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
- Om Beach Gokarna (63 km): One of the acclaimed beaches in the country, Om Beach takes the shape of an 'Om', a Hindu spiritual symbol. In the shape of two crescents joined together to form an Om, the beach offers a breathtaking view of the sunset. The long stretch of white sandy beach adjoining the rocky terrain appeals to travellers from around the world.
- Kudle Beach, Gokarna (65 km):One of the most popular beaches in Gokarna, Kudle Beach lies between the main beach of Gokarna and Om beach. With a wonderful spread of greenery, the long stretches of sand look quite lovely during the season. Filled with beach bums, volleyball lovers, musicians playing by the sea and backpackers lazing around, the beach is a perfect getaway for a relaxing vacation.
- 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 (65 km): 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.
- Rabindranath Tagore Beach: Surrounded by rocky hills and lined with innumerable trees, the beach is an ideal place to unwind. Located in the heart of the city, one can spend the evening on the beach witnessing the beautiful sunset which is a great way to relax. The beach is also the venue for a number of cultural activities, including the famous Karavali Utsav. The beach is also good for parasailing to a get a bird’s eye view of the coastal town.
- 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: Majali Beach is located at Majali Village, which is a small town that lies on the northern tip of coastal Karnataka. Apart from its scenic beauty, this beach is popular for its delicious local coastal cuisine. There is a lake situated close by, where activities like kayaking and rowing can be enjoyed. This beach also provides magnificent views of the setting sun.
- 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 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 Bagh 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.
- 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.
- Basavaraj Durga Island (90 km): Basavaraj Durga an island fortress situated near Honnavar. It is believed that the fort was constructed in 16th century during Vijayanagara kings. Shivappa Nayaka, the Keladi ruler captured the fort and gave it the name of Basavaraj Durga in memory of Keladi Prince Basavaraj. This fort is surrounded by a strong fortification raised by gigantic laterite blocks and has ruined mounted guns. It covers a total area of around 19 hectares. The island is also dotted with many fresh water wells. There is a temple here where the locals especially fishermen/ boat owners visit with their families every year on Makar Sankranti Day to perform poojas seeking protection from nature's harm throughout the year while working in the sea.
- 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 (135 km): Netrani island off Murudeshwara is one of the few popular Scuba diving destinations in Karnataka.The Nethrani Island also known as Pigeon Island is off the Murudeshwara coast. This is an enchanting island with a wild growth of trees and curved rocky formations that shelters numerous pigeons. The island with its corals and clear waters is probably the best snorkeling/ dive sites in India. There are great opportunities for snorkeling; both for beginners to deep-diving experts here. There are multiple operators in Murudeshwara who conduct single dives as well as scuba diving courses. Being able to swim like a fish, to 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. Experience the thrills of white water rafting on some unpredictable stretches of the Kali River at Dandeli – probably the best place after the options available in the Ganges. The rafting trail stretches for around 12 km, making it an exhilarating stretch which is ideal for both professionals and inexperienced rafters. 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. The gigantic crystalline like rock formations of Yana stand proud and tall among the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada District. Yana is an ideal destination for pilgrims, trekkers, and nature-lovers alike. A 16km trek through the cool and breezy hills brings you to the foot of the mountain where the rock formations begin. At the top, a stunning sight awaits you: the awesome Bhairaveshwara and Jaganmohini shikharas (or peaks). A cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva lies below these shikharas. The vagaries of time have caused these limestone structures to turn blackish brown and lots of beehives dot the rock surface. A popular legend associated with Yana holds that Bhasmasura, an evil demon, performed penance to Lord Shiva and obtained the power of reducing to ashes anybody on whose head he placed his hand. An ungrateful Bhasmasura, however, soon decided to test the boon on his benefactor. To escape from him, Lord Shiva came to earth and hid in Yana. Lord Vishnu taking the form of a beautiful woman Mohini, challenged the demon to a dance and made him touch his own head and thereby reducing him to ashes.
- 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 (82 km):Located in the dense forests of Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary and in the way of River Kaneri, stands Syntheri Rock. It is monolithic granite structure with a height of 300 feet. Owing to the flow of the river nearby and the continuous erosion over several thousand years, it has resulted in the rocks getting weathered with lots of nooks and holes. These are home to innumerable blue rock pigeons and countless hives of honeybees. Entry to the venue is controlled by State Forest Department with parking facilities. From the parking area, one needs to climb down to reach the base of the Syntheri Rock.
- Kavala Caves (120 km): The Kavala caves are located in the Dandeli Sanctuary. Embedded in the rocks on the ridge overlooking the Kali River valley, these natural caves were created by water seeping through porous rocks over millions of years. The caves are replete with ancient limestone formations. Though the caves are about 15 feet high, the mouth is only three feet in height. You will need to use a powerful flashlight to explore these caves; they are pitch dark with lots of bats. After crawling on hands and knees for about 30 feet, the roof opens to a height of about 10 feet. A few more steps lead you to a giant stalagmite which resembles a Shiva Linga. During the Maha Shivarathri Festival, thousands of devotees throng this place. The view of the river valley from Kavala caves is breathtaking.
- Sadashivgad Fort: The Sadashivgad Fort was built in 1698 by the Sonda kings on a 200 ft hillock. Although in ruins today, only the arched entrance gateway seems to be in a good condition. There is also a statue of Shivaji Maharaj with his horse on top of the hill. It offers a spectacular view of the Kali River on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
- 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 picturesque rectangular shaped waterfall in the Western Ghats. Several unknown streams converge near Kallaramane Ghat to become Sathodi Falls and plunge from a height of about 15 m to create a picturesque picnic spot. In between the bushes and the rocky terrain, there are small pathways leading to the waterfalls.
- Lalguli Falls (118 km): Lalguli Falls are located about 15km north of Yellapur in Uttara Kannada District. Here, the Kali River creates a grand spectacle by tumbling from a height of approximately 250 feet, in a series of picturesque rapids set at varying heights.
- Magod Falls (110 km): Here, the Bedthi River takes two distinct leaps, to hurtle from a height of 650 feet into a rocky ravine. The thickly wooded countryside, the roar of gushing water and a beautiful view combine to make this spot an ideal choice for outings.
- Vibhuti Falls (70 km): Vibhooti Falls gets its name from the lime stone rock found in the vicinity of this waterfall. The Vibhuti Falls is located close to Yana can be reached by a short trek through a jungle trail. There is a big waterfall of around 25 ft and a small one of 3 ft here.
- 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(55 km): The Anshi National Park is an evergreen tropical forest with an area of 339.86 sq km. located in an eco-sensitive part of the Western Ghats. Anshi is rich in rare species of flora and fauna with about 197 species of birds. The topography of the park is such that it has deep valleys, steep hill slopes and dense forests. A wide variety of trees such as teak, silver oaks, eucalyptus and bamboos are found here. Spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, common langur, sloth bear, gaur (Indian bison), wild boars, fox, bonnet macaque, slender loris, mongoose, tiger, jungle cat, jackal, pangolin, elephants, Malabar giant squirrel and the porcupine can be seen in the park.
- Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary (110 km): Sprawled over an area of 475.01 sq km in the Uttara Karnataka district, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a birdwatcher’s paradise, housing nearly 200 species of birds. Undulating streams, diverse wildlife, and innumerable trekking trails make Dandeli a dream destination. It is also one of the two places in Karnataka to report frequent sightings of the elusive black panther. There are a variety of reptilian and amphibian species in and around the wildlife sanctuary. A variety of species such as the barking deer, sambhar, flying squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel, bison and tiger are found in the sanctuary. The Dandeli forests also play host to the graceful Virnoli Rapids, the magnificent Supa Dam, the Syntheri Rocks, the Kulgi Nature Education Camp and the Kavala Caves with their Shivling-like stalagmites which offers a stunning view of the Kali River Valley.Jungle Lodges and Resorts operates 2 resorts here which are in close proximity (around 30 km) namely Kali Adventure Camp and Old Magazine House wherein you can indulge in activities like wildlife safari, white water rafting, coracling etc.
- 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.
- Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna (60 km): Gokarna is a temple town, a major Hindu pilgrimage centre and a beach attraction in Kumta Taluk of North Canara district. 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.
- Murudeshwara: Located on the main Mangalore- Karwar Highway, Murudeshwara is sandwiched between the picturesque Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. Its main attraction is a Shiva Temple with Chalukya and Kadamba sculptures built in the Dravidian style of architecture with an awesome Shiva statue and its pristine beach. The temple is located on a hillock which offers a magnificent view of the sea. The temple complex is famous for its tall Shiva statue which is around 37 m high and is the tallest Shiva statue in India. The temple gopura at 237 ft is the 2nd tallest in India. From across the beach, one can see the mammoth statue sparkling against the backdrop of a blue sky. There is also a huge statue of the Gitopadesha depicted in the lush garden here complete with a chariot.
- Idagunji Ganapathi Temple (105 km): Idagunji is a small place in Honnavar, on the banks of Sharavathi River, which has the famous Idagunji Ganapathi Temple. The temple is very famous and receives lakhs of devotees each year. The Ganapathi here is known as Panchakhadya Priya (meaning ‘Ganapathi who is fond of five eatables’). The Ganesha idol is in a standing posture and is a ‘Dwibhuja Ganapathy’ or two handed Ganesha unlike other Ganeshas who has four hands. Ganesha here is holding Modaka (a sweet) and Padma (Lotus) in His hands.
- Ulavi Channabasaveshwara Temple, Joida (90 km) Ulavi Channabasaveshwara Temple is one of the important pilgrimage centres in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka specially for the followers of Channabasavanna. Situated amidst dense forests, this picturesque location is the Samadhi of Channabasavanna, one of the most respected saints of the Lingayat faith. The annual fair at Ulavi attracts pilgrims from all over Karnataka.
- Sahasralinga (140 km): Sahasralinga literally translates into 'One Thousand Lingas’ and the name is derived from the numerous Lingas that have been carved on the rocks along the banks of the Shalmala River. Linga is a manifestation of Lord Shiva and most of these Lingas of varying shapes and sizes can be clearly seen when the water level is low in the river. Most of the Lingas here features a Nandi (vehicle of Lord Shiva) alongside. Every year, on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, devotees from across the country visit the place to perform pujas. Interestingly, there is a similar Sahasralinga in Seam Reap (also known as Kbal Spean) very close to the famous site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
- Marikamba Temple, Sirsi (110 km): A highly revered temple among devotees, the Marikamba Temple at Sirsi is dedicated to Goddess Durga in the form of Marikamba. Constructed in the year 1688, the main deity Goddess Durga is in an intensely powerful form. The eight-armed idol is almost 7- feet tall and mounted on a tiger. Legend has it that the deity was discovered in a pond near Hanagal in Hubbali. The temple has the rare paintings of murals in Kaavi art on its walls, an art form native to the Konkan region of coastal Karnataka. This involves the creation of patterns done in red colour against a white background. Thousands of devotees visit the Temple during the Marikamba Jathre that is held once in two years.
- 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.
- Madhukeshwara Temple, Banavasi (135 km): This temple town is located on the Vardha River, and is known for its rice, sugarcane, arecanut, spices, and the famous Banavasi pineapple. This is where the eminent poet Pampa wrote his poems. The Madhukeshwara Temple, famed for its architecture, derives its name from the honey coloured lingam in the inner sanctum of the temple. An imposing Nandi faces the linga.
- Venkatarama Matha: In Sunkeri, one finds many temples dedicated to Venkataramana Matha. The 300-year-old matha exhibits the finest ochre paintings on its walls. There is also a Naganatha Temple where an anthill is worshipped.
- 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.