Karwar (Kannada: ಕಾರವಾರ, Konkani: कारवार) is a city in Uttara Kannada district in the South Indian state of Karnataka and the administrative centre of Uttara Kannada district. Karwar 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 in Konkani and Kannada. Before Indian independence, the name Karwar was spelt Carwar. The name Baithkhol, is an Arabic term. Bait-e-kol, means bay of safety.
Kali River and Sadashivgad fort as seen from Nandangadda village
Kali river bridge, Karwar, Karnataka
Leisure boats on Kali River
Kot Siveshvar, another fortress, was built near Karwar (in Siveshvar village) by the Sultan of Bijapur to counterattacks from the north. At the ruins of Fort Siveshvar are a Muslim graveyard and a tunnel at the eastern gate.
Portuguese traders knew Karwar as Cintacora, Chitrakul, Chittakula or Sindpur. In 1510, the Portuguese captured and burnt a fort at Karwar. They called it Fort Pir, Forte de Piro or Pito due to the presence of a Muslim Dargah (tomb of a Sufi saint, Shahkaramuddin). In the 17th century, refugees from Portuguese rule in Goa moved to Karwar.
Marathas: Having marched from Bednore in the south, visiting on his way the sacred temple at Gokarna, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj seized Ankola and the next day came to Karwar (then known as Kadwad). Both the East India Company and Sher Shah, the sardar of Bijapur, were very much alarmed at this sudden development. They collected huge amount and offering it to Shivaji, prayed that they may be spared. Satisfied at the recognition of his authority, Shivaji crossed the Kali River and conquered Sadashivgad on 21st Feb 1665;
In 1638 the English trading Courteen Association established a factory at Kadwad village, 6 km east of Karwar and traded with merchants from Arabia and Africa. The common commodities were muslin, black pepper, cardamom, cassier and coarse blue cotton cloth. In 1649 the Courteen Association merged with the British East India Company, and Karwar became a company town.
The East India Company built fighting ships in the Karwar harbour. For example, the Britannia (1715) which had 18 guns was built to defend Bombay from attacks by Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre.
In the 1700s Karwar was part of the Maratha Empire. In 1784, at the time of the Treaty of Mangalore between Tipu Sultan and the East India Company, Karwar and Sadashivgad were spelt Carwar and Sadasewgude, respectively. After the defeat of the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, Karwar fell to the British.
The Bengali poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who visited Karwar in 1882, dedicated a chapter of his memoirs to this town. At 22 years, Tagore stayed with his second brother, Satyendranath Tagore, who was a district judge in Karwar.
From 1862 to the re-organisation of the states, Uttara Kannada district was part of the Bombay Presidency. During this time, major public works carried out included improvement of roads, building of a wharf, wharf road and a sea wall at the Karwar port as well as the construction of a multi-floor storage building, staff housing, a post office, kutcheri (kutcherries or zamindar’s offices) and a Christian burial ground.
During World War II Karwar was an Indian Naval training site.
Local bird, Malabar starling(Sturnia blythii). Karwar is rich in flora and fauna
Karwar is a seaside city on the west coast of the Indian peninsula. To the east are the Western Ghats. Karwar is situated on the banks of the Kali river (Kali nadi) which flows west to the Arabian sea from its headwaters at Bidi village in the Western Ghats. The Kali river has a length of about 153 km and is the main source of irrigation for Karnataka. Karwar is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of the Karnataka – Goa border, 273 kilometres (170 mi) north of Mangalore and 519 kilometres (322 mi) north-west of Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka.
Baitkhol port at Karwar is a natural harbour with land side hills and ocean side islands protecting it from cyclonic weather. The four fathom mark lies close to the shore. The tidal range is 1.2 to 2.5m.
Several small mangrove covered islands lie off the Kali river estuary including Anjadip Island and Devagadaguda Islands. The sub-tidal regions of the islands have a high biodiversity, although the waters off Karwar have recorded higher than normal faecal coliform counts.
Karwar lies on a coastal strip known as the Monsoon Coast. Karwar has hot summers from March to May where the temperature may reach 37 °C. The Arabian Sea is warm throughout the year. Winters from December to February are very mild (24 °C and 32 °C). The windy monsoon period from June to September has an average rainfall of over 400 centimetres (160 in)