Karkala is an ancient town that dates back to the 10th century. The town is named after black granite stones that are found in abundance. The local architecture uses the same stones. Karkala rests atop a granite bed said to be 300-500 feet thick. It was ruled by Jains for almost 300 years. Tulu, Konkani is spoken in addition to Kannada in the constituency.
Karkala is a religious spot as much as it is a tourist destination. Old temples, picturesque locations make it a favourite. There are 18 basadis of antiquity, including Mahaveera Basadi, Chandranathaswamy Basadi, Adinathaswamy Basadi, Ananthanatha Basadi, Guru Basadi and Padmavathi Basadi, some protected under the Archaeological Survey Of India. Karkala also houses many temples and churches. The St Lawrence Church built in 1845 is famous and hosts the feast of St Lawrence in January every year.
It is a pilgrimage site for Jains. The single stone 41.5 feet (13 m) statue Gommateshwara, is located about 1 km from the centre of the town and is the second tallest in Karnataka. Every twelve years, hundreds of thousands of Jain devotees congregate to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka. Karkala is also a town of lakes and is famous for folk art including Bhuta Kola, Nagaradhane and Yakshagana. Kambala, Hulivesha, Korikatta, Bhuta Kola are all part of Karkala's traditions.
V. Sunil Kumar from the BJP is the current MLA from the constituency, he defeated H.Gopal Bhandary of Congress.