In addition to being referred to as Karla in the Tulu language, Karkala is a town that is located in the Karkala taluk of the Udupi district in the state of Karnataka in India. It may be found in the Tulunadu district of the state, around sixty kilometers away from Mangalore, and it is situated in the foothills of the Western Ghats. Karkala is a significant tourist and transportation destination due to its strategic location on the way to Hebri, Sringeri, Kalasa, Horanadu, Udupi, Kollur, Subrahmanya, and Dharmasthala. Karkala has several natural and historical sites, and it is also a significant tourist destination.

History of Karkala

Ancient History: 

With origins in the Jain faith, Karkala has historical significance. For the Bhairarasa Odeyas, the Vijayanagara kings’ feudatories, the town served as a major hub. An important part of the economic and cultural development of the area was shaped by the Karkala rulers.

Jain Influence: 

Karkala has a long history of being associated with the Jain community. The monolithic statue of Gomateshwara, or Lord Bahubali, is a prominent feature of the town. One of the highest monolithic monuments in Karnataka, this figure is fashioned out of a single granite rock and is approximately 42 feet tall. As a Jain symbol, it draws both pilgrims and visitors.

Medieval Era: 

The Keladi Nayakas, a local royal dynasty, took control of Karkala at this time. During their reign, the town prospered and forts, tanks, and temples were built. Constructed in this era, the Anekere Lake serves as a tribute to the engineering marvels of the day.

Keladi Nayakas and Later Rulers: 

During the Keladi Nayakas’ tenure, Karkala remained a significant hub. Subsequently, the Mysore monarchs and the British took possession of it.

Cultural Heritage: 

With so many temples and historical sites, the town is well-known for its rich cultural legacy. Devoted to Lord Parshwanatha, the Chaturmukha Basadi is a prominent Jain temple located near Karkala. The town’s temples to the goddess Annapoorneshwari and Lord Venkataramana also demonstrate the diversity of religious beliefs.

Modern Times: 

Karkala’s cultural and historical significance has not diminished in the modern era. The town has developed in several areas while maintaining its cultural identity. Its natural, historical, and religious aspects still draw tourists.

Landmarks in Karkala

Gomateshwara Statue (Bahubali Statue):

One of the most iconic landmarks in Karkala is the monolithic Gomateshwara statue, also known as the Bahubali statue. Carved out of a single granite rock, this 42-foot-tall statue of Lord Bahubali is a symbol of Jainism and a major pilgrimage site.

Chaturmukha Basadi:

This Jain temple is a significant religious landmark in Karkala. The Chaturmukha Basadi, dedicated to Lord Parshwanatha, is renowned for its unique architecture with four identical entrances, allowing devotees to circumambulate the main deity.

Ananthashayana Temple:

The Ananthashayana Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture, known as Ananthashayana. The temple is known for its artistic representations and is an important religious site in the town.

Anekere Lake:

Anekere Lake is a historic water tank built during the Keladi Nayaka period. It serves as a picturesque landmark and a tranquil spot for visitors. The lake reflects the architectural and engineering skills of the bygone era.

St. Lawrence Church:

Located in Karkala, the St. Lawrence Church dates back to the 18th century. The church is a significant place of worship for the local Christian community of Karkala and is known for its beautiful architecture.

Venkataramana Temple:

This temple is dedicated to Lord Venkataramana and is another important religious landmark in Karkala. The temple’s architecture and religious ceremonies make it a noteworthy site for devotees.

Culture and Tradition

The Tuluva culture is followed by the people of Karkala. This culture is distinguished by its Bhuta Kola, Nagaradhane, and Yakshagana rituals. Bisu is the name for Tuluva New Year.

In Tulu Nadu, a unique type of folk dance is called Pilinalike or Tiger Dance. The dance is done during the Krishna Janmashtami and Dasara celebrations when the tiger is honored as Goddess Durga’s mount. Across the region, Bhuta kola, or spirit worship, is practiced, generally at night, with traditional music and rituals accompanying the invocation of the spirits through an oracle.

Kambala, or buffalo racing, is the most popular sport in the area. It takes place on paddy fields. For those who live in villages, Koridakatta (cockfighting) is another activity. Because the Tuluva people have great respect for the natural world, and for snakes in particular, they also practice Nagaradhane, or snake worship, in the hopes that the Naga Devatha (Snake God) will keep their communities safe.



Tulu is another significant language spoken in Karkala. It is a Dravidian language and is commonly used in the coastal regions of Karnataka, including Karkala.


Konkani is spoken by a considerable number of people in Karkala, especially by the Konkani-speaking community. It is an Indo-Aryan language and has different dialects, with Konkani Catholics using a script based on the Roman alphabet.


Kannada is the official and most widely spoken language in Karkala. It is the state language of Karnataka and serves as the medium of instruction in schools and colleges. The majority of the local population communicates in Kannada for daily interactions.


What is the best time to visit Karkala?

Explore Karkala’s beauty during the winter months, from October to March, when the weather is pleasant for sightseeing.

How do I reach Karkala?

Karkala is well-connected by road, with the nearest railway station located in Udupi, approximately 38 kilometers away. If you’re traveling by air, the nearest airport is Mangalore International Airport.

Are there accommodations in Karkala?

Yes, Karkala offers a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly guesthouses to comfortable resorts.

What are the must-visit attractions in Karkala?

Don’t miss the Bahubali Gommateshwara Statue, Padutirupathi Sri Ananthapadmanabha Temple.

Is photography allowed in the temples of Karkala?

While photography is generally allowed, it’s advisable to check specific rules at each temple to respect cultural norms.

Are there guided tours available in Karkala?

Yes, guided tours are available to help you explore Karkala’s key attractions and understand the town’s cultural significance.


As we conclude our journey through the cultural kaleidoscope of Karkala, it’s evident that this town is more than a destination—it’s an experience. Immerse yourself in its history, savor its flavors, and relish the warmth of its people. Karkala invites you to explore, discover, and create lasting memories.

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