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Peralasseri well green water

Kannur’s famous Peralassery Subramania temple – the largest step well in Kerala

Sri Subramanya Temple in Peralassery in Kannur district is home to the largest step well in Kerala. Located 14 km from Kannur town, it is located in the neighbourhood of Peralassery, just metres off state highway 38 (Kannur-Kuthuparamba road).

Local myth has it that Ram and Lakshman halted at Peralasseri temple on their way to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita. (The tale of Ramayana for the uninitiated). The temple in itself isn’t what makes Peralassery famous. The reason for its fame is a massive step well just outside the temple.

Peralasseri well green water
The step well is the largest of its kind in Kerala (and probably all of South India)
Peralasseri step well Kannur Kerala
If you visit the temple on any given weekday, you should find ample parking space just outside the temple

I was at Peralasseri temple one weekend for a cousin’s wedding. The bride’s family wanted to conduct the wedding ceremony (garland and thaali exchange) inside the temple premises.

Hindu wedding Peralasseri temple Kannur
The wedding ceremony didn’t take long as there are other wedding groups waiting for their turn
Perallasherry stone temple Kannur Kerala
I couldn’t take too many photos of the temple. I was outside the inner sanctum and photography is usually restricted. Also, it was quite muddy inside due to the rains and I was barefoot.
Snake statues Perallssery temple Kannur
I’ll take stone-carved snakes over real snakes (sorry Lord Vishnu).

But in all (religious) seriousness, the snakes represent ‘Sarpam/Nagam Dosham‘ (Sarpam = snake). Devotees visit the temple to shed themselves effects of ‘serpent curses’ based on their individual horoscopes.

Peralasherry temple stepwell Kannur Kerala
It was still raining outside which made taking photos tough
Perallasherry stepwell Kannur Kerala
You have to leave your footwear outside if you wish to enter the stepwell
Step wells Peralasherry temple Kannur
Stepwells of this design are indigenous to India

Stepwells were built deep where groundwater was abundant and the steps make it easy for people to reach the water especially when water levels fluctuate throughout the year. The steps also make it easier to maintain the well, as supposed to a traditional cylindrical well which is harder to clean over time — unless you want to risk going down one.

Peralasherri old well Kannur Kerala
The rain was non-stop

It wasn’t the best weather to shoot photos but I’ll probably come back some other day when it is sunny and try to get some better photos and update this blog.

Peralassery temple is an impressive sight and one of Kannur’s best attractions. Best come here during weekdays — and obviously when there is no rain. Stepwells are more common in states like Rajasthan and Gujarat, so it’s quite unique that Kannur, Kerala has one.

Getting to Peralassery temple

From the Kannur city bus stand, or any other stop in the city, board any bus going to Kuthuparamba (കൂത്തുപറമ്പ്). Just ask for a ticket to Peralassery.

By car, it’s an easy drive from Kannur city as it’s one straight road. Once you reach the Peralassery bus stop, take a left turn towards the temple. Ask any local, they can guide you.

Visiting Kerala for the summer holiday — why you should

It’s summer season here in India. The school holidays have kicked off for kids. Goa feeling too commercialized and crowded for your liking? Then consider the greener pastures and the far less crowded beaches of Kerala for your family holiday. Being a Keralite, I may come off as a bit biased but the facts are out there — Kerala is one of India’s most popular states for tourism for a reason. From its famous backwaters, unspoiled beaches, great seafood to the hill stations of Munnar, national parks such as Periyar… you have a lot to do in Kerala if you are willing to get around a bit.

Kumarakom houseboat small boat
The famous houseboats of Kumarakom

Flights to Kerala are aplenty and both Cochin and the state capital Trivandrum are well connected to India’s major cities. Flight booking should be a breeze but you may wish to consider which city to begin your journey from. If you fly into Cochin, then you have several attractions like Fort Kochi, Alappuzha (a.k.a Alleppy) and Kumarakom all within easy reach from Ernakulum city. Cochin is also a great hub to visit the hill station hubs of Munnar and Thekkady. Continue reading “Visiting Kerala for the summer holiday — why you should” »

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
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.

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