The name 'Karwar' is a misnomer. It is derived from a nearby village called Kadwad (the British, probably, had trouble pronouncing "d" and replaced it with "r"). The present Karwar town is entirely a new settlement. Karwar used to be written as "Carwar" earlier.
The British made this place their district headquarters in 1862. Karwar was an ancient site of sea trade visited by the Arabs, Dutch, Portuguese, French and later the British. Ibn battuta passed through this route during one or more of his journeys. Renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore, who visited Karwar in 1882, dedicated an entire chapter of his memoirs to this town.
Karwar was a part of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century. After the defeat of the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, it became a part of the British territory. It was a part of the Bombay Presidency until 1950.
GeographyThe town is sandwiched between the sea on one side and the Western Ghats on the other. It is rich in flora and fauna.
As of 2001 India census, Karwar had a population of 62,960. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Karwar has an average literacy rate of 80%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 75%. In Karwar, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Majority of the local population is Hindu. The prominent castes and subcastes include Konkan Maratha, Kshatriya Komarpanth, Vaishyavani, Bhandhari, Konkan Kharvi, Harikantra, Halakki Vokkaliga, Gouli, Kunbi, Padthi, Ram Kashtriya, Daivajna Brahmin, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin and Havyak Brahmin .
Halakki Vokkaligas living in the foot of Western Ghats are known as the "Aboriginals of Uttara Kannada". They have an administrative system of their own and the headman is called "Gouda". Their way of living is still ancient; the women adorn themselves with beads and necklaces, heavy nose rings and distinct attire. Goulis are a nomadic tribes who migrated to Karwar from Maharashtra. They are mainly cow and goat rearers. They stay on the fringes of forest. Some have taken up agriculture. Kunabis are said to be the most backward of the tribals of Uttara Kannada District. They live in small groups deep inside forests in bamboo huts built in a row sharing common walls. Not having access to the medical facilities due to seclusion, mortality rate among them is very high.
Partly due to the presence of the British, who had a major presence in this town and by virtue of being next to the then Portuguese-controlled Goa state, Christianity has been in existence here since the 18th Century, a majority of the Christians here being converts who fled the Portuguese Inquisition, which demanded complete severance from the native rituals practiced by the converts.
Muslims, mainly forming a part of the trading community, came down from the Deccan (Bahamani) kingdoms to Karwar, and are known to be sea-farers. It is due to the Muslim influence that the Karwar port is known as "Baithkol" meaning the House of Safety, or Place of Safety ("Bait-e-kol" in Arabic).
A major industry in Karwar is fisheries.
Though the District is located in coastal area, it is not so famous for its marine products. But activities connected with Fisheries are carried out on large scales by the fishermen communities like Harikanth, Konkan Kharvis, Gabiths, Ambigas. The major population lives in rural area undertaking agriculture as their main occupation.
The main traditional occupations are Agriculture, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Sericulture, Horticulture, Beekeeping and Leather Works etc.
Solaris Chemtech (erstwhile BILT - Ballarpur Industries Ltd.) at Binaga manufactures Caustic Soda, Chlorine, Hydrochloric acid and Phosphoric Acid. NPC's nuclear power plant at Kaiga is around 50 kilometres away from Karwar town.
Karwar is situated on the Konkan Railway route. The railway station is located at Shirwad, 6 km away from Karwar town.
As of late there are rumors that a major part of Karwar including the beach may be used by the government for naval purposes.
A bay near Binaga has a new naval base for the Indian Navy called INS Kadamba, as part of Project Seabird. Thus, its beautiful beaches like the Casurina Beach (at Binaga) - now christened as Kamat Bay by the navy - and the Arga Beach are now transformed with shore infrastructure built by the Indian Navy and are out of bounds for the common man. However, the navy opens its portals for one and all during the Navy Week in December and for educational institutions and groups visiting the base.
Prominent places of tourist interest in Karwar are:
- Karwar Beach (Rabindranath Tagore Beach)
- Devbagh Beach
- Kurumgad Island
- Binaga Beach
- Tilmatti Beach
- Majali Beach
- Guddahalli Peak
- Hyder Ghat Pass
- Shirve Ghat
- Devkar Falls
- Anshi National Park
- Durga Devi Temple
- Naganath Temple
- Shahkaramuddin Dargah, Sadashivgad (Tomb of a Sufi Saint)
- Chaitanya Park
- Sadashivgadh Maratha Fort
- High Church
- Maruti Temple
- Kali Bridge
- Chendia Falls - Nagarmadi Falls (a small waterfall which passes under a huge rock)
- Habbu Mountain (opp. Venkateshwara Gas Agencies)
- Shri Kshetra Gurumath, Baad
Karwar Taluk/Tehsil comprises of the following blocks/villages: Kathinkon, Kinner, Siddar, Halga, Ulga, Asnoti, Bhaire, Balni, Kharga, Kadra, Hankon, Baad, Kolage, Majali, Hosali, Bhaire, Gopashitta, Sunkeri, Amdalli, Arga, Chendia, Keravadi, Karkal, Gotegali, Hotegali, Bore, Mallapur, WailBalni, Upper Makeri, Lower Makeri, Hapkarni, Kunnipet, Sanmudageri, Mudageri, Kaiga, Harwad, Hosalli, Kervadi, Devabag, Hotegalli, Thoralebag, Hodlebag, Sadashivagad, Angadi, Birtulbag, Hankon, Abrai, Ghotegalli, Shejebag, Halebag, Sakalbalni, Kodibaug, Nandangadda, Kajubaug, Baitkol, Binaga, Nargari (area around the Konkan Railway Station), Shejwad, Kadwad.
Every year, a festival called the "Karavali Utsav", is held near the Rabindranath Tagore Beach, lasting 3 to 4 days. It consists of stalls, cultural programmes and fireworks.
"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. Where the universe is expressing itself in the magic of its laws it may not be strange if we miss its infinitude; but where the heart gets into immediate touch with immensity in the beauty of the meanest of things, is any room left for argument?" - Rabindranath Tagore
From other cities in India
- Karwar is 4 hours by bus & 1 hour by train from Goa, 12 hours by bus from Bengalooru and 12 hours by train from Mumbai on Konkan Railway route.
- Karwar is 107 kilometres from Panjim (Goa), 540 kilometres from Bengalooru, 117 kilometers from Dandeli, 881 kilometres from Chennai, 701 kilometres from Mumbai, 268 km from Mangalore.
Rabindranath Tagore Beach Karwar
Kali River Bridge