The Bekal Fort bungalow, Kasargod, Kerala - the heritage site needs urgent restoration work

Damaged tourist bungalow, Bekal fort, Kerala.

Bekal fort, Kasargod, Kerala.

Bekal  Fort, Kasargod, Kerala.

Spread over 40 acres along the Arabian Sea coast, the 400 year old  Bekal Fort  is Kerala’s largest one in Kerala. Ruler Shivappa nayak built the fort in 1650 AD in Bekal. It  is  among the best preserved forts in the state; thanks to  the conservation efforts of Bekal Tourism Development Corporation.

The fort has been a tourist attraction for a long time, but the upkeep of the site including the  interior buildings  was severely criticized by the heritage lovers and press. A unique feature of the fort is  three-quarters of its exterior is in contact with water and it looks as if emerging from the sea. Yet another fact is there are  no palaces or embellished buildings inside the fort.  Reason: it was not the center of administration. Bekal, a part of Mahodayapuram. during the Perumal age, following its decline in the 12th century  came under the control of   Mushika or Kolathiri or Chirakkal Royal Family. The Keladi Nayaks became the masters of this fort  and the area and they fortified the fort on  account of its strategic location. The fort's zigzag entrance and surrounding trenches are unique features of defensive mechanism to retard the  progress and forward mobility of the enemies. Its sturdy  construction  is very much similar to  the Thalassery Fort and the St. Angelo Fort at Kannur built by the Dutch. 

Location of Bekal near Kasargod,

A tunnel opening towards the south and a space for storing ammunition with steps leading to the observation tower get the attention of the visitors. The  strategically built   observation  tower was to keep an eye on the intruders from the sea  From the top you can see the vast expanse of the Arabian sea which along with the surroundings offer a breath-taking view.  . In the later years this fort fell into the hands of Hyder Ali of Mysore kingdom and his son Tipu Sultan had the flight of steps built leading to observation deck. Also included were the magazine and water tank. The fort walls are provided with special openings to retaliate the firing from outside the Opening in the upper levels  were meant to aim farthest targets. 

Conservation of heritage building inside the  Bekal-fort built  by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi became a serious  subject of discussion in the recent past soon after  a portion of the heritage structure's roof collapsed in  heavy rain. and  the caving in of the outer wall of one of the bastions of the fort in heavy rain in the following day.
wall caved in. .Bekal Fort,

The damage to the tiled roof of the heritage tourist bungalow inside the Bekal Fort here on August 13,2019  and damaged  portions of bastion in the  heavy  torrential  rains made the conservationists and heritage lovers furious over the durability of the structure and they demanded  restoration and conservation of the building, fearing  further damages beyond repair and redemption. The second observation tower (10 meter tall and 7 meter wide) which lies to the east of the entrance  took  severe blow in the rain and the mud plastering and stones  fell off triggering security and safety concern. The seepage of water in many place would weaken the wall and ultimately the strength  and longevity of fortifications.  The Bekal Resorts Development Corporation (BRDC) is taking care of this heritage structure, but the ASI  - Archaeological Survey of India. The fort was built in traditional architecture. The PWD controls 3.56 acres including the bungalow and the surrounding area and more than 10 years ago  entrusted   20 cents  with the building to BRDC.

.damaged tiled roof, Tourist Bungalow, Bekal Fort,

Damaged bungalow inside Bekal Fort,

The  100 year plus old  tourist bungalow  is an ignored part of the fort.  Despite its  heritage value it is in bad shape. In the wake of heavy rain, the rooms were flooded  and the roof caved in  because  of poor maintenance and neglect on the part of the authorities.  If serious efforts are not made soon, the heritage structure will fall apart and recovery will be a  tough one.   

The District  Tourism Promotion Council  had a proposal  to convert  the bungalow into a museum displaying coins and weapons  discovered  from the fort by the ASI