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