This artefact is about a piece of land, probably a few sq. kilometres in area, which is directly transported to the earth from heaven. At a distance of 11 kms from Karwar mainland, Oyster Rock Lighthouse, also known as Devgad Island Lighthouse, is a lighthouse situated on rocks in Devgad Island. Oyster Rocks are a group of small islands rather rocks - Devgad being the main summit on which the Lighthouse is situated. The Lighthouse was constructed by the British during 1860 CE and was commissioned into service on 25th March 1864 CE. The colonial styled architecture of this light house is really astonishing. The tower has a dome on the top, from where the entrance to the lantern room can be accessed. We did go to top of the dome – from where the light emission happens during the night. There is thick forest growth on this hillock. We had heard about this place in one of our travel forum. Their experience and pictures had inspired us to take this offway adventure.
When we plan a destination – we know what to look out for. But in this case, we had only a few mesmerizing pictures and some scary info from our boat guide. Yet we were looking forward to this adventurous piece, out of our entire week’s itinerary. Reason - probably because it was a less frequented place or we had no idea what to expect out of it. Either of it, we wanted to go and explore the less unexplored. We put in our Vasco-Da-Gama hats and started our journey towards Karwar after a little stint with water sporty Dandeli.
We were on week long self-driving tour which was supposed to end in Goa for the New Year bash. ***Party mode on*** :) It was 2.5-hour drive from Dandeli. Roads collaborated well with the strong tree-lines all along the way, making the journey beautiful. After passing through variety of forest flora, fauna and water bodies we reached Karwar. We were hungry, logged into a restaurant of an acquaintance, filled our tummies and packed dinner. We were told that there is no food available on the island, so we had pack food and some snacks. We were already warned as to nothing is available on the island. Working out all the possible permutation and combinations of the required stuff, we got ready for our jaunt. With high hopes and mixed thoughts we reached the slipway (boat resting place). Guide’s brother greeted us and took us to the nearby safe haven for our automotive.
After a good 30 min long wait in the scorching sun, our small boat arrived. Finally we started our wavy oceanic journey in a small boat with 7 of us in it. 4 girls and 3 boatmen. Initial few minutes were delightful, but as we progressed deeper into the ocean, my heart beat started skipping. Water waves were splashing all over my body. I had almost taken a salt water bath. As waves were hitting over me, my fear of drowning increased. Since we were approaching towards the end of the day, the intensity of the waves were high, ocean was getting rougher every minute. Total duration of the journey was around 90 minutes. Those 90 minutes were probably the toughest ones of my life. Me being a non-swimmer, had never felt this captivated ever before.
After the horrendous journey, we reached the shore. Once I landed my foot on the Oyster rocks, all the fear vanished. I was lost in the beauty. We were in a dream land. A small land surrounded by clear water on all sides. No sightings of anything apart from waves rushing towards me. Probably no words can’t do the justice to the scene. Below is the image, where we parked our boat overnight. After trying hard to pull the boat to its hook, we started climbing the small hillock – to the base of the Light house. Once we entered the light house, just threw our bags and started climbing the 5 storey watchman of the seas. We had to rush as the sun was almost immersing itself in the ocean. Didn’t want miss the panorama of Sun and the ocean kissing each other and we were just in time for the sight. After the splendid view, we just stood standstill – wanted to pause the wheel of time, freeze the moment. Nothing in life was more beautiful than that moment. It took away all my wrath, all my fear. Once we got back to the base of the light house, we refreshed ourselves from the salinity. We had whole evening and night to spend. Since it’s a distant place from the mainland – electricity is available only on generator and they switch it off by 10 PM. No mobile network, no electricity makes a man think out of the box. So did we. Started interacting with our guide – trying to understand the of the place and its surroundings. Got to know the nearby islands, their stories, experiences with other guests.
Forgot to mention – an engineer stays at the place for the light house maintenance round the clock. So we did get some info of about light house working. Once it was dark – we trekked down to the ocean again – different side of it though. Seeing the ocean waves in the dark with new moon approaching was a once in a lifetime experience. Then we trekked back – played some music, lit the natural campfire – using dried sticks and leaves – blowing it up using a pipe to maintain the fire. Remembering our grandma’s kitchen days. It was a perfect package for an outdoor out of the way experience.
They told us – they were shocked when they heard 4 girls are coming to the island for a stay and when they told their mother about it, her reaction was – Are those girls mad? I can imagine her reaction. Anyone who hears that might think we are crazy. But trust me – it wasn’t at all scary. It was one of most precious moments we’ll cherish for a lifetime. We had one of our best evenings - laughed, danced, counted the stars, felt the fresh air around, saw the night sky, their reflection on the ocean – totally magical and mystical. Then we had our dinner and it was time for the generator to be switched off. It was dark and silent. We could hear the sound of waves even on top of the hillock. It was time for some rest. It wasn’t a hostel or even a dormitory to be expected for. We slept on the floor gossiping whole night. We had to rise before the sun rises to witness the new beginning. We got up by 5:30 AM climbed the light house waiting for the beautiful sun to rise across the horizon. It was windy at the top and slight orange streaks of light started emerging out, signalling the arrival of the king in queue. What we witnessed, was nothing less than a magic. One of the most beautiful mornings we ever had experienced. The transition from darkness to light was soothing. After the sun was sharp enough, we came down looking for a nap. But in vain, we couldn’t even close our eyes. After a while we went down to ocean we had visited last night to get the day view. I was spellbound - Crystal blue water and a clean beach is a rare combination in India. But we did find it here. Blue waters flashing themselves to the oyster rocks, as though they trying to communicate them, trying to establish a connect. That reminded me of an infant effortlessly pulling their mom to show something. Got some amazing captures of the scene. Not sure if these pictures and words can make the justice to the beauty of the island. It was time for pack up and move for our next destination. Our adventure was coming to an end. All good things end - making way for new and better beginnings.
When the sun rays sprayed their magic on the peaceful water, it turned them into milk - ocean of milk.
Different views of the island.. marvelous isn't..
Lastly, we did have an amazing host which made our experience even more memorable. Thank you guys!!! On our return journey, we had a big boat, rather it was yacht – since sea was rough, they suggested not to use the small boat. Lucky enough for me – I was at peace while returning. Another show stopper of the way back was the sighting of the dolphins. We visited the Kurumgad and DevBagh islands enroute to the mainland.
Some information around the light house and other islands near Karwar:
Karwar has an archipelago of islands along the coast of Karwar offering some of the most beautiful coastal beaches, enchanting its natural splendour and arguably the best diving sites in India. Popular islands near Karwar are DevBagh Island, Anjadiv Island, Kurumgad Island, Oyster Rock (Devgad Island), Sanyasi Island, Sadashivgad Island and Madlimgadh Island. Karwar is known for its sparkling azure waters is where there is confluence of the Kali River with the Arabian Sea.
The most beautiful of all the islands, it hosts a beautiful resort – Jungle Lodges Devbagh Island Beach Resort. It can be reached by boat from Karwar. The beaches are pristine and private. Thickly populated with green casuarinas trees - the name literally means the garden of gods. A great spot to watch Dolphins, it is also a popular Water sports destination. Devbagh also had a great influence on Rabindranath Tagore who stayed here in his younger days. He also penned a poem “Prakritir Pratishodh” about this place.
A tortoise shaped island 4 km off the coast of Karwar (it takes a 20-minute motorboat ride to reach this desolate Island). The Island is now privately owned and belongs to a Coffee Planter Suresh Mathias. It was ruled by different dynasties including the Vijayanagar Empire. Atop a hill there is an old Narasimha temple that draws thousands of devotees every year during an annual jatra. An ideal place to spot seals this rock formation according to Geologists was formed from Earthquake activity 300 million years ago. The Kurmagad Island nearby has an old fort and a Narasimha shrine, worth a visit. Great Outdoors Island Resort is situated at Kurumgad Island at 45 mins ferry ride from Karwar.
This Island is connected with a 1 Km long bridge. This densely populated hamlet is a few kms from the mainland of Karwar. The Island has a famous fort and Durgadevi temple. The fort leads to a hill from where you get great views of the sea and Islands including Devbagh. The fort itself is quite dilapidated and very little remains. Estuary View Resort is an Ayurveda Resort located at on a hill overlooking the Devbagh Island and Kali River at Sadashivgad, Karwar (Karnataka, India).
Anjadiv Islands (Anjadip or Angediva)
With an area of 1.5 sq km, it is the largest of the Karwar Panchdiva chain of five Islands. Anji stands for five in Tamil and it denotes the fifth Island. It is a 30 min boat ride 4 Km. This idyllic Island is home to the Indian Navy. The island has some remains of the bygone Portuguese era, some old houses and Chruch ruins. Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes described it as the "Island of Amours".
This Island is used as a Picnic spot; both Wild Buffalos and the British have inhabited this small island.
Most of the island resorts provide a complimentary boat trip to the Sanyasi Island. There is an interesting legends about this Island, in ancient times, a sage sought refuge on this island for penance and hence the name.
How to reach Karwar:
Bangalore to Karwar is 521 km by road. There are plenty of buses plying between the two cities. By train it is 772 Km. There are 2 direct trains from Bangalore to Karwar - Yeshwanthpur - Karwar Express (16515) and Karwar Express (16523). There are plenty of stay options available in Karwar - not an area of concern at all.
I personally feel Karwar has been underrated. It has so much to offer for a tourist. Its pristine waters, beaches and beach resorts are the ones to look out for. I would love to go back to this peaceful haven any given point. I hope I was able to do some justice to the beauty of this place. Anyone interest in visiting the place please do let me know, I shall share the contact number.