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Uttara Kannada District is one of the largest districts in Karnataka with abundant natural resources and varied geographical features. It is surrounded by Belagavi and Goa State to the North, Dharward in the East, Shivamogga and Udupi in the South. Kannada & Konkani are the 2 major regional languages spoken here. With a total land area of 10.25 lakh hectares, 8.28 hectares is under forest land.
It has thick evergreen forest, perennial rivers, home to some of India’s finest beaches, adventure destinations and waterfalls, all of this with abundant flora and fauna. It has a long coastline of about 140 km in length with a port at Karwar which is developed as an all-weather port.
Karwar is the district headquarters of Uttara Kannada District. Surrounded by 5 islands and with beautiful beaches, this port town of Karwar is located on the Kali River. Karwar has all the characteristics of a perfect seaside holiday destination. With gentle silver waves and miles of golden sand, Karwar has captivating landscapes, ringed hill ranges and valleys and forests. Inspired by such great beauty, the great Indian writer and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore penned one of his first works, Prakritir Pratishodh (Nature’s Revenge), at this paradise, marking the beginning of a glorious literary journey. Devbagh is the most enchanting of the five islands along the Karwar coast.
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When to go: The best season to visit any part of Uttara Kannada would be post-monsoon between September-March when the sea is playful and the days are not all that sultry.
Beaches & Islands
- Kurumgad Island: Situated 4km from the mainland, this tortoise-shaped island is renowned for the hilltop Narasimha Temple, which attracts thousands of devotees during the annual jatra held in 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 neighbouring islands.
- Devbagh Beach: Devbagh beach is really a perfect getaway for tourists searching for privacy as well as calm. It is famous for the golden sands and cool breeze, and provides adventure sports enthusiasts with a variety of water sports such as snorkeling and kayaking. It is also famous for the delicious seafood and other local cuisines.
- Majali Beach: Another popular beach 2 kms north of Devbagh.
- Binaga Beach: Known for its exquisite beauty and widespread seashore, Binaga Beach is about 5 km from Karwar. The beach is covered by green hilltops on three sides and offers a clean and calm atmosphere for the visitors. Our Lady of St Anne’s Church lies on the Binaga Beach, which was built by the Portuguese.
- Koodi Beach: Koodi Bagh Beach is located at the confluence of the Kali River and the Arabian Sea, at a distance of 4.5 km from Karwar. This beach is very clean and is a perfect destination for adventure lovers. For thrill-seekers, the beach offers water sports like canoeing, kayaking and banana boat ride.
- Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna: Gokarna is home to the legendary temple of Mahabaleshwara which houses the atmalinga of Lord Shiva. Legend has it that Ravana, the King of Lanka performed penance on Kailasa Hill. He pleased Lord Shiva and secured Atmalinga from Him; but on the condition that the atmalinga will never be placed on earth, or else it will get fixed there. The devas learnt about this and were frightened that Ravana would become all powerful. They approached Lord Ganesha who in the disguise of a Brahmin boy tricked Ravana and kept the atmalinga in the ground which permanently got fixed here. Mahabaleshwar Temple is built around this exact place. Nearby you can also visit the Venkatramana Temple, the Ganapati Temple, and the Koti Theertha tank where pilgrims perform their ablutions. Other must-sees in Gokarna are the enormous temple chariots which are dragged along the main street during Shivaratri festival during February.
- Half Moon Beach, Gokarna: Half Moon beach is a quiet beach on the Gokarna town coastline. It can only be accessed by hiking or by motor boats that ply from Om beach. The hiking trail along the coast is narrow with hills on the left and deep blue sea to the right. The beach has plenty of rocks and a small patch of sparkling clean sand. The view of the sea coast from the hill is just breathtaking.
- Paradise Beach, Gokarna: Paradise beach is also known as full moon beach. There is no road connectivity to paradise beach and the easiest way is to board a motor boat from Om Beach or Half Moon Beach. A 20 minute hike from Half Moon beach is another great option. Almost 70% of the beach is covered in rocks and the remaining section has clean white sand. This beach is an ideal place for camping.
- Om Beach Gokarna: Most popular tourist attraction in Gokarna, well known for its visual appeal and sunset.
- Kudle Beach, Gokarna: Relatively less crowded than Om beach
- Gokarna Beach: Another popular beach in Gokarna, popular for beach side shacks, restaurants
- Basavaraj Durga: Basavaraj Durga is an island off the coast of Honnavara in Uttara Kannada district. Basavaraja Durga was a fortified island which offered early warning and protection from enemies approaching via Arabian Sea. Spread over 19 hectares, the fortified Basavaraj Durga island was under the rule of Vijayanagara Empire, Keladi ruler Chennabasavappa, Haider Ali and British forces.
- Devgadh Island: Devgadh Island is a small island and picnic spot off the coast of Karwar city in North Canara. The name Devgadh is derived from ‘Devara Gudda’, Kannada for God’s Hill.
- Anjadev Island: Anjadev is a small island off the coast of Karwar in Uttara Kannada district. Anjadeva Island, also referred to as Anjediva is about 1.3 kms in length and 300 meters in width, resulting in a total area of just about 1.5 square kms.
- Haigunda: An island in the midst of Sharavati river, 20 kms from Honnavara
- Netrani Scuba Diving: Netrani island off Murudeshwara is one of the few popular Scuba diving destinations in Karnataka. Netrani island is approximately 22kms from the shores of Murudeshwara and takes an hour by boat. There are multiple operators in Murudeshwara who conduct single dives as well as scuba diving courses. Being able to swim like a fish, see them in close view underwater and seeing colourful corals will be an experience to cherish, a perfect adventure for everyone in the family.
- Dandeli White Water Rafting: Dandeli is a popular adventure sports destination in Karnataka due to white water rafting opportunities in Kali river. Kali River in Dandeli offers a rafting stretch of up to 12 kms. The stretch of river is covered with dense forests, offers several grade 2 (simpler to negotiate) and grade 3 (needs a bit more effort) rapids making the rafting experience exhilarating, adventurous and memorable. The 12 km rafting excursion lasts 3 to 4 hours end to end, including transportation from resort to starting point.
- Yana Rock Climbing: Yana rocks are an adventure seeker’s ultimate destination. Yana in Uttara Kannada district attracts trekkers and climbers from all over the world.
- Watersports in Murudeshwara: Visitors can experience JetSki ride, banana boat ride and other watersports.
- Bird Watching in Ganesha Gudi: A popular spot in Dandeli to see and photograph a wide variety of birds, including hornbills.
- Jenu Kallu Gudda: A panoramic view point in the Western Ghats, 17 kms from Yellapura town.
- Syntheri Rocks: Spectacular Volcanic rock formation and river Kaneri flowing in between
- Kavale Caves: 28 kms from Dandeli opposite Nagjhari power house, accessible with a climb of over 1000 steps
- Sadashivgad Fort: A huge 18th century fort on a hill near Karwar. Located right off the highway on the northern bank of Kali River, Sadashivgadh fort offers a great sunset view. A Durga Devi temple exists on top.
- Mirjan Fort: Known for its design, located 21 kms from Gokarna.
- Unchalli Falls: Unchalli Falls is a popular waterfall in Uttara Kannada district’s Sirsi Taluk. River Aghanashini drops 116 meters here creating a magnificent waterfall. Visitors can view it from the viewing deck or hike down the steps to get a closer look from the foot of the waterfalls. Unchalli Falls is the best visited post monsoon season. Unchalli Falls was first discovered by J. D. Lushington, a British officer, way back in 1875
- Sathodi Falls: Sathodi Falls is a pristine waterfall in the Western Ghats. Sathodi Falls is formed by merging of multiple smaller streams which eventually join Kali river downstream. Flowing over tall rocks in the middle of evergreen forests, the 50 ft (15 meters) tall Sathodi falls is a visual treat and nature’s gift to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
- Lalguli Falls: Smaller (250 ft) but beautiful waterfall just 13 kms from Yellapur city, best visited post monsoon.
- Magod Falls: River Bedti makes an almost 200 meter drop in two phases to form Magod waterfalls, 19 kms from Yellapura town
- Shirale Falls: 13 kms from Yellapur, Shirale is an offbeat waterfall that requires 2 kms of hiking from nearest road access. Beautiful and hidden in the forest falls is totally worth the hiking effort.
- Shivaganga Falls: 22 kms from Sirsi, Shivaganga Falls is made by Sonda river falling into a deep valley
- Susubbi Falls: 30 kms from Sirsi, Susubbi Falls is made by a perennial spring called Bilihole falling from a height of about 11 meters
- Apsarakonda Falls: The name refers to the pond of the Angels. Apsarakonda Falls 96 kms South of Karwar and 7.5 kms from Honnavara.
Nature & Wildlife
- Anshi National Park: Anshi National Park, also known as Kali Tiger Reserve, is a protected wildlife reserve in North Canara district. Anshi National Park is home to rare black panthers. Anshi National Parks spreads over 1300 square kms, around river Kali, filled with dense evergreen forests.
- Dandeli Hornbills: Hornbills are spectacular birds hard to miss. With their large, yellow coloured beaks, hornbills are easy to spot and are a bird photographer’s delight. Dandeli in Karnataka is the most popular place to spot Hornbills.
- Attiveri Bird Sanctuary: Attiveri is one of the popular bird sanctuaries in Uttara Kannada district, spread over 22 square kms and centred around Attiveri lake. Attiveri bird sanctuary is known to be home to about 79 different bird species migrating from over 22 countries during the winter season.
- Sri Mahamaya Temple: Popular temple 8 kms north of Karwar town.
- Gokarna: Gokarna is a temple town, a major Hindu pilgrimage centre and a beach attraction in Kumta Taluk of North Canara district. Primary temple in Gokarna is Mahabaleshwara temple. Dravidian architecture, 1500 year old statues and pristine surroundings.
- Murudeshwara: Murudeshwara is a temple town in Bhatkala Taluk, North Canara district in coastal Karnataka, known for its 123 ft tall statue of Lord Shiva, which is the second tallest of its kind in the world. (Tallest Shiva statue is in Nepal)
- Idagunji: Idagunji in coastal Karnataka is home to the popular Ganesha temple and a pilgrimage centre in the region. Present temple at Idagunji was built in the 5th century AD by the devotees.
- Ulavi Caves & Temples: Ulavi is a pilgrimage spot in North Canara district which is also popular for a series of natural caves which have become a tourist attraction. Ulavi is the final resting place of 12th century saint Chenna Basavanna.
- Kavadikere Temples: Durga and Kashi Vishwanatha temples located on the banks of Kavadikere lake, 5 kms from Yellapura city
- Huliyal: Huliyal is a town in North Canara popular for Mallikarjuna temple and fort, Sri Rama, Dattatreya, Maruti, Pete Basaveshwara and Venkataramana temples, six mosques, three Durgahs, a Roman Catholic Church and tomb of Haider Shah. Huliyal is 50 kms from Hubballi and 150 kms from Karwar.
- Ambikanagar: Known for Maruti temple, Aiyappa temple and a roman Catholic Church
- Aversa: Popular for Katyayini Baneshwara temple
- Banavasi: One of the oldest towns of Karnataka and headquarters of Rashtrakutas. Banavasi is also known for Madhukeshwara temple
- Bedasgaon: Popular for Boppeshvaradeva temple
- Bhatkal: Home to over a dozen fine temples
- Bilgi: Ancient capital of Jain Palegars, Bilgi has Virupaksha, Mahadeva and Manumantha temples
- Dhareshwara: Popular for Dhareshwara Temple of Kalyana Chalukya era. Nagashringa Parvata with a cave is also a nearby destination to explore.
- Gersoppa: Home to Chaturmukha Basti, Vardhamana Basti.
- Haldipur: Popular for Shakaranarayana Temple, Chandeshwara temple, Gopalakrishna temple, Sunkadakatte Mahaganapathi temple, Marikamba temple, Salikeri and other temples
- Kadra: Popular for Mahamaya temple and Kadra dam.
- Kekkar: Home to multiple temples including Lakshminarasimha, Vishnu and Vinayaka temples
- Kumta: Major town in Uttara Kannada with Kumbhateshwara temple of Chalukya style as well as St John’s Church.
- Manjuguni: Home to Bete Venkataramana Temple of Vijayanagara Style
- Sonda: Sonda (also referred to as Sodhe) is a temple village in Uttara Kannada, headquarters of Sodhe Matha, established in the 13th century by Saint Madhavacharya. Sonda’s high altitude (2000 meters above msl) gives it a hill station like weather. Annual car festival at Honda is held every year during Holi Poornima (usually falls in March).
- Oyster Rock Lighthouse: Located on an island off the coast, can be reached via speed boats.
- INS Chapal Warship Museum: INS Chapal was an active warship with Indian navy and the star of naval warfare during 1971 Indo-Pak war. INS Chapal is now decommissioned, converted into a museum and attracts visitors in the city of Karwar.
- Rock Garden: Sculpture garden close to INS Chapal, showcasing tribal and village life.
- Jatayu Theertha: View point in Karwar
- Ankola: Ankola is a taluk and city in Uttara Kannada district in coastal Karnataka. Ankola is worth visiting because of its beaches, cultural heritage and beautiful nature
- Yellapura: Yellapura is a taluk and town in Uttara Kannada district, situated in the Western Ghats. Blessed with forests, ghats and blissful nature, Yellapur offers calm, offbeat and refreshing places of interest that should definitely be on the itinerary of travelers visiting the region.
- Ramnagar: Ramnagar is a village in Supa Taluk 112 kms from Karwar. Ganesha Gudi and Supa dam are the major tourist attractions near Ramnagar.
- Chandavar: Has a ruined fort, two mosques and few temples
- Sykes Point: A scenic view point inside Dandeli Games Sanctuary, 42 kms from Haliyal.
- Mundgod: Home to a Tibetan Monastery and settlement.