Bekal in Kerala, India
Beaches, Forts, Backwaters
Bekal is on the Arabian Sea coast in Kasargod district. Kasargod is the northern most district of Kerala. It is in the far north of Malabar.
Bekal Beach is getting more and more attention from tourists lately. Bekal is quite a place of beauty. There are sea-kissed forts, wind-caressed palms and embracing beaches. Calm lagoons and patches of red earth make a truly colourful landscape. Emerald green rice fields add to the contrasts.
Not too long ago, forts towered around Kasargod watching over the Arabian Sea. Today, they stand in silence. These forts are made with unique rectangular laterite stones.
The forts in Kasargod are Bekal, Chandragiri, Hosdurg, Kumbla, Panayal, Kundamkuzhi and Bandaduka.
Kasargod, the district headquarters, is the base to access to Bekal. It can also be accessed from Kanhangad. Bekal is north of Kannur (86 km) and Calicut (174 km).
The nearest city is Manglaore in Karnataka state. Mangalore has an airport and the bekal is 65 km south of city. Bekal is 371 km south west of Bangalore.
Apart from the ruins of magnificent forts, there are several religious sites worth your attention. Kasargod's shrines take us back in time, a beautiful time. The new additions in concrete has the opposite effect.
The Fort is the most important attraction of the town. The fort stands alone and isolated but taller than the rest.
The history of town starts before centuries. Mahodayapuram Perumals ruled it till the 12th century. Then the Kolathunadu and Keladi.
Nayaks who made fort here in the mid-16th century. Later, Tipu Sultan made the fort an important military base. Then Tipu lost it to the East India Company.
Locals tell tales of secret passageways hidden within the fort. The tall thick walls of fort are covered with moss. And the only faithful witness to their past glory is the unchanging Arabians Sea surging beyond the walls.
On the golden grassy hillock of the fort sit the Magazine. Then the steps leading to an Observation Tower and a score of picturesque peepholes.
There is an ancient Anjaneya Temple and a renovated mosque. The sea bastion is a big crowd puller. There is an underground passage that invite curiosity.
Tourism is yet to take up in this area. The fort is in official neglect. The State government sponsored Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC) is a mere office outside the fort. It has neither attracted investors nor restored and conserved the forts.
Now, the Achaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stepped in. It has built a pathway for visitors along the walls of the ancient fort and restored some of the existing tunnels.
Chandragiri and Other Forts
The 17th century Chandragiri Fort is only a broken wall in places and merely a pile of rubble elsewhere. Covered with wild grass, it seems to change colours with seasons. The fort is 10 km away from Bekal, near to Kasargod town.
It was built by Sivappa Naik and currently under restoration. But even now, if you care to climb up the steep laterite steps, you get a great view. You can see dense forests of palm groves to one side, the serene Chandragiri to the other and the Arabian Sea beyond.
Inside the fort is a watchtower, which offers a superb position to look at the confluence of the Chandragiri River and the Arabian Sea.
The Panayil Fort, on the other hand, is now only a few stones in a contemporary residential area.
Hosdurg Fort, 12 km south of Bekal, is also part of chain of forts built by the Ikkeri Nayaks. It is now only a heap of stones. It is, sadly, not worth a visit.
Bekal Beach Kerala
To one side of the imposing fort lies a shallow beach. You'll find shells of all sizes, vast colonies of scurrying crabs. The beach extends towards the both sides of the fort. It is a long classic beautiful beach.
A long strip of tawny sands fringed by casuarina groves.
A mere 10-minute drive from Bekal is this secluded beach. The beach is over run by green creepers that have mauve flowers. There are also shallow groves of causurina trees.
There is not a human around. The Kodi Cliff to one side of this beach is worth the climb to take in a splendid view of the sea.
Malik Dinar Mosque, Kasargod
Malik Ibn Dinar was a disciple of Prophet Muhammed. Malid Dinar believed to have been the first person to propagate Islam in Kerala. The mosque is said to have been founded by him. Ibn Dinar lies buried within.
The mosque overlooks the surrounding greenery shaded by various trees. It has magnificent wooden beams and thick shining columns.
Twin Ashrams of Kasargod
The Nityanandashram close to Hosdurg Fort is a meditation centre founded by Swami Nityananda. The ashram is a series of 45 caves cut into the side of hillock. There is a life size statue of Swami Nityananda here.
Another famous ashram in the region was founded by Vaishnava saint Swami Ramdas, 4 km from Kanhangad. Anandashram is a peaceful spot set in mango and coconut groves.
Nileshwarem was once the cultural centre of Kasargod district. It is 24 km south of Bekal.
The town is home to old buildings which are the major and minor Nileshwaram palaces. The main Nileshwaram Palace is now the Folklore Centre of the Archaeology Department.
These palaces are not the grand structures as you imagine. But the solid teak roof beams, the magnificent wooden pillars and the shining red stone floors draw your attention.
The scenic Valiyaparamba Backwaters is south of Neleshwaram. This area has numerous little islands, narrow strips of beaches and densely packed groves of palm and arecanut. And they are fed by four swiftly flowing rivers.
You can spend a whole day exploring the backwaters by houseboat. The Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC)runs a couple of houseboats on Tejaswani river. The houseboats run form Kottapuram in Nileshwaram to Kannur, along the Valiyaparmba backwaters.
En route past nine islets, you take in verdant greenery and Chinese fishing nets. You get to swim, laze about, stay a night or more aboard the 2-bedroom and single bedroom houseboats. All these costs considerably lower than what you would pay further down south in Alleppey and Kumarakom.
Bekal Resorts Development Corporaton Ltd (BRDC)
Thanal Vishrama Kendram
Near Bekal Fort
Tel: 04672 272900, 272007
Folk Dances of Tulu Nadu
Kasargod falls in the territory of ancient Tulu Nadu. There are a few folk dances unique to this area. They define the socio-cultural identity of its people. Yakshagana is the most known among them.
Ask your resort or the District Tourism Promotion Council where you can catch a performance while in Kasargod.
Bekal Hotels and Bekal Resorts
Kasargod district is just beginning to have good hotels and resorts. Still there are few exceptional hotels and resorts.
The Lalit Resort and Spa
Tel: +91 467 2237777
Near Bekal Fort
Tel: +91 467 2272900, 2272007
Homestays in Bekal
Tel: 0467 2234159
Tel: 0467 2236456
Accommodation in Other Parts of Kasargod District
Neelambari Resort and Spa
Maruthom Thattu, Chully
Tel: 0467 2229790, 2229791
Tel: 0467 2282662, 2282925
Bekal Boat Stay
Tel: 0467 2282633, 3953311
Other places of Interest in Kasargod District
Sreemad Anantheswara Vinayaka Temple, Madhur
The temple is 8km north-east of Kasargod. The Madhuvahini (Payaswini) river flows in front of the Sreemad Temple.
The temple has a unique three-tiered dome, a copper plated roof and a cloistered court. Scenes from the Ramayana are carved on the ceiling of the namaskara mandapam.
The wood-carved inner mukha mandapam and sukasanas, you can see the idols of Shive and Vinayaka. Take a cleansing dip in the Madhurvahini, which is believed to contain the essence of spirituality.
Sree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Ananathapura
This 9th century shrine popularly known as Ananthapura Lake Temple. It is quite setting deep into Kasargod district.
For the Ananathpura Temple is the moolasthanam or original abode, of Ananatha Padmanabha, an avatar of Vishnu who is the powerful deity of the famed Sri Padmanbha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
Set in the middle of a small lake, it is a beautiful shrine.
Tel: 04998 214360
Situated in 16 km east of Kasargod, this artists village is established by P S Punchithaya. He is an artist who paints landscapes, seascapes and skyscapes in the Impressionist style.
Punchithaya lives with his sculptor son on a farm. There is a small waterfall in the farm from which he collects and stores naturally cleaned and cooled drinking water.
You may tempted to buy his paintings, or those of other Kasargod artists who also paint here. You can also roam around the farm and inspect the fruits of Punchithiya's many experiments with the rich soil.
Kareem Forest Park
On a 32-acre man made forest with trees, medicinal plants, birds, insects in Puliyamkulam. P Abdul Kareem has spent the last 30 years converting the wasteland into the Kareem Forest Park.
Botany experts certify Kareem has grown 300 species of flowering plants and increased the water table in the area. All are welcome to visit and those truly interested in conservation may stay here too. The forest is 23km east of Kanhangad town.
Tel: 0467 2254283
Ranipuram is up in the districts eastern border. This hill area has shola forests, wildflowers growing in plentiful and verdant grasslands.
Ranipuram is cool away to go from sea level to hilly altitude, in a matter of few hours. The Kasargod District Tourism Promotion Council has a
3-bed room Guest House at Ranipuram. You can book it through BRDC.
Tel: 0467 2272900, 2272007