Bekal Fort is the largest and the best-preserved fort in Kerala and it is in Kasarkode district, spreading over 40 acres (160,000 m2). Situated is 16 km south on the National Highway. Bekal Fort is believed to have been built in the 1650’s by Sivappa Naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. Later it was transferred to Hyder Ali of Mysore and then to the British. The sea bastions, underground tunnels and the observation tower are impressive. History sleeps here among the lonely battlements of the Bekal Fort by the sea shore.
The important features of this fort are the water-tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad and wide steps leading to the Observation Tower which is a rarity. From there one has ample view of towns in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikare, Bekal, Kottikkulam, Uduma etc. This observation centre had strategic significance in finding out even the smallest movements of the enemy and ascertaining safety of the Fort.
The fort with its peculiar structure is an architectural marvel. There are no major structures inside its huge walls and is believed to have been built mainly as a citadel to protect the residents during times of war. The major tourist attractions of Bekal Fort include a sea bastion, a maze of underground tunnels and an observation tower. The impressive observation tower is over 80 feet in circumference and 30 feet high and is approached by a set of wide stairs. The top of the structure affords a panoramic view of the sea and lush greenery on the east.
The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourth of its exteriors is drenched and the waves continually stroke the citadel. The Mukhyaprana Temple of Hanuman and the ancient Muslim Mosque nearby bear testimony to the age-old religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defense strategy inherent in the fort.
Two sculptures of Theyyam created using laterite on the beach and a shed the walls of which are adorned with murals created by artisans from Nilambur. Apart from these a rock garden at the parking area has been developed where laterite boulders of various sizes have been utilized. Under the social forestry scheme, trees have been planted in the beach area.
Illuminated beach: The beach gets illuminated during the evening hours so that tourists can spend more time at the beach even after the sun sets.
Resting facilities: Multi shed and Eru madam (Tree house) would provide the tourists enough facilities to take rest and enjoy the sea breeze. By using locally available materials seating arrangements have been provided for the tourists at the beach.
Toilets: Toilets have been provided for the use of tourists and eco-friendly bamboo waste bins have been provided in the entire beach site for keeping the area clean.
Children’s park: A park has been developed here for children below 14 years.
In order to maintain the developed site a nominal charge of one rupee from each visitor would be collected as entry fees. A similar nominal vehicle parking fees would also be collected. The BRDC also aims to develop in future another 11 acres of land at the beach for constructing water park, theme park etc.
The beautiful Bakel beach with the historic and archaeologically significant fort in the background is now being developed, into an international tourist destination. Earlier it was part of the kingdom of Ikkiri Naiks, provincial rulers of the Vijayanagara Empire.It became part of the Vijayanagar Empire. In the late 18th century Tipu Sultan captured it. An old mosque near the fort is believed to have been built by the Mysore forces. After the British overthrew him, the fort came under the East India Company.
By Air : Mangalore is the nearest airport, located at a distance of just 50 km from Bekal. Karipur International Airport at Calicut is another major airport located nearby.
By Rail : Kasaragod is the nearest railhead located on the Kozhikode-Mangalore-Mumbai route. A number of daily trains on the route stop at Kasaragod, connecting the place with other major cities in the country.
By Road : An excellent network of roads link Kasaragod with other cities in Kerala, Karanataka and Tamil Nadu. State transport buses ply every 30 minutes between Kanjagad and Bekal.