Dharwar Light Railway/River link to Karwar Proposal, 1858

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Dharwar Light Railway/River link to Karwar Proposal 1858 This proposal was put forward by Colonel Cotton of the Madras Engineers in 1858 as a means of transporting the large volumes of cotton from Dharwar, about 75 miles(120km) inland, connecting to a railhead on the River Kali. Water transport would then convey the cotton to a port at Karwar at the mouth of the River Kali, from where the cotton would be pressed and shipped directly to England.

The proposal was not adopted.


The choice of the port of Karwar as an accessible port within British Territory was subject to extensive examination as can be seen from “Reports on the Harbour of Beitkul in Sedashigur Bay, 1858” [1]. The port was built and is still in operation no evidence has yet surfaced as to the canals being built.

Dharwar was the centre of an important and valuable cotton growing region [2] and the cotton fields were 75 miles(120km) from the port as the crow flies [3].

The River Kali (also refered to as the Sedashigur River or Kallee Nuddy) was surveyed and found to be navigable to a distance of 20 to 22 miles to Malpore [4].

Colonel Cotton carried out some experiments. “When on the coast I went up one of the ghauts and down another, that I might see what nature of the difficulties is, and my conclusion is clearly that, what is wanted for these minor passes is light rail. The trains would be gravity driven with 2 brakemen; the trucks would be returned to the top using bullocks. I have lately made an experiment with ¾ inch bars welded throughout with no joins and worked with wagons with double flanches with the tyres sloped to allow the wagon to running round a very sharp curve freely” [5]. These bars welded in one piece were mainly laid on rubble work without any fastenings and appeared to answer perfectly for slow traffic. Such lines with a gauge of two feet which is sufficient for one ton loads would require the most insignificant cutting and with timber that abounds for the longitudinal sleepers and for bridges, would probably cost not more than R3000 per mile so that to ascend 2000 feet at1 in 25 would take 10 miles and cost R3000. About four passes would be sufficient for Canara. The cost for the 4 tramways would be 1 Lacs.” [6].

At about same time in 1858 a full scale railway from Karwar to Hyderabad was being considered and again a detailed report was published – see Beitkal Harbour to Hyderabad Railway Proposal 1858 for details and references.

In the event neither of these two proposals were adopted.

Further Information

See Early Railway Experiments and Proposals for more information and background. .


  1. Google Books “Reports" ... "on the Harbour of Beitkul in Sedashigur Bay”, by Colonel A.T.Cotton, Madras Engineers and Lieutenant A.D.Taylor, Indian Navy”, Madras 1858; Retrieved 5 Jan 2017
  2. “Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 3, p. 44.”; Retrieved 1 Jan 2017
  3. "Reports" page 10, para 15 (pdf18)
  4. "Reports" page 12, para 25(pdf 20)
  5. "Reports" page 29 , comment 2nd (pdf 39)
  6. "Reports" page 30 (pdf40)