Shaped in the form a huge keyhole, the Bekal fort stand tall in Kasargod, Kerala. This fort is built on a forty acre land. The fort looks as if it has been built from the sea as most of its exterior is always wet due to the rise and fall of the waves against the fort. A majestic view of the Arabian sea can be seen from this fort.
The most important features of this fort includes a water tank, tunnel opening that faces the south, an ammunition storage magazine, and wide steps that are a rarity in forts to the observation tower. From this tower, a good vicinity of the towns can be seen so as to keep a check on the enemy movements.
Near the fort lies the temple of Hanuman Mukyaprana and mosque. This proves that there was religious co-existence in this area. It is assumed that the Bekal fort was built solely for military purpose as no evidence of any administration block or palace was found in the fort. In those days, it was quite common to have a fort solely for defense purpose. The zig zag entrance and moats found in the fort show excellent defense strategies. There are holes on top, below and underneath the fort to fight off the enemy when he is afar, near and very near to the fort respectively.
This fort is said to have moved hands from the Kolathiri Rajas to the Vijayanagar Empire, to Tipu Sultan and lastly, the British East India Company.
The history of the fort dates back to 1650 A.D and was said to be built by the Shivappu Nayaka of Bedone. From then on there have been constant disputes between the Nayakkas and Kolathiris. The eldest male member of the Kolathiri was the principal king, his successor was known as “Thekkelamkur” and the third in line to the throne was known as the “Vadakkelamkur “. The third in succession was bestowed the Vekkolath fort which is now known as the Bekal fort.
The Bekal fort was in the possession of the Kolathiris until the invasion of Shivappa Nayakka. The Ramakshatriya community found here is said to be brought by the Nayakkas to strengthen the fort. There were constant battles between the Kolathiris and Nayakkas to reclaim the fort. The rise of Hyder Ali and his invasion put a rest to constant feud between Kolathiri and Nayakkas. On death of Hyder Ali, his son Tipu Sultan took over the fort for his military conquests.
The Bekal fort acted as an important military station for Tipu Sultan. Archaelogical artifacts found in the Bekal fort links the fort to that of the Suktan kings. The observation tower built by Tipu Sultan provides an excellent view of the coastline. In the fourth Anglo-Mysore war, the fort went to British East India Company. The Bekal fort was significant for the British Raj too. The Bekal fort was made the headquarters for new Bekal Taluk in the South Canara, This was added to Bombay Presidency. This later became a part of the Madras Presidency in 1799 and Kasagod Taluk replaced Bekal Taluk.
The Bekal fort has currently has become a tourist attraction spot and this fort has been declared a special tourism area by the government of India in 1992. Efforts have been taken by the government to promote international tourism here by bringing about the Bekal Tourism Development Corporation. The Bekal fort is now being taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Several advertisements, movies, songs, and albums have been taken in this fort. The most famous song shot in this fort was that of “Uyire” in the film “Bombay” by director Mani Ratnam.
Kasargod is well connected by buses and trains. The nearest railway station is that of Pallikara. The closest airports are the Mangalore International Airport and the Karipur International airport both at a distance of sixty and one hundred and eighty kilometres respectively.