Romantic, alluring and serene – our Go Explore destination of the month is a beautiful beach, tucked away in the Western Ghats surrounded by the oceans. If you are looking for a destination to escape this Valentine ‘s Day with your partner, then this has to be it. It is so romantic that it has inspired none other than the legendary poet, Rabindranath Tagore to pen his work, Prakritir Pratishbodh. I am referring to Karwar, nestled in Karnataka. The story goes that the 22 year old Tagore stayed with his brother, Satyendranath Tagore, who was then the district judge in Karwar. The confluence of the rivers, the moonlit night when he went rowing solo promoted 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 the beauty of nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it.” Today, a beach still remains in the town in Tagore’s memory.
I can visit Karwar any number of times – just to relax, romanticize or rejuvenate. There are many reasons to visit this pristine region this Valentine’s Day and these are some of my recommendations.
1. Do nothing
Karwar is beautiful. 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 you must head here with your Valentine. Look around and you will see the narrow coast hugging the sea, while surrounding it are the ridges of the Western Ghats. Straight out of a picture postcard, Karwar is a nondescript town perched among the mountains and oceans, oblivious to its own beauty. If I were you, I would do nothing here. Just go hand in hand for long walks with your Valentine, watch the sun rise and set and the moon spreading its sheen on the waves.
2. Get high on water sports
For those who like to get their adrenalin flowing, there are many resorts that offer a slew of water sports activities for the enthusiasts. Trekking, rappelling, snorkeling and fishing head the top of the charts. If you are looking for a dash of adventure to your romantic holiday, then you won’t be disappointed. The oceans are the abode of dolphins and if you are lucky you can spot them by going on a boat ride. I went on a sunset cruise looking for dolphins and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my trip.
3. Binge on sea food
If you love sea food then this is where your taste buds get tickled the most. Fresh catch from the sea is available in almost every resort and you could try your hand at fishing as well. There is something about Konkani cuisine and most resorts offer authentic taste. I may be a vegetarian but my friends swear by the sea food here.
4. Go island hopping listening to stories
Karwar is replete with beaches and several tiny islands are scattered around. The most popular haunt is Devbagh — the name literally means the garden of gods. Boat rides are organized to various little islands – Kurumgad, Oyster-rock, Anjudeeporgan, Sadashivgad and Sanyasi. A tale rings around all these islands. The Sanyasi island for instance owes its name to a sage who sought refuge here. The Devgad Island or the Oyster Rock has one of the oldest lighthouses atop .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 18th century fort at Sadashivgad here that lies in ruins here speaks of the battle fought by Basalinga Nayak of Sonda dynasty against the British. The fort built at the confluence of Kali River and the Arabian Sea is now one of the key tourist attractions.
The Kurumgad island in the shape of the tortoise was ruled by several dynasties like the Vijayanagar and Sonda. 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 .
5. Legendary beaches and towns
Surrounding Karwar are several towns and legends that echo with tales of Gods and demons and ring with tales of curses and boons. The Om Beach in Gokarna may have a divine feel to it, but Gokarna and Murudeshar close by take you down to the tales of Ramayana, The seas and the mountains here have witnessed another tale – a story about the good, the evil and a weapon called power. According to the legend, Ravana wanted to become immortal and prayed to Shiva for an atmalinga, which would make him invincible. He was granted his wish but with a caveat – the atmalinga was never to be placed on the ground. However a plot to put Ravana in place was planned by Narada with the help of Vishnu and Ganesha. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted the sun to make it look like evening. Lord Ganesha, in the guise of a Brahmin boy approached Ravana and offered to hold the atmalinga until he finished his evening prayers.
Ravana returned from his prayers to find the boy gone and the atmalinga on the ground. The linga however could not be removed and he called it Mahabala as he was unable to lift it It is believed that the Mahabaleshwara temple was built in Gokarna on the site where the linga was placed. A small hole in the temple permits devotees to have a glimpse of the top of the Aatmalinga. The Maha Ganapathi temple is a reminder of Ganeha’s role in the legend, while the towering statue of Shiva at Murudeshwar blesses the entire coast.
Walking back to the beaches, the stories cease and you get to lose yourself in the sounds of the ocean, thinking of the heady mix of the mythical, spiritual and historic influences in this region.
Karwar is just 8 kms from South Goa border and the Palolem is the closest beach. Panaji is 135 kms and Mangalore is 220 kms and Londa is 130 kms. The closest airport is the Dabolim airport at Goas at 90 kms Karwar is also accessible by train on the Konkan railways. There are also trains from Bangalore and Mangalore. The coastal route is a beautiful drive although roads are bad in certain patches.
Hotels in Karwar
If you are looking for accommodation in Karwar, there are variety of options for beach resorts, deluxe and budget hotels, Some of my recommendations for you are given below and you can get great offers on goibibo on these.
Leisure Vacation Westend Resort
Located in Sadashivgad, here is a place that gives you the comfort of a small town and a beach. You get a variety of meal options here and the rooms are at a steal. One of the best deals you can opt for this Valentine’s Day. For more details, visit Leisure Vacation Westend Resort, Karwar.
Leisure Vacation Tarang Resort
Nestled very close to the beach and is a sanctuary by itself is this romantic resort, ideal for couples. Surrounded by greenery and located in Devbagh is Leisure Vacation Tarang Resort.
If you like the comfort of a home and a convenience of a hotel, then these premium service apartments in Sadashivgad may be your best answer to accommodation in Karwar. Aditi comforts is one of the best Premium serviced apartments.