I have the whole afternoon to visit the fort and get back to Kasargod. Bekal is 16 kms from Kasargod. It is a fort facing the sea, much like the Chandor fort of North Goa, only much bigger or better preserved. I don’t have to wait long for a bus to Bekal and within half an hour I am there.
I first head down to the beach that stretches south of the fort. At the far end is a modern resort in stark contrast to the rural fishing village next to it. India is full of such contrasts. On the broad sands of the beach are parked many fishing boats painted colourfully. Just then the sun comes out of the clouds. The sky brightens. My visit to Goa had been a washout. For the first time in this tour I am seeing the sun. I am almost happy for myself. The painted colours on the boats’ hulls pop out. The curving bows relax in the sun after a hard night’s work on the rough waters. The nets and their floaters cheer up what has so far been a dull day. Rough coir ropes lie stacks in circles. Coconut palms line the fringes of the beach.
The construction of these boats are pretty impressive. There must be about forty of them on the beach. The wooden hull is held together with iron plates and nails. Along the length of the boat, wooden planks are stitched to the hull with twine, corded ropes and coir ropes. Wooden screens stiched in similar fashion go across the width of the boats. These perhaps isloated little spaces to contain fish caught at sea. On this afternoon, the beach is quiet. A couple of dogs are strolling along the sands. A few fishermen are seated in a shade playing cards. Some of them are wearing caps made of dried coconut leaves. Across a line of upward sky-kissing-bows, I see Bekal Fort standing on a hillock.
I walk along the beach, take to a little path through coconut groves and village houses. Many boats are kept wrapped in thick covers. Perhaps they will come out after the monsoons. The path narrows, passes behind houses, follows a delightful little stream not more a ten inches wide and suddenly emerges at the base of a bastion. The walls are thickly covered with moss giving the entire bastion a fine green texture. A little to the right is an iron gate, now locked. This must have been an easy way in and out of the fort to the beach. Perhaps this was supposed to be a secret entrance.
Elsewhere, the fort is surrounded by a moat that is now empty of water but overgrown with weeds and vegetation. A water inlet into the moat can be easily discerned. Within the fort, there is nothing particularly interesting to see except for the perspectives of bastions and regular crenellations. An inclined walkway leads to the top of a tower within the fort. The view of the sea from the fort ramparts are quite impressive. The waves keep coming. The curving beach I had walked just minutes earlier looks beautiful from up here. Behind the beach is a wide canopy of coconut palms. I am more impressed by this than anything else. Where else can you see such stretches of coconut palms if not in Kerala?