Bekal fort : A more famous afterlife

Bekal may have been a prominent port of call during the medieval period with the profitable the spice trade in the Malabar region with the Arabs and then the Europeans. But Bekal was never a capital of any empire and hence lack any grandiose stories. During the time of Tipu Sultan, it was briefly the administrative headquarters of his conquests in the Malabar area. The neighbouring port of Calicut has more colourful tales to recount simply because it was the seat of the Hindu Rajah called the Zamorin of Calicut and the place where Vasco da Gama first set foot on the Indian subcontinent. But Calicut too lost its importance with the emergence of the port of Kochi.

The Bekal fort overlooking the Arabian sea
The Bekal fort overlooking the Arabian sea

Tracing the dynasties and the rulers who lorded over the seaside town of Bekal in Karsargod, the earliest in the timeline would be the Kadamba dynasty which grew in prominence in the southern regions of Karnataka.

They were followed in the 13th century by the Mushika kingdom and then the Kolathiri Rajahs (of Cannanore, the present Kannur in Kerala). The 14th century was the golden period of the Vijayanagar empire in Karnataka. The fall of the Vijayanagar empire in 1565, saw the rise of the Ikkeri Nayakas also called the Keladi Chiefs or Bednur Chiefs of Karnataka, the most famous being Shivppa Nayaka.

In 1763, their capital Bednur was captured by Hyder Ali of Mysore and all the territories absorbed into the princely state of Mysore. In 1799, with the defeat of Hyder Ali’s son, Tipu Sultan, Bekal fort fell into the hands of the British. 

The Bekal fort is argued to have been constructed either by Shivappa Nayaka in 1650 AD or much earlier by the Kolathiri Rajahs and later rebuilt by Shivappa Nayaka.

The view of the coastline from the observation tower, in the middle of the Bekal fort
The view of the coastline from the observation tower, in the middle of the Bekal fort

The impressive fort is built of laterite stones and stands in an area of 40 acres.

The rampart and a bastion of the Bekal fort
The rampart and a bastion of the Bekal fort

The prominent features of the fort is the well-maintained rampart, the bastions (15 nos) and a very tall observation deck in the middle of the fort.

A bastion of the Bekal fort overlooking the sea
A bastion of the Bekal fort overlooking the sea
View of one bastion from another along the Bekal fort
View of one bastion from another along the Bekal fort

Bekal fort is well maintained and rose to fame after the Tamil movie “Bombay” was released. The fort served as the location for one song from the movie. The movie was a blockbuster and people thronged to visit the “Uyire” song location. It’s still the first thing people associate the about the fort.

Bekal is otherwise a sleepy town and the Taj resort in Bekal is a great place to get away from the madness of city life. Here’s the post on Taj – A tranquil oasis in God’s Own Country: Taj Bekal

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