March 21, 2010 - Rajesh Odayanchal
It is the peace and beauty that the forts embrace which makes it worth treasuring, generating the spectators to enjoy it to its fullest. One such fort is Bekal fort of more than 350 years old, which is considered as the largest as well as the best-preserved fort in Kerala, now under the control of the archeological foundation of India. It is situated 16km south of kasaragod on the National highway, which stands on a vast 405 acre promontory that runs into the Arabian Sea. It has got a striking circular structure of laterite rising 130 ft above the sea level. As we glance around the beach, the stunning view of the daunting Bekal Fort serves as an agent of amusement and entertainment.
Bekal’s history takes us to the period of Sivappa Nayak of Ikkeri dynasty (around 1650) who built this fort at Bekal.They constructed the fort in order to defend it from outside world. To their dismay arose Kolathiri rajas who started to fight with Nayaks to take over their hold in that vicinity. The grapple between the two came to an end when Hyder Ali took the control by defeating the Nayaks. Later Bekal was conquered by Mysore Sultan. Till 1799, it was under the rule of Tippu Sultan, but thereafter it was under the rule of British East India Company and become the headquarters of the newly organized Bekal Taluk of South Canara District in Bombay Presidency. South Canara subsequently became a part of the Madras Presidency in 1862 and Kasaragod Taluk was set up in the place of Bekal Taluk. With the state reformation in 1956, Kasaragod became part of Kerala.
Bekal Fort with its best features like the secretive passageway, the observation towers, the sea fortress, the twisty entrance, the tactical openings or holes on the outer walls, the stairways etc. remains always to the viewers eye a marvel and freed him from the stress and boredom.