I always wanted to jot down a travelogue on Kasaragod right after my first visit, however it appears that this post was reserved after I completed a hattrick :)
An overnight journey spanning about 7 hours in KSRTC bus, via Hassan and Puttur, takes one to Kasargod, that lies to the south of Dakshina Kannada district. This town is bordered by the mighty Arabian Sea on the west and the biologically diverse Western Ghats on the east. We can also reach Kasargod by train - Yeshwanthpur- Kannur Express, again an overnight journey.
Kasargod houses two prominent forts– Chandragiri and Bekal, of the Ikkeri Nayaks dynasty. While Chandragiri fort (in Melparambu, 5 km from Kasargod town) overlooks the confluence of Chandragiri River with Arabian Sea; Bekal fort, the biggest in Kerala (15 km from Kasargod town) stands tall and imposing at the edacious sea front. Bekal fort is bigger than one can imagine, it takes nearly 3 hours to cover its sprawling expanse over 40 acres and view all its sixteen bastions. Most of us would have had a glimpse of this impregnable fort in the famous song Uyire/ Tu hi re from the movie Bombay by Mani Ratnam. Images of a big, central bastion with a sloping ramp, huge fort walls with windows, opening to a view of the berth extending into the rough sea might still linger on from this song.
Set adjacent to the Pallikere beach and preserved with utmost care by ASI, Bekal invites flocks of tourists. A visit to the fort during South West monsoon provides an unparalleled experience –fresh air with intermittent spells of rain, blended with the sight of white foam of sea drenching the rocks, monstrous waves lashing at the berth in attempts to engulf it and rocky fort walls adorned with tufts of green moss.
Chandragiri fort offers a visual treat, no less in comparison. Atop the fort, at sunset, the vast expanse of Arabian Sea shimmers as Chandragiri River opens into it while trains chug on the bridge busily, from Kannur down south to Mangalore up north. It is coconut groves all over; as far as your eyes can see and for once you feel, Kasargod has enough coconuts to meet the whole world’s demand.
Quick Notes: (The rates/tariff mentioned in the note below pertain to year 2009)
How to reach: KSRTC bus @9 pm from Kempa Gowda Bus terminus via Hassan (Bangalore – Kasargod). Board Kerala state buses to reach Chandragiri and Bekal forts (state buses maintain time and have only scheduled stops). Can hire an auto (for Rs. 200 inclusive of waiting charges) if visiting both Ananthpur and Madhur temples. Frequent private buses are available on Kasargod-Mangalore and Mangalore-Udupi routes. Auto from Udupi temple toMalpe beach will cost about Rs. 50 – 70. Getting back to Bangalore from Mangalore by train is the best option.However, there are KSRTC buses from Mangalore that ply toBangalore.
Where to stay (budget/ decent): Hotel City Tower, Kasargod – just a stone’s throw away from new bus stand with good restaurants nearby. Day2 - in Mangalore, can leave luggage @cloak room in railway station and roam around.
Where to eat: Hotel Taj Mahal, Ideal Ice Cream parlor (try out Gudbud, Parfait, Beehive, Tiramisu and many more for Rs. 30 - 45) – Hampankatte, Mangalore. In case, you visit the Udupi temple, don't miss out the free meals at the temple Bhojanashala, truly out of the world! Being a vegetarian, I regret being myopic, you have to figure out good options for sea food yourself.
Must see/ Not to Miss: Spend ample time at the fort’s berth in Bekal, fort timings 9 am-6 pm. Sunset atop Chandragiri fort (4.30 – 6 pm), many trains cross the rail bridge during this time. Tales of a solitary, vegan crocodile that resides in the lake at Ananthpur lake temple from the temple priest. Appam prasadham (sweet dish) at Madhur temple (Kasargod). Malpe beach at Udupi is a must-visit. Two-hour journey from Subramanhya road to Hassan in train to Bangalore – remain awake to catch the best of Western Ghats.