Kerala

Famed Bekal Fort in Kasaragod cries for attention

It has been over one-and-a-half years since the outer walls of the bastion in the north-eastern side of the fort got damaged.  

Even as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is celebrating World Heritage Week, the Bekal Fort in Kasaragod is falling apart thanks to lack of conservation and official apathy.

It has been over one-and-a-half years since the outer walls of the bastion in the north-eastern side of the fort got damaged in rains. Incidentally, the ASI, which is tasked with the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments, has not taken steps to restore the walls.

Built by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi in 1650 AD, the fort faces the Arabian sea and is a major tourist attraction. It is spread over 40 acres.

Though a large sum of money has been spent on setting up infrastructure facilities like amphitheatres, light and sound show, and planting of trees, the outer walls of the bastion have by and large remained neglected.

The authorities have not taken steps to restore the walls, which are around 10 metres high. As a result, mud plastering and laterite stones have fallen apart.

The monument became an instant hit after it was featured in the movie Bombay. With the Tourism Department promoting it further, people from across the globe started visiting it.

Saifudheen Kalanad, social activist and general secretary of Bekal Tourism Organisation, said it was unfortunate that even after a year and a half, no steps had been taken to restore the walls, despite a substantial fund allocation by the Centre.

“The authorities should make honest efforts to restore the walls. The rains have further weakened them,” he added.

V. Jayaraj, convenor, Indian National Trust for Art and Culture (INTAC), sought the immediate intervention of the Archaeological Department for the restoration of the monument.

INTAC further objected to the construction of toilets in the complex, saying that they were not suitable for protected monuments. He demanded that the Central Archaeological Department withdraw from such activities.

At least two bastions or watch towers have been closed for tourists for several months. Before the pandemic, around 600 tourists visited the fort a day on average, and the number went up to 3,000 during weekends.

When contacted, K. Moortheeswari, ASI, Thrissur Circle, said the issue would be addressed soon, as tenders had been called for the reconstruction of the walls.

“When the matter came to my notice, I visited the fort and called for tenders to restore the walls,” she said, added that tenders would be finalised by end of this week, and the restoration work would begin soon.

She further said the ASI was celebrating World Heritage Week by holding exhibitions in Palakkad, Kannur, and Thalassery Fort to lay stress on the need for conservation of monuments.


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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 11:07:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/famed-bekal-fort-in-kasaragod-cries-for-attention/article37616316.ece

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