A tranquil oasis in God’s Own Country: Taj Bekal

Starting with a story from the Hindu mythology……

Vishnu is the Preserver in the Hindu triad. Vishnu is said to descend on earth in various avatars to restore order. Parasurama is the sixth avatar of Vishnu. Parasurama was born as the youngest son of Jamadagni, a sage and Renuka. In the Vedic society, the Kshatriyas were the warriors and the Brahmins were the teachers and the priests. And though Parasurama was born as a Brahmin, he had traits of a Kshatriya.

Jamadagni possessed a cow, given to him by Indra, the king of Gods. The miracle cow or “Cow of Plenty” called Surabhi or Kamadhenu could yield anything its owner desired.

A king named Kartavirya who has a thousand arms and superhuman powers and oppressed both men and gods, tried to seize the cow. On hearing of his attempt Parasurama killed Kartavirya with his famous axe. In retaliation, the sons of Kartavirya killed Jamadagni.  The sage’s wife Renuka immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre and in her dying breath, she cursed her husband’s murderers. Parasurama vowing to fulfil her curse, completely wiped out the warrior race, Kshatriyas, from the earth with his axe which has been given to him by Shiva himself.

He cleared the earth of Kshatriyas and performed a “Horse Sacrifice” or Ashvamedha to commemorate his victory. In this ritual, a horse accompanied by the king’s warriors would be released to wander about for one year. In the territory traversed by the horse, any rival could dispute the king’s authority by challenging the warriors accompanying it. After one year, if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal would be guided back to the king’s capital. It would be then sacrificed, and the king would be declared as an undisputed sovereign.

Sage Kasyapa officiated as the priest at the sacrifice and was offered the earth itself as his fee. The sage accepted the fee and ordered Parasurama off his “territory”, which was the whole earth. This was a ruse to get rid of Parasurama and save the remaining few Kshatriyas, without whom there would be no one to protect and rule the earth.

Parasurama stood before the ocean and appealed to the God of Ocean to grant him a little space; in response the ocean rolled back and thus were created the coastal districts along the Arabian Sea from Canara to Kanyakumari, the southern-most tip of India.

This is the acknowledged myth regarding the creation of the coastal districts of Karnataka (Canara) but as we approach Kerala, there is a slight deviation in the story. Parasurama threw his famous axe towards the ocean and retrieved land from the God of the Oceans, thus creating the coastal state of Kerala. Thus Kerala is also known as God’s own country as the land was reclaimed from sea by Lord Parasurama, for him and his devotees.

Kerala is nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea and Bekal is a seaside town located in the Kasargod district of Kerala. As mentioned in the prior post, pre-independence, Kasargod was part of the South Canara district (together with the southern coastal regions of Karnataka) with Mangalore as the administrative headquarters and part of the Madras Presidency in British India. And hence though Kasargod is the crown of the state of Kerala, its history is more closely linked to the state of Karnataka.

Back to the Taj resort were we are staying and it’s a beautiful property, with a beach and a river running through it. The river is called the Kappil river. There is the option of kayaking here.

The Kappil river at Taj Bekal
The Kappil river at Taj Bekal
Coconut trees swaying on the green banks along the Kappil river at Taj Bekal
Coconut trees swaying on the green banks along the Kappil river at Taj Bekal

Our stay was at a Villa with a Plunge Pool. The villas are constructed with the theme of a Kettuvallam or houseboats with thatched roofs.

 

Villa with a plunge pool at Taj Bekal
Villa with a plunge pool at Taj Bekal
Entrance to the villa at Taj Bekal
Entrance to the villa at Taj Bekal
Inside the villa at Taj Bekal
Inside the villa at Taj Bekal

 

Early morning, before the sun came blazing up, we ventured to the beach. The waves were roaring and the kid lost his specs to a big wave.

Towards the beach at Taj Bekal
Towards the beach at Taj Bekal
The beach at Taj Bekal
The beach at Taj Bekal

Swimming is not permitted at the beach, there is lovely pool for the same in the premises. The day usually begins with a yoga program and then after breakfast you can head to the spa for an Ayurvedic massage.

The pool at Taj Bekal
The pool at Taj Bekal

We were greeted at the resort with a garland of sea-shells and a tikka on the forehead. For the active, there are nature walks and houseboat rides, but they have to be booked in advance at extra cost.

At Taj Bekal
At Taj Bekal
At Taj Bekal
At Taj Bekal

During the day, the resort is green and beautiful and at night with the light of lamps and lanterns, it transforms to a magical place.

At Taj Bekal
At Taj Bekal

 

The food was glorious too. We looked for places to eat outside the resort in the town, but all the good restaurants that came up were the ones within the resort. There are three restaurants in the resort and we ate at two – the Backwater Cafe and Ivory. The cocktails at the Ivory were outstanding, we tried the Lychee ginger martini (above) and the Rom Pom Fun (below).

Rom Pom Fun at Ivory at Taj Bekal
Rom Pom Fun at Ivory at Taj Bekal
Ivory at Taj Bekal
Ivory at Taj Bekal
Backwater Cafe at Taj Bekal
Backwater Cafe at Taj Bekal

We tried the biryanis – the Chicken biryani and the Fish biryani, both were delectable !!

Biryanis at the Backwater Cafe
Biryanis at the Backwater Cafe
Appam or lace hoppers and beef at the Backwater Cafe, Taj Bekal
Appam or lace hoppers and beef at the Backwater Cafe, Taj Bekal

There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva here called Thrikkannad Shiva Temple. It is peculiar in the fact that the temple faces towards the west; an anomaly since the temples are constructed facing the east. The story goes that the enemies came from the west, by the sea and the fishermen prayed to Lord Shiva and the Lord Shiva turned his head to the west to annihilate the enemies. We didn’t visit the temple, but went out to see the most famous landmark in Bekal – the Bekal fort.

More in the next post.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s