Monday, June 22, 2009

Karwar, an ancient port

The landscape of Karwar forms a natural harbour without much of rocky surface which is dangerous for sailing ships. The scenic beauty around the Kali river and Sadashivghad prompted Rabindranath Tagore to write his first treatise on Nature’s revenge :

Here in Karwar I wrote the Prakritir Pratishodha, Nature's Revenge, a dramatic poem. The hero was a Sanyasi (hermit) who had been striving to gain a victory over Nature by cutting away the bonds of all desires and affections and thus to arrive at a true and profound knowledge of self.

Rabindranath tagore described Karwar in utmost eloquence in Chapter 37 of his memoirs

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?

No wonder Karwar served as an important trading port during the Vijaynagar empire, later under the Bahmani’s, Portuguese and the British empire. Currently it is being developed as the biggest Naval base in India under the camouflaged umbrella.

Karwar is blessed with a decent port town from where the mines are exported in plenty from Goa and pockets of Karnataka. The beach is being developed with landscaping and Naval museum, Toy train, and acquarium.

Naval Museum :
The INS Chapel, which took an important part in the Indo-pak war in 1971, which destroyed the Karachi harbour beyond recognition, which lead to Pakistan surrendering has been decommissioned in 2005. Thereafter in lieu of the naval base it has been converted as Naval museum, with entry ticket of Rs 15 per head. The timings of the museum is between 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. The video presentation on the big screen inside the warship is quite informative and should not be missed. The mannequins of the captain, crew are so real that one gets astounded by their finesse. The deck scenario is quite reminiscent of Titanic, may be a photoshop can create the effect, just try it. The torpedoes and missiles too on display. The highlight is the engine room and cabin room of this banana split war ship which wrecked havoc in the enemy camps.

Acquarium : For a nominal entry fee of Rs 3/- one gets to witness the unique verities of acqua species. The highlight being sting rays, sea snakes, in this museum. How we wish that a fish canteen is opened for tourists to enjoy.
Toy Train : A nice round trip can be had on the toy train around the museum and pine trees on the Karwar beach. We did not find it operating due to heavy downpour. The ride costs Rs 10/- per head. The timings of the ride are same as the museum.

Karwar Beach : A garden on one end, which is still to be completed. An old arched building for view point is battered due to the inclement weather. One can have a lovely view of the Karwar port, the horizons of the beach and fishermen folks. This is the ideal videography or photographic point in the entire beach. During the night times there almost a juhu chowpatty type of scenario on the beach front with pani poori stalls.

Sadashivghad Fort :
Situated on the northern banks of the kali river Sadashivghad Fort served as a strategic point for the kings of the land, which acted as a watch tower. Originally there was a mud fort under the vijayanagar rulers, which was captured and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1510. Then under the tutlege of the pepper queen in 1552 the Fort seems to have been resurrected and served as her empires boundary till 1606. Shivaji Maharaj conquered the fort on 21st Feb 1665. Shivaji installed the Durga Devi temple, which was later converted into Shantadurga temple by the Bhandari community. The full scale fort was than rebuilt by Basavalingaraj in memory of his father Sadashivlingaraj in 1715. The fort was captured by Tipu Sultan in 1793 and was under his reign till 1799. Originally the fort was on huge hillock which has been now sliced to form a road and bridge across the river Kali for people to commute from Karnataka to Goa. The fort seems to have been pulled down by the British in 1883 by General Mathews for creating the access by road to Goa and it served as a strategic border of the territory of the Portuguese and the British. The british took guard for nearly 150 years over this strategic point to protect their interest against the Portuguese.

Currently Sadshivghad fort is being used as Estuary lodge under lease to a private outfit under the jungle lodge & resorts. There is one modern building for lodging with a restaurant overseeing the kali river, devbagh beach and the Arabian sea. The sunset can be beautifully viewed against the backdrop of the beach. The food order can take upto 1 hour, so better to order for the same and than have a good look at the landscape which seems to have been rebuilt with stone horse, carvings of dance postures, and cannon built in laterite stone. The rate quoted is 3600 for a couple with all 3 times meals taken care of.

Hazarath Dargah :On the other side of the Sadashivghad fort is the Dargah dedicated to Hazarath Sayed Shah Shamsuddin. This dargah seems to have been built in the 17th century under the patronage Bahamani sultans and later by Tipu sultan. It attracts lot of pilgrims.

Temple : A durga temple was renovated & built under the patronage of Chatrapathi Shivaji in 1665. The current temple was renovated and built by the Bhandari community in 1928, who had the reputation of being sailors. However the ancient charm is maintained by the cannons of Shivaji Maharaj and Tipu Sultan on the staircase leading upto the temple. The irony is that cannons are pointed in the direction of the river bank of kali and its township. The heritage value of the temple is lost to a large extent, with whitwashed paintings.

Devbagh Beach Resort :
This is run by Jungle Lodge and resorts with a steep tariff starting from Rs 2500/- per pax with AP. This isle resort is an exclusive spot which has water sports, houseboats, dolphin beaches and golden sandy beaches. One can enjoy nature with river and beach to the hilt.

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