Bekal Fort – A Glimpse into the Past

And a Birthday Gift to Self…

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 “Tu hi re……tere bina……”  [“Uyire”]

I could almost see the scintillating Monisha Koirala sauntering around with her long flowing gown behind her and Arvind Swamy yearning for her as he sings the famous soul stirring romantic melody of the late nineties. Composed by A.R Rahman, this masterpiece was sung to perfection by Hariharan.

We were at Bekal Fort, located in a quaint little place called Pallikara in North Kerala. This remarkably well preserved fort gained popularity after the legendary lyrical song from the critically acclaimed Bollywood Movie ‘Bombay’ was filmed here.

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Pic 1: The fort as seen from the outside.

It was that time of the year – the month of April – the time to keep a promise to myself. Time for my birthday and I had to gift a travel to myself. It’s the mountains I prefer above everything else, precisely Himalayas. I have a few treks in mind that I want to do but there was a clash here. None of those were happening in April. So, I booked one for May and decided to do a small 1-2 day trip somewhere nearby just for my birthday. That’s how the trip to Bekal Fort happened.

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Pic 2: Somewhere inside the fort.

I was all set to go alone when my sister decided to come along. Both of us are going through some financial constraints and this trip fitted well into our pockets. Google told us that Bekal Fort is about 65 Km away from Mangalore and can be reached in about an hour and a half from there. This was the best route for us from Bangalore. We took an overnight train to Mangalore. With our current financial situation, we opted to take a bus rather than a cab from Mangalore. However, we had to change two buses to reach Pallikara – Mangalore to Kasargod to Pallikara.

We had booked a homestay at Pallikara at a very reasonable rate. The room was quite small but the people were wonderful and the food they served was stupendous, at a price that is unthinkable. It’s pretty good for just a night. (http://www.bekalforthomestay.com/)

An auto from the bus stand took us to the homestay and everyone seemed to know the ‘retired Headmaster’s house’. It was late morning when we arrived and the sun was blazing. At this time of the year, Kerala is sweltering and the humidity only makes the weather even more miserable. Notwithstanding, we stepped out after a quick shower.

The lady of the house warned us against venturing to the fort at this time. She advised early evening and recommended the beach for now. We had a quick lunch at a roadside shop trying to ignore the gazing curious onlookers who are probably not used to seeing many tourists and especially women on their own. The shop owner, unable to control his curiosity, asked us a couple of questions and every answer seemed to flabbergast him.

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Pic 3: Roasting in the sweltering heat of Malabar Coast
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Pic 4: Sis finds a cooler place to chill for a while.

After lunch, we went to Bekal Beach and thereafter took an auto and went to the fort. It was around 3.00 PM and the Sun was shining mercilessly. April is definitely not the best time to visit this place. The roasting heat of Malabar Coast was exhausting as the lady of the homestay had rightly warned us. The aura of the age-old fort managed to keep us engaged though we were drenched in sweat from head to toe. A pleasant surprise awaited us at the fort though. It was ‘World Heritage Day’ and entry was free. I took that as an unexpected birthday gift!

 

Perched on a steep rocky shore overlooking the Arabian Sea, Bekal Fort intrigues and fascinates with its architectural marvel and picture perfect location. The rusty red fort owes its colouration to the *laterite slabs that have been used to build it. The polygonal fort, shaped in the form of a giant keyhole surely houses a million tales of bygone ages.

[*Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium, considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas. Nearly all laterites are of rusty-red coloration, because of high iron oxide content. Source: Wikipedia]

In the 13th Century AD, Bekal was an important port town in Kerala. The fort has changed hands a couple of times from Shivappa Nayaka to Tipu Sultan to East India Company. This is the biggest and best preserved fort in Kerala that is now maintained by Archeological Survey of India (ASI).

The Fort has several unique features, such as, the water tank with its flight of steps, a tunnel that opens towards the south, a magazine to store ammunition, an Observation Tower with stunning view of the surrounding landscape.

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Pic 8: Note the rusty-red laterite slabs

The majestic fort in its entirety against the backdrop of the mighty Arabian Sea on one side and the sea of greenery on all other sides was as picturesque as one can imagine. The vast expanse of tall coconut trees that spread out as far as the eyes can see adds charm to the already scenic location. And it’s the scenic beauty of the place that appealed to me the most.

The weather was taking its toll and we were drained after having loitered around for about 90 minutes at the fort. With no shade around, we decided to go back to the beach.

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Pic 9: The sea of coconut trees, just so typical of God’s Own Country – Kerala
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Pic 10: The winding pathway just outside the fort by the side of the Arabian Sea reminded us of ‘King’s Landing’ from Game of Thrones!)

We got to know that monsoon is the best time to visit this place. Besides the pleasant weather, the fort walls are covered with a layer of green owing to the growth of mosses, lichens, and tiny plants that apparently makes it look even more gorgeous. Our April adventure was nonetheless a good one.

With another promise kept and another birthday well spent, armed with a bagful of wonderful memories we retraced our path towards the beach.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

28 thoughts on “Bekal Fort – A Glimpse into the Past”

  1. Lovely photographs of the fort. I am amazed at your fortitude to brave the Kerala heat at this time of year. I have heard there are 3 seasons in Kerala: hot, hotter, hottest. I believe April – May and into June belong in the latter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know Uyire-Uyire had been shot at Bekal fort! Even though I had always been fascinated by the sight of the coastal fort being lashed by stormy sea, I never got around to trying to find where was sit shot… Procrastination to blame! Beautiful pictures and I can’t believe you actually explored the fort in the sweltering afternoon heat. I had a horrible experience visiting a coastal fort near Mumbai and alibaug last May and have sweared off coasts during the peak summer. Will definitely visit Bekal fort in monsoon though! Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I discovered about the song only after I decided to go there. It was terribly hot indeed and I would have enjoyed more if the weather would have been cooler. The weather, however made sure that there weren’t many people around and that was definitely something to cheer about. Also, Bekal beach is beautiful, very clean, pristine and serene. I will write about that soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Then you can well imagine how we had it in April :D….
      And I have been to Kerala another time in the April few years back to Cochin and Alleppy. Cochin was scorching but at Alleppy the houseboat was quite comfortable 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Halfway through this post, I’ve spent a lot of my time inside these 4 walls, I think I need to get out. Those images and your words inspired me. And wow, you were set to go alone, wow. you are so determined and enthusiastic. I’ll read the remaining part once I get back. The images are amazing, I envy you. 😦
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ankit, a billion thank yous for writing such a lovely comment even when you have just gone through it halfway, that is so nice of you indeed 🙂
      You probably should go for a trip, it might just add to your already beautiful poems and tracks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This fort resembles a lot with the ones in Goa in terms of architecture and stone construction. But I guess it has no Portuguese connection. I like your adventurous spirit, Neel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Arv, for reading this despite the busy times you are in now. You are right, it is like the ones in Goa. I’ve seen your posts around architecture and temples and hence thought you might like to read this one 🙂

      Like

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