It is widely believed that the name of Udupi was derived from its Tulu name Odipu. The Tulu name in turn is associated with a temple at Malpe, devoted to Vadapandeshwara. Another story is that the name Udupi came from the combination of the Sanskrit words Udu and Pa, which mean "stars" and "lord." According to legend, the moon's light was once reduced due to a curse by King Daksha, whose 27 daughters (the 27 stars, according to Hindu astrology) were married to the moon. The moon prayed to Lord Shiva to get back its original shine. Lord Shiva was pleased with the moon's prayer and restored its shine. Legend says that the moon and his wives made their prayer at the Chandramouleeshwara temple at Udupi, creating a linga that can be seen even today. According to this story, therefore, Udupi means the land of the "lord of the stars," the moon.
Udupi is a land of ethereal beauty, sandwiched between the verdant mountains of the western ghats on the east and the vast, tranquil Arabian Sea on the west. This new district, carved out of the erstwhile Dakshina Kannada, which was more aptly called "Parashurama Srishti", encapsulates the vast cultural heritage. Udupi is well known for its religious fervour and vividity of diverse cultural heritage.It is best known as the seat of Madhwa renaissance, founded by the sage Madhwacharya, outcome of which are Ashtamathas, located in the famous Car Street, surrounding the Sri Krishna Temple.
Udupi is known for the Krishna Mutt (Temple of Lord Krishna) and also native place of the Vaishnavite saint Shri Madhvacharya who founded the Krishna Mutt in the 13th century.
According to folklore, there was a storm in the sea at Malpe. Shri Madhvacharya was on the shore at the time and saw a ship which was in trouble. He helped the ship reach the shore to safety. The sailors were very grateful to him and gave him deities of Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. He did the pratishte (installation ceremony) of the deity of Lord Balarama near Malpe. This temple is known as Vadapandeshwara. He brought the deity of Lord Krishna and did the pratishte at Udupi. This temple is known as Krishna Mutt.
Udupi is also the birthplace of the Syndicate Bank and Corporation Bank. Udupi's economy depends mainly on agriculture and fishing. Small-scale industries like the cashew industry, and other food industries and milk cooperatives are the most prominent. There is no large-scale industry in Udupi.
The term Udupi (also Udipi) is also synonymous with delicious vegetarian food now found all over world. The origin of this cuisine is linked to Krishna Matha (Mutt). Lord Krishna is offered food of different varieties every day, and there are certain restrictions on ingredients during Chaturmasa (a four-month period during the monsoon season). These restrictions coupled with the requirement of variety led to innovation, especially in dishes incorporating seasonal and locally available materials. This cuisine was developed by Shivalli Madhwa Brahmins who cooked food for Lord Krishna, and at Krishna Matha in Udupi, the food is provided free.
Manipal, a suburb of Udupi, is home to the headquarters of Syndicate Bank. It is renowned as an education and medical hub.
Bhuta Kola, Aati kalenja, Karangolu, and Nagaradhane are some of the cultural traditions of Udupi. Folk arts like Yakshagana are also popular