The Udupi Krishna Temple is one of the most famous temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. This unique temple is in the town of Udupi in Karnataka, India. The Temple complex is also a Matha where the priests live and perform their daily duties. Vaishnavite Saint Madhavacharya, somewhere during the 13th century constructed the temple.
The Udupi Krishna Temple is one of the seven Temples known as the Seven Mukti Sthalas of Karnataka. Devotees worship the idol of Lord Krishna in the form of a small boy. They believe that Saint Madhavacharya anointed his eight disciples to take care of the functioning of the Temple and to propagate his philosophy and studies.
These eight disciples created their own Matha and presently rotate their responsibilities every two years. The eight Mathas that run the Temple Administration are Palimar Mutt, Krishna Mutt, Kaniyour Mutt, Sode Mutt, Puttige Mutt, Admar Mutt, Shirur Mutt and Pejawar Mutt.
The Udupi Krishna Temple complex resembles an Ashram with a huge Tank or Sarovar popular as the Madhav Sarovar. The main temple has a Mandap and the Garbhagriha. The main door of the sanctum is not open and visitors can view God only trough a meshed window that contains figures of Avatars of Lord Vishnu. Smaller shrines for Lord Hanuman famous here as Lord Mukhyaprana, Garuda and to Saint Madhavacharya are also there.
- Udupi Krishna Temple History
- Significance of Udupi Krishna Temple
- Udupi Krishna Temple Timings
- Dress code
- Udupi Krishna Temple: Poojas and Rituals
- Festivals celebrated at the Temple
- How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
- Where to stay
- Where to eat
- Nearby Temples
Udupi Krishna Temple History
According to a popular legend, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna by the name of Kanaka Dasa arrived in Udupi in the early 16th century.
As per ancient scriptures, Udupi was popular as Sivalli or as Rajathapeetapuram. The place was pious even before the construction of the Krishna Temple due to the existence of the Anantheshwara Temple and the Chandramouleeshwara Temple.
The story of how the Udupi Krishna Temple came into existence is a very interesting one. There is a description of the events in the Madhava Vijaya, a biography of the Saint Madhavacharya and in a seventeenth century work by Sri Raghuvarya Thirtha.
As per Sri Raghuvarya Thirtha, Lord Krishna’s birth mother Devaki often complained to the Lord about being unable to witness the childhood of her beloved son Krishna. She wished that Lord make her happy and fortunate like mother Yashoda. Lord Krishna assumed the form of a small boy and played with Devaki. When churning butter, Krishna broke the churn and ate the lumps of butter.
He also snatched the churning rope from Devaki and started playing with it. Rukmini Devi, Wife of Krishna wanted to preserve the memory and had an idol made depicting Lord Krishna holding a churning rod and rope. She worshiped the idol regularly. After Lord Krishna departed to heaven, Arjuna moved the idol to Rukminivana and worshiped it with Chandana. With passage of time, a thick layer of clay deposited on the idol until the merchants boarded it into a vessel mistaking it for a ballast.
Connection with Udupi
The vessel set sail towards sail and as it was approaching Udupi, a massive storm occurred causing the ship to come ashore damaged. At the same time, Sri Madhavacharya had gone to take a bath in the sea. Seeing the distressed sailors, Sri Madhavacharya calmed down the sea and helped the sailors ashore. The captain of the ship offered Madhavacharya anything from the ship. Madhavacharya chose the lump of clay that he thought was a ballast.
When Madhavacharya started to return to Udupi, carrying the lump of clay, the lump fell down and revealed itself to be an idol of Lord Krishna. Sri Madhavacharya became elated and carried it back to Udupi. There he installed the idol and established rigorous rituals to worship the idol.
Kanaka Dasa later became a great poet, philosopher, musician and a composer for Carnatic Music. He stayed in a hut just outside the Udupi Krishna Temple on the roadside. However, he was not allowed to enter the Udupi Krishna Temple because he was of a lower caste. He played a Tambura and sang songs in praise of Lord Krishna every day from his hut.
On a fateful day, an earthquake struck the area and a crack opened up on the wall adjoining Kanaka Das’s hut. Kanaka Das had his first darshan through the crack. Sri Vadiraja, the Temple priest eventually enlarged the crack and created a window. Since that time, it has become a tradition to look through the window first before entering the Temple premises.
Significance of Udupi Krishna Temple
The Udupi Krishna Temple is one of the seven Mukti Sthalas of Karnataka. The other six are Kollur, Subramanya, Kumbhashi, Kodeshwara, Sankaranarayana, and Gokarna. These places are together the Parashurama Kshetras. Devotees believe that these Temples were built on land of Parashurama from the sea.
The actual darshan of the Lord is through a grilled window known as the Navagraha Kitiki or as the Kanakana Kindi (Kanaka’s window). The window has nine squares, each dedicated to the nine planets. Also, the window is covered on all sides with silver plating with carvings depicting the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu.
The main idol of Lord Krishna shows him as a small boy holding a churning rod on the right hand and rope on the left hand. This representation of Lord Krishna can be seen nowhere in India but Udupi.
The lamps that are kept near the main idol of Lord Krishna were first lighted by Sri Madhava Acharya in the 13th century and are still kept burning.
The idols of Lord Mukhyapradana (Anjaneya or Hanuman) and Garuda kept in the Udupi Krishna Temple in their respective shrines were brought here from Ayodhya and installed.
It is believed that Chandra (The Moon God) did penance in Udupi to release him from the curse of Daksha Prajapati. Lord Shiva was impressed by his devotion and relieved him of the curse of Daksha.
A small shrine for Goddess Bhagirathi (Ganga) is in the southwest corner of the Madhava Sarovar. When the young Madhavacharya could not visit Badrinath, River Ganga herself flowed south to the Temple and gave him a darshan. A white stream of water emerged from the South West corner. Therefore a shrine of River Ganga was eventually built.
Udupi Krishna Temple Timings
Darshan Timings: 6 AM to 9 PM.
Udupi Krishna Temple opens at 4am and closes at 9pm. It is not closed in the afternoon. The holy trip to Udupi Krishna Temple is complete after visiting the Anatheshwara Temple and the Chandramouleeshwara temple before visiting the Udupi Krishna Temple. Aarti and Archana items are available in shops near the main entrance.
The male devotees should not wear shirts and vests inside the Udupi Krishna Temple complex. Also, they should avoid short pants and the Bermudas. We also request female devotees to dress decently.
Udupi Krishna Temple: Poojas and Rituals
A sequence of fourteen Poojas is performed for the deity every day. They are:
The priest performs the Pooja at 5:30 AM every morning. In addition, he removes the decorations, ornaments, apparels and flowers offered to the God on the previous day. Then he bathes the idol. Finally he offers Naivedyam made from Tulasi, Bengal gram, Curd, Puffed Rice, jaggery, Ginger and coconut, Betel leaves and Ghee.
First of all the priest performs the Abhishekam of the deity at 6 AM with the holy water stored in silver vessels. Then he conducts Eight Aartis and offers Sandal paste, Tulasi, Rice, Milk, Curd, coconut, Banana, and Betel Leaves.
Akshaya Patra and co – Pooja
The priest performs the Seva at 6:15 AM. He then worships a cow selected from the Cowshed. Then he distributes Rice and Jaggery to the cows.
The Pooja starts at 6:30 AM. Both the idols of Lord Krishna and Lord Mukhyaprana are worshiped with the Panchamrit. After removing the sandal paste and flowers, in the Surya Saale of the Temple, the priest showers the idol with Gold coins. Then he bathes Lord Krishna with Ghee, Milk, Honey, Curd and Sugar. Finally, he offers 32 tender coconuts to the deity along with the Bananas.
The Pooja starts at 7 AM. The priest bathes the idol in perfumed water. Then, he offers tender coconuts, milk and butter and finally raises the Aarti.
The ritual occurs at 7:30 AM. The priest keeps gold Kalasas in front of the idol and performs pooja. Then, he offers cooked rice to the God which he later offers to Garuda. After the offering, the priest disperses the cooked rice into the Madhava Sarovar as feed for the Fishes.
The Pooja takes place at 7:40 AM. First of all, the priest uses the holy water from the gold vessel for the main Abhishek. Then he dries the idol with a clean piece of cloth and decorates it with Tulasi garlands, flowers, and Sandal paste. Finally, he gives the holy water from this Abhishek as Theertham to the devotees. Hence this puja is known as The Theertha Pooja.
The Pooja takes place at 8:30 AM. The priest decorates the idol with Gold ornaments and Silk clothing. Then he offers Tulasi garlands to the God. Finally he offers Rice, Sweets, Milk, Curds, Coconuts, Bananas and Betel leaves to the God amidst the singing of hymns and songs by the Matha musicians.
The priest performs an Aarti to the God after offering Rice and Coconuts. This Pooja happens at 10:30 AM.
This Pooja is the most important Pooja of the day and the head of the Matha himself performs it at 11 AM. He offers rice, Tulasi, and sandal paste to the God amidst the chantings of Vishnu Ssahasranama, Krishna Stotra, and Brahma Stotra.
The Naivedya articles such as pots of cooked rice, sweets, and eatables, payasam, panchakajjaya, coconuts, plantains, betel leaves etc. are placed before the God. The priest comes out of the Sanctum and closes the door. Devotees believe that Madhavacharya himself makes the offerings to the God. After some time, the priests return and perform Aartis. Finally after firing two country Guns, signaling the occurrence of the Pooja, the people of the Town begin eating their meal.
Sri Mukhyaprana Pooja
The Naivedyams offered to Sri Krishna during the Maha puja are offered again to Sri Mukhyaprana. The Priest then performs the Aarti.
Sri Madhavacharya Pooja
The same Naivedyam is then offered to Sri Madhwacharya.
The Simhasana is offered the Naivedyam.
The priest goes around the idol four times and then proceeds to the Madhav Sarovar where he worships Goddess Bhagirathi. He dispers the offerings in the Sarovar. Then he proceeds to the Vrindavana and then to the Cowshed where he feeds the Cows. Afterwards he returns to the Simhasana where he distributes the Theertham to other priests and devotees. Finally he proceeds to the dining hall.
This Pooja takes place at 7 PM. Pooja is offered to sacred books and the Vigraha. Kirtans and bhajans are sung by the Udupi Krishna Temple musicians. Two huge baskets of puffed rice and Jaggery are offered to the God and an Aarti is raised.
The usual Naivedyam consisting of pots of cooked rice, ghee, jaggery, tender coconut and milk is offered. Aarti is raised on this occasion as the music and chanting of hymns continues. This Pooja occurs at 7:30 PM.
This service to God happens at 7:40 PM. The priest spreads four pots of Panchakajjaya on Banana leaves in a line in front of Sri Mukyaprana. Then he lights rows of lamps on either side and performs an Aarti. The devotees take the Utsava Murthi around the Matha and make offerings. The also recite songs and kirtans.
This Pooja happens at 8:50 PM. The Utsava murti is laid down on a golden cradle. Aarti is raised and lullabies are sung. The blowing of a Conch indicates the end of rituals for the day.
Besides these daily rituals, as a devotee, a number of Sevas can be offered to the God. Some of them are Akhanda Saptotsava, Laksha Deepotsava, Maha Puja Rathotsava, Sarva Seva, Annadanam, Ksheera Abhishek, Nanda Deepa, Godaana, Sahasranamarchana, Ashtotta Archana, Karpoora Mangal Aarti and Vaayustuti Parayana.
Festivals celebrated at the Temple
Devotees celebrate the unique festival in the Udupi Krishna Temple in a grand manner for a period of seven days. The festival begins five days before the Makara Sankranama or Makara Sankranthi in January. During the first five days of the festival, they place the idols of Lord Krishna and Lord Mukhyaprana on the Garuda ratha and idols of Lord Anantheshwara and Chandreshwara on the Mahapuja ratha. Then they take the two Rathas around the town.
On the day of Makara Sankranthi, the sixth day, the priests place Utsava Murthis of Lord Krishna and Lord Mukhyaprana in a golden palanquin and take them to the Madhava Sarovar. There they place them in a decorated float and take them around the Sarovar. This Utsava is the Teppotsava. Devotees believe that Sri Madhava Acharya installed the idol of Lord Krishna in the sanctum on the day of Makara Sankranthi.
Afterwards the priests take the idols of Lord Krishna, Lord Mukhyaprana, Lord Anantheshwara and Lord Chandreshwara to the three chariots. Then they place the idol of Lord Krishna on the main beautifully decorated Brahma Ratha. They place the idol of Lord Mukhyaprana in the Garuda Ratha and the idols of Chandreshwara and Anantheshwara in the Mahapuja Ratha.
Thousands of devotees pull the three chariots chanting the names of the Lord. After the Rathas reach the Temple, the priests take the idols to the Vasantha Mahal where they place the God in a cradle and perform the Pooja for him. After the Poojas, they take the idols to the sanctum where the Flute Seva and Ekantha Seva takes place signaling the end of the day.
On the last day, after the Mahapuja, the devotees bring Utsava Murthis of Lord Krishna and Lord Mukhyaprayana in a gold palanquin to the main chariot named Brahma Ratha. The priests perform Mangala Aarti for the Lords and then offers sweets and fruits.
One should observe that during this ritual; a Garuda always revolves around the chariot from above. Then the chariots go around the Ratha street and then to the Madhava Sarovar. After that, the priests bathe the Lord. Then all the priests and people take a dip in the Sarovar. The unique feature is that the priests offer flowers smeared with a gold paste to the Lord and then disperse them into the crowd. Hence, the name of the occasion became Churnotsava.
Shri Krishna Jayanti
The auspicious day occurs in August – September. The devotees and the priests observe a complete fast for the entire day. On the next day morning, a large number of guests are fed with special offerings like milk sweets.
A clay image of Sri Krishna is taken around the town in a Ratha and the Handi ceremony is celebrated with great energy. Handi is the process of breaking clay pots that hang between buildings and poles. Devotees take out a parade in which people dress as animals, masked figures and entertain the crowd. Then they submerge the idol in the Madhava Sarovar signaling the end of the celebrations.
The Hindu New Year usually falls in the month of April. The festival is popular Vishu (Kerala), Puthandu (Tamil), Baisakhi (Punjab), and Bihu (Assam) and devotees celebrate it by taking out a Ratha Yatra of Lord Krishna and then doing a Pooja in a cradle.
The day marks the beginning of the spring season and usually celebrated in March – April. The special Pooja and Prasadam take place for two months during the period. A Ratha Yatra for the God takes place every night starting from the day of Akshaya Tritiya and ending on the Vaisakha Poornima in May.
Devotees believe that this is the day on which Saint Madhavacharya disappeared from mortal sight. Special Poojas take place for the Saint at the Anathasana Temple. People also believe that he is still present as a holy spirit. The mass feeding of Brahmins, as well as recitation of the Madhwavijaya (biography of Madhavacharya), takes place.
The auspicious and festive day of Holi occurs in March. On this day, a procession of Lord Krishna starts from the Temple till Kadiyali and back. An effigy of Lord Kamadeva (God of Love) is burnt in accordance of the mythological tale where he sacrifices himself so that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati fall in love after the death of Goddess Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva. Devotees smear themselves with colored water and paste and revel in the festival. Devotees also believe that Holi was Lord Krishna’s favorite festival and they celebrate it with enthusiasm, especially in Mathura and Dwarka.
Besides the above festivals devotees celebrate Ram Navami, Narasimha Jayanti, Bhagirathi Jayanti, Chaturmasa, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, Deepavali, Subramanya Shashti, and Gurusamaradhana with great spiritual significance and fervor.
The Tulasi Vrindavana Festival – In the month of Karthik (November – December), the priest decorates and worships a sacred Tulasi plant and a lamp post in the North of the Temple by singing holy songs and recitals for a period of twelve days.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air – The nearest airport is the Mangalore International Airport 59 km away from the town. Mangalore also connects well to cities like Mumbai, Goa, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. One can hire taxis from the Airport to reach the Udupi Krishna Temple.
By Train – Udupi is an important railway station in the Konkan Railway route. Regular trains are available from cities like Mumbai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Kohlapur, Trivandrum and Madgaon.
By Road – The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation operated regular buses from Bengaluru, Mangalore, and Mysore. The town connects well to Kerala and Goa.
Where to stay
The holy town of Udupi is bustling with small hotels and lodges that offer the devotees a decent option to stay overnight.
Where to eat
The Bhojana Saale in the northern part of the Udupi Krishna Temple is where the devotees are fed. One can eat the Prasadam served at the Temple kitchen.
Several restaurants serve delicious Udupi cuisine (mainly Idlis, Dosas, Vada, Sambhar) along with North Indian cuisine as well. One can also find Non-vegetarian food, especially seafood in restaurants.
The Temple is just opposite to the Udupi Sri Krishna Temple. Some believe that this is the place where Chandra did his penance and Lord Shiva relieved him of the curse of Daksha which stated that Chandra will keep decreasing in size and eventually disappear. Lord Shiva gave a boon that he will decrease in size for 15 days and then increase for 15 days in a month. The Temple is for Lord Shiva.
Devotees also believe that the Linga changes color from black in the morning, blue at noon and white at night. Some also believe that one must visit the Chandramouleeshwara Temple and the Anantheshwara Temple before visiting the Krishna Temple.
The Temple legend says that Sage Parashurama retrieved the land from the sea and made his devotee Ramabhoja as the King. During the plowing of the land to perform the Ashwamedha Yagna, he accidently killed a snake. To relieve the sin, he made a silver peetham known as Rajatha Peetham in Kannada with images of a snake carved on it.
Shri Janardhana Mahakali Temple
The Temple is in Ambalpay area in Udupi, about 3 km away from the Sri Krishna Temple. The presiding deity of the beautiful temple is Goddess Mahakali. Devotees also believe that she came down to Earth as a guardian for the town and eventually Janardhana Swamy followed her.
Batte Vinayaka Temple
The Temple is one of the oldest Temples in the district, constructed by the Barkur kingdom. The unique feature of the Temple is that the idol of Lord Ganapathi is facing the North but leaning towards West.
Sri Mahishamardhini Temple
The Temple is in Kadiyali. The Temple’s history dates back to around 1200 years. The idol of Mahishamardhini is in a standing posture with four arms. She holds the Prayaga chakra on one hand and the Shanka on the other. The idol also depicts her piercing the head of the demon Mahishasura.