It was the year 1916, when Rabindranath Tagore
, was having a sojourn at the place. So entranced was he by the sheer natural beauty that he remarked “The sea beach is certainly a fit place in which to realise that 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.” The story goes that this inspired him to pen his first drama also. The place in question is Karwar, one of the most beautiful and unspoilt sea side resorts you find in India. Karwar itself is the headquarters of the Uttara Kanara district, one of the most beautiful and verdant places in India. While it shares its border with Goa, it is bounded on the other sides by the districts of Shimoga, Udupi, Belgaum and Dharwar,
and the Arabian sea on the West Side. The area is overwhelmingly upper caste dominated with Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins and the Havyaka Brahmin community, comprising the major chunk. Some of the more popular people from this region are Ramakrishna Hegde( the former CM of Karnataka), the actor brothers Anant and Shankar Nag, Girish Karnad( though born in Matheran, he is basically a Konkani Brahmin), Amrita Rao( also Konkani Brahmin)
and also many famous writers. The common surnames found in this area are Bhat, Hegde, Desai, Joshi, Kamath, Naik, Hebbar to name a few.Karwar town has a sizeable population of Konkan Marathas, Bhandaris and Havyalik Gowdas. And also a strong Muslim, Christian community. During ancient times, Karwar was a port of trade for the Arabs, Dutch and Portugese. It was a part of the Maratha empire, before being ceded over to the British after the end of the Anglo-Maratha wars. In 1862, The British made it the district headquarters, and it was a part of the Bombay Presidency. After the states reorganization in 1956, the area came under Karnataka, but the Marathi-Konkani influence is still dominant. Konkani and Kannada are the main languages here. In fact there are more Konkani and Marathi speakers than native Kannada speakers in Karwar. What makes Karwar one of the most beautiful places is the topography of the town itself.
Bounded on one side by the Arabian Sea, and other side by the towering ranges of the Western Ghats, it has a breathtaking beauty to itself. Especially during the sunset and sunrise. In a way Karwar town, exemplifies the whole Uttara Kanara region itself. The district itself is split into two parts, the coastal plains, along the Arabian Sea, and the Malnad region, which has the woodlands, forests and mountains. And that makes this place a veritable treasure trove of natural beauty. While Karwar is accesible by road and is located on the Konkan Railway, i would recommend the 160 Km road trip from Hubli or even from Belgaum, which takes you through the lush verdant landscape covered with hills and valleys, as also some of the thickest jungles. This is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the place.
The Kalindi River flows through Karwar town into the Arabian Sea and the place where the river meets the sea is a must watch. The Kali Bridge
which is located at this point, is one of the town’s major attractions, and people congregate here to witness the sunset and sunrise. It is one of the most beautiful experience, not just the sunset, but also the sun rays, painting the imposing Western Ghats bordering the town, in different shades of light. The Devbagh beach is one of the most beautiful, unspoilt beaches in India, which has not yet fallen to the ravages of tourism. Karwar is not a tourist hotspot like Goa, and has a more serene, laid back atmosphere. But that itself heightens the beauty of the place. The solitude and quite atmosphere is really soothing for the soul.
Apart from Devbagh, the other famous beach is the Rabindranath Tagore beach named in honor of the poet, who spent some time there. Karwar also has a lot of other famous places to be seen in it’s vicinity. Yellapur which comes on the Hubli-Ankola road, has two beautiful waterfalls Satoddi and Magod. Yellapur is also the place where one turns towards Karwar while comming from Hubli. Kumta which is 60km down South of Karwar has a number of lovely unspoilt beaches, Gokarna being the most famous of them. Apart from being a beach Gokarna, is also a famous Saivite place of worship, famous for the Siva Temple here. Another worthwhile place is Dandeli , 117 km from Karwar, famous for its wildlife sanctuary. Sirsi is famous for the Marikambika Temple, while if you are the adventurous kind, you could try out Siddapur, from where the Jog Falls is a mere 20km away. Bhatkal has the Solesvara Temple built by the Chola rulers, while Murudeshwara has the tallest Shiva statue, as well as the tallest temple Gopura. Gokarna and Murudeshwar have the legend about Ravan obtaining Shiva’s Atma Linga, and the Gods using Lord Ganesh to ensure that Ravan did not have possesion of it.Though not a tourism hotspot like Goa, Karwar and its surrounding areas, need to be explored for their sheer natural beauty, the temples, the forests and the pristine unspoilt beaches. My suggestion would be to take the road trip from Hubli, and using Karwar as the base, explore the surrounding areas. There are a good number of hotels and resorts in that area. Karwar town itself takes hardly a day to go around, so after finishing it, you could either make a trip along the coast to Gokarna, Murudeshwar or to Dandeli. The other option would be to hit it out to Yellapura for the water falls or much better to Siddapur which could cover the Jog Falls as well as the surrounding trekking routes.