July 20, 2017
Karwar, known in Konkani as Kadwad (kade meaning last and Wado means land) will certainly delight tourists and nature lovers with its ample natural exquisiteness and diversity. What is fascinating and striking about Karwar is that the moment one enters this small city, headquarters of Uttara Kannada, it is like getting into the sea shore directly walking into the beach which is just a furlong from the bus station and the market area. One can feel the fragrance of the sea wafting through its tranquil breeze the moment stepping into the city and that is the real charisma of Karwar. Major government offices like the DC’s office, municipal corporation and markets are located here facing the sea shore. NH 66 (earlier NH 17) passing through the southern states passes along the T Rabindranath Tagore beach known as one of the cleanest and beautiful beaches. Located on the banks of river Kali, Karwar, in fact offers something to everyone and no tourists can go back without the takeaways it offers.
The much acclaimed Tagore beach is no doubt one of the major attractions of Karwar to any visitor. But once in the seashore a visit to the prized possession of Karwar – the Warship Museum located along the Karwar beach close to NH 66, is a must. The ship which has been converted into a warship museum is “INS Chapal” a frigate OSA2 class missile boat belonging to Indian Navy. What makes this warship so exceptional is that it is one among the three warship museumsin the entire country and probably the only one Karnataka and that is the allure of this museum to the tourists. The other two warship museums are located at Essel World in Mumbai and INS Kurusura submarine museum at Vishakhapatnam.
Hero of 1972 Indo-Pak War
There is much more to INS Chapal which is sure to warm the cockles of heart all Indians. INS Chapal the 1967 make Russian made missile boat codenamed K94 had played a stellar role in the 1971 Indo Pak War paving the way for Indian victory. The missiles launched through this ship had bombarded Karachi city and played a major role in India’s victory over in the war. By doing so it had blocked the much ;required trade and military movement in the sea causing widespread damage to the city finally forcing Pakistani forces to capitulate unconditionally.
Vijay Naik, who is one of the two staffs working at the museum as curator and doubles up as a guide out of his own interest at the museum, is quite emboldened by the questions posed by curious tourists. He says these days tourists bombard him with questions considering the volatile situation at the border particularly with regard to India’s military strength vis-à-vis that of its war mongering neighbors – Pakistan and China. Vijay is never tired of explaining the historical importance of INS Chapal and proudly says “the Warship is a major hero of the 1971 war and befittingly the crew of the ship were awarded 2 Param Veer and 8 Veer Chakra gallantry awards. Though small in size as compared to some of the mega ships of these days, it was priced possession as its duty was to cruise at faster speed (its speed was 37+ knots) as it was light and target and annihilate the enemy with missiles”. He further says that as its weight was less because of the light metals used in its making. Vijay is simply in awe of this Russian made ship which he says “quite safe even when it sinks as its casket valves does not allow water to gush in”. Showing the doors and the gasket he says “even now these gaskets are in good condition”. The ship I which is 38.6 meters in length and weighed 245 tons (some records say it is 275 tons) could carry 32 sailors including 16 sailor fighters , the rest being the crew.
A Tribute to Indian Navy
After serving the Indian navy for over three decades INS chapel was decommissioned in 2005 at Vizag by the Eastern Naval Command. It was lucky to be converted into a museum unlike other ships which are generally destroyed. It was brought to Karwar beach from INS Kadamba naval base and transporting it to Karwar was a tedious process and quite a herculean task. Vijay explains that it was towed with the help of fishery boats and brought to its present location after deepening the sea for its shoring and using hydraulic winches.
The highlight of the ship are the 4 missile launchers in its deck, two in the front two at the back and its M 104 gun direction radar at the top. The 20 mm anti aircraft guns fitted had the capacity to fire 3000 rounds per minute within a 4 km range. The warship museum provides enormous information on sea warfare with artifacts. At the entrance itself one is taken aback by the sight of mannequins in sleeping mode representing sailors sleeping in cabins (to give visitors a feel of the real warship). The warship has mannequins dressed as captain, cook, doctors, sailors and other crew.
It is said that earlier the warship had the mannequin of a man dressed civilian clothes. People used to really get frightened as it looked quite real and hence the mannequin was removed, says Vijay. The warship is fitted with A/C and is brightly lit and there are photographs and sign boards that give the visitors information even without the help of any guide. After watching the documentary film visitors can go through many compartments like captan’s crew, the control room which is really huge and overwhelming, the pantry, washrooms, rest rooms etc.
The warship museum is open to the public 365 days a year from 10 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 7.30 pm for a paltry entrance fee of Rs 15 and one can spend an hour at this piece of history. Those visiting Karwar should not afford to lose a golden opportunity to get a peek into a small but significant part of Indian history since independence. Needless to say it will be a wonderful experience for children to visit this museum.
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