Udupi Shri Krishna Matha – The Mathura of Southern India

    Categories: Udupi


The Udupi Shri Krishna Matha is an important religious center for the Hindus, and is placed among the principal pilgrimage sites in India. It is a conspicuous center of the Dvaita Vedanta Hindu philosophy that believes Lord Vishnu (the Supreme Soul) and the individual souls have independent existential realities.

Krishna Temple, Udupi. Photographer Raghu N

Quick Facts Udupi Shri Krishna Matha

  • Main Deity: Lord Balkrishna (child form of Lord Krishna)
  • Best Time to Visit: during the Krishnashthami (Janmashthami) in August-September
  • Temple Timings:00 am to 9.00 pm
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Phone: +91 820 252 0598
  • Address: Car Street, Thenkpete, Maruthi Veethika, Udupi, Karnataka – 576101 (MAP)

An Overview of the Temple

The Shri Krishna Matha, dedicated to Lord Krishna, is located in the town of Udupi in Karnataka, around 60 km north of Mangalore. The temple is considered as one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Southern India.

Thousands of devotees visit the temple from different parts of the country all the year round. Resembling a holy ashram, the temple is known globally for its religious customs, traditions, and the upholder of Tatvavaada philosophy or Dvaita. It is also the hub of Daasa Sahitya.

Udupi Srikrishna Temple. Image courtesy Rkrish67

A Different Way to Worship

Apart from its religious history and legends, the temple is famed for its two exclusive features. Firstly, no one gets a close, wholesome view of the idol of Lord Krishna since it’s a tradition in the temple to worship the Lord through an exquisitely carved, silver-plated inner window with nine holes depicting the ten incarnations of Vishnu.

The window is called the Navagraha Kitiki. Secondly, unlike the usual norm of placing the idol of Lord Vishnu facing the east, Lord Krishna’s idol at the temple is placed facing the west. In fact, the idols in all the Ashta Mathas are west-facing.

The glorious little idol of Lord Krishna sits all alone in meditational silence and wisdom, swathed in diamond-studded gold cover, fragrant garlands made from fresh flowers, the regal crown, the sacred thread made from gold yarn, and the brilliant stones-studded gold lined garments.

Decorated chariot, Udupi. Image courtesy Rayabhari


The 9-holed window, also known as the Kanakadasa window, is attached to a wall in the Chandrasala hall. The hall lends itself a sublime ambiance in aid of the holy sound made by numerous bells hanging at its arched entrance, as well as the beautiful glow of the earthen lamps burning in the hall. Devotees either sit there in meditation saying silent prayers or try to peep through the 9-holed window to get a glimpse of the Lord. One corner of the hall holds the shrine of Lord Hanuman in a meditative pose.

Overlooking the Chandrasala hall is a four-pillared raised platform with a silver roof. The platform houses the traditional deepastambam, holding the sacred oil lamp.

On the right side of the main sanctum in the path of circumambulation stands the statue of the temple’s founder Shri Madhvacharya, while on the northern side of his statue stands the shrine of Lord Panduranga.

The holy tank Madhwapushkarani is placed next to the southern entrance of the temple. The eastern entrance to Shri Balkrishna’s sanctum sanctorum is strikingly beautiful flanked by a panchadhatu (5 metals) figure of Lord Vishnu mounted on his Garuda holding conch and discus. The eastern entrance usually remains closed and is open only once a year on the day of Vijaya Dashami.

Festivals Celebrated

Some of the main utsavas or ceremonies here are:

  • Saptotsava
  • Vasantotsava
  • Krishna Leelotsava
  • Laksha Deepotsava

Udupi Shri Krishna Matha: The History

The temple was founded in the 13th century by the Vaishnavite saint and founder of the Dvaiti school of Vedanta, Shri Madhvacharya. It is believed that the saint found the idol of Lord Krishna buried in a large stone ball of sandalwood. There’s an interesting story associated with the discovery of Lord Krishna’s idol that sits at the temple.

The gate to Udupi. Image courtesy Vinayaraj

Udupi Shri Krishna Matha: The Legends

According to mythology, when Lord Krishna’s wife Rukmini requested her husband for the idol of Balkrishna, the child form of the Lord, Shri Krishna entrusted Vishwakarma with the task of designing the idol. Vishwakarma made a beautiful idol of Balkrishna with the holy saaligrama stone and gave it to Rukmini for worship.

The idol, in the course of being worshipped by hundreds of devotees at Dwaraka with the application of sandalwood paste, got completely covered with the sandalwood paste. It is believed that this same idol is now placed at the temple.

As a consequence of the great flood that occurred at the end of the era of Lord Krishna, Dwaraka was completely engulfed by the sea. And the sandalwood covered idol of Lord Krishna also got washed away.

Saint Madhvacharya and the Idol

Decades passed. And then centuries later, a sailor found the idol in the shape of a hard rock on an island. He began using the rock to balance his ship. Sometimes later, when his ship was faced with a raging sea storm somewhere beyond the west coast of the South Indian Peninsula, Saint Madhvacharya sensing the danger while meditating on the shore, beseeched Lord Vishnu’s mercy to calm down the angry weather. He then signaled the ship with his garment to sail ashore.

After sailing ashore safely, the sailor fell on the Saint’s feet with gratitude and requested him to accept something from his ship as a token of thankfulness. Saint Madhvacharya chose to accept the sandalwood rock as his gift. Later when he happened to break the rock, the idol of Balkrishna emerged from it bit by bit.

The Saint was filled with sublime joy and bliss when he realized through his deific vision that it was the same Balkrishna idol that Rukmini worshipped. He immediately decided to bring home the idol of his true devotion to his Matha at Udupi, some 4 km from the shore where he was praying. That shore today is known as the Malpe beach.

Malpe Beach, Udupi. Image courtesy Neinsun

The Many Legends and One God

Another interesting legend goes about the peculiar west-facing position of the idol at the Temple. It is said that Saint Madhvacharya had originally installed the idol facing east. Kanakadasa, a devout devotee of Lord Krishna, was denied entry to the temple through the main eastern entrance because he was from the lower caste.

Desperate to get a glimpse of his Lord, Kanakadasa ran to the western side of the temple, and pressing his eyes through the three holes in the wall, began to pray fervently to Lord Krishna to appear before him.

Impressed by his devotion, the Balkrishna turned to the west and made himself seen to Kanakadasa through the 9-holed window and the opening on the wall beyond. It was since then that the idol of Balkrishna rests facing west inside the temple. And that’s how began the tradition of offering prayers to the Lord only through the 9-holed window in the western wall of the temple. The hole came to be known as Kanakana Kindi.

The Management

The administration and management of the place are vested with the Ashta Mathas (8 monasteries). These eight Mathas include:

  • Puttige
  • Shirur
  • Pejavara
  • Palimaru
  • Sodhe
  • Kaniyooru
  • Adamaru
  • Krishnapura

Each of these Ashta Mathas takes the managerial responsibility of the temple for two years in cyclic order. The expenses of the Matha are borne by the entrusted Ashta Matha along with the contributions from the devotees. The contributions are made either in cash or kind.

Goshala at Udupi Sri Krishna Temple. Image courtesy Vinayaraj

Udupi Shri Krishna Matha: Things to Do

Visit the nearby temples of Ananteshwara and Chandreshwara – The usual norm while visiting the Shri Krishna Temple is to pay visits to the adjacent Ananteshwara and Chadreshwara Temples before stepping into the temple of Lord Krishna. Popular beliefs say that King Rama Bhoja, a devout follower of Lord Parashurama, had installed the statue of Lord Ananteshwara (Lord Shiva). Another belief says that the Chandreshwara temple was built on the same spot where Chandra performed a great penance in order to get rid of the curse of Daksha Prajapathi.

Visit the Mahathobhara Shri Vishwanatha Temple – After a soul satisfying sojourn at the Udupi Shri Krishna Matha, it would be a good idea to pay a visit to the Mahathobhara Shri Vishwanatha Temple. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is thronged by thousands of devotees from all over the country.

Drive to the Maple Beach – After learning about the legend associated with the great storm and Saint Madhvacharya’s divine rescue of the ship to the Maple shore, none would want to miss a drive to the Maple Beach. Only 4 km from the temple, the Maple Beach is a lovely beach and important fishing harbor of certain religious and spiritual significance, which isn’t ought to be missed.

Udupi Krishna Temple. Image courtesy WT-en) Ravikiran Rao

How to Reach Udupi Shri Krishna Matha

By Rail

Udupi is the railway station close to the temple. You can also consider Mangalore Railway Station. Buses and taxis are also available from here.

By Air

Mangalore is the nearest airport to Udupi. One may catch direct flights from Bangalore to Mangalore, from where one can hire a taxi to Udupi.

By Road

The KSRTC, as well as the private buses, ply frequently between Mangalore and Udupi. You can hire private taxis or cabs to reach here.

Also See

About Udupi and Temples 

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