“Oh no! I forgot my phone at home” The cab driver sensed the urgency in my voice & immediately pulled up the car alongside the street. I quickly jumped outside and ran for at least 200 meters till I was back in the cab with my phone. We were on our way to the airport to catch a flight for our upcoming trip to Karwar Karnataka and this phone forgetting fiasco had just added more minutes to the already long journey. This was definitely followed by heavy traffic, heavy rains and delayed flight timings but during those moments none of the woes dampened our electrified spirit to set out and explore the offbeat city of Karwar.
Surrounded by Arabian sea & Kali River, Karwar is a Konkani speaking port city situated in the Uttara Kannada region of Karnataka, India which is just an hour drive from Goa. Upon arrival at the Goa airport, we were excited to start our trip down south filled with swaying coconut trees and unbeatable views of Arabian sea. However our beloved mother nature had other plans. The close proximity between state of Goa and Karwar Karnataka makes it an ideal destination to have a laid back weekend away from the tourist radar yet close enough to reach back anytime but this time Cyclone Kyarr had flooded almost every part of Goa & Karwar thus making it impossible to go any further till the wrath of mother nature came to a halt. We decided to stay back but didn’t let our hopes die and what followed the next day made our hearts smile – a bright beautiful sun. Yay!
THINGS TO DO IN KARWAR:
Perched atop the hill, Sadashivgad fort was built overlooking the Arabian Sea & Kali River to keep a watch on the outsiders entering the city of Karwar. This fort was named Sadashivgad by the Sonda/Raja Basavlingraj after his father Sadashivlingraj in 1715. Although presently in ruins, this fort has witnessed the Maratha empire, Portuguese empire and the Sonda empire. This historical monument holds high significance in the history of Karwar Karnataka because it withstood several historical events in its past from each era. Today the government has built a hotel inside the fort for visitors to stay & experience the history right from the top of the hill. One can enjoy the views of the confluence of the Arabian sea with Kali river and see the beautiful sunset everyday from the fort. Even if you do not opt to stay in the beautiful property on the fort, do visit this historical place to acquaint yourself with the Karwarian history.
What if I tell you there’s a hidden black sand beach in Karwar just a few km away from its city center? What if I tell you this beach is accessible only after crossing a hillock in Majali? Well believe me or not but the unique Tilmati beach located in Majali village is a beautiful black sand beach located just 20 min away from Karwar by a road. The black colour of the sand is due to high concentration of basaltic rock on the beach. Not just that, the concentration of basalt is so high on this beach that no other beach in Karwar or in nearby area from Karwar is filled with Black sand thus making Tilmati unique. This must visit secluded beach set amidst hillocks is a small (yet worth) hike away from the Majali village and is a great spot to camp or go for a day picnic.
Rabindranath Tagore beach, museums & garden
Sometimes certain places or beaches inspires us with its soul and creates a lasting impact on its visitor’s mind. It is the same thing that happened with Mr. Rabindranth Tagore when he visited this beach to pen down few words for his first Drama on Karwar beach. Not just that this beach hosts a number of cultural activities including the famous Karavali Utsav, which is held every year in the month of October. This clean beach is quite calm during the weekdays and has the warship museum & rock garden lined up for the visitors. The warship museum that lies on this beach is basically a stationary warship ship for tourists which features a video & exhibits on the Indian Navy. While warship museum enlightens about the naval history, its neighbour rock garden showcases tribal culture through sculptures and stone images thus giving a greater insight into the different tribal cultures of Uttara Kannada.
Rabindranath Tagore beach not just gives people easy access to experience serenity but at the same time the museums & activities lined up on the beach helps to keep the visitors busy.
Devbagh island & beach
Bumpy ride, banana boats, scuba-diving, snorkelling and what not! Devbagh island surrounded by water sports & Arabian sea is one of the most beautiful & well-maintained place in coastal city of Karwar Karnataka. Devbagh island is only accessible by a ferry unless you know how to swim that long a distance! One needs to catch a ferry from the Sadashivgad port to explore the island & undertake water sports. On arrival, a small jungle trail from there shall lead you straight to the cottages of the Devbaug beach resort. To live here is just like to live on the beach with a beautiful beach view right outside the cottage. This serene beach is popular for water sports like banana boat ride, kayaking, bumpy ride & scuba diving or you can simply relax & unwind in their hammocks with a book. They also have a scuba-diving institute for people wishing to learn this activity.
A tortoise shaped Kurumgad island located right opposite Devbagh island is an offbeat place surrounded on all the sides with turquoise waters of the mesmerizing Arabian sea. During the golden hours, the sun turns orange & the sky changes to yellow which sets the mood right especially on a romantic trip. As this island remains away from the tourist limelight, one has the whole island to themselves to explore & enjoy water activities on its virgin beaches. There are few stay options on this island and on booking the stay, your hotel arranges to & fro transfer from their main office located in the Karwar city. On reaching this island, be ready to get captivated with the breathtaking views of the turquoise waters from the top of the island. Yes, its the same Arabian sea having blue & green waters! Wear your hiking shoes to take a quick hike amidst the flora & fauna and explore the beaches, the 500 year old Narsimha temple, otter spotting rock wedge, natural mini pool formed in the ocean, fresh water spring etc. all that around the island in just a day or two. When in Karwar, do not fail to explore this offbeat island to Kurumgad to be captivated throughout your time here.
Kalika temple island
Fancy boating to an island through the thick lush green mangroves? If yes then Kalika temple should definitely be in your list. The route is such that only a skilled boatman is able to make his way through the thick lush green mangroves to approach this island. This temple is located on a tiny island completely dedicated to Goddess Kalika and is difficult to spot for an outsider without the help of the local. The thick mangrove forest almost hides the route of the temple thus making it hard to witness for the human eye. In fact this entire area has been declared as sacred mangrove forest thus increasing the mangrove trees & decreasing it’s destruction. Also, a full time priest surely greets the visitors inside the temple and offers the blessings. Do not miss this place because Goddess Kalika island is nothing less than a hidden gem in the city of Karwar.
HOW TO REACH?
BY AIR :- Due to absence of it’s own airport, the only way to reach Karwar would be either by road or by railways. Dabolim airport of Goa is the nearest airport from Karwar, situated at a distance of 90 km approx. Regular taxis ply from the airport to reach Karwar. Air travel is the fastest way to reach this city & can be expensive for people following a strict budget.
BY ROAD:- Yes it is absolutely possible to reach Karwar by road. Plenty of Private & KSRTC buses ply on this route frequently at a reasonable cost. Many buses run between the states of Goa & Karwar Karnataka daily. People travelling from Mumbai can either take a bus to Goa & then take another bus from Goa to Karwar OR can take a bus for Ankola (37 kms away approx from Karwar) and then take another bus to Karwar from Ankola bus stand. Also, one can reach this destination with their own vehicle. It takes on an average 20 hours from Mumbai to reach Karwar by road.
BY RAIL:- Karwar is well connected by Railways & it has its own railway station with the same name wherein trains like Netravati Express, Matsyaganda Express, Mangalore express etc. coming from major Indian cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Jaipur, Chennai, Bangalore, Kanyakumari etc. halt for few minutes before their onward journey. Railway is the most convenient & the best way to reach this city especially if you are following a strict budget.
BEST TIME TO VISIT AS PER THE CLIMATE:
SUMMER: In Summers that is during Mid February to May the temperature is extremely hot and humid in the day as well as in the night. The average temperatures during this time are within the range of 35 to 45 degree Celsius thus making it difficult to stay without an Air-Con. You will find yourself constantly sweating irrespective of the fact whether you undertake any activity or no.
WINTER: This city experiences winter from November to Mid February where the temperature in the morning is usually warm and during the night it is pleasant. Winter temperatures in Karwar range from a chilly 16 degree Celsius to as high as 32 degree Celsius. Other reason to visit Karwar in Winter is to get a live experience of the culture & festivals celebrated there. It is during this season that Karwar celebrates all its festivals like Diwali, Dusshera, Pongal etc and people can witness these festivities to learn more about the Karwarian culture. It is also the peak season for tourism & also considered to be the best time to visit to this city especially due to the pleasant weather & the festivals.
MONSOON: In the rainy season, which starts from June to September, Karwar receives heavy & torrential rains but the temperature is usually pleasant in the day and at night. Monsoon season makes the city all the more greener. Heavy discounts are offered on activities & accommodation which is why monsoons make the entire trip affordable & economical for travellers following a strict budget. However, The generally calm, cold waters of the beach becomes risky and unreliable for swimming and water sport activities. Hence, it is advisable to stay at a safe distance from the beaches and enjoy the greenery of the mother nature.
WHERE TO STAY IN KARWAR?
On arrival to Goa, the management of the Sadashivgad Sea View Resort were kind enough to give us an account of the unfavourable weather conditions that lied ahead in the city of Karwar. As we had decided to stay back in Goa for a day, the hotel pushed our booking dates ahead by a day & guided us from time to time about the route & the weather conditions in the area.
Sadashivgad Sea View Resort is built on the top of the Sadashivgad fort. Local delicious food and impeccable views of the Kali River & Arabian sea right from the rooms greeted us throughout our time in the hotel. Living inside the fort at such affordable budget was a unique experience which made me feel like I had transported back into the historical times of the kings and queens of the fort. When in Karwar, I would definitely recommend everyone to stay at this property having such historical importance for the Karwarians.
However, if you are not one of those who likes to live inside a historical fort here are some hotel recommendations that’ll help you: Hotels in Karwar
WHAT TO SHOP?
If you think beaches and forts are the only speciality in Karwar, think again. Not only is this city popular for the fish & rice delicacies but also for the aromatic sandalwood and products made from it. One can buy incense sticks, sandalwood oil, mini statues crafted from this wood, sandalwood art pieces and toys and many other things made from Sandalwood in the markets in Karwar Karnataka. It also is used as a flavor for foods and beverages & one can buy variety of sandalwood products for cooking in the markets.
HOW MUCH DOES EVERYTHING COST & HOW TO BUDGET?
Karwar thrives on tourism and every year it welcomes travellers & tourists with its arms wide open. Since it caters to all types of travellers, there are cheap places and awesome places to stay & at the same time there are hotels which are completely draped in the lap of luxury. It all depends upon how much you are willing to spend. The cost we paid for our hotel (Rs. 2500/- per person as on October 2019) included overnight stay inside the fort, unlimited 3 delicious meals, 2 time hot tea along with Pakodas, bonfire, ferry transfers to & fro devbagh island, bird watching tour, dolphin watching/island temple visit and of course taxes too. Isn’t that awesome? And if you’re lucky you might find cheaper places to book depending upon your budget.
Our meals were included with the hotel package however the hotel ensured to cook only local food for the travelers. Fish & rice the main Karwarian food was available throughout the time along with local vegetables and delicacies. Included meals in our package added to the beauty of the overall stay as we couldn’t stop ourselves from gorging on the local food. Since unlimited meals were included in the package, one saves plenty of amount on the food.
The best way to travel within Karwar is to have your own personal vehicle. If not then there are tuk-tuks to take you from one place to another. However, be sure to bargain your way before hiring one. One can walk to reach some of the places but tuk-tuks are required to cover the long distance sightseeing spots. Island visits are possible with ferries starting from the Sadashivgad boat Jetty.
There are plenty of things to do here some of which I have already mentioned above. The entire city is more about nature, temples and mountains which is mostly free of cost. Undertaking activities is quite economical in Karwar and it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. One needs to separately pay minimal entry fee to enter the warship museum & the rock garden. Also, water sport activities and island visits will be charged extra if the same is not included in your hotel package.
If you wish to explore more around, then read the posts below on the nearby places to explore near Karwar:
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