Uttara Kannada  district General information

Uttara Kannada , is a district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. It is bordered by the state of Goa and Belgaum District to the north, Dharwad District and Haveri District to the east, Shimoga District and Udupi District to the south and the Arabian Sea to the west. The town of Karwar is the administrative headquarters of the district.


Uttara Kannada was the home of the Kadamba kingdom from the 350 - 525CE. They ruled from Banavasi. After the subjugation of the Kadambas by the Chalukyas, Uttara Kannada district came under successive rule of empires like Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar empire.

Famous Arab traveler Ibn Battuta is said to have stayed for a time in the district under the protection of Nawayath Sultan Jamal al-Din at Hunnur. This place is presently known as Hosapattana and is located in the Honnavar taluka. Ruins of an old mosque and its minaret can still be seen in the village.

The district came under the rule of Maratha empire from around 1700 CE. to 1800 CE. It was ceded to the British at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818. The British established North Kanara district as a part of the Bombay Presidency. After India's independence in 1947, Bombay Presidency was reconstituted as Bombay state. In 1956 the southern portion of Bombay state was added to Mysore state, which was renamed Karnataka in 1972.


The main geographic feature of the district is the Western Ghats or Sahyadri range, which runs from north to south through the district. Between the Sahyadris and the sea is a narrow coastal strip, known as the Payanghat, which varies from 8 to 24 km in width. Behind the coastal plain are flat-topped hills from 60 to 100 meters in height, and behind the hills are the ridges and peaks of the Sahyadris. East of the Sahyadris is the Balaghat upland, part of the vast Deccan plateau.

Moisture-bearing winds come from the west, and yearly rainfall averages 3000 mm on the coast, and as high as 5000 mm on the west-facing slopes of the Sahyadris. East of the crest is the rain shadow of the Sahyadris, which receive as little as 1000 mm annually. Much of the rain falls in the June-September monsoon.

Four principal rivers drain westwards from the crest of the Sahyadris to the sea; from north to south they are the Kali, Gungawali, Aghanashini and Sharavati. These rivers form numerous waterfalls, the most famous of which is Jog falls, on upper reaches of the Sharavati in neighboring Shimoga district. Other famous waterfalls include Unchalli Falls, where the river Aghanashini drops 116 meters, Magod Falls, where the Bedti river plunges 180 meters in two leaps, Shivganga falls, where the river Sonda(Shalmali) drops 74 meters, and Lalguli falls and Mailmane falls on the river Kali. In the lowlands, these rivers form wide estuaries, extending several kilometers inland from the coast.

People and the culture

The languages of the district are Kannada, Konkani, Marathi, Tulu and Urdu. The population is predominantly Hindu comprising of many communities called as Bhandaris, Havyaka, Konkan Maratha Havyaka, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins, Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, Vokkaligas, Sherugars, Namadhari naik, Nadavara and Vaishya (Vanis).

Muslims in the district are mainly of Nawayath descent. They live mostly in taluks of Bhatkal and Honnavar and speak Nawayathi. The Konkani speaking people include Christians also.

Uttara Kannada district is famous for its Jain Basadis, Vijayanagar and Nayaka architecture. The Chaturmukha Basadi, Vardhamanaswamy Temple, Parshwanatheshwara Basadi at Gerusoppa, Chandranath Deva Basadi and 24 tirthankara's basadi at Hadavalli or Sangitapura , erotic sculptures of temples of Bhatkal are well known. The Aryadurga Temple at Ankola, Partagaali Jivottam Mutt and Mahabaleshvara temple at Gokarna which is an important place of Vedic studies, Mahalasa Narayani Temple at Kumta, Ventakaraman Temple Honnavar and Chitrapur Mutt, Mahaganapati Mahamaya Temple at Shirali and the Madhukeshvara and Veerabhadra temples at Banavasi and beach temple at Murdeshwara. Other important religious places are the Maarikamba Temple at Sirsi, Sahasra Linga about 15 km from Sirsi, Swarnavalli Math belonging to the Havyaka and Rama Kshatriya community, Sonde or Vadiraj Math of the Madhva community, the Shankar Math and Bhuvangiri temple near Siddapur.

Utara Kannada district is home to the shrines or Dargahs of many sufi saints. Hazrat Shansuddin awliya in Sadashivgad, Hazrat Makhdoom Faqeeh Ismail Sukri and Hazrat Shah Nanga in Bhatkal and Hazrat Makhdoom Abu Mohammed in Murudeshwara are some of the popular ones.


The major products of small scale industries in Uttara Kannada are roofing tiles, coir products, jewelry, food products, wood and steel furniture, glass and ceramics and seafood. Some of these SSI and tiny industries provide job works, components and spares required for large and medium scale industries, both within and outside the district. Eight large and medium scale industries in the district produce a variety of products like paper, duplex board, caustic soda, ferro alloys, transmission gears, food concentrate, herbal medicines and pharmaceuticals.

Places of interest

Tagore Beach, Karwar : The district headquarters and a port town is superb in its scenic beauty. The crescent shaped ‘Tagore Beach’ can match any beach in the world.    It has also a recreational park, colourful music fountain, Toy train, Planetorium, an aquarium to add to its attraction. River Kali joins and forms ‘sangam’ at the end of the beach. To view sun set on the bridge across River Kali is an unforgettable experience.

Devbag : 7 Kms from Karwar it is located near the confluence of  River Kali. It is a picturesque island fringed with casuarina groves. Approach is mainly through boat from Kodibag jetty. Jungle Lodges & Resorts provides unique experience of living in Log huts. Ensures wonderful privacy not normally seen in tourist spots. JLR provides scuba diving experience too. Various water sports is also being planned which would make the stay more entertaining.

Sadashivgad  :4 Kms from Karwar, Shejwad boasts of a thousaqnd year old ancient temple of Shejjeswar or Siddeswar. The temple is said to be one of the five temples of Gokarna mythology where pieces of Atmalinga which Ravan was carrying, fell; the other four being Gokarn, Murudeswar, Dhareswar and Gunavanteswar. Devotees visit the temple in thousands on Mahashivaratri day                                         

Kurumgad Island :4 Kms from Karwar shore is the Kurumgad island.  There is Narasimha temple atop the hill in the island where an annual fair takes place. Scores of boats ply to the island on that day. The island is a private island.  The owner is running a resort called The Great Outdoors in the island. It is a wonderful picnic spot and could get experience of a lifetime if one could stay

Guddalli Peak:6 Kms from Karwar, located at 1800 feet above sea level, the peak gives a panoramic view of the Karwar and the sea. Extremely cool round the year, it was a summer resort for the British.  It is one of the highest peaks of Haiderghat range which stretches east and west between Kali river and Belikeri river and joins the Kaiga range at Kaiga. Guddehalli raises conspicuous for miles, an abrup sheet of granite with thickly wooded sides and a bare tapering point. A five kilometre trekking through mountain jungle crossing brooks and springs, takes you to this spot. The trek itself is a bonanza of enthralling experience.

Katyayani Temple, Aversa : About 8 kms north of Ankola, 25 Kms from Karwar, Aversa has a famous Katyayani Temple. The distinct feature of this temple is that the shrine is in the shape of a ship.  It is family godess of Kharvis, a fishermen clan. The image of godess is said to have been found in the sea. The godess is worshipped with great solemnity during the nine nights of ‘Navarathri’ which precede ‘Dussera’ in October. Besides Kharvis the festival is solemnly attended by many dancing-girls and Konkanis.

Belekeri Beach : Moving towards Mangalore from Karwar on the National Highway, you have to take a deviation after 22 kms and proceed 4 kms to reach Belekeri Beach. You will not regret the detour. The vast grass lawn suddenly drops by 50’ to the beach providing a wonderful view of the sea. The land is surrounded by picturesque mountains. Watching sunset in the evening you would never like to leave the place

Gokarna: Gokarna a very popular pilgrimage is known as Dakshina Kashi. Mythology says, Ravana kept the Athmalinga down on the ground against the instructions and could not lift it again. Hence the belief that Gokarn is Lord Shiva’s permanent abode. Kotitheertha is the holy pond near the temple. Devotees usually take bath in the pond before they enter the temple for pooja. Work of Cleaning up of the pond  is being taken up.

Om Beach : The Om Beach, named because of its shape, is 11 kms from Gokarn. Foreign tourists because of its seclusion and the privacy it offers regularly throng it. Adjacent to this beach are Half Moon beach and Paradise beach. Kudle beach is an other beach nearby which is popular with foreigners.

Yana : 28 Kms from Kumta and 65 Km from Sirsi, Yana is a nature’s wonder. Known for two gigantic rock formations of a height of 90 and 120 meters called Mohini Shikhara and Bhairaveshwara Shikhara. Encircled by thickly wooded forest, it is a trekker’s paradise.  You can eliminate your fatigue by bathing in the beautiful cascades coming down the hill. Bhaireshwar temple, and a cave inside the rock formation are added attractions

Alvekodi Beach : Almost touching the Kumta town, towards south is Alvekodi village. One has to go through the fields to reach the beach. The beach is truly pristine, unspoilt. The white sand dazzles in the sun. Nearby is the Bhrahma devara gudda, with dilapidated old lighthouse. The hillock is a great picnic spot offering memorable sunset view

Dhareshwar : Dhareswar is about 8 kms south east of Kumta. On the hill slope is Mahadev temple, said to be around 800 years old. There are four inscribed tablets in the temple. It appears that the construction of  temple was started by Rudroji Pandit and completed by Sonappa somewhere between 1500 and 1559. The temple is built of black stone and its walls are ornamented with sculptures. Round the temple are 5 holy pools, Rudra kund, Chakra, Shankh, Vasudha and Nagatirth. A fair is held every year in the middle of January

St. Xavier Church, Chandavar
:  Chandavar once a big city, is said to have been built by a Muslim King Sarpan Malik (apparently Sherif-ul-Mulk    a General of Bijapur Kingdom). The city declined during the later part of 17th  century. St. Francis Xavier Church is a large  Roman Catholic Church is held in great veneration by local populace of all communities. The original church of St. Francis Xavier is recorded to have been built in 1678 during the reign of Basappa Nayak of Keladi Nayak dynasty. The church was destroyed in the end of 18th  century which is attributed to Tippu Sultan, and was rebuilt in 1801. The church was rebuilt a second time in 1874. The old church, though an imposing edifice was judged to be beyond  normal repairs, and so a new church was built in the area adjacent to the old church.

Kadra : Right at the foot of Western Ghats, Kadra is little of gem nature’s beauty. It became famous due to the dam across Kali river and its powerhouse. A beautiful park with fountains, cascades, caves, colourful trees and plants, rose garden, and a unique vedic garden depicting sun signs, planets, rain stars is coming up. Water sports is also being planned in the reservoir.

Mahamayi temple near Kadra is an ancient and very popular temple, which is visited by people from afar. The temple is situated in side the forest and has blissful atmosphereR

Anshi :  Anashi pass is in the Sahyadri Range (Western Gahats) 40 Kms north east of Karwar.  From Kadra to Anashi is a 10 Kms of steep ghat section, through thick forest.  Motoring through the ghat is an experience in itself with thick jungle, number of big and small water falls which are feast to the eyes. Wild life abound in the area.  Early mornings you are bound to came across, vixen, wild foul and flocks of peacocks. Quite often you can say hello to a panther crossing the road.

Ulavi : Originally a temple of Chalukya style, it has been renovated and coloured. The pyre of the temple is adorned with statues of Shiva Sharanas (Devotees of Lord Shiva). A very famous Jatra is held on ‘Megha Purnima’ with great pomp. Free lunch and dinner is served to devotees every day.

Murdeshwar : 16 Kms from Bhatkal to the north on Honnavar-Bhatkal NH 17. The famous Mahtobara Temple can today boast of the tallest Shiva statue in the world. The statue has special reflecting eyes, which makes statue alive. The temple on the beach itself attracts a large number of tourists because of the sea shore ambience

Apsara Konda : 8 Kms from Honnavar, near the confluence of the Sharavathi river and the Sea, there a small water fall and a pool on a hillock, called Apsara Konda. Legend says that the Apsaras (Heavenly fairies) used to come here to bathe and relax. The place truly exudes heavenly beauty. There is Devi temple and a branch of Ramachandra mutt.  There are several big caves on the hillock called ‘Pandavas caves’.With a view of the river, the sea, lthe islands, l;the lush green fields and coconut groves, the Apsarkonda hillock verily offers a feast to the eyes that see.

Idagunji :  15 Kms from Honnavar and around 23 kms from Murdeswar is the ancient Idagunji Ganapati Temple. One has to take a detour from National Highway and travel around 7 kms interior to reach this beautiful temple. The temple is said to be around 800 years old, one of the oldest temples in Uttar Kannada district.

Basavaraj Durga Island : The Island  of Basavaraja Durga is about a km from main land off Honnavar. You can reach the island through boats and small coasters. The landing place is at the south end where there is a ruined fort with eight mounted guns. The fort was built by Great Shivappa Naik of Bednur (1648-1670). The island is mostly level and has plenty of fresh water.

Karikannamma Temple :  12 Kms from Honnavar  is the Karikannamma Hill. Atop the hill which is a piece of natural beauty and offers panoramic view of the surroundings, is the temple of the deity.  This deity is worshipped as different goddess by different people as Durge, Saraswati and Bhairavi. Sunset view on the Arabian sea is a enthralling sight.
Higund : Higund is a beautiful island in River Sharavati just before it joins the Arabian Sea. 3 kms from Honnavar – Bangalore National Highway brings you along this island. Presently the approach is from either Adkar village or Kodani village through country boat. The sunset view from this island is a lifetime experience.

Gerusoppa : Situated on bank of river Sharavati the old town of Gerusoppa also called NAGAR BASTIKERI  is rich with historical monuments, the Chaturmukha basti being the most prominent one. It is a beautiful structure built in Vijayanagar style with Chaturasara plan. It has four entrances from four directions leading to garbhagrihas. There are four images of Tirthankaras, Vrishabha, Ajita, Sambhava and Abhinandan, seated in padmasana. One of this has been of late damaged. The engravings in this basti of dwarapalas and other mural desigtns are well executed with refinement.

Haduvalli : 16 Kms from Bhatkal on the Bhatkal shimoga SH, Theerthankara Bastil at Haduvalli is a 14th  century Jain temple. 24 Theerthankara idols are installed there. The place was formerly capital of the queen Channabyra Devi. There are two hills Chandragiri and Indragiri  which attract the tourists for scenic beauty

Bhatkal : 40 Kms south of Honnavar, Bhatkal was the south most port in Bombay presidency. It is place of historical and archaeological interest. There are 13 temples / bastis built during the 15th and 16th centuries. Each one is a marvel in sculpture and worth visiting. But most of them are in dilapidated state.    

Dandeli : Dandeli, surrounded by thick jungle with River Kali dashing through furiously, is a nature lover’s paradise. Jungle Lodges Resorts has a fine tourist complex called ‘Kali Wilderness and Adventure Camp’. This is the only place in South India where tourists are offered white water rafting

Kavala Caves : Kavala caves or Siddan cave is situated at a distance of 27 Kms from Joida and 3200 feet above the sea level. About 150 feet inside the cave a  Shiva Linga is present. A small stream of water falls on the Shiva Linga, which gives the feeling that an ‘abhishekha’ is performed to Lord Shiva. Shivarathri day is when devotees come in thousands.

Sintheri Rocks
: 20 Kms from Joida , at Sintheri Temple, River Kaseri flows with great speed before joining River Kali. Currents of water have formed beautiful rock caves and have created small cascades in the valley attracting a great number of tourists. From Dandeli  village Gund is 3 kms. At Gund one has to step down some 133 steps to reach Sintheri rock which is 400 feet in height and 600 feet in width. Water flows around this sand stone round the yea

Castle Rock : Castle Rock is border village of the district beyond which is Goa. 10 Kms from Castle rock in the middle of thick forest, along the railway track, the Doodh Sagar falls gives a feast to the tourists eyes. The area is also a “trekker’s paradise”, in every sense

Haliyal : This ancient fort said to be built by Chatrapati Shivaji is beautiful image of Indian history which gives us a glimpse of the warring techniques of those times. The fort was later occupied by Sangolli Rayanna, a legendary small king, who fought with the British

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