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Kanara (also known as Canara, Karavali, and Coastal Karnataka or Karnataka Coast) is a stretch of land alongside the Arabian Sea in the Indian state of Karnataka.[2] The region comprises three civil districts, namely: Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada.[6]


Canara[2], Coastal Karnataka[3], Karnataka Coast[4]
Kanara, Karnataka, India
Kanara (spotlighted in orange) occupies Karnataka's entire seaboard
Malabar coast shown in orange
Kanara forms the northern section of the Malabar coast (highlighted in orange) in south-western India[5]
Country India
RegionKonkan, Malabar coastA
Largest citiesUttara Kannada: Karwar, Sirsi

Udupi: Udupi, Kundapur

Dakshina Kannada: Mangalore, Puttur
HeadquartersUttara Kannada: Karwar

Udupi: Udupi

Dakshina Kannada: Mangalore
TalukasUttara Kannada: Karwar, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Sirsi, Siddapur, Yellapur, Mundgod, Haliyal, Joida

Udupi: Udupi, Karkala, Kundapur, Baindur, Brahmavar, Shirva

Dakshina Kannada: Mangalore, Moodabidri, Mulki, Bantwal, Belthangady, Sullia, Puttur
 • Total10,000 km2 (4,000 sq mi)
 • OfficialKannada
 • RegionalTulu, Konkani, Mangalore Kannada, Havigannada, Kundagannada, Arebhashe, Koraga, Beary Bashe
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registration
Coastline300 km (190 mi)
Sex ratio1,040 /
Literacy87.03% (Highest in Karnataka)


According to historian Severino da Silva, the ancient name for this region is Parashurama Srushti (creation of Parashurama).[7] He and Stephen Fuchs say that the name Canara is the invention of Portuguese, Dutch, and English people who visited the area for trade from the early sixteenth century onwards. The Bednore Dynasty, under whose rule this tract was at that time, was known to them as the Kannada Dynasty, i.e., the dynasty speaking the Kannada language. "Karāvalli", the Kannada word for 'coast', is the term used by Kannada-speakers to refer to this region. The letter 'd' being always pronounced like 'r' by the Europeans, the district was named by them as 'Canara' (a corruption of the word "Kannada"). This name was retained by the British after their occupation of the district in 1799, and has remained ever since. However, they also say that this issue is controversial.[8]


Since antiquity, much of the Canara coast (now spelled as 'Kanara') occupied a culturally distinct area of the Carnatic region known as Tulu Nadu.[9] Historically, Tulu Nadu lay between the Gangavalli River in the north and the Chandragiri River in the south.[10] Currently, Tulu Nadu consists of the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka, and the Kasaragod taluka of Kerala.[11] The Uttara Kannada district in general is considered to be the southernmost part of the Konkan coast.[12] Specifically, the littoral region north of the Gangavalli River is traditionally included in the Konkan.[13]

The Portuguese occupied Kanara from 1498–1763. During this period, the geographical extent of Canara stretched from the southern banks of the Kali River in Karwar in the north to the northern banks of the Chandragiri River in Kasaragod in the south.[14]

In 1799, after the conclusion of the Fourth Mysore War, the British took over the region and established the Canara district of the Madras Presidency. The district was bifurcated into the North and South Canara districts in 1859. The North Canara (also sometimes cited as 'North Kanara') district was transferred to the Bombay Presidency whereas the South Canara (also sometimes referred as 'South Kanara') district remained under the jurisdiction of the Madras Presidency. South Canara encompassed the undivided territory of the contemporary Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, and Kasaragod districts.[15]

After India's independence in 1947, the Bombay Presidency was reconstituted as the Bombay State. Following the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, the southern portion of Bombay State was added to Mysore State, which was renamed Karnataka in 1972. Kasaragod was included in Kerala. Subsequently, North and South Canara were renamed Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada respectively. In 1997, Udupi district was carved out of the bigger Dakshina Kannada district.[16]



Yakshagana is a classical dance drama popular in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada and few Malnad regions in Karnataka. This theater art involves acting, dance, dialogue, music, songs, story and unique costumes. While dance and songs adhere to well established 'talas', very similar to classical Indian dance forms, acting and dialogues are created spontaneously on stage depending on the ability of the artists. This combination of classical and folk elements makes Yakshagana unique from any other Indian art. It would be considered a form of opera to the western eye. Traditionally, Yakshaganas start late in the night and run the entire night. Bagavatha, the background singer, who is also the director of the story controls the entire proceedings on stage. He/she along with the background musicians, who play 'chande' and 'maddale' form the 'himmela'. The actors who wear colorful costumes and enact various roles in the story form the 'mummela'. There are many professional troops in Karnataka. In spite of the competition from modern movie industry and television, these troops arrange ticketed shows and make a profit. Apart from the individually arranged shows in villages, inviting well known professional artists like Sri Chittani Ramachandra Hegde and Kondadakuli Ramachandra Hegde, provides an opportunity for local talents to act with the legends. Yakshagana is sometimes simply called aataā (meaning play) in both Tulu and Kannada. Yaksha-gana literally means the song (gana) of a yaksha. Yakshas were an exotic tribe mentioned in the Sanskrit literature of ancient India.

Bhuta Kola and Nagaradhane are other unique rituals and traditions to coastal districts of present Karnataka state. There are many more folk art forms which are in edge of extinction due to rapid changes in social, economic, educational conditions of the Karavali ( Kanara or Canara ) region.

Bedara vesha In Sirsi Holi is celebrated with a unique Carnival. Folk dance called "Bedara Vesha", Which is performed during the nights beginning five days before the actual festival day. Different dancers are participate while dancing dancers are round whole Sirsi. The festival is celebrated every alternate year in the town which attracts a large crowd on all the five days from different parts of the India


The Tulu speaking part of Karavali region has buffalo racing sport called Kambala.


The Kanara region forms the Karnatakan coast situated on the south-western portion of Peninsular India.[17] Coastal Karnataka forms the northern segment of the Malabar coast.[5] Kanara constitutes an area of about 10,000 square kilometres (4,000 square miles).[1] It is bounded by Konkan to the north, the Western Ghats to the east, the Kerala Plains to the south, and the Arabian Sea to the west.[4] It stretches from north to south for about 225 kilometres (140 miles) and has a maximum width of about 64 kilometres (40 miles) in the south.[18]

The region is characterized by swaying coconut palms and swift brooks flowing towards the sea. Many rivers which originate in the Western Ghats flow westwards to join the Arabian Sea like the Netravathi, Sharavathi, Aghashini, Gurupura, Pavanje, Panchagangavali, Swarna, etc. Over the years the water flow has decreased due to deforestation for agricultural purposes and building of dams across these rivers and their tributaries. The soil consists of alluvial, sandy loam, and laterite.

Civil AdministrationEdit

Contemporary Kanara extends from the village of Majali in the north to the village of Talapady in the south.[14] The three districts in the region: Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada have their capitals in Karwar, Udupi, and Mangalore respectively.[3]

See alsoEdit


^A Konkan is now held to include all the land which lies between the Western Ghats and the Indian Ocean, from the latitude of Daman on the north to that of Terekhol, on the Goa frontier, on the south.[19] Although most sources generally assign Kanara (Karavali) to the Malabar Coast[1], some other sources consider it to be a subterritory of the Konkan Coast.[20] Consequently, this segment is thought to overlap the Konkan and Malabar Coast continuum;[4] and usually corresponds to the southernmost and northernmost stretches of these locales respectively.[21][18]


  1. ^ a b c Pletcher, Kenneth (ed.). "Kanara". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2019. Kanara, region along the Malabar Coast of the Arabian Sea, western Karnataka state, India.
  2. ^ a b Arnold, Alison, ed. (2017). "Coastal Karnataka". The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Routledge. ISBN 9781351544382. Coastal Karnataka, formerly called the Canara Coast, is the part of Indias southwestern coastline north of Kerala and south of Goa. [sic]
  3. ^ a b "Profile of Coastal Karnataka". Coastal Karnataka Calling!!! Tourism and the Coastal Investors Meet – December 2003. 2003. pp. 2–4. Coastal Karnataka consists of three districts - Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. [sic]
  4. ^ a b c Pletcher, Kenneth (ed.). "Karnataka Coast". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2019. Karnataka Coast, coastal lowlands in western Karnataka state, southwestern India... it is bounded by Konkan to the north... The region forms a transitional zone between Maharashtra (north) and Kerala (south) states.
  5. ^ a b Goldberg, Maren (ed.). "Malabar Coast". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2019. Malabar Coast...the southern part of India’s western coast, approximately from the state of Goa southward...
  6. ^ K., Prakashnarayana (2018). "Geography of Karnataka". Know Our Karnataka: A book for Competitive Exams. pp. 27–36. Popularly known as Canara region or Karavali...
  7. ^ Silva 1958, p. 74
  8. ^ Silva & Fuchs 1965, pp. 1§2
  9. ^ "This city has six names in six languages, and the official one Mangaluru, is the least popular". The News Minute. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  10. ^ Bhatt, P. Gururaja (1969). Antiquities of South Kanara. Prabhakara Press. p. 2.
  11. ^ "Tulu Nadu Region". Government of Kerala. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  12. ^ Charlesworth, Neil (2001). Peasants and Imperial Rule: Agriculture and Agrarian Society in the Bombay Presidency 1850–1935. Cambridge South Asian Studies. 32 (revised ed.). CUP. p. 60. ISBN 9780521526401.
  13. ^ Memorandum on Maharashtra-Mysore border dispute to the Commission on Maharashtra-Mysore-Kerala boundary disputes. 1967. Government of Maharashtra. p. 59.
  14. ^ a b Shastry, Bhagamandala Seetharama (2000). Borges, Charles J. (ed.). Goa-Kanara Portuguese Relations, 1498–1763. XCHR studies series. 8. Concept Publishing Company. ISBN 9788170228486.
  15. ^ "Chapter 3 – Profile of the Study Area: Coastal Karnataka" (PDF). Shodhganga. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  16. ^ Bhat, N. Shyam (1998). South Kanara, 1799–1860: A Study in Colonial Administration and Regional Response. Mittal Publications. ISBN 9788170995869.
  17. ^ "India: Coastal areas". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2019. From Goa south to Cape Comorin (the southernmost tip of India) is the Malabar coastal plain...
  18. ^ a b Ghori, G.K. (18 September 2019). "Karnataka". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 19 October 2019. The coastal plain represents a northward continuation of the Malabar Coast...
  19. ^ Nairne, Alexander Kyd (1988). History of the Konkan. Asian Educational Services. p. ix. ISBN 9788120602755.
  20. ^ Turley, Jeffrey Scott; Souza, George Bryan (2017). The Commentaries of D. García de Silva y Figueroa on his Embassy to Shāh ʿAbbās I of Persia on Behalf of Philip III, King of Spain. European Expansion and Indigenous Response. BRILL. pp. 163, 222. ISBN 9789004346321. The coastline of the Karnataka region was called Konkan (present-day Karavali) and runs from Thane... to Mangalore. Kanara (Canara or Canera...) is a subregion of Karnataka that forms the southern part of the Konkan coast...
  21. ^ Banerjee, Lalit Kumar (2002). Diversity of coastal plant communities in India. ENVIS & EMCBTAP-Botanical Survey of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests. p. 6. The South of the river Narmada to Mangalore is known as Konkan coast...


  • Silva, Severine; Fuchs, Stephen (1965). The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara. 2. 24. Asian Folklore Studies, Nanzan University, Japan.
  • Silva, Severine (1961). History of Christianity in Canara. I. Coompta, North Canara: Star of Kanara Press.

Further readingEdit

  • Michell, George, ed. (2012). Kanara, a Land Apart: The Artistic Heritage of Coastal Karnataka (Illustrated ed.). Marg Foundation. ISBN 9788192110639.

External linksEdit