Karwar: Best beach holiday in Karnataka| Last Updated: February 15, 2013 at 5:25 PM
If you have ever dreamt of being in tune with the waves, bobbing along with the flow and gazing at the blue green waters, then Karwar is your destination. Located just 8 kms from Goa, along the same coastline, it is in a way completely different from Goa with its quiet beaches. On one side is the narrow coast embracing the sea, while on the other side, the Western Ghats stand tall. Karwar, meanwhile, is a nondescript little town, oblivious to its own beauty
Our first view, however, was in the dark and our entry was rather dramatic. After several stops en-route to Karwar, we got stalled by a traffic jam near the port where iron ores to be exported were dumped by lorries. The road at some stretches seemed red. We were staying at the Devbagh island and had already missed the last boat from the jetty. However, a boat was waiting for us in the dark as we made our way to the jetty, which looked like a dilapidated boat house. We sailed across the sea in the night and reached the island.
The island would transform even a dullard into a romantic. At night, as the breeze blew across our face and the bonfire warmed us, we were swept off our feet. No wonder, Karwar had inspired none other than Rabindranath Tagore to pen his Prakritir Pratishodh. A beach here still remains in his memory. It is said that the 22-year-old Tagore stayed with his brother, Satyendranath Tagore, who was the district judge in Karwar.
The confluence of the rivers, the moonlit night when he went rowing solo prompted him to write his ode to Karwar. The quote I read somewhere says, “The sea beach of Karwar 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”.
I was told that the name Karwar itself is a misnomer. It was originally “Kadwad” and one theory is the British mispronounced the “d” and replaced it with an “r”. Kadwad is actually a village where the English had a factory which opened out to the sea. Besides monuments from the colonial era, this ancient beach town flaunts several attractions such as the Sadashivgad Hill Fort with a Durga temple, the one-of-its kind octagonal church and the 300-year-old Venkataramana temple.
While the British made this their headquarters, Karwar has been claimed by several Europeans such as the Portuguese, French and the Dutch. But the influence that remains here till today is that of the Arabians, who had trade relations with the local residents. There is an ancient port here called “Baithkhol” which in Arabic means bay of safety.
We strolled around Devbagh — the name literally means the garden of gods. The sun filtered through the rows of brown green conifers which formed a perfect background against the sea shore. We cruised along looking for dolphins but could see just some fins
Several tiny islands formed a ring around the Devbagh island — Kurumgad, Oyster-rock, Anjudeep, Sadashivgad and Sanyasi. Each of them had their own stories to narrate. The Sanyasi island for instance owes its name to a sage who sought refuge there. The Devgad Island or the Oyster Rock has one of the oldest lighthouses. The Anjudeep or Anjudiv island is the largest of the five islands and it is now home to the navy. The island has some remains of the bygone Portuguese era, some old houses and ruins of a church.
The Kurumgad island in the shape of a tortoise and was ruled by several dynasties like the Vijayanagar and Sonda. The ruins of the 18th century fort on the island speaks of the battle fought by Basalinga Nayak of Sonda dynasty against the British
The island is also renowned for its Narasimha temple atop the hill. According to a legend, Lord Narasimha made his way through a long creek leading to a cave near the temple. Geologists, however, certify that an earthquake formed this interesting rock formation over 300 million years ago.
A hazy blue covered my eyelids as the waves frolicked around my feet. The foam merged with the sand. Tiny footprints of a lonesome pup was imprinted on the sands. I too left my footprints on the sands of time and looked straight into the blue and white waters, wondering about the timelessness of the moment…
Getting there: Karwar is just 8 km from South Goa border and Palolem is the closest beach. Panaji is 135 km and Mangalore is 220 km and Londa is 130 km. The closest airport is the Dabolim airport at Goa, 90 km away. Karwar is also accessible by train on the Konkan Railways.
First Published: February 15, 2013 at 5:08 PM