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.
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.
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.
We would pass many farms along the way
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.
Still, I enjoyed the sights along the way
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.
From here it was just a short walk to the fort
Good parking space for cars right outside the fort
Finally we were at Bekal fort!
This was the Mukhyaprana Temple
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!
I could already see how big Bekal fort was
And I was also pleased with how clean and well kept it was
This was an observation tower. I just had to climb it to see what the views from up there were like.
They have a CCTV installed up here
I took a panorama but oddly the camera wouldn’t focus
The ‘black’ you see below is because they burnt the dry grass
Another panorama. That’s Bekal beach in the distance.
Through the rocks
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.
A panorama of the other side
That’s the entrance
We went back down
That’s my mother
This is what they were looking down at
We walked along the outer wall
I wanted to get to that beach
This was the way to get down below
You have to go down a few (large) steps
From the extension. Bekal Fort was the setting for the song “Uyire” from Bombay.
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.
You have beaches on either side of Bekal fort
A view from back up the fort
There was little else to see
We were making our way back to the entrance
The final panorama
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 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.
We then left Bekal fort and figured how to get to the beach
We walked down a small village path
That led us just outside the fence bordering Bekal Fort
My cousin isn’t peeing, just keeping the phone back in his pocket :-)
The path we took was far from the right way to get to the beach, but it’s a shortcut
Finally… time to walk barefoot!
The beach was filled with small green shells
Goodbye Bekal fort
Pretty big beach
Blademon, which literally translates to “blade son”. Okay Blademon :)
Funny, both the boat and the airline have a chance of sinking
Fishing boats have registration numbers much like vehicles have license numbers
When 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.
Rs. 10 to enter a state-run park? Hmmm.
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.
We crossed a railway track
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.
We sat at Kanhangad railway station platform for an hour
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.
The sights along the journey were largely that of village life and paddy fields…
… and a lot of football being played on the now dry paddy fields
North Kerala (Malabar) has a long history with Islam
Me and my cousin stood by the door to make sure I could get photos of the sunset
That’s a houseboat in the distance. Quite the glorious way to catch the sun set.
This train would only stop briefly at two stations before stopping at Kannur
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.