The Peninsula Tour – Udupi

It is a stone’s throw from Manipal ( where we stayed) to Udupi. And a complete contrast. Manipal has grown into a mini city around the campus, with malls, eating places etc. According to friends and family who studied there, none of the pictures had any recognisable and familiar places, since even as late as the 90’s.

Turn around the corner and there is Udupi. There are broad roads that turn around the corner into narrow lanes, urban scapes lie alongside coconut plantations. There are small houses adjoining large open areas where cultivation happens or laterite blocks are being made. The traffic is chaotic- there are many many cops who stand around and admire the problem.

There is a famous Krishna Temple that we visited. It is a sprawling complex with many small shrines that surround the main one. It is quaint and old and extremely well managed, considering the hordes of worshippers.

Then, there is St. Marys Island. Located 8-9 km off the coast of Malpe beach, it is accessible by boats that continuously shuttle between the mainland and the island. When you think of St. Mary’s, you think pristine beach, blue green waters, coconut palms and very stunning and unique rock formations. The island is a conserved area and no food and plastic are allowed within. There are arrangements to stash our belongings and also a single refreshment outlet run by the authorities.

The island (not more than 500 m across and about 100 m in width) has a small landing beach. The land slopes upwards and the centre of the island is at an elevation. It is believed to have been a part of Madagascar and the rift happened in the Cretaceous period.

What is unique about St. Mary’s is unique basalt formations which are very similar to the rock formations of the Giants Causeway in Ireland. There are hexagonal shaped rocks that have split into columns and of varying heights throughout the island. Some of the polygonal rocks form a horizontal mosiac on a plateau above the columns and the largest formation is approximately 6-7 metres high. Incredibly stunning and the visit was completely worthwhile despite a high tide and a slightly choppy crossing.

Ranjit had set his sights on lunch at Thimmappa’s Fish Hotel, but a snaking queue, which was a testimony to its popularity, made him change his mind.

The evening took us to another unique place. There is a narrow strip of land , 8-9 km long from Malpe beach to Mattu beach and about 300 m at its widest. I measured this on Google earth, thanks to Shrinath who is my all knowing Google. It is unique in the fact that there is a river that runs between the mainland and this strip on one side. On the other side is the Arabian sea. The narrow strip is divided by a road along the length, with fishing villages alongside the river side and beaches on the other. There are large stone berms to contain erosion and between these berms are beautiful tiny coves. We drove up to almost the end (Mattu beach). There are not many people around and the drive itself is superb, with various points at which one can see the river and sea at the same time. I have tried to get both in the same frame, though it would make for better and stunning drone pictures.

That was Udupi.

Here’s a link to the pictures –

Our next destination is Coorg and onwards to Wayanad. Fingers crossed that we see wildlife!

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