Kanhangad - Kasaragod Road, Kasaragod, Bekal, Kerala 671316, India
The largest fort in Kerala built only for defence purposes.
Location of Bekal Fort
More about Bekal Fort
Spreading over 40 acres, Bekal Fort is the largest in Kerala. It is situated in Bekal village of northern most Kasargod district of Kerala state. The 360 year old fort is shaped like a giant key hole and it is surrounded by a spectacular beach. The tall observation towers where huge canons once placed offers now a scenic view of the Arabian Sea and adjacent towns making this an ideal place for a day trip.
Built solely for the purpose of defence
Unlike most other Indian forts, Bekal fort was not used for administrative purposes. There are no remains of palaces, mansion or any other such buildings inside the structure. Instead of these, holes can be seen in the outer walls of the forts, specially designed to defend the fort. The holes at the top were used to aim at long distances, holes at the middle were used for striking the enemy when they are nearer and the holes at the bottom helped to attack when the enemy was right near to the fort. This evidence of defence strategy implicates that the fort was developed solely for the purpose of defence.
The main features of the fort are its underground tunnels, observation towers, the sea bastion, the zigzag entrance, the strategic openings on the walls, and water tank with its steps.
The known history of Bekal Fort
The recorded history mentions that the fort was constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore in 1650 AD. But it is believed that Bekal Fort might have existed even from early days of the Chirakkal Kings as it was common in those days to built a fort for the purpose of defence. Many of the royal palaces during that time had forts to protect them from enemies. The two nearby forts, Bekal and Chandragiri could have been under Chirakkal Kings until the time of Shivappa Nayak's invasion. Perhaps the Bednore rulers might have rebuilt and improved the fort.
Many communities like Koteyar/ Ramakshtriya's in Bekal and other places in Kasaragod were said to have been brought by the Bednore rulers to strengthen and defend the fort. There were numerous struggles between Chirakkal Kings and Bednore rulers to recapture and maintain their hold over this area. Following the rise of Hider Ali and his capture of Bekal, these struggles came to an end and Bekal fell to the hands of Mysore Kings.
The time of Mysore Kings and British
When Tipu Sultan, the youngest son of Hider Ali started his expedition to capture Malabar, Bekal Fort served as an important station for his army. The coins and other artifacts unearthed by the archaeological excavation show the strong presence of the Mysore Sulthans in Bekal Fort. The fourth Anglo Mysore war in 1799 led to the death of Tipu Sultan and the fort came under British East India Company.
During the time of British East India Company, Bekal Fort became significant for their military and administrative ventures. It became the headquarters of the then created Bekal Taluk of South Canara District in Bombay presidency. South Canara became a part of the Madras presidency in 1862 and Bekal Taluk was renamed Kasargod Taluk. Slowly the political and economic magnitude of Bekal and its port declined considerably. And with the state re-organisation in 1956 Kasargod became part of Kerala.
Getting to Bekal Fort
The fort is located at Pallikere village of Kasaragod District in Kerala State of Southern India. The nearest large towns are at Kasaragod (18km) and Kanhangad (9km) from where there are straight buses to Pallikere. The nearest railway stations are also at Kasaragod and Kanhangad, connected to most other parts of the country.