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Diocese of Udupi

Diocese of Udupi
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Udupi is a coastal diocese of Karnataka State. It is the 14th Catholic diocese of Karnataka. Udupi is specially known for Sri Krishna Temple of the Hindus and the cluster of eight temples (Asta Mata). Karnataka has 10 Latin dioceses, 3 Syro-Malabar dioceses and one Syro-Malankara diocese. 

Long awaited new diocese of Udupi was announced on 16 July, 2012 afternoon the day of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel simultaneously at Kallianpur- Milagres Cathedral Church of Udupi, Our Lady of Dolours Chapel of Bishop’s House of Mangalore Diocese, Shimoga Bishop’s House, Nunciature office in New Delhi and Holy See Vatican (12 noon). Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo of Shimoga Diocese was appointed as the first bishop of the new diocese by Pope Benedict XVI. Till now it was the part of 125 year old diocese of Mangalore and is the saffrogan of Bangalore Archdiocese. 

The Diocese of Udupi has a history of more than 5 centuries as part of Mangalore Diocese. The faith of the people has grown ever since 1515 through the animation of European and Goan missionaries. Its mother Diocese of Mangalore has served in the initial years the Dioceses of Calicut, Kannur, Gulbaga, Udupi and six Syro Malabar- Malankara Dioceses before they were established. 

On 1st September 1886, Pope Leo XIII established the Indian Hierarchy. In virtue of this hierarchy, Mangalore ceased to be a Vicariate and took its place on the Indian Hierarchy as the independent diocese with the then Vicar Apostolic Italian Jesuit Maria Pagani being its first bishop. 

While the church of Mangalore is attacked continuously by pro-Hindu fundamentalist groups since 2008, it has experienced the tough captivity of local Muslim emperor Tippu Sultan in 1784 with the blame of Christians supporting British colonials against the fight for independence. 

More than 35,000 Christians were taken captives by the soldiers of Tippu on Ash Wednesday that year into a place called Srirangapattanam around 270 KMs from Mangalore. ‘The available records point to the history of around 35000 Christians being taken into captivity’ according to a researcher and historian Father Pius Fidelis Pinto. 

The researchers agree that it was a heavily tragic blot in the history of Mangalore but the survivors have come back in faith after the death of the sultan. They also agree that some 28 churches existed then in undivided Mangalore dioceses were destroyed by the soldiers where as two were protected by local Hindus. 

Udupi diocese was inaugurated by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Apostolic Nuncio to India on October 15, 2012 in the presence of nearly 15000 faithful, 350 priests and number of religious women in the Kallianpur Milagres Cathedral of Udupi. 

The Udupi diocese is spread across 3500.75 square kilometers. It has more than 1, 06,000 Catholics and 14,287 families in 48 parishes of three civil taluks of Karkal, Udupi and Kundapur. It has 61 diocesan priests, 23 religious priests, 219 religious sisters, 40 convents and 9 houses of religious men. The interstate famous shrine of St Lawrence of Karkal-Attur is part of Udupi diocese.


Kannada which is the official state language of Karnataka is the main language across the geographical diocese spoken by the majority. Konkanni is the official language of the Diocese. Tulu, Perso-Arabic, Beary basha and English are some other languages which are spoken.


Karnataka is ruled by pro-Hindu political party of Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) since May 2008. It has more than 110 state constituencies out of 224 across the state. During the present political rule, there have been number of cases of attacks on the minorities and their institutions of Karnataka.


The Diocese has good network of roads. It is well connected with national highways passing through the diocese of Udupi connecting to different parts of Karnataka state and India. The Konkan Railway connects the region with Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan and Kerala states by train. Neighboring district South Canara has a seaport at Panambur near Mangalore. While Mangalore International Airport is situated near Mangalore, domestic Airport of Mysore offers number of air services.


Udupi Diocese is spread across the Udupi civil district that was formed in 1997. It is a fine stretch of coastal land covering an area of 3500.75 square kilometers beautifully sandwitched between the Arabian Sea in the West and the Western Ghats in the East. It is stretching from Sankalakaria river in the South to Byndoor in the North. It spreads across three civil Thaluks of Karkala, Udupi and Kundapur. 

The district is largely agricultural. But in the recent past many industries have come up. Manipal, a suburb of Udupi, is home to the headquarters of famous Syndicate Bank. It is renowned as an education and medical hub. Udupi is the birth place of two national banks - Syndicate and Corporation. Udupi is also known to be fishing district. Small-scale industries like the cashew industry, food industry, milk co-operatives etc have come up in the district. Many areas of the district are known for cultivation of jasmine flowers. Nagarjuna Power Corporation has set up Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) in spite of the strong opposition of the localities. Now it is generating 1200 mw of electric power. It is observed and reported that the waste ashes of UPCL have fallen and affected

acres of cultivation and flower plantation. 

The Christian Church has a history of more than 5 centuries in Udupi. Today it has a great influence in the socio-cultural and religious life of the people. Udupi has given birth to 11 Catholic Bishops and Archbishops to the Universal Church. Present General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) and Archbishop of Agra, Archbishop Albert D'Souza hails from Moodubelle of Udupi. There have been number of priests and nuns from Udupi. 

While Udupi is famous for eight Hindu temples (Asta Matta) of Sri Krishna it is also known to be District of five holy places (pancha skhethra) for Hindus. Sri Krishna Temple of Udupi, Mukambika Temple of Kollur, Kroda Shankaranarayana Temple of Shankaranarayana, Kumbashi Temple and Kotilingeshwara Temple make five holy places of Udupi. 

St Lawrence Shrine of Attur-Karkala of Udupi diocese is an inter religious centre with a unique history where number of Hindus and Muslims come for prayers together with Christians. 

Recently one of the largest mosques has been built in Udupi. Jumma Masjid inaugurated in August 2012 has a capacity to accommodate 3000 worshippers at a time. 

Being a district of better understanding and religious tolerance rarely attacks on the

Christian Churches and institutions have been reported from Udupi District. 

The double administration of the Catholic Church in 19th century brought in a black dot in the history of Christianity of Udupi. While a part of the Church of Udupi supported direct Roman administration (Propaganda) another group supported the Goan administration (Padrovado). In this context a group of Christians from Kallianpur–Brahmavar-Udupi separated themselves by disobeying the papal orders. Thus in 1887 there was a rise of Syrian Orthodox Christians. In 1889 Fr Xavier Alvares, an excommunicated Catholic priest wanted to take control of Milagres Church of Kallianpur (This is the present Cathedral of Udupi Diocese). But he failed miserably before the strength of the united Catholics. Later he settled himself as a separated leader in Brahmavar. Thus Brahmavar Syrian Christians become a separated Church. Later it joined the Jacobites. Now there is a separate Syrian Orthodox diocese of Brahmavar. 

The Vicariate of Kanara and Udupi was the first field of the missionary work of Blessed Joseph Vaz of Goa and known to be ‘the Apostle of Sri Lanka’. He has erected a new Church at Gangolly which is one of the parishes of present Udupi Diocese. He has built some chapels in some of the villages and instituted annual festivals of patron saints in the diocese of Udupi. 

In 1684 Blessed Joseph Vaz installed a miraculous statue of St Antony in a small thatched chapel in a place called Kerekatte around 35 KMs away from Kundapur.

The statue was supposed to be found by one Hindu farmer while ploughing his fields. Today Kerekatte is one of the famous Shrines of Udupi Diocese which is being visited by people of different faiths.


The percentage of literacy rate of the Karnataka State has increased from 66.64%

in 2001 to 75.60% in 2011 according to Census 2011. According to Census 2011

Udupi District has a population of 11, 77,908. Out of them 91.69% of the men and

81.41% of the women are educated.


Yakshagana is the popular folk art of Hindus mostly used in Udupi and South Canara districts. The Yakshagana is a night-long dance and drama performance practiced in the region with great fanfare. Pilivesha (tiger dance) is a unique form of folk dance in some places fascinating the young and the old alike, which is performed during some of the Hindu festivals especially near the Udupi temples. Karadi Vesha (bear dance) is one more popular dance for religious celebrations. Kambala or buffalo race is conducted in water filled paddy fields. There are number of other folk dances and songs in each region.

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