Utara Kannada

Uttara Kannada

Uttara Kannada (Kannada ಉತ್ತರ ಕನ್ನಡ ) is a district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. It is sometimes called North Canara, or North Kanara. It is bounded on the northwest by the state of Goa, on the north by Belgaum District, on the northeast by Dharwad District, on the east by Haveri District, on the southeast by Shimoga District, on the south by Udupi District, and on the west by the Arabian Sea. The district has an area of 10,291 km², and a population of 1,353,644 (of which 28.66% were urban as of 2001, a 10.90% increase since the 1991 census. The town of Karwar is the administrative headquarters of the district.

Uttar Kannada District was initially under Madras Presidency and subsequently came under Bombay Presidency. 90% of the population of this area is Kannada, Konkani and Marathi. Uttara Kannada is one of the famous place for tourism. Many good beaches are there like Devbag, Majali, Karwar, and Om beach. Temples are Gokarna, Dhareshwara and many more.


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 and Mailmane falls on the river Kali. In the lowlands, these rivers form wide estuaries, extending several kilometers inland from the coast.


The district's high rainfall supports lush forests, which cover approximately 70% of the district. The North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests cover the Sahyadris below 1000 meters elevation. Many trees lose their leaves in the drier months. In pockets above 1000 meters elevation lie the evergreen North Western Ghats montane rain forests. Anshi National Park, near Dandeli, preserves approximately 250 km² of semi-evergreen forest, which is home to tiger, elusive black panther, leopard cat, gaur, Asian Elephant, sambar and a range of birds and reptiles. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary protects 834 km² of semi-evergreen and bamboo forest in the watershed of the Kali river and its tributaries, the Kaneri and Nagajhari. The Wroughton free tailed bat is endemic to the forests of Bhimgad, a proposed wild life sanctuary. The district is also home to patches of savanna and degraded scrub jungles, which are often the result of over-use for logging or grazing. Much of the lowland has been cleared for agriculture. Mangrove forests can be found in the river estuaries, and the sandy beaches are home to groves of Calophyllum inophyllum, coconut and screw pine (Pandanus spp.). The rocky beaches at Binaga, Arga, Belekeri, Tadadi, Ankola Keni, Kadle, Kumta, Dhareshwar, Kasarkod, Murdeshwar, Bhatkal and Belke of the district are rich with marine fauna diversity. The rocky beaches of Uttara Kannada District harbours the invertebrates belonging to the Phylum Porifera, Coelenterata, Annelida, Arthropoda, Mollusca and Echinodermata.


Uttara Kannada was the home of the earliest Kannada kingdom, 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 great Kannada empires like Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar empire.

Famous Arab traveller Ibn Battuta had stayed for a time in the district under the protection of Nawayath Sultan Jamal al-Din at a 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. and was ceded to the British at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818. The British established North Kanara district as initially as a part of Madras Presidency in 1859 CE. and later made it a part of Bombay Presidency in 1862 CE. After India's independence in 1947, Bombay Presidency was reconstituted as Bombay state. In 1956 the southern, Kannada-speaking portion of Bombay state was added to Mysore state, which was renamed Karnataka in 1972.


The chief crops of the district are rice and sugarcane, along with a great diversity of other crops. Tree crops include coconut, arecanut, cocoa, cashew, mango, banana, pineapple, Garcinia, and sapota; vegetables include onion, radish, cucumber, cauliflower, sweet potato, brinjal, and amaranth; spices include pepper, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Millet and cotton are grown in the drier portion of the district east of the Ghats.

In addition to agriculture, forestry and fisheries are also important.


There are about 5836 Tiny/Small Scale Industries registered with the Directorate of Industries & Commerce with an investment of Rs. 11,473.26 lakhs. Employment provided by these units is to the tune of 33,988 persons. The major products of these units are Roofing Tiles, Coir products, Jewelry, Food products, Wood & Steel Furniture, Glass & Ceramics, Sea Foods etc. Some of these SSI & Tiny Industries are providing Job Works, Components & Spares required for Large & Medium Scale Industries both within and out side the District.

Eight Large & Medium Scale Industries in the District are producing variety of products viz, Paper, Duplex Board, Caustic Soda, Ferro Alloys, Transmission Gears, Food Concentrate, Herbal Medicines & Pharmaceuticals. The Specialty of Large & Medium Industries in our District are not posing threat to the existing SSI Units of the District, on the other hand they are complementary.

The future industrial growth of Uttara Kannada District is bright owing to the Sea Bird Project at Karwar & due to the Large Investment likely to take place on Tadri Port and also the proposed Railway line between Ankola & Hubli.



The following major highways pass through the district:


The following Railways pass through the district:


Schools and colleges

Technical education

  • Anjuman Engineering College located at Bhatkal.It was established in 1980 by 'Anjuman Hami-e Muslimeen'.
  • V. R. Deshpande Rural Institute of Technology at Haliyal.

Both are affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum.

Schools and colleges

News papers

  • English and Urdu Online newspaper www.sahilonline.org is published from Bhatkal town.
  • Karavali Munjavu from Karwar.

Places to Visit

Uttara Kannada District Tourism attractions map

Villages and towns


Attiveri bird sanctuary is home to 79 species of birds including migratory birds from 22 countries. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for the elusive black panther among other animals like Gaur, Tiger and Leopards. The Kavala caves with their 5 ft. high natural Shiva linga, Synthery rocks is a 500 ft high rock flanked by natural caves and waterfalls, Vincholi rapids, Sykes point which offers a view of Kali river, and a suspension bridge are places worth visiting in this sanctuary. Yana is an enchanting place that can be reached by trekking about 10 km through lush forest. Yana is famous for its tall jagged rock formations and waterfalls. There is also a shrine of Bhairaveshvara here. Anshi National Park located some distance from Dandeli is undisturbed. Burude Falls is about 20 km from Siddapur , Unchalli Falls , Shivagangae, BeeneHolae Falls is about 25 km from Sirsi, Magod Falls and Sathodi Falls near Yellapura are some of the best natural falls in Uttara Kannada District. There are many dams in this district namely Supa Dam,Kodasalli Dam and Kadra Dam. There is the famous Atomic station at Kaiga in the beautiful banks of river Kali.

Temple Towns

Utara Kannada district is famous for its Jain Basadi, 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. Some well known temples at Bhatkal are the Parshwanatheshwara Basadi, Santappanaik Tirumala Temple, Virupaksha Narayan Temple, Bala Kini Raghunath Temple, Khetapai Narayan Temple, Ventakaraman Temple, Padmavati Devi Temple at Hadavalli. 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 Honavara 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 was home to many sufi saints. The popular 'Dargahs' or graves of sufi saints are as follows:

  • Hazrat Shansuddin awliya- Located in Sadashivgad
  • Hazrat Makhdoom Faqeeh Ismail Sukri - Located at Bhatkal
  • Hazrat Makhdoom Abu Mohammed- Located in Murudeshwara
  • Hazrat Shah Nanga - Located at Bhatkal


The main languages of the district are Kannada, and Konkani, with minorities speaking languages Marathi, and Tulu to list a few. The population is predominantly Hindu, comprising of many communities like "Bhandaris",Konkan Maratha Havyaka, Nadavara, Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Daivajna Brahmins, Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins, Vokkaligas, Sherugars, Namadhari naik and Vanis (Shetti). The second most spoken language in this District is Konkani. Konkani people who form major religious sects are Saraswat Brahmins(GSBs,SBs, Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins), Konkan Maratha, Daivajna Brahmins, Bhandari, Konkan Kharvi communities of the District.

Goud Saraswat Brahmin have popular surnames Prabhu, Shanbhag, Kamat, Bhat, Pai, Bhat, Nayak whereas Chitrapur Saraswats have popular surnames Nadkarni, Kulkarni, Bhat, Shirali, Rao, Upponi, Kallianpur, and Gokarn. Usually Saraswats carry the names of their original villges as their surnames.

Konkan Maratha surnames are Naik, Rane, Powar, Savant, Gaonkar, Desai, Salunke, Phal, Sail, Kadam, NaikRane, PhalDesai.

Daivajnas have surnames like Raikar, Revankar, Bhatt, Kudtarkar, Vernekar, Rao, Shett, Upponi, Ramamurthi, Saanu, Vitthalkar, Kinikar, Kurdekar, Shejwadkar, Sejekan to name a few.

Bhandaris have surnames like Kalgutkar,Mayekar,Pednekar,Padwalkar,Mhalsekar,Kambli,Patil,Haldankar,Kolambkar,Patrekar were having ancestral properties close to sea.There forefathers were working for Maratha empire specially experts in sea warfares.Now the community has shown their intellects in all fields of science/culture.

Nadavara have surnames by Naik/Nayak, Gaonkar, Kavari, Kuchinad, Torke, Talgeri, Kalaguji, Kalamane and Basgod. They are closely related to Bunts from South Kanara. Nadavaras religious beliefs, food habits, living style, and etiquettes closely resemble to that of the Bunts of South Kanara.

Namadhari naik people form one of the major communities of Uttara Kannada. They use Naik in their sur-name. Few people also use Nayak. However, all the people who have Naik or Nayak are not Namdharis. These surmanes are also common in other communities.

One of the major communities called as the Havyaka Brahmins live mostly in taluks of Sirsi, Siddapur, Yellapura, Kumta, and Honnavar. The Havyaks use a dialect of Kannada called Havyaka Kannada. Their surnames are Gadde, Desai, Hegde, Bhat, Rao, Joshi, Shastri, Gaokar, Hebbar, Shankarling, Gayatri, Honkote, Doddamane, Chitrigimath, Tamragouri, Siddeshwar, Prasad, Baravani, Hosmane to name a few.

The Kannada Vaishya in Uttara Kannada are a small sect of people. They are mainly found in Ankola and Karwar taluks of the district. They say that their ancestors came from Goa. They are different from Arya Vaishyas of Mysore area. Some are engaged in Petty business like preparation of beaten rice, its sale, etc. Many of them are agriculturists. Some are engaged in hotel business. Their mother tongue is Kannada. They worship Mahalsa, Arya Durga, Mahalakshmi and Ramanatha. They revere Banta Deva of Amdalli of Karwar raluk. The Kannda Vaishya community also has a distinct dialectical form of Kannada. Presently most people from this community have migrated and settled in Mumbai, Hubli- Dharwad, Bangalore and Goa.

The vokkagilas in Uttara Kannada are mainly known as Gram Vokkaligas and have the surname Gowda/Gouda. The Gowdas from the south are different.

Muslims in the district are mainly Urdu speaking 'Dakhnis' and Nawayath,. Nawayaths live mostly in taluks of Bhatkal, and Honnavar. The Nawayaths use a dialect of konkani called Nawayathi which uses Persian script. Navayaths use as their surnames, 'Syed, Mohiddina, 'Manna', Peshmam, Chadkhan, Kadli, Faqqi bhao, Ruknuddin, Kazia,Kazi, Kola. Dakhnis use as their surnames shaikh, Khan, Kazi, Syed, Mashaikh etc.

The other Konkani speaking people are Catholic; they carry the surname Pinto,Rodrigues,Fernandes.

Notable People from Karwar district



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