16
Feb 14

A day visit to Bekal Fort and Bekal beach

Date: February 2nd, 2014

Done with my Philippines series, I had no other trip report to write about after that. Being in Kannur, I had always wanted to go to Bekal Fort in Kasarkode district, north of Kannur. Bekal Fort is the largest fort in Kerala. I had vague memories of visiting the fort when I was very young… but my mom insists I had never been there. She say it must have been St. Angelo’s Fort I got confused with and said she herself has never been to Bekal Fort!

So on a fine Sunday morning, we went to Kannur’s ‘private bus stand’. We chose to go by bus thinking it would be easy to get one as Bekal was only 90kms away. The route on Google Maps showed one long road up north and it would take no less than 2 hours. Trouble is, there was some railway crossing repair work going on along the way and because of that, the route buses would be taking today would be longer. But we were only told of this while we waited for the bus to arrive. We (myself, my mother and my cousin brother) contemplated going by train but because we wasted more than half-an-hour waiting for the bus, we missed the trains going north. Finally we boarded a bus going to Kanhangad as we were told we could catch another bus going to Bekal Fort, or Pallikere (the place), from there. So at 9:45 am, the bus finally left Kannur ‘private bus stand’ and we began our long journey to Bekal.

A bus ticket to Kanhangad costs Rs. 50 ($0.80/€0.60) per person.

Railway bridge Kannur backwater

One of the reasons why I wanted to go by bus is to the see the places along the way. While coming back we decided to take the train for a different view.

Timber factory Kannur

There were quite a few timber, wood and tile factories along the way

The bus filled up with passengers after picking up more people from the municipal bus stations along the way. It was a good thing we got seats.

Vegetable farm Kannur Kerala

We would pass many farms along the way

Chuch Kannur Kerala

And a few churches

As I looked at the time, I realized we would only arrive at Bekal Fort past noon. I was disappointed knowing I would miss the morning blue skies and would instead be shooting during the dreaded 11am-1pm time slot — the period during which the sun is at its brightest and washes out all the blues in the sky in photographs.

Kannur backwaters Kerala

Still, I enjoyed the sights along the way

Dry brown grass Kannur Kerala

I also realized how sparsely populated and barren Kannur district is outside of Kannur town

Past noon, we had reached Kanhagad. From there, we saw a bus with Bekal Fort written on it (in English) and so we knew that was our next bus. We boarded it (Rs. 10 for ticket) and it was another 30 minutes until we reached the road leading to Bekal Fort.

Road to Bekal fort Kerala

From here it was just a short walk to the fort

Bekal fort parking KTDC

Good parking space for cars right outside the fort

Entering Bekal fort

Finally we were at Bekal fort!

Bekal fort rules Kerala

Instructions

Temple at Bekal fort Kerala

This was the Mukhyaprana Temple

Bekal fort entrance Kerala

Tickets cost Rs. 5 for Indian citizens and Rs. 100 for foreigners. I don’t agree with this sort of dual-pricing, but it’s what it is. Archeological Society of India (ASI) should raise it to at least Rs. 10 for us. Rs. 5 is too low. Every Indian can afford Rs. 10!

Bekal fort entrance

I could already see how big Bekal fort was

Bekal fort walk way Kasragod

And I was also pleased with how clean and well kept it was

Bekal fort observation tower

This was an observation tower. I just had to climb it to see what the views from up there were like.

CCTV Bekal fort Kerala

They have a CCTV installed up here

Bekal fort observation tower panorama

I took a panorama but oddly the camera wouldn’t focus

Bekal fort burnt grass Kerala

The ‘black’ you see below is because they burnt the dry grass

Bekal fort beach view panorama

Another panorama. That’s Bekal beach in the distance.

Bekal fort stone view

Through the rocks

Bekal fort view observation tower panorama

Another panorama

Unlike St. Angelo’s Fort in Kannur, which was built by the Dutch, Bekal Fort was built in 1650AD by Shivappa Nayaka, an Indian ruler. You may read about the fort’s history on Wikipedia.

Bekal fort panorama

A panorama of the other side

Bekal fort aerial view Kannur

That’s the entrance

Bekal fort observation tower view

We went back down

Bench Bekal fort Kerala

Viewpoint wall Bekal fort

Amma Bekal fort

That’s my mother

Bekal fort rock Arabian sea

This is what they were looking down at

Bekal fort stone bricks

We walked along the outer wall

Wall Bekal fort walk path Kerala

Bekal fort Arabian sea panorama

I wanted to get to that beach

Way to sea Bekal fort Kerala

This was the way to get down below

Bekal fort steps to beach

Bekal fort going down

You have to go down a few (large) steps

Bekal fort sea extension

From the extension. Bekal Fort was the setting for the song “Uyire” from Bombay.

Bekal fort small beach

There was a sign saying not to enter the beach or the water. I’m assuming it was largely because there is no one to watch over you if something were to go wrong.

Bekal beach Kasaragod Kerala

You have beaches on either side of Bekal fort

Bekal village coconut trees by beach

A view from back up the fort

Inside Bekal fort Kerala

Inside Bekal fort Kasarakode

There was little else to see

Bekal fort wall

We were making our way back to the entrance

Bekal fort tourists

Bekal fort panorama Kerala

The final panorama

Bekal fort Mithun mother

One photo of ourselves

… and we were out. It was 2pm and we were hungry. There weren’t any restaurants to be found outside Bekal Fort, so we had to eat from the closest resort.

Nirvana resort Bekal fort Kerala

Nirvana Resort is the nearest hotel to Bekal Fort. Like, right outside the fort — that near! We didn’t find any other restaurant nearby so we just ate here. The food was nothing special and not really worth how much they were charging, but you don’t have any choice.

Outside Bekal fort Kasrakode Kerala

We then left Bekal fort and figured how to get to the beach

Path trees outside Bekal fort

We walked down a small village path

Fence Bekal fort

That led us just outside the fence bordering Bekal Fort

Backwaters Bekal Kerala

My cousin isn’t peeing, just keeping the phone back in his pocket :-)

Bekal fort beach

The path we took was far from the right way to get to the beach, but it’s a shortcut

Bekal beach Kerala

Finally… time to walk barefoot!

Shell beach water Bekal Kerala

The beach was filled with small green shells

Bekal fort from beach

Goodbye Bekal fort

Fishing boats Bekal beach

Pretty big beach

Blademon boat name Kerala

Blademon, which literally translates to “blade son”. Okay Blademon :)

Air India boat Kerala

Funny, both the boat and the airline have a chance of sinking

Fishing boats Bekal beach Kerala

Fishing boats have registration numbers much like vehicles have license numbers

Fishing boats Bekal KasrakodeWhen we reached Bekal Beach Park, a security guard ran towards us and told even if we walk across on the beach without even entering the park, we still need to pay Rs. 10 per person.

Bekal beach park Kerala

Rs. 10 to enter a state-run park? Hmmm.

Camel ride Bekal beach Kerala

Camel rides in Kerala

There’s a “zoo” but that costs extra and it was largely domestic animals, so we just walked away. Instead my mom bought us “kids” some cone ice cream.

When I went to use the park’s toilet, even there they were charging Rs. 5 for using it! So Rs. 10 is for you to walk in the vicinity. Rubbish! And so was the condition the toilets were in going by how much they were charging.

Anyway, we asked the security guard how to get to Kanhangad railway station and he gave us the directions to the main road from where we could board the bus.

Railway line Kanhagad Kerala

We crossed a railway track

Inside Kerala bus

And got a bus going to Kanhangad town

When we arrived at the town bus stand, we crossed over to the other side to get to the railway station. The next train to Kannur was only at 5:20pm, but we had no choice. We bought three tickets (Rs. 50 per person for General class) and went out to drink some chai.

Kanhagad railway station Kerala

We sat at Kanhangad railway station platform for an hour

Kanhagad railway station platform

The Mangalore -> Chennai Express train arrived at 5:20pm… with a few extra minutes added to it

It was crowded inside the general compartment, as expected, but I had no issues standing because I wanted to take photos.

Kerala village coconut trees

The sights along the journey were largely that of village life and paddy fields…

Football paddy field Kerala

… and a lot of football being played on the now dry paddy fields

Muslim Kerala sunset

North Kerala (Malabar) has a long history with Islam

Sunset Kerala backwaters

Me and my cousin stood by the door to make sure I could get photos of the sunset

Houseboat sunset ride Kerala backwaters

That’s a houseboat in the distance. Quite the glorious way to catch the sun set.

Kerala train passing by India

This train would only stop briefly at two stations before stopping at Kannur

Sunset Kerala paddy field

Beautiful Kerala

Sunset Kerala field

Crossing river railway bridge

The sun had set by the time we crossed the river you see in the very first photo above

The train reached Kannur station a few minutes before 7pm. After helping a French tourist who was in the same train with some travel advice, we all left the station.

Overall, the trip was good and I’m quite pleased with the photos I got using only my Sony Xperia Z1 phone camera. This is the first trip taking photos only using my phone and I am now confident that even if I don’t have my DSLR, the photos I get from my phone would still serve me fine.

But a bit of advice, if you wish to visit Bekal Fort from either Kannur or any other cities south of Kerala, just take the train. The buses aren’t as frequent as I thought they would be and it takes longer depending on the time of the day. The ticket rates are the same anyway and although you may not get a seat in some of the general class trains, you get to Kasragod district a lot quicker. Also, try and get to the fort by 9am or post lunch so you can watch the sun set from Bekal Fort itself.

Kannur may have St. Angelo’s Fort but trust me, Bekal Fort is a lot bigger and well worth the views.


14
Nov 12

Diwali in Bangalore – A pictorial

Just a few shots I took on the night of Diwali outside the apartment complex I stay at. All the residents had gathered at the public park in front to burst firecrackers.

Public park Diwali celebrations Bangalore

Quite a few families had already begun with the noise

Mickey Mouse firework Diwali

Mickey doing his magic

Arkere Mico layout Diwali celebrations

Nithin Anand lighting firework

My brother (in the back) and his friend lighting a firework

Shadow firecracker on ground Diwali India

Sparkler stick closeup Diwali celebrations

Sparklers are of course, a perennial favourite. I hate the bombs – mostly because I can’t stand the noise. Sadly, with fireworks costing as much as they do come festive season, I can see why Diwali gets louder and louder each year.

Kid holding sparkler stick Diwali Bangalore

TV Tower firework Bangalore India

The names they come up with for fireworks these days. This one’s called ‘TV Tower’.

Red firework Bengaluru India

Surprisingly this one isn’t called ‘S.O.S’

Fountain fireworks Diwali in Bangalore India

Foreigners playing with fireworks Diwali Bangalore

Even visitors couldn’t resist joining in on the festivities

Fountain firework Diwali BangaloreMan walking fireworks Diwali Bengaluru IndiaSparkler fireworks spinning Deepawali India

Colourful fireworks bursting in the sky

Whereas up in the sky…

Fireworks bursting Diwali Bangalore IndiaFireworks Diwali night Bangalore IndiaFireworks night sky Diwali Bangalore

Yellow firework Diwali Bangalore

I got tired of the noise and returned home

L & T South City apartments Diwali lightsHope everyone celebrating had a prosperous, and more importantly, a safe Diwali this year!


13
Nov 12

IndiBlogger Meet in Bangalore, hosted by Nokia

Date: November 11th, 2012

Considering I have been a member of IndiBlogger since 2010, I had yet to attend one of the many blogger meetups the popular forum hosts in cities across India (and occasionally abroad). This being an event sponsored by Nokia and hosted by one of my favourite NDTV anchors Rajiv Makhni and a Michelin-starred chef by the name of Vikas Khanna, I just couldn’t make excuses this time around.

A ‘gadget guru’ and a celebrity chef thrown together summed up what Nokia India’s Apptasting theme was all about. Given Nokia and Microsoft’s combined efforts to popularize the Windows Phone OS, I had a hunch what was in store. But I’ll be honest, part of the reason I immediately signed up for the event was in the hopes Nokia would have their Lumia phones on display – especially the much anticipated Lumia 920.

You see, I’m at the stage where I have to upgrade from my Nokia E72 – a 2009 smartphone, but has since been ‘outsmarted’ by the many touch-based devices that have now become the norm for mobile phones these days. I’m no fanboy but important to me were a stable ecosystem with a healthy dose of good quality apps, a good screen and an excellent in-built camera. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is tempting but Android is way too open a platform for me, Nokia’s Lumia 920 blew me away with its camera features, and seeing what the complete package of what the iPhone 5 offers… I’m tempted to go for it. Sadly, I need both my kidneys, which is why I’m open to learning more about the alternatives.

Anyway… after an epic (and tiring) Saturday night, I made my way to ITC Gardenia hotel which was to be the venue for tonight’s IndiBlogger meet.

ITC Gardenia hotel Bangalore

The 5-star ITC Gardenia on Vittal Mallya Road

ITC Gardenia hotel lobby

Quite a posh setting for a bunch of bloggers! :)

ITC Gardenia Mysore hall

We were directed upstairs to the Mysore Hall

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