It was during my school summer holidays that I went to spend a few days with my cousins at Mahe. That was when we went to visit one of the biggest Forts in Kerala, The Bakel Fort at Bakel town in Kasargod district. We didn’t have much interest at first as we already come from a place which is known for the Tipu’s Fort (Palakkad). But my uncle told us that this Fort is entirely different than what we saw back in our home town and that was when he told us about the ‘Uyire’ song from Manirathnam movie Bombay, composed by A.R.Rahaman, being shot there and there is a beach nearby so we can visit that too. After hearing this, the trip became more interesting as we were going to visit a place where one of our all time song was being shot. As kids, what more do you want in a short vacation trip??
It was a three and a half hour drive from Mahe to Bakel town. We reached there by around 3:30 noon and their visiting hours were from morning 8 ‘o’clock to evening 6 ‘o’ clock. There was a small entry fee of Rs. 15/- for all the adults. When we entered the Fort we realized what my uncle told was right! This Fort was nowhere to what we saw back in our home town. It was really a huge one that covered more than 40 acres of land. But the common factor on both the Forts was Tipu Sultan’s presence!
The best features of this Fort were the water-tank with its flight of steps; a tunnel opening towards the south and an observation tower. If you stand on this observation tower you can see the surrounding places like Kanhangad, Pallikkara, Bekal, Kottikkulam, and Uduma (the entire coastal line). It is said that this observation tower was built by Tipu Sultan, to discover even the smallest movements of the enemy and ensuring the safety of the Fort.
What the history says is that the Bekal Fort was actually constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi in 1650 AD. It was usual in older days for every royal palace to be protected by a fort. The Bekal fort might have, therefore, existed even from early days of the Chirakkal Rajas. While writing a description of the Kolathiri Kingdom in his Kerala History, K.P. Padmanabha Menon writes: “The eldest of the male members reigned as sovereign Kolathiri. The next in succession, the heir apparent, was the Thekkelamkur. The residence assigned to him was the Vadakara fort. The third in succession was the Vadakkelamkur in charge of Vekkolath fort. This V(B)ekkolath fort is identified by some scholars as the present Bekal.”
The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourths of its exterior is drenched. There is even a Hanuman temple and a mosque nearby; which shows the religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The entrance of the fort was in a zig zag manner and there were trenches around them too, which strictly showed their defense strategy that they inherited!
Unlike most other Indian forts, Bekal Fort was not a 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. The holes on the outer walls of the fort are specially designed to defend the fort effectively. The holes at top were meant for aiming at the farthest points; the holes below for striking when the enemy was nearer and the holes underneath facilitated attacking when the enemy was very near to the fort , a remarkable evidence of technology in defense strategy that they used.
The solid construction of this fort resembles the Thalassery Fort and the St. Angelo Fort at Kannur built by the Dutch. The western part of the Fort had a numerous slits on the walls just to defend it from the naval power of the other rulers. So you can say the present look of the Fort can be the outcome of the conflicts between European Powers.
There is also a rest-house built by the British Government. Presently the protection and preservation of the Bekal l Fort is done by the Archaeological Survey of India.
From 1992 the Government of India has delclared Bekal Fort as a special Tourist area. It is one of the important place for foreign tourists too. Many movies song sequences, commercial ads and music albums are shot here…
Bekal Fort Beach:
Once we had our rounds through the entire Fort, next was the beach time for us.
It is one of the biggest and well maintained beaches in Kerala. It’s a very small region on the shores of Arabian Sea, which is known for its unparalleled charm that holds various attractions like Rock Garden, Walkway, Illuminated beach, Resting facilities, Toilets, Children’s park etc. Under the social forestry scheme, they have planted many trees along the beach area. By the time we explored the entire beach area it was almost dusk time and I still remember seeing the sun set in that beach… It was so mesmerizing to see the Fort, setting sun, the greens around there and the beach all together in one frame! After that we returned to where we belonged. Must give kudos to the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC) for keeping this beach as an exotic one!