by the soaring Western Ghats in the east and blessed by the blue waters of the
Arabian Sea in the west,
Karnataka has a 320 kms. long coastline dotted with unspoilt beaches and scores
of temples. Some of these beaches and temples are unknown, unsung and undiscovered
- and that is their biggest attraction.
With gentle waves, miles of golden sand, a tranquil ambience and acres of emerald
foliage, Karwar has all the makings of a perfect holiday destination. The captivating
landscape is ringed with rugged hill ranges, thick woods and mysteriously deep
valleys. This paradise inspired the great Indian muse Rabindranath Tagore to
pen his first play. Since then, this little town has continued to inspire all
its visitors.The Sadashivgad Hill Fort with a Durga Temple, the unique octagonal
church, the 300-year old Venkatrama Temple with ochre paintings and the Naganatha
Temple, where an ant hill is worshipped, are sure to make a lasting impression.
Devbagh is the most enchanting of the five islands along the Karwar coast. Visits
to Anjidev Island are restricted.
Best season: September to mid May.
4 kms. from the mainland, this tortoise-shaped island is renowned for the hilltop
Narasimha Temple, which attracts thousands of devotees during the annual jatra
held on Pushya Purnima every year in early January. Kurumgad is steeped in history,
complete with the remains of a fort with cannon holes.
Enjoy the panoramic view of the sea, sand and the neighbouring islands from
the tableland of the island, or indulge in activities such as trekking, fishing,
dolphin and seal-spotting, boat rides to neighbouring islands, diving, snorkelling,
treasure hunts, guided tours, or star-gazing.
With its narrow streets, traditional houses and temples, the nondescript town
of Gokarna has become the favourite haunt of Hindu pilgrims, Sanskrit scholars
and beach buffs. Locals believe that Gokarna derives its name from a legend
in which Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow. Literally meaning cows
ear, this village is formed by the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers.
Adventurous travellers must be prepared for a bit of cliff-scrambling in this
coastal town. Om beach, one of Gokarnas five famed beaches, takes the
shape of an Om, a spiritual symbol. The other beaches, wedged between
gigantic cliffs that protrude like delicate fingers into the sea, are Gokarna,
Kudle, Half Moon and Paradise. The drive up the winding path that leads to Gokarna
is a scenic delight with rocky mountains and the Western Ghats on one side and
the Arabian Sea on the other. Here, you can experience the famed Karnataka hospitality
in friendly guesthouses run by local families.
Best season: Year-round
in the spectacular views at Marawanthe, a seaside town where the West Coast
Highway cruises alongside the Arabian Sea on one side, with the picturesque
Kodachadri Hills forming a backdrop to the Sauparnika river on the other.Marawanthe
wears the look of a fairyland at sunset when the sky turns crimson and the golden
rays of the sun are reflected in the sea as well as the river. Water sports
promise an action-filled holiday. Visit Baindur, a hamlet 45 kms. from Marawanthe
with a lovely beach close by. Near Baindur is the scenic Ottinane with its overhanging
cliffs, an ideal place for viewing the sunset. A further drive will take you
to the Belaka Theertha Falls near Baindur.
Best season: August to March.
Bhatkal (16 kms.)
126 kms. from Karwar, at the southern most point of the district, Bhatkal was
the main port of the Vijayanagar Empire in the 16th century. It has two small
but interesting temples - the Jain Chadranatha Basadi and a 17th century Vijayanagar
temple with animal carvings typical of the Vijayanagar artisans.
Best season: August to March.
At the mouth of the Malpe river, about 6 kms. from Udupi, is the natural harbour
of Malpe, an important fishing centre that enriches Karnatakas coastline
with its fabulous beach. The endless stretch of golden sand, graciously swaying
palm trees, clear blue sky and the gentle murmur of the sea set the perfect
mood for an idyllic holiday. Across the bay is the island of Darya Bahadurgarh.
Be sure to visit the Balarama Temple and Malpes oldest tile factory, set
up by the Basel Mission.
Best season: August to March.
Situated 12 kms. south of Udupi, on the coastal belt that passes through the
West Coast National Highway, Kaup has a lovely beach, a ruined fort and an old
100ft. high lighthouse. The two temples of Goddess Mariamma in Kaup are famous.
The Jain basadis here are in ruins, but are worth a visit.
Ensconced on the coast, this maritime city makes a pleasant and convenient stop
between Goa and Kerala. With its narrow, winding streets fringed with coconut
palms, quaint houses with terracotta-tiled roofs, beautiful beaches, temples
and churches and the aroma of spicy coconut curries, it has preserved its old-world
charm. Mangalore was a major seaport and ship-building centre in Hyder Alis
time. Today it is a business and commercial centre and Karnatakas major
port for the export of coffee, spices and cashew.
The Someshwar Temple overlooking a rocky promontory, the ancient 10th century
Mangala Devi Temple dedicated to the Goddess Mangala Devi and the 11th century
Kadri Manjunatha Temple with its exquisite bronze images of Lokeshwara co-exist
with splendid churches and mosques.
Among the more remarkable mosques are the Jumma Masjid in Bunder, built centuries
ago by the Arabs and the Idgah Mosque at Lighthouse Hill whose construction
is attributed to Tipu Sultan at the end of the 18th century.The St. Aloysius
College Chapel with its magnificent Biblical frescoes adorning the walls and
ceilings is worth a peek. Equally impressive is the Shreemanthi Bai Memorial
Government Museum with its wondrous collection of objets-de-art, archaeology,
ethnology, porcelain and wooden carvings. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the
Pilikula Nisagardhama, a sprawling 300-acre park 12 kms. from Mangalore, with
boating facilities, a wildlife safari, a mini aquarium and a science centre.
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