Spread over a beautifully maintained 40 acres, the fortified walls of Bekal form the remains of the largest standing fort in the state of Kerala, India. Since we were visiting Mangalore, a trip to this historical site, which is just a two hour drive from there was a given.
The roads are fantastic and the green cover and backwaters on the Kerala side are a treat for the eyes. Before we reached the fort, I was already exclaiming “I don’t know how the fort is going to be, but this trip is already worth it because of the drive”. Maintained by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India), the fort is open to the public from 8 am to 5.30 pm. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, the entry tickets have to be booked virtually and can be done on the spot. There were very few visitors inside and there wasn’t much to see except for walking around the fort walls and it’s several strategic check-posts that offered stunning views of the sea below. Yes, it’s right by the sea.
It’s hard to imagine the kind of hard-work it would have taken to build this fort in the 1650 AD. It was commissioned by the deccan ruler Shivappa Nayaka of the Keladi Nayaka kingdom, which used to be under the more famous Vijayanagar empire until it’s fall in 1565 AD. Years later, the Nayakas were defeated by Mysore rulers and Tipu Sultan came into its possession. It played a crucial role in the Sultan’s endeavors to conquer the Malabar coast. In the end, like most strategic places in India, the fort finally fell into the hands of the notorious British East India Company and eventually lost its importance, both as a port and as a military base for defence.
This is a picture of a well that was built inside the fort during Tipu Sultan’s rule.
We spent a good hour exploring all the parts of the fort and would’ve probably spent more time if hadn’t been very hot. There is a descending flight of stairs at one corner of the fort that overlooks the sea and is an amazing view-point. We were there on December 27th and despite being a winter month, it was quite warm. Easy to imagine that it must be quite an experience to go there when it rains!
If you plan to visit the place, do it either in the winter months or monsoon and carry some water, it could get a little exhausting, Oh and some sunscreen and sun-glasses wouldn’t hurt.