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Canara, Karavali, Coastal Karnataka
Canara region shown in orange
Canara region shown in orange
Country India
RegionNorthern Malabar coast
Largest citiesUttara Kannada: Karwar, Sirsi

Udupi: Udupi, Kundapura

Dakshina Kannada: Mangaluru, Puttur
HeadquartersKarwar, Udupi, Mangaluru
TalukasKarwar, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Sirsi, Siddapur, Yellapur, Mundgod, Haliyal, Joida, Udupi, Karkala, Kundapur, Byndoor, Brahmavar, Moodabidri, Shirva, Mangaluru, Mulki, Bantwal, Belthangady, Sullia, Puttur
 • Total18,730 km2 (7,230 sq mi)
 • Total46,33,037
 • Density250/km2 (640/sq mi)
 • OfficialKannada
 • RegionalTulu, Konkani, Mangaluru Kannada, Havigannada, Kundagannada, Nawayathi, Arebhashe, Koraga, Beary Bashe, Kasaragod Malayalam, Moplah Malayalam
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registration
Coastline300 km (190 mi)
Sex ratio1040 /
Literacy87.03% (1st in Karnataka)

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


According to historian Severino da Silva, the ancient name for this region is Parashurama Srishti (creation of Parashurama).[1] 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. "Karavali", 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.[2]


Since antiquity, much of Kanara occupies a culturally distinct area of Karnataka known as Tulu Nadu.[3] It extends from Kumta taluka in the north to Kasaragod taluka in the south. Karwar and its surrounds are part of the Konkan coastal belt.[4]

Prior to the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, Uttara Kannada was referred to as the North Canara district of the Bombay Presidency whereas Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, and Kasaragod encompassed the undivided South Canara district of the Madras Presidency.[5]



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.


Kanara is situated on the south-western part of Peninsular India. It forms the northern part of the Malabar coast. The length of this region from north to south is around 300 km (190 mi) while the width varies from 30–110 km (19–68 mi). The region is characterized by swaying coconut palms and swift brooks flowing towards the sea.

The three districts in the region—Uttara Kannada (North Kanara), Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada (modern-day South Kanara) have their capitals in Karwar, Udupi, and Mangaluru respectively. Kanara is a narrow strip of coastal plain sandwiched between the Arabian Sea on the west and the Western Ghats mountain range that runs parallel to the east. 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.

See also


  1. ^ Silva 1958, p. 74
  2. ^ Silva & Fuchs 1965, pp. 1§2
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Tulu Nadu Region". Government of Kerala. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Chapter 3 – Profile of the Study Area: Coastal Karnataka" (PDF). Shodhganga. Retrieved 15 September 2019.


  • 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.

External links