shades of red and orange. Finally, it fades into the horizon, leaving behind a sky that is still painted in the vibrant colours along the trail of the sun.
Sunsets at the sea brew inexplicable humane emotions and the Marwanthe beach is where you must stop to see it.
3. Be At the Famous Murudeshwar Temple
Murudeshwar is at a distance of 102 kilometres or around 2 hours from Udupi.
We started at 6 pm from Marwanthe beach towards Murudeshwar—it is a 50-kilometre drive from Marwanthe.
Note: Due to the lack of rides and construction going on on the highway, this drive is a risky affair. Avoid nighttime and prefer the daytime or early morning to drive.
The temple closes at around 8:30 pm but you can still directly go to the statue of Shiva, which has a separate entrance.
The place holds the world’s second tallest idol of Lord Shiva, which is an amazing 123-feet in height—the tallest Shiva idol is in Nepal.
You will get a glimpse of the idol right from the parking space. After reaching the entrance climb up the stairs and you will see the divine sitting in Lotus pose, engrossed into a deep meditation.
4. Spend A Night Near Panchgangavali River
We stayed at Blue Waters—a luxurious resort overlooking the calm and smooth flowing Panchgangavali river.
Panchagangavali is another river that empties its water into the Arabian sea. Though the river doesn’t appear to be very clean, the fishermen and birds of prey lurked close to the river for their daily catch.
Jaunt along the kaccha road adjacent to the hotel that runs parallel to the river and you could catch the raw stink of the fish meat in the air.
White cranes and vibrant kingfishers wait patiently perched on wooden poles that stood in the middle of the river. A sense of calm draws over you when you spend the early morning under the shades of coconut trees.
Blue Waters is in Kundapura district, around 38 kilometres from Udupi. The resort has air-conditioned rooms, swimming pool, rich, comfortable rooms with good service. It is worth a day’s stay if you visiting with family.
5. Take A Ferry From Malpe Beach To St Mary’s Island
Malpe is yet another beach to indulge in water sports—banana ride, speed boat, motor boat—you name it they have it. Enjoy the Bollywood music playing in the background while dabbling in the calm sea water that might not stand up to your expectation of clean sea water.
If you are done with being a part of the horde that visits the beach in evenings, hop onto the nearest ferry and reach St Mary’s Island at a hefty 500 Indian Rupees.
St Mary’s Island is beauteous, clean, scarcely crowded and known for its distinctive columnar rocks.
Climb over the tricky and gigantic rock hills to sit peacefully atop one of them and admire the profound and unbounded sea. Alternatively, walk around and explore the whole island.
On the side, directly opposite to where our boat dropped us, we found pieces of shells instead of sand covering a greater part of the beach.
Don’t forget to rejuvenate yourself with the fresh coconut water and let it drench your clothes (no straws available because humans create a mess. Being there will leave you mesmerised so much so that you may not want to go back to the mainland.
Depressions And Tensions On The Mangalore-Bangalore Highway
The infamous Mangalore-Bangalore highway (NH75) is a dwelling for potholes—you are sure to jar throughout the 15 kilometres stretch. Don’t take this route at night unless you want to invite undue trouble—rash driving bus drivers, no street lights, serpentine roads and turns, unpleasant potholes, narrow way—experience it all here.
The precarious highway that it is the drive might give you a pain in your knees while shifting frequently between the break and accelerator.