Devbagh island, Karwar – God’s own Garden

We have been planning this for ages and finally when we landed there, it was a pity we couldn’t make the most of it .Health became a deterrent, but I am not complaining. It was still one of our best holidays where we did nothing but relaxed and relaxed..Sometimes, holidays need to be holidayed too..

Karwar is beautiful . Just 8 kms to Goa, its quite different from Goa. Neither a party destination, nor vibrant, Karwar is what idyllic beaches are meant to be. On one side of the road is the narrow coast hugging the sea, while the Western Ghats loom across the other. Miraculously straddling both mountain and sea, Karwar is a nondescript little town perched in between, oblivious to its own beauty. It is like a hill projecting into the sea with five islands – Anjudeep, Kurmagad, Devgad, Sanyasi and Sadashivgud protecting the port from heavy winds. Im going to spare all verbose descriptions here and let the photographs speak for themselves.

Our first view of Devbagh was in the dark. It was quite late when we got there. After several stops enroute to Karwar, we got stalled by a traffic jam near the port as well, where iron ores to be exported gets dumped by lorries. The roads at some stretches seemed red. We were staying at Devbagh and we quickly called the manager at JLR to inform him of our delay.A boat was waiting for us in the dark as we made our way to the jetty,which looks like a dilapidated boat house . And in the dark, we sailed to the island. With the sea roaring , we sat on the beach nibbling pakodas and gulping down some beer . This is bliss .

Karwar is said to have inspired Tagore to pen his Prakritir Pratishodh. A beach here still remains in his memory. It is said that the 22 year old Tagore stayed with his brother , Satyendranath Tagore, who was the district judge in Karwar. The confluence of the rivers, the moonlight night when he went rowing solo promoted him to write his ode to Karwar. The quote I read somewhere says – “The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realise that beauty of nature is not a mirage of imagination, but reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves into it.”

I was told that the name Karwar itself is a misnomer.It was originally “Kadwad” and one theory is the British mispronounced the “d” and replaced with a “r”. Kadwad is actually a village where the English had a factory which opened out to the sea – from the point where Karwar town now stands, to the south of Kali river.Besides monuments from the colonial era, this ancient beach town flaunts several attractions such as the Sadashivgad Hill Fort with a Durga temple, the one-of-its kind octagonal church and the 300 year old Venkataramana temple with some fine ocher paintings. Well, this post is not about any of them as I could not go anywhere due to health reasons…but sometimes holidays are also meant to simply laze around and see dolphins.

While the British made this their headquarters , Karwar has been claimed by several Europeans such as the Portuguese, French , Dutch. But the influence that remains here till today is that of the Arabians , who have had trade with the localities even before the European invasion. There is an ancient port where commodities were exported and the port is called “Baithkhol” which in Arabic means bay of safety.

Devbagh β€” the name literally means the garden of gods.A hazy blue covers my eye lids as the waves frolic around my feet. The foam merges with the sand . I leave my footprints on the sands of time and look straight into the blue and white waters, wondering about the timelessness of the moment…

Five tiny islands ring the Devbagh island β€” Kurumgad, Oyster-rock, Anjudeep, Sadashivgad and Sanyasi. A tale rings around all these islands. The Sanyasi island for instance owes its name to a sage who sought refuge here . The Devgad Island or the Oyster Rock is where the boat ride takes us..It has one of the oldest lighthouses atop .

The Anjudeep or Anjudiv island is the largest of the five islands and it is now home to the navy.Its interesting to note that there is a linguistic connect here ,as we were told that the word “Anju” comes from tamil meaning five and it is supposed to be the fifth island. I am a little surprised to understand the Tamil influence here .
The island has some remains of the bygone Portuguese era, some old houses and ruins of a church .

The Kurumgad island in the shape of the tortoise (Kuruma means tortoise )was once ruled by several dynasties from Vijayanagar to Bijapur and Sonda. The 18th centurt fort here that lies in ruins here speaks of the battle fought by Basalinga Nayak of Sonda dynasty against the British

The island is also renowned for its Narasimha temple atop the hill, which attracts several devotees during the annual jatra, held on Pushya Poornima every year in early January. According to a legend, Lord Narasimha made his way through a long creek leading to a cave near the temple. Geologists, however, certify that an earthquake formed this interesting rock formation over 300 million years ago. Now it is an ideal place to spot seals.There is also the Naganatha temple where an anthill is worshipped. I dont know the reason as yet. But I will go back for sure and this time come back with more pictures of these sites and more stories.


  1. backpakker 10 April, 2008 at 17:31 Reply

    Still posting pics..figuring out which ones πŸ™‚

    I didnt take a pup..but there was one there..in fact it had hidden one of my slippers in the night and thrown it in the woods..


  2. Alok 10 April, 2008 at 21:01 Reply

    Wow !! that’s really awesome, luv those pics. I had my share of experience at this wonderful place and I too liked it very much.

    I guess, you had almost covered all bits of Karwar, so anything left please share that too here πŸ™‚

  3. Indrani 10 April, 2008 at 21:32 Reply

    Interesting information: Rabindranath Tagore being there. Makes it all the more tempting.

    Very beautiful pictures all of them. Well I will guidance from you on this. πŸ™‚

  4. Reeta Skeeter 10 April, 2008 at 22:51 Reply


    I envy you for being there and I adore you for the shots of the dolphin, the woods, the pugmarks, and o’course the fishermen carrying the net.

  5. Akira 10 April, 2008 at 23:59 Reply

    Hey good seeing you around (my blog :))…I admit I feel J when I see your travel pictures!

    How do you manage all the traveling?..

    Keep the pictures coming..I love them πŸ™‚

  6. Kamini 11 April, 2008 at 05:07 Reply

    Hope you’re feeling better now.
    I had heard of Karwar, did not realize it was this beautiful. Thanks again for the lovely photos and write-up.

  7. c e e d y 11 April, 2008 at 06:21 Reply

    great as always

    have you thought about compiling a small book with pictures and these experiences – something like “offbeat india” or “surreal real” – i think you should and if you need help with anything I will surely do it πŸ™‚

    thanks for sharing all these wonderful experiences

  8. Sur 11 April, 2008 at 11:37 Reply

    Wow! that was an engrossing read! You beautifully capture the history of a place exhaustively evrytime!nice pictures too! hope the sea breeze helped you recuperate!
    I had passed Karwar on my way to Goa and was struck by its beauty, haven’t made a trip there yet, it is on my to-go list now! πŸ™‚

  9. Eye for India 13 April, 2008 at 13:13 Reply

    mindblowing place. i passed thru karwar last week, this day and was stunned by the beauty of the beach and the islands from afar.

    Also. Anju probably comes for the name given by Malabari traders.

  10. indicaspecies 13 April, 2008 at 23:08 Reply

    I passed through the place in Dec 2007.

    I did know about Tagore doing his writing there but did not know that his brother was stationed in that place then.

    You have some lovely shots and thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you relaxed for a change. πŸ™‚

  11. backpakker 15 April, 2008 at 18:10 Reply

    Alok – There is still so much to see…

    Stephanie -Thanks..but it was my husband who wasnt well and that pulled me down too..the beach is beautiful and quiet ..

    Nanditha -Im obsessed with travel and I always feel that I dont travel enough – so you are feeling nostalgic ?

    Indrani – Sure, any time…beaches are always a great source of inspiration

    Reeta -Thanks ..I think you shd get out of the Delhi heat and cool in the beaches..what say ?

    fndg – You know, initially I used to think that all beaches look the same and then I realized that they dont feel the same :)glad you liked Pondy..I anyways belong to the east coast

    akira – good to see u again and thanks..I just like to travel I guess

    Kamini – thanks..am good. havent seen any travel piece from u for a while

    Ceedy – thanks for the idea..u make me feel good. Ive been wanting to write a book ..well, I need a publisher πŸ™‚

    Sur – the sea breeze just makes you feel so healthy and good..thanks..yes, its very beautiful and u must do the route

    Merisi -The magic of poetry !

    NM – Sure, I have done likewise too..

    Ken – glad my post is inspiring you to travel..

    sahasi – Thanks ..and Im yet to visit the hoysala village

    Gopal – I guess thats where it came from..anju…not Tamil but Malayalam

    Celine – yes, we did nothing but relax …so I need to make another trip again ..:)

  12. priyank 16 April, 2008 at 19:38 Reply

    dear puppy- I didnt know Karvar had such an interesting history. I have been there only once and the stark difference between Goa and Karvar is very evident. The deal is, just a few km away and you get the same beach, same environment, albeit at half the price. Ok I will miss Feni in Karwar but thats alright πŸ™‚

  13. Jeevan 17 April, 2008 at 16:33 Reply

    Interesting places as well beautiful beaches with blue hills and sky behind. These years the casuarina woods are missing along sea shores here, esp. on East cost road, so I like the trees picture more. well explored πŸ™‚

  14. backpakker 9 May, 2008 at 20:03 Reply

    Priyank – The puppy says that he misses the feny too but here there is more exciting things like a certain lakshmi’s pair of chappals which was colourful to chew on ..

    Jeevan – I havent driven down ECR for ages..i used to go there every week almost..whats happenning to the trees

    Reeta – πŸ™‚ Im sure you will soon have a blast

    Punk master -welcome to backpakker and thanks for your comment..Im sure you would get to see exciting places soon


  15. Sneha 25 October, 2008 at 12:32 Reply

    devbagh is a lovely place. i managed to visit only devbagh and sadashivgad on my karwar trip. have to get more info and visit the other islands too.
    btw.. glad to hop by to your blog. i proably qualify as an indian backpacker too…

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