Bekal fort is situated 16 KM south of Kasargod on the national highway at the northern tip of the state. Bekal fort is one of the biggest and best-preserved forts of Kerala on the Arabian sea. In the early century AD, Bekal became one of the important port towns in Kerala. At the same time, maritime trade with Portuguese and other European countries attained importance from the days of Vijaynagara rulers.
It is among the biggest forts in Kerala and has been impeccably maintained throughout the years. It rises to 130 feet above sea level and is situated on a headland spanning 35km. After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, the South Canara district and a part of Kasargod came under the control of Ikkeri Nayakas. They were also known as Bednore Nayakas or Keladi Nayakas after their capital at Bednore and Keladi respectively. Sivappa Nayaka of Bednore constructed the Bekal fort in 1650 A.D. They were also responsible for the construction of Chandragiri Fort at Kasargod. Another opinion is that Kolathiri Raja built the fort and later on reconstructed by Sivappa Nayak (1645 – 1660 A.D).
Due to its resourceful and strategic importance, this area had witnessed many battles between the British and Haider Ali. Later Haider Ali captured Bekal fort in 1763 AD. During the time of Tipu Sultan, it became a centre of administration of Tulunadu and Malabar area. After the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799 A.D, Bekal fort was incorporated into the dominion of the British.
The fort is built of laterite blocks directly over the bedrock. It is roughly polygonal on plan perched on the steep bank of the sea. The twelve-meter high fortification wall is impregnated with fifteen bastions of semicircular, octagonal, oval, square and rectangular shape the main with an entrance in zigzag fashion on the north side. The northern side of the fort is surrounded by a boat. The important structures in the fort are the stepped tank, tunnel with an opening towards the sea, the magazine for keeping ammunition, the sea bastion and an observation tower with a ramp in the middle of the fort. This tower is of great strategic importance giving a fascinating view of the surrounding area. the structure is around 24m in circumference at the base and more than 9m in height.
Four seasons (1997-2001) of excavation conducted inside the Bekal fort yielded noteworthy archaeological remains including residential blocks, a temple complex, a durbar hall built during the period of Ikkeri Nayakas; palace complex and a mint house built during the Tipu Sultan, terracotta seals of Vijayanagara period; copper coin mold, copper coins of Nayakas and Tipu sultan, gold and silver ornaments etc. This is a centrally protected monument under the control of Archaeological Survey of India since 1921.
Important points to note:
- Fort visiting hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
- Entry Fees: Adults, Rs. 15/- (Free for children up to 15 yrs)
- At night, the entire place is lit up with special lights. This adds a whole new dimension to the beauty of the fort. Unfortunately, we were unable to stay back to see this.
- The sun can get pretty harsh and the humidity is pretty high – recommend you wear sunscreen and carry enough supply of water.
- There are couple of small shops outside and inside the fort complex where one can get some basic refreshments. So do not fret if you missed carrying additional supply of water