Kasaragod: Kerala's best kept secret

Kerala to have more airstrips to promote tourism
Kerala to have more airstrips to promote tourism. Photo: Onmanorama

Kerala is a known paradise for visitors- welcoming heartily with her beaches, hills, lakes, archaeological and architectural wonders, exotic cuisine and wellness.

Despite the disarming charm the curious visitor will always be on the hunt for the new and unexplored. If you are one, come along, Kasaragod should be your next milestone.

You name it and Kasaragod, Kerala's northern-most district has it, that too in the most untouched and pristine form.

A narrow stretch of land flanked by the Western Ghats on one and the Lakshadweep sea on the other, this place will catch you off-guard for you will be spoilt for choices.

Washed by 12 rivers and rich in cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, Kasaragod is the next big thing on the tourist map of Kerala.

Green paddy fields, red laterite hills, narrow canoes sailing in its slender backwater channels, prayers of piety, myths, folklore, handlooms and crafts- Kasaragod has them all.

Here is a quick run through the major attractions you shouldn't miss

The land of forts

The land of Kasaragode was defended by the warrior kings with their armies and their spectaculrly positioned laterite forts.

Bekal Fort
Bekal is the biggest for t in Kerala: File photo

The most prominent is the Bekal Fort, the largest fort in Kerala- a marvel crafted in red laterite, built in the 17th century by the Ikkeri Nayaks, sits on a cliff along the Lakshadweep sea, with its walls breathing tales of times gone by, velveted by green moss.

This purely utilitarian installation is encircled by 14 bastions overlooking the sea and the lone bastion situated inside the fort premises which gives a strategic hold over the structure.

Built with a far-sighted watch on the waters, this place simply overruns your senses with the deafening roar of the sea, the cool breeze, the infinity beyond and a throbbing heart in laterite.

The Chandragiri Fort along with five others – the Hosdurg Fort, the Kumbala Fort, the Povval Fort and the Kundamkuzhi and Bandadukka Forts defended this port town for centuries.

A view of the Payassini river mouth where it joins the sea from the Chandragiri fort: File photo

Unlike the Bekal Fort, the Chandragiri Fort, the Kumbala Fort and the Povval Fort are wanting in care though they are all bastions of history in their own might.

Of these the Chandragiri Fort is strikingly similar to the Bekal Fort and sits at the confluence of Payassini river and the Lakshadweep sea.

The Adukka fort, completely in ruins and inaccessible due to vegetation may interest the curious, being the northern-most fort in the state.

Adukka Fort
The inaccessible Adukka Fort is in ruins: File photo

Kappil, Kanwatheertha, Kasaba and Pallikere beaches

From the Bekal fort, the nearest is the Pallikere beach, merely a kilometer or less.

Kasaba beach
The beaches of Kasaragod are as pristine as possible: File photo

The Kappil beach is slightly farther, at 6 km from the fort. What makes this the best bet is the spectacular view from the cliffs, a natural feature that occurs in the Kasaragod shoreline interspersing the smooth sandy beaches.

Kanwatheertha is a must visit too, given that it is not just a beach but also a natural lake, demarcated from the sea. Kasaba beach is probably the least explored. The views will hold you in awe.

Valiaparamba Backwaters

The backwaters here is a getaway to the old world charm and offers a quiet holiday minus the rush at the other backwater hotspots in Kerala.

For the love of water: Valiaparamba | Representational Image

The many mosques, temples and churches

The historic Malik Idn Dinar mosque, believed to be built by and named after the Arab missionary credited with bringing Islam to the shores of Kerala, is a must visit and is known for its triennial Uroos festival and the annual commemoration festivals.

Malik Idn Dinar mosque
The triennial Uroos festival and the annual commemoration at this historic mosque attract large crowds: File photo

Apart from this, the Kottappuram Edathara Juma Masjid, the Beerichery Juma Masjid and Aayiram Juma at Manjeshwaram are places revered by the Muslim population in the district.

Hindu and Jain temples are located at Kasaragod and offer not just myth, faith and history but immense aesthetics too.

The 10th century Madhur temple with its copper plated three-tier dome and the 9th century Ananthapura Lake temple, with its 150-year-old crocodile, Babia are steeped in the Kasaragode folklore.

The Gothic style Bela Church at Kasargod, built in 1890 AD, is the oldest church in the district.

The land is also famous for its distinctive Gods, beliefs and art forms, including Theyyams and Muslim dance forms like 'Oppana' and 'Duffmuttu'.

Greens, hills and forests

Theyyam survives in its original form in several parts of Kasaragod: File photo

Ranipuram, Posadigumbe and Kottappuram are virgin hill stations in the district, never too crowded but abundant for the explorer.

Art, crafts and handlooms

The GI-tagged Kasargod sarees, known for their endurance, glitter and quality is a must buy soveneir fin your Kasaragode itinerary.

For the more enthusiastic ones, a visit to the traditional looms where the sarees are woven and strengthened using a special tapioca startch would be a learning experience.

The Thalangara caps, once exported to Arab countries and Lakshadweep, are a surviving gem of the rich Muslim tradition of Kasargod. Hand-crafted, these caps spot intricate designs in golden and colored strands.

Thalangara Caps
The caps carry with them a deep legacy of trade and art: File photo

The Kanjan Junga, an artist's village curated and run by the popular artist P S Punuchithalaya is a place where you can catch several curios- both product and process.

How to get there: Kasaragod is well connected by road and rail links.

Nearest railway station: Kasaragod

GI tagged Kasaragod handloom sarees: Facebook

Nearest Airport: Mangaluru

Weather: Never in the extremes, Multilingual

Also read : How to plan a Goa- Kasaragod holiday in ten days?

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