The sylvan Western Ghats, the vivacious Kali River and the undulating Arabian Sea are some of nature’s bountiful gifts to Karwar. “Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realize that the beauty of nature is not a mirage of imagination, but reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves into it”, said Rabindranath Tagore who was inspired by the blissful beauty of Karwar to pen the Bengali play Prakritir Pratishoota (Nature’s Revenge) .
Karwar was an important port for sea trade and has beckoned visitors for centuries. While the Arabs, Portuguese, French and Dutch frequented Karwar for trade, the present day tourists visit the place for its pristine beaches.
Karwar’s town beach, the Rabindranath Tagore Beach that is named after the great poet, emphasizes his bond with the town. The crescent shaped beach located in the heart of Karwar is popular haunt for locals and tourists. The district administration has made an effort to promote this beach in a bid to boost tourism. INS Chapal, a decommissioned missile boat of the Indian Navy is anchored on this beach. With torpedoes, shells and a missile on display, this is one of the three warship museums in India. Visitors can also take a joyride on a toy train that encircles the beach.The Mayura Musical Fountain which got a face-lift recently is another attraction for the visitors. The coordinated interplay of light, music and colours amidst jets of water creates a visual spectacle.
Devbag and Majali are two tranquil beaches in close proximity to Karwar. Devbag owes it’s popularly to a beach resort that has sprung up amidst a grove of Casurina (called “Gali Mara” in Kannada) trees. Located at the confluence of the River Kali and the Arabian Sea, Devbag is enveloped by water. Zebrafish, starfish, butterflyfish and bottlenose dolphins thrive in this habitat. The golden hue of the sand, the waves that toss and tumble against a backdrop of misty mountains and the refreshing azure colour of the water make Devbag’s landscape unique and spectacular. Dolphin sighting tours, snorkeling, parasailing, kayaking, banana boat rides and canoeing are some activities for the adventurous.
The Kali River flows into the Arabian Sea near Karwar. A bridge has been constructed over the river at the mouth of the sea. The drive across the bridge that links two land fragments Sadashivgad and Kodibag is spectacular. The Kali Bridge which is a part of NH17 (Mumbai-Cochin highway) is an icon of Karwar.
Sadashivgad is a small hillock on the outskirts of Karwar. Accordingly to historical records, Raja Basava Linga built the Sadashivgad Fort in the year 1715. The fort is said to have originally had 38 canons strategically positioned around it to shield the coast from invaders. Over the years, it changed hands several times and was under the control of the Portuguese and British. It is appalling that the fort has been destroyed and only a brick wall and a gateway remain today. A government guest house which has been converted to a resort has now taken the place of the fort. Few canons salvaged from destruction erected outside the Durga Devi Temple are reminiscent of the ancient fort. The Durga Devi Temple and the darga of Shah Karamuddin which are in same neighbourhood are important landmarks of Sadashivgad. The panoramic vistas of the bridge, the looming hills, the boat dotted estuary and surreal sunsets from the hill top are awe-inspiring.
Kurumgad, Maddlinggad, Devgad and Anjadeev are a few islands off the coast of Karwar. Kurumgad has a temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha. The five-storied lighthouse of Devgad (also known as Oyster Rock) was built by the British. Anjadeev Island which was ruled by the Portuguese until 1961 is currently off limits to the public as it is a part of the INS Kadamba (also called “Project Seabird”), an integrated strategic naval base of the Indian Navy.
The northern frontier of Karnataka’s enchanting coastline extends up to Karwar. It is the administrative headquarters of the Uttara Kannada district. Karwar has an eclectic mix of different landscapes, cultures, cuisines and climates. Fishery is the main industry of Karwar which is also famous for spices, cotton and muslin. Fish curry with rice is the staple food of the locals. Fisher folk belonging to the fishing communities like Ambig, Gabit and Kharvi have settled along the shore. Although Kannada is the state language, Konkani and Marathi are widely spoken in Karwar.
Karwar’s natural beauty is unsullied. Nature seems to have stroked its paint brush to splash colours of joy. Karwar is captivating and definitely worth a visit.
Dabolim in Goa is the nearest airport. Karwar is a two hour drive from Dabolim.
Karwar is connected by rail to Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore and Cochin through the Konkan Railway.
Overnight buses ply between Bangalore and Karwar which is at a distance of about 460 Kms.
Devbag Beach Resort:
This resort is run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), a venture of the Government of Karnataka. Log huts, fisherman huts and cottages at the resort are well-equipped and comfortable. Delicious Indian food prepared in authentic Konkan style is served in a open-to-sides gazebo. The resort has an ayurvedic spa run by Kairali Ayurvedic Group
For more information visit the JLR website : http://www.junglelodges.com/V2/Devbagh.htm
Estuary View Resort:
This resort is perched 1200 feet above the road on top of the hillock of Sadashivgad. From the resort one can see the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea, the estuary and the Kali River. The resort is a joint venture of JLR and The Kairali Group of Resorts, a private partner.
For more information visit their website: http://www.estuaryviewresort.com
The best time to visit Karwar is October through March.
This article was published in Deccan Herald on the 4th of August 2009. Below is the link to the online version of the article.