Bekal Fort, Kasargod
Bekal fort (120 23' N and 750 02' E), a coastal fort lying 16 km south-east of Kasargod situated on the backdrop of Arabian seashore of Pallikkara village in the Kasargod district (Kerala). It is one of the best preserved forts in Kerala.
Kasargod has long and continuous history, since its proximity to the Karnataka area and in turn Bekal area occupying a strategic position, attained importance from the days of Vijayanagara times. According to south Canara Manual and other literary works, the Kelady Nayakas (c.1500 -1763), who had their capitals variously at Keladi, Ikkeri and Bednore in Kamataka, were responsible for the construction of a few forts in Hosdurg ľKasargod area. The Bekal fort was considered to be built by Sivappa Nayaka. The other version is that the fort was in existence during the Kolathiri Rajas and after the decline of Kolathiri and Vijayanagara Empire, this area came under the control of Ikkeri, Nayakas, who rebuilt the fort and enjoyed the area. In 1763, the Bekal fort fell into the hands of Hyder Ali. Bekal served as an important military station of Tipu Sultan when he had the great military expedition to capture Malabar. With the death of Tipu Sultan while fighting against the British in 1799 the Mysorean control came to an end and subsequently the fort came under the English East India Company. Gradually the political and economic importance of Bekal declined considerably.
The fort spreading over forty acres, has massive walls about 12 meters in height built of local laterite stones. The headland on which it is situated runs into the sea with fine bay towards the south. The site was so well selected to give a complete view of the area and also the laterite bedrock was very well utilized to strengthen the fort. It is a large fort, the wall and ramparts on the sea side being strong and interspersed by the bastions with opening for guns. The main gate is towards the east and was protected by bastions. A ditch surrounds the fort on the land side. The important features of this fort are the tank with its flight of steps, the opening of the tunnel towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition, wide ramp leading to the observation tower. This tower is a rarity giving fascinating view of the surrounding area. From there one has ample view of all the important places in the vicinity and also has the strategic significance in ascertaining the safety of the fort. The voids in the massive laterite walls were used for placing guns.
The recent excavations conducted at the fort yielded different types of secular and religious structures built of laterite of the time of Nayakas of Ikkeri and Tipu Sultan. The other interesting discovery was the mint house (Huzur) and a palace complex of the medieval period. Remains of Darbar hall and temple complex were also brought to light during the excavation. The coins collected from the excavations belong to Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan and Mysore Wodeyars. Another interesting find was the copper coin mould of Tipu Sultan. The structures exposed were mostly secular in nature.
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