Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Karwar - the place where the rain gods smile all the time

There are some trips where there is no planning at all. This was one such.
Had Karwar on my must-visit list for a very long time, but had not got the opportunity to visit this lovely coastal town. Humaid (my friend from Pune) called me up and told me that his Uncle was looking at starting an aquaculture farm there would be in Karwar for the weekend.

A few calls and a night later, I was at Karwar with no prior planning at all.
Having traveled 11 hours my hopes of collecting and exploring the estuaries around Karwar seemed to be getting dashed. From maybe Sirsi, all we saw was pouring rain. It was all the more worse in Karwar with the rain droplets all the more thicker. Not even the strongest rains in Bangalore could come close. The whole sky was white which did not augur too well for the day(s) lying ahead.

Got down at the bus stand and caught a rick and reached Humaid's uncle's place. Humaid joined us an hour or so later (he reached Karwar after a full 15 hour journey from Pune)

The house had a nice rustic feel to it. The rain was enjoyable, sitting in the Verandah and watching school kids rush to schools with the rain-jackets on...quite a sight!

Yet, deep inside was an odd feeling of collecting and exploring fishy places being hampered by the rains and the ensuing risen water levels. Had not gone there with any expectation really, but this did not help enthuse any excitement.
Humaid's uncle is a treasure trove, picked his brains a lot on Ichthyology while we got ready for the cab to arrive.

Before the cab came, we decided to have a look at a bridge which is over an estuary not far away from the house. Packed all around with Rain jackets and rain pants with rain belting down, we netted a HUGE eel, but it managed to slither out without even entering the fish bag. We were looking around and saw a mudskipper on the lower branches of a shrub. Tried netting it only for it to jump out and enter the water. Chased it down and did catch it. Was awesome to have seen the mudskippers in their natural habitat and caught one myself :D

Rain managed to get to our clothes even with the rain jackets on. Calling it heavy rain would be an understatement. People here accept rain as a part of their lives and just move on with it. That is the amount of rain this region gets.

We took the cab and drove towards Anshi national park which was about 80Kms. The lush forests were pretty much untouched. Beautiful to the core with tall trees lining the road. Unfortunately we could not find/spot any mammals here.

We crossed Anshi and reached this place called "Hanumangudi" looking for places around the "supa dam" which could provide ideal land to start an aquaculture field. In our quest and search we came across this beautifully located farm on the banks of the river. The owner invited us inside for a cup of tea. The view from the balcony was breathaking to say the least. How I wished I could own a house like that in such a location.

We had to reach Kadra dam before nightfall but the curving roads and heavy rains kept our pace low. We had plans of fishing in/around Kadra dam, but we reached around 8PM. Dinner was prime on our minds now and got something to eat. Retired to bed setting our alarms early next morning. We slept hoping that the rains would relent atleast in the morning.

Early next morning, the scene had not changed much...rain n more rain. Had already been more than 30 hours since the rain started!

Donning our rain jackets again, we moved on to the paddy fields. We dipped out nets and found lots of shrimps. Then i saw something in the net that was jumping around. Did not look like a shrimp and it definitely was not water trailing off. Closer inspection revealed a completely transparent fish. Moved it to the fish bag and saw how transparent this actually was! We could make out the fish only by the two black eyes at the front and the mud particles still lining the fish.
The body was tapered and the tail was almost scissor-like.

From here we reached the waters of Kadra dam. We could not find much here...maybe rain was keeping them from showing up in the shallow waters.

The backwaters of the dam proved better hunting ground.

Spotted some P. filamentosus swimming around. Netted a couple of juveniles and Humaid got a E. suratensis on hook. Thankfully the hook had not pierced too deep and the fish was good to be taken back to Bangalore :)

We drove back to Karwar stopping over at a tiger prawn hatchery (something the whole coastal belt from Mangalore to Karwar is known for)

Humaid had a bus back to Pune @ 2PM and I spent the rest of the time with Humaid's uncle and family who were warm and very hospitable :)

Tried my hand at a few macros too ;)

Finishing lunch, we headed out to the Sunday bazaar. Thankfully the rains relented after almost a full 40 hours of non-stop rain !!

It was a riot of colours with the spices around.

Also for sale were salted dried fish everywhere. The konkan belt sure does love fish and anything that is aquatic.

Dried mussels, clams, skates and even Sharks split open.

Finishing the bazaar and seeing the weather liven up, we went to the Kali bridge which is a huge estuary with it meeting the Arabian sea.
Overlooking this fusion of fresh and saltwater is the Devbagh resort. Unique and quite exotic.

Also visited the Karwar beach, quite a nice coastline, but littered quite a bit.

This brave little crab giving me the "look" :D

Soon it was dark and headed back to pack my bags and fish to Bangalore. But not before having a quick bite of Mutton Biryani at Humaid's Aunt's house.

Thanks Humaid for inviting me over and his whole family for being such warm hosts :)

A few firsts for me -
1. Did not take my Sony H2 out of the bag while on a trip !
2. Seeing rain pummel down for 40 hours at a stretch.
3. Cribbed about the rain (I generally never crib over a trip)
4. Clicked very few images :D
5. Used Vyas' P&S Sony W-5 and my Nokia N72 for all the above shots :)

Till the next ride.



santasizing...Fantasizing said...

Lovely pictures:)
and a lovely write up as again...
pics look good...and untill i read the last line,i was thinking of them to be all a product of ur camera:)

Yogesh Naik said...

Great Pictures, and very well written...


Angshuman Sarkar said...

Dude, amazing pics. nicely written too.

Karan said...

U v set free d natures poetry of d Kashmir of Karnataka out of ua lenses and d monsoon storyline, exploring places very few Ppl from Karwar kno they exist... Gr8 job... SPCL Thanks for dis post