Karwar, Where Time Stands Still

Read this Karwar travelogue written by traveller Jayanthi Chandrasekaran.

Kali River Bridge Karwar travelogue
Kali River Bridge

The grandeur of Nature as you enter Karwar from Goa is better experienced than expressed. The scenic estuary marks the entry into Karwar, where Kali river, a behemoth force of Nature,  disgorges into the magnificent Arabian Sea; indeed a sight to behold!

The Kali river bridge stretching over the expanse of water offers a splendid view of the merging water bodies as far as eyes can see, setting the tone of our holiday in this laid-back coastal town located around 15km from the Goa border. As our vehicle was passing over the bridge we could see the water flowing below gently sparkling in sunshine like diamonds. We instinctively knew that this was the place we would spend a good amount of time during our sojourn.

Pristine Beach and View from Kali River Garden
Pristine Beach and View from Kali River Garden

Karnataka state is blessed with 300 kms of magnificent coastline with Karwar at the northern end. The scenic coastal road starts from Karwar in the  North to Mangalore in the south, through Gokarna, Murdeshwar, and Udupi, a magical stretch with the Arabian Sea on one side and the verdant green western Ghats on the other. Karwar literally and figuratively serves on a platter not only lip-smacking coastal delicacies but also pristine beaches, sand banks in winter, lush-green mountains, scenic sunsets, historical sights, and above all serene surroundings.

Rabindranath Tagore, during his stay here in the 19th century, got so inspired by the Karwar beach that he exalts – “The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realize that the beauty of Nature is not a mirage of the imagination”. Fittingly, now the beach has the moniker as the Rabindranath Tagore beach. The other beaches in Karwar include Devbagh, Koodi Bagh, and Majali where one can sit for hours soaking in the playful waves, and enjoying Sunset. All the beaches are pristine, less crowded compared to Goa, and some offer water sports for the enthusiasts.

Boat cruise Karwar Kali River travelogue
Boat cruise

After check-in, lunch and siesta we headed straight to Kali river garden in order to keep our date with Kali river. The presence of river Kali, of course, elevates this town to great heights in terms of spiritual awakening and scenic beauty. The Kali garden offers boat rides to the confluence of the mighty Kali river and the Arabian sea. We settled on the Shikara cruise boat with a capacity of 25 persons. Except for another couple, only our group was there making the cruise almost a private one.

School of fish
School of fish

In the expanse of waters, we did notice fast-moving shadows in various shapes and realized it was the schools of fish moving just below the water in tandem. Our boat captain took us straight towards the sea and anchored the boat at a strategic point from where we feasted our eyes on several islands, mountains, and casuarina groves.

Slowly the sky became a canvas of psychedelic colours, and flaming orange became dominant. The sun, a perfect circular orange ball hung over the horizon against the silhouetted sea, embellishing it with liquid gold. A perfect sunset, a moment one wishes that the time stops for eternity!

No wonder Tagore, who considered Nature as God, was inspired to write the poetic drama Prakritir Pratishodh (Nature’s Revenge) in this coastal town and, also devoted a special chapter about Karwar in his memoirs.


Ornate Durga Temple
Ornate Durga Temple

The warship museum, Rock garden, Durga temple, and Shri Shankara Matha are some of the other places we visited during our three-day stay in Karwar. Rock garden stole our hearts, where life-size exhibits of various tribal men, women, and children and their lifestyle are depicted with the help of rocks and stones.  We learned that the exhibits were built by a team of Indian Navy cadets using local materials. Kudos to these artists in uniform! As we were there in the evening, we were blessed with another day’s sunset from the premises.

Kali river beckoned us again during a visit to the Durga Devi temple situated on the north bank of the river, just across the Kali river bridge. It’s believed that this serene temple where Durga Devi is seated on the lion was worshipped by Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. The temple is adorned with ornate pillars and the place offers a beautiful view of the islands and surroundings.


Epic Sunset and Rock Garden

Karwar’s Kali River, blue water over soft sand beaches, poetic sunset, and glorious spread of green all around will always be cherished in our memory.