Mother Yasodha had the great fortune of being with the prodigious divine child Krishna, though she was his only foster mother. Yasodha could enjoy all the childish pranks of Krishna. But Krishna's original mother Devaki, the one who had really given birth to Krishna, was denied all this pleasure, and she longed to enjoy Krishna's bala leelaas.
To honour his mother's wish, Krishna assumed his childish form of Balakrishna again and demonstrated all his playful activities for her sake.
While mother Devaki was overjoyed with the experience, Krishna's dear wife Rukmani, who also had the good fortune of enjoying it, was just exhilarated. She requested her love Krishna, for an idol of Balakrishna, in the same childish form.
The beloved husband entrusted the task of casting such an idol to Vishvakarma. The divine architect made a beautiful idol of child Krishna in the holy Saaligrama stone, for Rukmani to worship with all piety.
The idol giving darshan to the countless devotees at Udipi at present is the same idol of Krishna worshipped by Rukmani.
How did that idol reach Udupi all the way from Dwaraka?
The Saaligrama idol, during worship at Dwaraka, got applied with fragrant sandal paste and gradually got totally covered by sandal in course of time.
In the great deluge that followed after Krishna, the city of Dwaraka was consumed by the surging sea. Along with it the sandal covered idol too was washed away by the waves.
Centuries passed. The sandal block was accidentally found as a hard rock by a sailor in an island, who began using it as a weight to balance his ship.
Once his ship was caught in a big storm in the sea beyond the west coast of the South Indian Peninsula, Saint Sri Madhwacharya, who had come to the sea shore for his prayers, saw the ship in deep trouble. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and signaled the ship to come safely to the shore by waving his garment.
Oh, what a miracle! The raging storm subsided immediately and the sinking ship moved to the safety of the shore. The grateful sailor fell at the saint's feet with tears in his eyes and requested him to accept something from his ship as a token of his gratitude. Sri Madhwacharya, who accepted to his request, was impressed with the sandal rock found in the ship and accepted it as the gift.
On breaking open the sandal cover, the idol of Balakrishna began emerging from it bit by bit. The saint just could not believe his good fortune in finding his favourite God coming to him on his own!
His joy knew no bounds when he realized through his divine vision that the idol found was the one worshipped by Devi Rukmani. Overwhelmed, he carried the idol to his Matt at Udupi some 4 kilometers from the shore, singing in praise of the Lord.
The mere touch from the holy hands of the saint was enough for the ancient idol to get bestowed with all the divine powers. It was installed and consecrated with due religious rites at Udupi.
The Krishna temple at Udupi, also known as the Mathura of the South, looks beautiful, though small.
The temple has a holy tank Madhwapushkarani next to the southern entrance. On entering, one comes to the Eastern entrance of Lord Balakrishna's sanctum sanctorum. This entrance is opened on the Vijaya Dhasami day, only once in a year. Though this entrance normally remains closed, one finds the beautiful aimpon (made of 5 metals) figure of Lord Vishnu on top, with conch, discus and his mount Garuda.
On proceeding further, one comes to the path, well lit by rows of oil lamps, leading to the sanctum. On going along and around, one reaches the sanctum and gets the holy darshan of Lord Balakrishna through the window having 9 openings.
The Lord was facing east when Sri Madhwacharya installed him originally. But something strange happened later.
Kanakadasa, a devotee of Krishna, was denied entry into the temple through the main eastern entrance, as he was from a lower caste and hence denied darshan of his Lord. Driven to desperation, Kanakadasa moved to the western side and pressing his eyes against the 3 small openings on the western wall, prayed fervently to the Lord for his darshan. Just for this devotee's sake, Balakrishna turned towards west and through the 9 holed window and the opening on the wall beyond, gave his darshan to baktha Kanakadasa.
With diamond studded gold cover (kavacham): fragrant flower garlands: the brilliant crown (kreetam): yagnyopaveetham, the sacred thread made of golden yarn and with gold lined garments studded with variety of colourful precious stones, the Lord is just dazzling.
Separated from the devotees by the 9 holed window, the Lord may appear to be alone, beyond one's reach. But like the wisdom that dwells with the sages, he actually remains close and always inseparable from the devotees.
Just outside the sanctum window, is situated a silver roofed four pillared raised platform (mandapam), with the traditional deepasthambam, carrying the sacred oil lamp.
Right behind the four pillared platform is the Chandrasala hall, on whose wall is situated the Kanakadasa window.
From the arches at the front of the roof of this Chandrasala hall, are hanging bells, big and small, in various sizes and shapes. One hears the fine ringing sounds that they often make and gets a feeling that they are reciting the name of the Lord "Krishna, Krishna" during the different poojas. The roof with wooden decorations, from which hang lighted oil lamps kept is glass cases, adds to the grace of the surroundings. One finds the devotees sitting peacefully on the marble floor of this raised hall, a few trying to catch a glimpse of the Lord through the window and a few others saying silent prayers.
In one corner of the hall is the shrine of Lord Hanuman, in a meditative pose, with lovely flower decorations.
In the path of circumambulation, on the right of the main sanctum, is a shrine for Sri Madhwacharya and to the north of this shrine is one for Lord Panduranga. That is all the temple of Udupi!
In the corridor outside, is the temple kitchen and dining hall: next to it facing west is the shrine of Lord Subrahmanya in the form of a serpent and at the back is Ghosala, the cow shed, housing a large number of cows. Nothing strange, with the Lord of the temple himself being the divine cowherd, isn't it?
There are fourteen poojas done daily to Lord Sri Balakrishna, starting at 04:00 in the early morning. On the Gokulashtami day, the birthday of the Lord, there is a grand celebration in the temple.
In Udupi, Lord Sri Bala Krishna presents himself in the form of a mischievous child, his one hand holding the shaft used for churning out the butter, the other holding the rope used by mother Yasoda for tying him up, with a divine grace and a captivating smile, ready to shower his blessings on all his devotees.
There are three temples in Udupi - Chandreshwara, Anantheshwara and Sri Krishna temple. Chandreshwara and Anatheshwara are the most ancient temples of Udupi.
Travel & Accommodation
A visit to Udupi Shree Krishna Temple can also be combined with other tourist attractions across the city. The nearest railway station and airport to Udupi is Mangalore. There are also regular busses to Udupi from Mangalore, Mysore and Bangalore. It is well connected with all major cities in Karnataka. There are many affordable hotels around the temple.