Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back

8th Feb 2020
Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

We were on the lookout for our next destination to spend our weekend in Feb '20. Karwar was on my mind, and was unanimously agreed upon proposing the same to the group. Karwar is where the 300 kms of Karnataka coastline draws to an end, and is right on the border to Goa. As such this sleepy little hamlet has a mix of Konkani and Kannada flavors wherever you go. Situated on the banks of Kali river Karwar has its name in the pages of History right from the moment when the Portuguese landed in India. Rabindranath Tagore rightly termed Karwar as the 'Kashmir of Karnataka' upon his visit, such is the tranquil beauty of this place.

Today, Karwar functions as a Naval base for the Indian Navy. If you're on the lookout to spend a weekend on the sandy shores minus the maddening crowds of Goa then Karwar ticks all the boxes. From Bengaluru its an overnight journey of around 550 kms, quite a distance but luckily the communication network both by buses and train are good. We booked a sleeper bus that departs at 8 pm from Kalasipalyam and reaches Karwar by 7 am. Our bus would take the route via Belagavi, and passes through the beautiful ghat section before coming to its final destination.

Day 1

We reached Karwar right on time, and the early morning walk to our hotel via the market roads was refreshing enough. The shops, the markets were still closed though. We had booked our rooms at The Sai International which was situated conveniently from the bus stand as well as all the central attractions. Checked into our rooms, got freshened up and without wasting any moment headed out for the day's exploration. But first hungry bellies demand some sumptuous breakfast. And we weren't disappointed; Mangalore buns, Masala Dosa, Misal pav and some super hot coffee was all we needed to recharge ourselves.

Photo of Sai International, The Hotel, Kodibagh Rd, Kodibag, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Quite frankly we did not have any plans. We decided to visit the Karwar Beach which was like 10 mins walk from our breakfast point. There were hardly any people on the beach, we were more or less the only folks there. And mind you this beach is right within the perimeters of the city. After a bit of inhibition (as we were unsure if people would be gawking at us if we lose it) the seemingly quiet waters of the Arabian Sea was too tempting to be away from it. And off we went and nosedived straight in to the inviting waters. The tides weren't harsh, the water calming; exactly what all we wanted.

Photo of Karwar Beach, Karnataka by Hrishikesh Baruah

Sujju and Lucky went on to explore the nearby Rabindranath Tagore beach, few fisherman were sorting out their morning catch from the fishing nets. Rest of us gleefully anchored ourselves, letting the seawater take away our weariness. Hunger pangs starts roaring after prolonged stay in the waters. We had made up our mind to have a grand lunch at Swetha Lunch Home after going through the rave reviews especially for seafood lovers. The buildup to that had been so far good, it was just a matter of time before we'll be devouring into King Fishes, prawns, Pomfrets and what not... the excitement was conspicuous! The Warship Museum was just next to the shores of the beach, we decided to give it a miss as the urge for a extravagant lunch only swelled.

Photo of Rabindranath Tagore Beach, Kodibag, Karwar, Karnataka by Hrishikesh Baruah

At around 3.30 pm we started to make our way through the quaint streets. An to our disappointment Swetha Lunch Home was closed now. With a scorching heat and a starving tummy this surely irked everyone. In fact, most shops in afternoon were shut; the owners probably enjoying an afternoon siesta. We started to browse online for nearby options and Zomato suggested us Hotel Amrut as another excellent option for seafood which was close to the bus stand. Which meant we had to further walk down more to satiate our indulgence. Things we do for cravings.

Upon reaching we got ourselves seated in the 1st floor with the other tables rather empty. Without more delay we ordered our food which consisted of king fish, prawns, anjal and other available seafood culinary made in Konkani style. And when the food came everyone just went ballistic! The taste was worth all the wait and delectable in every bite. That feeling of contentment can't be described, and only got better with rounds of faluda to finish off things.

there were many items that came onto the table after this pic was taken

Photo of Hotel Amrut, beside सिंडिकेट बैंक, Kodibag, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Hotel Amrut, beside सिंडिकेट बैंक, Kodibag, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Back in the hotel with everyone's belly bulging out after that demolition we decided to take a quick nap before setting out to see Karwar in the evening lights. As the sun set we decided to again hit the sandy shores of Karwar beach. We were pleasantly welcomed to the sights of the Karunadu Karavali Utsav happening. And suddenly there's hordes of people enjoying the various cultural performances happening on the stage that was nicely decorated and lighted. There were multitude of food stalls and amusement rides (including a big Ferris wheel) in the vicinity where people thronged as well. We did dig into some chaat items as well as fish and chicken dishes. It was refreshing to see activities like balloon shooting, ball-throwing (the one where you'll have to knock off an object in the distance to claim a prize, I dunno what exactly it's called), something that reminded of our childhood fairs.

not the greatest pic of mine

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

People thronging in to enjoy various activities

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

We stayed there for around 3 hours, strolling on the cool sandy shores of the beach with the quavering tides now more fierce than those in the afternoon. We made it back to our hotel room by around 9 pm, people still making their way to the utsav which was to run through the night. Few rounds of chattering and we called it a night.

Day 2

All of us woke up late, exhausted with yesterday's roaming around and heat. We decided to spend the day in Devbagh Beach which can be reached by taking a boat ride over the Kali river. To reach the boat point we had to take autos till there, that exits the city, hits the highway and crosses the Kali river bridge before taking a right from the highway to finally reach the booking office of Jungle Resorts. One suggestion would be to reach this place early in the morn so as to enjoy all the water sport activities on the island (which are, of course charged separately). We didn't opt for any water sports activity as we just wanted to relax before we take the night bus back to Bengaluru. If I remember well per person charges were between 1200-1400 for a whole day at the island which included lunch, evening tea with snacks, to and fro ferrying to the island, and access to the washrooms of the cottages.

Devbagh Beach Resort Entrance

Photo of Devbagh Beach, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Devbagh Beach, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

Quite exciting to be ferried on a motorboat to the island, the water level was quite less due to off season. Once we docked at the island we were welcomed by the cottages set within the dense, beautiful forest kind of a setting. There were hardly people here, a perfect seclusion from all the humdrum. This part of Karwar was exquisite to say the least. The beach was extremely tidy, it didn't take us long to change to our beach-attire and hit the water. But be warned the tides are quite strong and the initial stretch deep enough at waist level. Concerned we didn't venture much into the water.

Where Kali river meets Arabian Sea

Photo of Devbagh Beach Resort, near Capre Temple, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Devbagh Beach Resort, near Capre Temple, Karwar, Karnataka, India by Hrishikesh Baruah

The Kali river flows into the Arabian sea, and you can quite clearly see it from here. Quite a fascinating sight indeed to witness the end point of a river. And if that was not enough we were blessed to witness 3-4 dolphins just wadding very close to the shore. This was the first time ever for me to spot dolphins, and I obviously got intrigued by this sighting. In fact, the others also couldn't contain their excitement either. Besides, there were few fishermen who were laying out their nets into the river, and that's it, that's all the people on the beach. Hardly 10 persons if I can recall.

In a merry mood

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

Calls for lunch were made and a buffet was laid out. Wasn't even surprised that the mackerels were flying off the counter as soon as it was coming in hot out of the kitchens; I had to wait and eat slow so that I don't miss out on the fish. The food was really delicious and eating under the tree shade brought in a sense of calmness. I think I had like 3 servings of fish, now that most people were already done and we were the only ones still feasting. Post lunch we just grabbed each one a hammock to lay around and drowse in the lazy afternoon with the sun-rays that were peeking through the trees.

Lazying around after a feisty lunch affair

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

Idyllic setting for a two

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

This place is absolutely ideal for a couple wanting to break away from the dreary monotone of Mumbai or Bengaluru and spend some romantic moments alone. The silence all around was discernible, the sight of the fishermen throwing their hooks in the Kali river for a quick stroke of luck was placid. The staff at the resort were ever helpful and smiling. There are couple of shops there as well for anyone interested in buying some memento to take back. I got myself a fridge magnet. The shops though closes by afternoon, synonymous with the mood that we saw in the Karwar town as well.

It was time to head back. By around 4 we started to make our way back to the point where our boat will ferry us back to the mainland. While we await for the boat to arrive we were intrigued by the sight of couple of fishermen popping out fish, one after the other through a simple arrangement of a hook and string. How I wished if only we could've spent a night out here, sprightly staring at the night sky lying on the beach and the waves crashing on our feet. The boat arrived and we took our seats, soaking in the setting sun that gave the Kali river and its surroundings a golden hue. We just sat there staring at the limitless waters while the boat cruised to its final stop for the day.

Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah
Photo of Karwar: Where Life Deserves to Take a Step Back by Hrishikesh Baruah

The real struggle began now, once we reached the mainland. The strife to get hold of an empty auto which would transport us back to our hotel (we had kept our luggage in the hotel itself) while standing on the side of the highway. It took us atleast 40 mins before we could get 2 autos that somehow agreed to take us back. Back in the hotel and we had no time to waste as our bus was at 8 pm, and it was already 6.30. Took a quick shower and left the hotel by 7 on foot to the bus stand. The bus was coming from Goa and was impatiently waiting for us, even though we had reached early by around 10 mins. This bus was somewhat dirty and bumpier, and the staff rude. We realized that the bus won't stop anywhere en-route for dinner, this made us dash out and get some fruits and biscuits to salvage for the long night.

Karwar, Because Life Deserves a Break

Tired of the everyday rat race? Take some time out in this pristine, rustic city that will help you unwind and loosen up. Because the beaches are clean, and minus the crowd that throng the beaches of Goa or any other prime spots. Heck, even Gokarna beaches are getting stuffed with wannabe hippies. Devbabh beach resort was definitely one that I'd highly recommend especially if you're longing for a romantic escapade.