KASARGOD, A LAND OF FORTS

Kerala is known for its backwaters. But there is more to this state. In fact, Kasargod is full of forts and gem among those is the Bekal Fort, which gives you a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea.

Kerala aka God’s Own Country has always been the best choice for any holiday- maker. Spending days in Kerala, especially at the backwater destinations, has always been fun. But there is more than just backwaters here.

Unusual Destination
Bekal Fort served as an important military station for Tipu Sultan during the great military expedition to capture Malabar.

This season, we decided to check out one such place which makes you feel you are in heaven and is the land of forts. Kasargod, a district in Kerala, has an area of 1,961 sqkm and a population of 10 lakh. The district is famous for having a number of forts. Fishing has been the prime source of livelihood for the people of Kasaragod.

Kasargod has forts like Bekal, Chandragiri, Hosdurg, Kumbala, Panayal, Kundamkuzi, Ban- daduka. Bekal Fort is the biggest of them all and has a history of over 300 years. All these forts have been built along the coast and you encounter them on your journey from Madikeri to Kasargod.

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History has it that the ‘Kotteyar’ community, found in Bekal, Panayal and other places in Kasaragod, were brought here by the Nayaks to build and defend the forts. Later, Haider Ali conquered the Nayaks. It’s said Bekal Fort served as an important military station for Tipu Sultan during the great military expedition to capture Malabar.

The archaeological excavation has proved that Tipu’s kingdom extended till here, as many coins and artifacts of his era have been unearthed. Kasaragod became a part of Kerala with the state reorganization in 1956. The fort stands on top of a 130 ft Laterite promontory looking out into the sea. The wall stretches over 35 acres.

The view of the Arabian Sea from the fort is breathtaking. The ponding of the waves only add to the ambience of the place. The Archaeological Sur- vey of India is maintaining and protecting the site and has done a commendable job of it.

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The trip does not end here, as one has to visit the Ananthapura Lake temple, which is 30 km from Bekal. It is said the temple, whose presiding deity is Anandapadmanabha, was built around 9th century AD. The temple has a surprise for you. Believe it or not, the temple is home to a vegetarian crocodile. Named Babiya, the croc has been living in the lake for decades. It eats only the prasadam from the priests.

One can sight the strange animal early in the morning when the priests offer it food. Another place you must visit is Valiyaparamba, a land of is- lands, again 30 km away from Bekal. This is perhaps the most scenic backwater stretch in Kerala. Valiyaparamba of- fers enchanting boat cruises.

HOW TO REACH

• Kasargod is 420 km away from Bangalore. One can reach it through Mysore, Kushalnagar, Madikeri, Sulya and Cherkala.

• Bekal Fort is 16 km from Kasaragod.

• Ananthapura lake temple is 30 km from Bekal.

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