Kasargod – The Land of Forts and Beaches

Kasargod is the northernmost district of Kerala is bordering the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka is famous for its forts and pristine beaches. It is located 50 km south of Mangalore city. The principle language of Kasargod is Malayalam and Kannada but other languages like Tulu, Beary Bhasha (spoken by Tuluva-Malayali Muslims) and Konkani are also widely spoken. Hindi and Urdu are spoken to a lesser extent. Havyaka speakers also have a strong base here. Havyaka Brahmins are the Hindu Pancha Dravida Brahmin Subsect primarily from Karnataka and North Malabar. They speak a unique language a dialect of Kannada known as Havigannada. So many languages for such a small town….. a living testimony to its cosmopolitan nature. The famous Malik Dinar Mosque is also located in Kasargod. It contains the grave of Malik Dinar one of the companions of Prophet Mohammed. The mosque is built in typical Kerala style of architecture.

BEKAL FORT

The major attraction of Kasargod is the Bekal Fort. This is the largest fort in Kerala, spreading over 40 acres. Unlike most other Indian forts, Bekal Fort was not a center of administration and as a result no remains of palace, mansion or such buildings are found within the fort. The fort was built especially for fulfilling defense requirements. The fort was constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore in 1650 AD. During the Perumal Age Bekal was part of Mahodayapuram. Following the decline of Perumals of Mahodayapuram by 12th Century AD, North Kerala including Bekal came under the sovereignty of Chirakkal Royal Family. The Maritime importance of Bekal increased much during this period and it became an important port town of Tulunadu and Malabar.

After the decline of Vijayanagara Empire following the Battle of Talikota in 1565 AD, the Keladi Nayakas (Ikkeri Nayakas) came into prominence. Fully understanding the political and economic importance of this region the Nayakas attacked and annexed this region to their kingdom. Bekal served as the nucleus in establishing the dominance of Nayakas in Malabar. Later Hyder Ali conquered the Nayakas and Bekal fell into the hands of Mysore kings. Bekal served as an important military station for Tipu Sultan when he attacked Malabar. After the deat of Tipu Sultan in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1799 the fort came under the British East India Company.

Three fourth of the Bekal Fort’s exterior is surrounded by sea. The fort offers superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers where a few centuries ago huge cannons used to be placed. Today Bekal Fort and its surrounding beach is a famous tourist destination and is a favourite shooting location for film makers. The famous song “Tu hi re” from Mani Ratnam’s movie “Bombay” was shot at Bekal Fort.

There are frequent buses from Kasargod bus stand to Pallikara which is at distance of 12 km from Kasargod and the fort is on a 5 minutes’ walk from there. Kanhangad also is at the same distance and there are frequent buses on this route.

The Main Entrance of Bekal Fort
The Main Entrance of Bekal Fort
The Main Entrance seen from inside the Fort
The Main Entrance seen from inside the Fort
The Temple inside the Fort
The Temple inside the Fort
One of the ramparts of the fort
One of the ramparts of the fort
This is the highest point in the fort
This is the highest point in the fort
Another observation point in the fort
Another observation point in the fort
View of Arabian Sea from the Fort
View of Arabian Sea from the Fort
Inside the fort walls
Inside the fort walls
View of the fort walls and the coconut palms outside
View of the fort walls and the coconut palms outside
Huge Laterite walls and the observation point
Huge Laterite walls and the observation point
View from the opening of the fort wall
View from the opening of the fort wall
View of the Arabian Sea from the Fort walls
View of the Arabian Sea from the Fort walls
View of the Bekal beach seen from the Fort
View of the Bekal beach seen from the Fort
View from the top
View from the top
Another view from the opening on the wall
Another view from the opening on the wall
One of the ramparts which touches the shore
One of the ramparts which touches the shore
The pedestrian path made by ASI around the fort
The pedestrian path made by ASI around the fort
Something to ponder
Something to ponder
Around the Fort
Around the Fort
View of the waves touching the rocky shores
View of the waves touching the rocky shores

KAPPIL BEACH

This less crowded and unexplored beach is not very far from the Bekal fort and a better option for tourists who seek greater solitude. The small hill on this beach popularly known as Kodi cliff is a major attraction. From the top of this cliff you can enjoy the charming view of the Arabian Sea. The thick groves of casuarina trees and coconut palms along the beach is a visual treat for the tourists. The Taj Vivanta Luxury resort is also located close to Kappil beach.

21 Kasargod Kappil Beach

The Coconut groves around a small lagoon next to the beach
The Coconut groves around a small lagoon next to the beach
View from the Kodi Cliff
View from the Kodi Cliff
View of the beach and  Kodi Cliff
View of the beach and Kodi Cliff
The minaret of the mosque stretching from the palm groves
The minaret of the mosque stretching from the palm groves
Rocky shores
Rocky shores
The lone fishing boat
The lone fishing boat
Rocky shores
Rocky shores
Coconut palm groves
Coconut palm groves
Hammock on the beach from the Taj Vivanta Resort
Hammock on the beach from the Taj Vivanta Resort
The Taj Vivanta Resort near the beach
The Taj Vivanta Resort near the beach
The beach chairs an extension of the Tanj Vivanta Resort
The beach chairs an extension of the Tanj Vivanta Resort
This local village gang who were playing on the sea shore were more than happy to pose for the camera
This local village gang who were playing on the sea shore were more than happy to pose for the camera

CHANDRAGIRI FORT

Chandragiri Fort is located at the confluence of Payaswini River and the Arabian Sea. The Chandragiri fort was built by Shivappa Nayaka of Ikkeri in the 17th century. Perched atop a hill the Chandragiri fort is a vantage point to view of the sunset. It is 50 meters above sea level and occupies an area of 7 acres. Inside the fort there is a deep well and a pond.

Entrance of the Chandragiri Fort
Entrance of the Chandragiri Fort
Inside the Fort
Inside the Fort
Inside view of the Fort
Inside view of the Fort
The fort walls and the observation tower
The fort walls and the observation tower
The Payaswini River seen from the Fort
The Payaswini River seen from the Fort
The River and the estuary at twilight
The River and the estuary at twilight

A short walk from the Fort will take you to the river bank…

The Payaswini River
The Payaswini River
Thick coconut palm groves along the river
Thick coconut palm groves along the river
The lone boat in twilight
The lone boat in twilight
On the river bank
On the river bank

How to Reach:
It is located 12 km from Bekal fort and 4 km from Kasargod town. There are frequent buses available from Beakal and Kasardgod to reach Chandragiri. You can get down at Melparamba and walk down to the fort which is 10 minutes away. The nearest railway station is Kasargod.

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Mahakuta Group of Temples – Another Chalukyan Legacy

Mahakuta group of temples are located at Mahakuta village, 15 kilometers from Badami in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The temples are dated to the 6th and 7th Century AD and where constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. The temples share the common Chalukya style followed at Aihole temples. The most important temple is Mahakuteshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built in the Dravidian style. It has a Shiv Linga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. There are many other temples in the complex. There is natural spring fed tank inside the temple complex known as Vishnu Pushkarini. This is one of the major attractions in the temple complex and you can see many people taking a holy bath in this tank.

The Mallikarjuna Temple on the other side of the tank is very similar to that of the Mahakuteshwar temple but small in size. There are around two dozen small temples in the temple complex.

Mahakuta Temple Complex - Mahakuteshwar Temple
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Mahakuteshwar Temple
Mahakuta Temple Complex - Various small shrines inside the temple complex
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Various small shrines inside the temple complex
Mahakuta Temple Complex - Carvings
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Carvings
The small Nandi shrine
The small Nandi shrine
One of the carvings on the temple walls
One of the carvings on the temple walls
Inside the temple complex
Inside the temple complex
Various Sculptures
Various Sculptures
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Another view of the Temple complex - with scattered ruins
Another view of the Temple complex – with scattered ruins
The Vishnu Pushkarini inside the temple complex
The Vishnu Pushkarini inside the temple complex
The small shrine inside the tank with Shiv Linga
The small shrine inside the tank with Shiv Linga
Various temples inside the complex
Various temples inside the complex
One of the small shrines inside the complex
One of the small shrines inside the complex
Inside the temple complex
Inside the temple complex
Nandi inside the shrine
Nandi inside the shrine
Another view from the temple complex
Another view from the temple complex

How to Rach:
Mahakuta is well connected by road to Badami. There are local transport available from Badami. There are regular Autos & Tum Tum plying between Badami and Mahakuta.

Aihole & Pattadakal – The Cradle of South Indian Temple Architecture

Aihole and Pattadakal located on the banks of Malaprabha River are often considered as the cradle of South Indian architecture. The south Indian Temple architecture was experimented and evolved in these places in the 5th and 6th centuries. Once in Badami, these are a must visit for any travel enthusiast. You can visit both Aihole and Pattadakal in a single day from Badami if you set out in the early morning. It is best to start with the morning bus to Aihole (one hour). Frequent buses run between Aihole and Pattadakal (half an hour) and from Pattadakal to Badami (one hour).

AIHOLE
Aihole was earlier known as Ayyavole and Aryapura in in the ancient inscriptions. It was established in the 450 AD as the first capital of Chalukya kings and has about 125 stone temples some of which were constructed as experimental structures by artisans of Chalukayan period. The early Chalukyas inherited architectural styles largely from their neighbours to the north and south of their kingdom. The Chalukyan artisans brought together the prevailing styles in their neighbourhood to create the Chalukyan style. The prominent temple groups at Aihole are the Kontigudi group and the Galgantha group of temples, although historians have divided all the temples into 22 groups.

The most impressive temple in Aihole is Durga Temple which dates to the 7th century. It is notable for its semicircular apse which was copied from Buddhist architecture and for the remains of the curvilinear sikhara. Intricate carvings adorn the colonnaded passageway around the temple sanctuary. To the south of the Durga Temple are several other collections of temples the Gandar, Ladkhan, Kontigudi and Hucchapaya groups with pavilions and slightly sloping roofs.

Durga Temple at Aihole
Durga Temple at Aihole
Durga Temple - Front View
Durga Temple – Front View
Durga Temple
Durga Temple
Durga Temple - Carvings on the pillar
Durga Temple – Carvings on the pillar
Deurga Temple - More Views
Deurga Temple – More Views
Durga Temple - Interior
Durga Temple – Interior
Durga Temple - Interior
Durga Temple – Interior
Durga Temple - Interior view
Durga Temple – Interior view
Durga Temple - View of the ceiling
Durga Temple – View of the ceiling
Ornamental Carvings on the Pillar
Ornamental Carvings on the Pillar
The Colonnade Passage around the Durga Temple Sanctuary
The Colonnade Passage around the Durga Temple Sanctuary
Carvings inside the Durga Temple
Carvings inside the Durga Temple
Carvings inside the Temple walls
Carvings inside the Temple walls
Carvings inside the Temple Walls
Carvings inside the Temple Walls
Carvings inside the Temple
Carvings inside the Temple
Durga Temple Interior Views
Durga Temple Interior Views
Durga Temple Interior View
Durga Temple Interior View
Durga Temple - Exterior View
Durga Temple – Exterior View
Another view of the Durga Temple
Another view of the Durga Temple

Lad Khan Temple consists of a shrine with two mantapas in front of it. The shrine bears Shiva Lingam. The mukha mantapa in front of the sanctum has a set of 12 carved pillars. There are also stone grids on the wall carrying floral designs. The temple was built by the Chalukyan kings in the 5th century.

The Lad Khan Temple
The Lad Khan Temple

Ravan Phadi cave is one of the oldest rock cut temple in Aihole. The Temple dates back to the 6th century, with rectangular shrine, with two mantapas. There is a Shivlinga in the sanctum sanctorum. The walls and sides of the temple are covered with large figures including dancing Shiva.

Ravan Pahadi
Ravan Pahadi
Dancing Shiva inside Ravan Pahadi
Dancing Shiva inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi
More Carvings inside Ravan Pahadi

About a kilometre from the Durga temple on a hilltop is the Jain Meguti temple. It is the only dated monument built in 634 AD. The temple sits on a raised platform, and flight of stairs leads to another shrine on the roof, directly above the main shrine. From the roof of this temple one can have panoramic view of the surrounding plain with 100 or more temples scattered all around. This temple which was probably never completed gives important evidence of the early development in Dravidian style of architecture. The inscription on the outer wall of the temple records the construction of the temple by Ravikeerthi, a scholar in the court of emperor Pulakeshin II.

Meguti Temple
Meguti Temple
Meguti Temple Compound
Meguti Temple Compound
The Inscription on the outer wall of the Temple
The Inscription on the outer wall of the Temple
View of Aihole Village from top of Meguti Temple
View of Aihole Village from top of Meguti Temple

En route to Meguti temple on the same hillock there is the 6th century two storied Buddhist cave temple which is partly a rock cut temple.

The two storied Budhist Caves
The two storied Budhist Caves
This is Raviyappa (in the middle) and his friends, the local boy whom I met around the ruins
This is Raviyappa (in the middle) and his friends, the local boy whom I met around the ruins
A typical village home at Aihole Village
A typical village home at Aihole Village
A bullock cart in front of the village home
A bullock cart in front of the village home
Another Village Home
Another Village Home
A farmer's house with all the paraphernalia
A farmer’s house with all the paraphernalia

PATTADAKAL
Pattadakal also spelled as Pattadakallu is located on the left bank of Malaprabha River and about 10 kilometres from Aihole. It is here that the Chalukyan kings were coronated. There are ten temples at Pattadakal including a Jain sanctuary belonging to various architectural styles. The Chalukyan style of temple architecture originated in Aihole and evolved their distinctive style at Pattadakal. There are many Kannada language inscriptions at Pattadakal. The site displays both Nagara and Dravidian style of architecture.

Virupaskha temple is the largest and grandest of all temples in Pattadakal built in 8th century by Queen Lokamhadevi to commemorate her husband’s (Vikramaditya II) victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

Sangameshvara Temple is the oldest temple in Pattadakal, built by Chalukya King Vijayaditya Satyashraya. The temple is in Dravidian style.

Mallikarjuna Temple is smaller version of the Virupaksha temple and was built by Vikramaditya’s second queen Trilokymahadevi in 745 AD.

Papanatha Temple is made in the Vesara style in 680 AD. The temple was started in Nagara style but later changed to more balance Dravidian style.

Apart from these major temples, several small Shiva shrines are seen here. The abundance of Shiva temples here clearly indicates that the place was a great Shaiva center in ancient times.

Pattadakal Temple Complex
Pattadakal Temple Complex
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal - Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Pattadakal – Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Carvings on the Temple Walls
Carvings on the Temple Walls
Pattadakal - Carvings on the Walls
Pattadakal – Carvings on the Walls
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
The Shiv linga inside the sanctum
The Shiv linga inside the sanctum
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal - Various sculptures
Pattadakal – Various sculptures
Pttadakal - Old Kannada Inscription
Pttadakal – Old Kannada Inscription
Pattadakal - Papanatha Temple
Pattadakal – Papanatha Temple
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Pattadakal Group of Monuments
Patadakal - More carvings
Patadakal – More carvings
Pattadakal - Carvings
Pattadakal – Carvings
S small shrine inside the temple complex
S small shrine inside the temple complex

Pattadakal - Carved pillars
Pattadakal – Carved pillars
Pattadakal - The monolithic Nandhi in one of the shrines
Pattadakal – The monolithic Nandhi in one of the shrines