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Feb 07, 2016

Udupi -The Land of Temples and Dosas!

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By Alfie D'Souza, Illinois [ Published Date: October 16, 2010 ]

During my college days and after in Mangalore, I used to often visit Manipal to meet some of my friends studying over there, but always made a stopover in Udupi before heading to Manipal. Although I left for United States in 1990 I still remember the fun and frolic that I had with my friends in Manipal and Udupi. So every time I visit back home I make it a point that I travel to Manipal, and of course, my favorite place for authentic South Indian  delicacies, Udupi!

Udupi, situated 60 km from Mangalore, is no doubt India's favorite kitchen. Around India and also all over the world people crave for Udupi's food -- just for the simple reason that Udupi's cooks know how to make food tasty. Travel from Mangalore to Udupi takes an hour or so, but many a times you are there quicker than you expected -- that's because of the guys behind the steering wheel and their reckless driving. I call these drivers the 'Nascar Drivers' of Dakhshina Kannada. "Are we there yet?"-- Yes, you are already there before you even say it. Thanks to the fast and furious D.K. drivers who reached you there safely!

If you are a hedonistic pet pooja seeking foodie or more accomplished on the hierarchy of needs seeking spiritual solace, or if you just need to decide where you fit on the spectrum, Udupi is the place for you. Want inspiration? Udupi will let you be inspired whether the route is through your stomach or soul. Udupi is temple land, as much as it is food land. There are temples all over the place. It is like a buffet in every sense of the word for Gods and food. Whatever is your cuisine or God, your stomach and your mind will go back happy.

The Krishna temple along with the Ananteshwara and the Chandramoulishwara temple are a spiritual experience by themselves in their quaint and small structures. They are probably the most inconspicuous temples of India, given their rich history, but are very rewarding just by virtue of their atmosphere, especially in the mornings. The verdant beauty of the Mookambika temple is worth seeing. Yes, Udupi is a 'holy land' with' holy temples', no doubt about it at all

In a single sentence, Udupi's cooks know how to cook and make food tasty. While their set dosas (with a dab of butter), Neer dosas (served with grated coconut and jaggery), Masala dosas, Rava dosas and Onion dosas are like the starting tricks of the magician opening a great show, it is their versatility to prepare "anything" that makes it magical. We do have a few Udupi restaurants here in Chicago, U.S.A. doing business in the name of Udupi and its food authenticity -- but when you peep into their kitchen the cooks are either North Indians or Mexicans. Sometimes your Poori Bhaji will taste like Pav Bhaji and your Masala dosa will taste like Mexican Burritto!

A bhelpuri in Udupi will not resemble a bhelpuri anywhere on the beaches in Mumbai, but you won't complain -- it will be tasty in a way that only it can be. My favorite place to savor some chats and snacks has always been, 'Diana's near Diana Circle in Udupi. Some restaurants in Udupi don't have menu's -- they depend on the recollections of the days menu from the server. Want to savour a little bit of time gone by? Try the Mitra Samaj hotel near the Krishna temple. It is worth the visit. Amidst all the newer restaurants, like the Gauls, this one is still standing -- thriving is more like it.

Udupi is not just temples and restaurants, there are also beaches close by. The Kaup (the locals call it Kapu) beach is like walking on sand fine as talcum powder and water clean as a mineral water bottle. The lighthouse on the beach adds to the mystique. Malpe beach is a close second to Kapu -- minus the lighthouse. St. Mary's Island is good in parts -- the clean parts. The noisy, badly organised boat ride and the overall cleaniless almost manage to kill the beauty of the island, and at this rate they will succed in a few years if not months in running it to the ground.

Finally, Udupi can cater to the tourist who knows what he wants or who is trying to find he wants and therein lies the beauty of the place. I love Udupi, and I hope you will too!

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Suresh Shenoy, India :
Many of the Mumbai hotels are spoiling the name of Udupi serving the food of taste nowhere near to typical Udupi hotels.
ashok, USA :
There are so many restaurents operating under the bannar of UDUPI at New York, New Jersy, Boston & Chicago. Most of these hotels are just for name sake only. Once you go in & experience the food, you will not go again. These people are spoiling the good name of Udupi Hotels.
Anwar, Saudi Arabia:
Thanks for reminding me those days I have had dosas at Dosa Camp, Mangalore. Superb!
Nelson Lewis, Bahrain :
One evening I had arrived in Udupi and checked in a hotel and had my dinner at Diana Restaurant. As is my wont, I woke up early in the morning, stepped out and found that Diana had yet to open its shutters.

I then turned left and again left and saw a traffic cop and asked him if there was any eatery open. He directed me to a tea shop and, believe me, the snacks I had there were simply fantastic and cheap too.

During my travels to various destinations, I have found that if one comprises a bit on hygiene, then there are wayside eateries that provide fresh, tasty and "value-for-money" foodstuff.
Mohan Shenoy, India :
Long live the dosas!-Susan Smith

I take it that you have tried it at one of the restaurants on West Devon street.I must urge you to visit India in future and make it a point to visit South India in particular apart from visiting the Golden triangle.[Delhi, Agra and Jaipur] Months of December and January are the best months to visit South India. You have direct flight from Chicago to New Delhi. [AA] Welcome to incredible India Madam.
Susan Smith, Chicago Suburbs, USA :
Bon Appetit! Reading Mr. Alfie's article made me more hungry and craving for some delicious Udupi delicacies. I got introduced to Udupi food by my Indian friend at college-and since then I am a great fan of vegetarian Udupi menu. Alfie, thanks for sharing the goodness of Udupi cooking. I simply love the enormous paper masala dosa-- I can literaly spend the whole evening in trying to finish eating it!!! Long live the dosas!
Deeraj Hegde, Kudla, India :
Excellent article, Mr. D'Souza! Udupi no doubt is the place for authentic vegetarian cuisine. I make few trips to Udupi from Mangalore just to savour some vegetarian and also few times non-veg food there. Thanks for a great article and for promoting the goodness of Udupi style cooking. Sincere compliments to you and keep writing!
suresh pai udupi , Bahrain :
Thank you Shenoy Mam, for agreeing that Udupi is the main Base for these so called delicious Masala Dosa, Vada / Idli Sambar, as these are the foods introduced originaly by Udupi Brahmins only.
Mohan Shenoy, India :
No one denies the work of Udupi Brahmins in setting up famous restaurants not only in Bangalore but almost everywhere.I was only comparing the quality of the restaurants we see in Bangalore as oppossed to the birth place of Udupi restaurants which is Udupi itself. I hope this clarifies the comments made. Udupi Brahmins have spread their wide net throughout India and abroad. Virtually there is no one from that community who does not know how to cook. Long live Udupi hotels.
By the way 2/3 of retsuarnts in Mumbai are Udupi restaurants mainly owned by Bunts. They may have Brahmin chefs.
Pramod upadhya, USA :
Good one Alfie. I agree that to have authetic udupi food, you need to go to udupi or mlore. I recently visited udupi and had my usual quota of masala dosa and poori paji in Diana.. Regarding some comments about Blore having better udupi dosas, please note most of them are operated by the udupities like adiga, bhats, kamats..
Vissia DSouza, USA :
Nice article Alfie. Hummmm the taste of Diana lingered in my mouth while reading this article. I just visited the place in August and I shall say the place rocks even after so many years. They have kept up that unique taste and love to go there anytime. Their waiters are the best. Kudos to management for retaining them.

Your article brought back good old memories of living in Manipal-Udupi. Keep on writing Alfie.
UDAY, India :
Suresh Pai, Udupi , Bahrain :
Surprised to see your comments !!! I think, you have forgotten that Udupi is the First City introduced Masala Dosa in this World. So, I hope, you will agree and appreciate that all these delicious food such as Masala Dosa, Idli Sambar, Vada, etc. are introduced / originated from Udupi. And after proper training / experience, may be Bangalorean Restuarant Owners searcehd for Udupi based cook, appoint them and started gaining name & fame, hence the credit should go to Udupi first and not Bangalore. Can you tell me, has Bangalore at any time, know about what Masala Dosa is, what Vada / Idli Sambar is. NO, NO WAY, these are the delicious food, introduced by Udupi and followed / continued at Bangalore later on. But, still the Restaurant in Bangalore definitely must have well known / experienced cook from Udupi Territory or any other cook, who are trained by Udupi Cook and not their own, without following Udupi Recepies. So, before commenting or appreciating / commenting that Bangalore is good enough than Udupi, you have to think 100 times that from where these Masala Dosas, Idli / Vada Sambar, etc. came to this wonderful World. If you know this, then you will have to definitely vote to Udupi only and not Bangalore.
A.S.Mathew, USA :
You have written a plain truth. Whenever I travel to India, I will look for vegetarian food. When the name "Udupi" is on the signboard, I am tempted and forced to enter
the place to eat. While spending one week in Delhi, I ate three meals there every day, also surprised to see more foreigners than expected at the restaurant.

Like the French wine-Swiss watches-Persain carpet-English cutlery-Hyderabad Biriyani-German cars etc; the people of Udupi are blessed
by God to prepare the most delicious Indian-vegetarian food, espcially all varieties of mouth-watering Dosas.
Suresh, India :
Agreed with Mohan mam.

Bangalore has better udipi-styled restaurants than coastal karnataka these days.
Leslie Dsouza, Kuwait:
Good article Alfie,
Reminded of my days there. But I must say the Mitra Samaj and one near Kalpana theatre were better and more authentic in late 70'S.
We can be proud of the fact popular Udupi food all around the world originated from Udipi.
Mohan Shenoy, India :
Udupi is OK. But the best restaurants are in Bangalore to be honest. Vidyarthi Bhavan, Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan, Kamat restaurants, Pai Vihar, Chalukya etc. Vishnu Bhavan on K G Road is also very good. I don't think other cities have such variety as we find in Bangalore.

Diana is still good. But it used to be much better when the late Mohandas Pai was there. Some of the old and trusted waiters are still there.
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