When I visited Karwar, I was both in ecstasy and agony. I was going through a phase on personal conflict, and the beauty of Karwar was a gentle balm to my soul. Every wave on the beach, the trees that rustled, the glorious sunset, and the abundance of flora and fauna were a gentle reminder that there is hope in every situation.
I stayed at Jungles Lodge’s Devbagh Beach Resort. One has to a take a boat from the mainland to reach this Island resort. Devbagh was secluded with nothing but trees and the beach for miles. It looked like the location in a movie where the actor is marooned in a beautiful uninhabited island.
This vacation wasn’t not about hitting the local pub, sightseeing and visiting landmark places. It was all about being consumed by nature, and being one with it. I did not sign up for any activity except for the nature walk which entailed learning about the flora and fauna of the forest/water with a naturalist.
For this walk, I had to be up by 6 AM and reach the waterside of the resort. As soon as I arrived, an overwhelming reflection in the water consumed me. Karwar is in fact, notorious for its amber skyscape; and I vouch to this. I witnessed breathtaking morning and evening sky on all three days of my stay.
The guide had arrived and cut my day dreaming short. We walked towards the shallow side of the water where I could see a wavy pattern in the water. He explained when the winds blow strongly in one direction, sand ridges tend to form. Although you cannot make out in this picture, these ridges are underwater. That’s how clear the water is! Stare at it a little more on the bottom left corner, do you see rustic red dots?The dots are created by the sand artist called crab; they bubble the sand making the sand like a small aerated ball thus creating intricate patterns.
Karwar has many species of crabs and the naturalist guide discussed this topic in detail. Above is the ghost crab which got its name because it is quick to disappear from eyesight. I chuckled a bit because they have a black ink-like design on their back and it got me thinking that the crab visited some tattoo parlour (I have Ally McBeal moments all the time!). The naturalist showed the right way to pick up a crab.
Along the waterside were dead branches and stalks that looked like modern art installations. I for one enjoy art anywhere. I was documenting every dead branch along the way till the guide got a little miffed. Hehe.
As we progressed along the trail, the trees grew dense, and naturally, birds became the next topic of interest. We spotted two birds, I don’t recollect or recognise the first one, and I think he mentioned the second one as “barn swallow.” Notice the skies now? It was as if someone rolled out a silk white screen behind for background. The skies of Karwar are really moody, the change in tone and texture so often, and it is a delight for someone who loves sky watching (like me!).
Of course, what is a nature walk without studying some fauna? This one (photo below) caught my eye with it baby pink touch. There was a tree with half of the soil that was washed out and the roots were exposed, a fungus growing from the middle of a branch, an anthill inside the bushes, some animal footprint … he was pinpointing to things that perhaps I would have missed had I walked by myself.
It was like a walking with a “Natural Geography” authority. The abundance of information he had was mind boggling. The trail ended right back the at waterside.
As I said goodbye, I noticed the fishermen were setting up for the day. To earn their living, to feed mankind.
Vacationing in the deep forest or by the shoreline leaves me with a yearning to be with nature all the time. It doesn’t help that Kawar has the sinister mix of deep forest and waterscape, add the breathtaking skyscape to this. What is the “hair of the dog” equivalent for nature’s hangover? It took me weeks to commit to city life once again. Karwar did truly capture my heart and soul.
From my archives series: Karwar | February 2009
Karwar is a city in the South Indian state of Karnataka. It lies on the west coast of Southern India at the mouth of the Kali river. Its geography creates a natural harbour with protection against monsoon weather. Being a port town, Karwar is a centre for agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. Karwar derived its name from the nearby village of Kadwad (Kade Wada, the last wado). Kade means last and wado means precinct or area. Before Indian independence, the name Karwar was spelt Carwar.