Sunday, December 14, 2014

A trip to Udupi

As always, my brother, on his trips to India, makes it a point to meet as many people as he possibly can, however short his visit may be.  He had Mangalore and Udupi on his agenda.  Since I was in charge of his itinerary, I booked his ticket.  A fortnight later, I decided to accompany him. I had not been to Udupi for over 35 years and there was that longing to connect to the past.  Earlier visits were with my parents and siblings driving 500 km in the old Prefect Ford over the Shimoga ghats. Stopping at travelers bungalows along the way.  Quenching thirst with 'goli' soda.  It seemed a long time ago.  Memories were fading.

The driver of the cab we hired from the Mangalore airport was elderly and I settled down to what I assumed would be a relaxed ride.  But he took off from the airport like a rocket and brought us to our destination in the shortest time.  I normally would have been scared out of my wits, but instead the two of us were looking out excitedly for familiar landmarks as we whizzed past at full speed.

The start of the road  that led to the house had high rise apartments.  Oh no, I thought, had the place changed that much !  That was so disappointing..... but just till we reached our destination.  There it stood, the house, as we remembered it.

It felt as if the hands of the clock were pushed back in time.  And we were so grateful to our uncle and aunt who lived there.  It must be a mammoth task to maintain a house of this size. But they had taken care to see that the house remained unchanged.  A few modern conveniences to make life easier.

                    The housewarming in 1917.The portico had not been constructed at that time.

Each room had a story to tell.  The front portico that used to be open earlier was where my father, as a child, had a very bad head injury when he fell off the parapet.  As years passed by, security issues cropped up and it had to be enclosed.

              The cool red oxide flooring, high sloping roof with Mangalore tiles on the outside and the wooden                  rafters inside. 

We were squealing with delight as we walked from room to room. It did not matter that we were not kids anymore.  Taking pictures.  Looking for objects that we could remember having seen. Memories came rushing back.  Where was the ship in the bottle?  The ship remained, and I suspect the bottle must have been broken.

The grand uncle's study had been out of bounds for us. Or was it that as kids we were scared to venture in.  He used to looked stern.  Even now, I stepped in hesitantly. My great grandmother's room was converted to a puja place.  The kitchen retained the old charm.  Of course, a gas stove and a refrigerator had moved in. I thought the lights had not been switched off only to realise that abundant sunlight was streaming in through the skylights in the roof.

The house stood on an acre of land.  There were tall trees of coconut, teak, jack fruit, bread fruit, sapota, mango, bay leaf, pepper vines, curry leaves, and the bilimbi .  They must have seen generations play under its shade.

There was a little raised platform in the compound where the adults would gather and chat in the evening. It also served as the centre stage for weddings.

The town has changed.  There is no doubt about that.  Tall residential buildings and malls. The small by lanes existed, that we as city bred kids thought , barely sufficient for humans and the occasional bullock cart. But now there were Audis, BMWs and Mercs that drove by.

The Malpe beach with its golden sands was as beautiful.  We chose a day and time when the crowds were thin.  There were people para gliding, and in speed boats.  Different sights. But same delight .

The Ajarkad playground where we would walk in the evenings and make little sand castles was still there.  Adjoining it was a huge stadium and a park.  The old radio tower still remained.  It looked a little sad and forlorn, but there were signs of some repair and I am hoping it will be restored to its old glory.

We mananged the Udupi Krishna temple visit choosing once again the time when there was no rush of devotees.

We were in Udupi for too short a time. As children, we had wanted to rush back to the city sounds.  But now we enjoyed the quiet.  I have to make the trip back there very soon.  To spend more time with my uncle and aunt.  To listen to anecdotes they have to share.  To walk through the rooms again.  And oh yes, the Gadbad Special Ice cream.  We were so well fed, that we just did not have room for the Udupi specialty.   There is always another time.  And I hope it will be very soon.


  1. Mitra Samajada Goli baje?!
    You took me home, now, Radha. My cousin's house is just near the Ajjarakaadu park. Our home was at Sante Katte. I studied in the Main school, opp. to Alankar theatre! I was born at the Mission hospital nearby. Now, let me stop.

    The home is gone with a huge garden which was like you explained. Multi storied building has come there now. Maamaas and maamis are no more. One cousin is there in Kinni mulki. And another cousin at Kadiyaali. That is all. We go there for weddings even now. That is all. Memories still remain.

    Your house reminded of our home too! I can understand how much you must have enjoyed! Enjoy your place since your relatives are there to take care of the house.

    1. Yes, property rates have gone up, no wonder land and old houses are disappearing. I am indeed ggrateful to my uncle and aunt for keeping the house intact.

      Ajarkaad park surroundings are quite nice and serene.

  2. The spacious house holds the old world charm somewhat akin to Chettiar houses of Karaikudi.Little wonder it evokes fond memories for you especially when it is maintained well retaining some familiar things.
    I have a vague memory of Udupi Sri Krishna temple that i visited five decades back but the pictures refreshed it..
    It is very nicely narrated.

    1. Houses in the south are similar I guess. The wooden column and red oxide flooring are common in the old houses

  3. What happened to my long comment here, Rahda? Please check in spam folder!

  4. wow.its a beautiful house.and its nice of your uncle to maintain it..I love the old type houses in south..

  5. My son treated me to a trip to Coonoor in 2008 where I spent four years in a boarding school. I had left the place in the end of 1966. Going back to school walking up the steps to the senior dormitory, well it was an overwhelming experience and I loved it. The basic structure is the same but it has been modernized and of course much more Indianized. I could relate to this post so well.

  6. Wow!
    Such a beautiful old house, and so well maintained.

  7. Beautiful post and pics..very relaxing to see the classic ones


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