Karwar and Udupi – Travel through Coastal Karnataka

The stretch of land between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea forms the western coastline of peninsular India better known as Konkan. The mountains here flirts with the sea all along four states namely Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. Unlike more popular and crowdy Goan counterparts, Karnataka still carefully preserves many quaint, lesser known places that offers nice weekend escapades. The small shore towns dispersed among three districts namely Uttara Kannda, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada are calm and cozy and a delight to travel along. Karwar, Gokarna, Murdeshwar, Udupi and Mangalore are few well known among them.

We left for Kawar by Karwar Express from KSR Bengaluru which leaves Bangalore at 19:15 and reaches Karwar next day 12:30. From Mangalore to Karwar it runs through the picturesque Konkan Railway line which meanders through the ghats through frequent long tunnel and green hills. The route itself is lovely with lesser traffic and even lesser crowd. The small stations are right out of postcards sleeping in cozy calm of green foliage all around.

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Karwar is little town right next to Goa. Its mainly a shipping port with few stunning beaches and viewpoints. Tourism has not taken off here yet and it still has a laidback charm. The main beach is frequented by mostly locals. It is named after Rabindranath Tagore as he spent few months here in his youth. This beach is as usual visited by scores of people in morning and evening. It has limited water sports options like banana boat or parasailing etc. It has a museum ship INS Chapal which contributed to famous Karachi Harbour bombing during 1971 war.

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Devbag Beach is another secluded and beautiful beach. It is semi private in nature and accessible to the resort guests only. There is few more beaches like Majali,  Ladies beach etc which are accessible by short hikes only. Sadashivgarh Fort is the gem that is hiding behind the beach hopping. It is a dilapidated ruins of an ancient fort refurbished by Shivaji. Nothing remains apart from a gateway and few stone stairs.

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The main attraction here is the jaw dropping view of the Kali river meeting the Arabian Sea from birds eye.The place is a 10 minutes hike from the base of the mound it sits atop. There is a Jungle Lodge and Resort above and a old Durga Temple built in Konkani architecture style in between. There is no facility apart from this and it is advisable to go there in daylight as it might not be very safe once the Sun sets.

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Next day, we took back the same returning train to Udupi. Udupi can be called the cultural capital of coastal Karnataka due to its association with Viashnava saint Madhvacharya and the famous Sri Krishna Mutt established by him. Udupi is a big town in this area and it has all good amenities as it is frequented by many people. We paid a visit to the Sri Krishna Mutt in the morning. It takes a good amount of time as the temple is small but crowded. One can pay a Seeghra Darshan ticket by paying to Rs 100 to cut the serpentine queue only to be standing for another queue which takes about 30 mins to enter the sanctum.

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Other attractions in Udupi is the couple of beaches and a ferry to St Mary’s Island. Kaup or Kapu Beach is located about 14 kms south from Udupi. There are frequent bus services to the nearest point on NH 66 near Kapu that runs along the coast. The beach is actually another 3 kms by Autos . Kaup is a pristine beach and shaped like a crescent. There are few boulders on the beach and a lighthouse.

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Malpe Beach is nearer to the town and more frequented. It has several water sport facilities and a ferry ride to St Mary’s Island. After wandering along the town one can board the evening train to Bangalore from Udupi.

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