Bekal Fort- Kerala,India
Having lived in Mangalore for a really long time,Bekal fort had been on my wish list for quite some time.We finally visited the fort during the winter of 2011 during my second yr in college.
Location : Kasaragod, 70 KM from Mangalore, in North Kerala,India.
Bekal Fort is the largest fort ( 40 Acres) in Kerala.You have plenty of local trains to the place every hour from Mangalore central. We boarded the Ernad Express which starts at around 7.30a.m and reaches Kasargod at 8.15a.m. So its hardly a 30 – 45 min journey by train.
From Kasargod you have plenty of local buses at good frequency to Bekal fort.The ride is hardly 30min.
We didnt have breakfast at Kasargod as we thought we would do it once we reach Bekal. Mistake! At bekal you hardly have any restaurants. We had to settle for a small Keralite restaurant which hardly had any options.However we were great full to get any food then.So didn’t really complain.
The bus drops you very close to the fort.So you hardly have to walk for about 500 m to reach the fort entrance.
The fort was is huge and you have to walk a lot to cover it.The view from the observatory is breath taking.
About 300 year old fort, shaped like a giant key-hole, is one of the largest and best-preserved forts in Kerala.
Overlooking Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, where a few centuries ago huge cannons used to be placed. Today, the Bekal Fort and its surroundings – there are backwaters and hill destinations and water sport facilities nearby.
Water tank, tunnel, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad steps leading to the Observation Tower, which is a rarity. This observation center had strategic significance in discovering even the smallest movements of the enemy and ensuring the safety of the Fort. The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourths of its exterior is drenched and the waves continually stroke the citadel. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defense strategy inherent in the fort.
Bekal Fort was never the center of administration, for no remains of any palace, mansion or such buildings are found within the fort. Arguably the fort was built especially for fulfilling defense requirements against sea powers like Portuguese those days.
The holes on the outer walls of the fort are specially designed to defend the fort effectively. This is remarkable evidence of technology in defense strategy.
Initiated by Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka , Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore completed the Bekal Fort in 1650AD. Bekal served as a nucleus in establishing the dominance of the Nayakas in Malabar.
The economic importance of the port town prompted the Nayakas to fortify Bekal subsequently. Fort was aimed at the defense of the fort from overseas attack from Portuguese and to strengthen their attack on Malabar. Chandagiri fort near Kasargod and port was also constructed during this period.
There was a prolonged struggle between the Kolathiries and Nayaks to recapture and maintain their hold over this area. These battles came to an end with the rise of Hyder Ali who conquered the Nayakas.
Subsequently Bekal fell into the hands of Mysore Kings.
Bekal served as an important military station of Tipu Sultan when he led the great military expedition to capture Malabar.The death of Tipu Sultan in Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 saw the end of Mysorean control and subsequently the fort came under the British East India Company.
Gradually the political and economic importance of Bekal and its port declined considerably. Kasargod became part of Kerala with the state reorganization in 1956.
The fort has an opening to the beach.It is the only outlet to the beach,a small gate.We ran down to the beach in excitement.I still dont know why…had been living literally 200mts from the beach for the last 2 yrs then,still the wierd excitement. The road down is pretty steep.I fell there as well.A pretty nasty fall as I was on call with a friend back at college.
We chilled out at the beach for most of the evening only to come back and find the gate back to the fort locked!
So people word of advice.If you have only one entrance or exit to any place make sure you always have an eye out for it.
We some how managed to find are way out climbing a certain compound wall,climbing the rocks and finding a small path.This surprisingly led us to a resort Nirvana which we had not been able to locate before.
We were exhausted by now so had a really heavy dinner there.It seemed a nice place with many foreign tourists staying there.A very clean and green resort.It definitely cheered us up.
After which we caught the bus back to kasargod at around 7.30pm and caught the evening train back to Mangalore.
So our trip to Bekal had been fun.It is a good place for a days outing.
Good Maintenance around Fort
Sunset at the Fort