Bekal Fort (Malayalam: ബേക്കല് കോട്ട) is the largest fort in the state of Kerala, India, spreading over 40 acres (160,000 m2). The important features of this fort are the water-tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad and wide steps leading to the Observation Tower which is a rarity. From there one has ample view of towns in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikare, Bekal, Kottikkulam, Uduma etc. This observation center had strategic significance in discovering even the smallest movements of the enemy and ascertaining safety of the Fort.The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourth of its exteriors is drenched and the waves continually stroke the citadel. The Mukhyaprana Temple of Hanuman and the ancient Muslim Mosque nearby bear testimony to the age-old religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defense strategy inherent in the fort.Unlike most other Indian Forts, Bekal fort was not a center of administration for no remains of any palace, mansion or such buildings are found within the fort. Arguably the fort was built exclusively for fulfilling defense requirements. The holes on the outer walls of the fort are specially designed to defend the fort effectively. The holes at top were meant for aiming at the farthest points; the holes below for striking when the enemy was nearer and the holes underneath facilitated attacking when the enemy was very near to the fort. This is a remarkable evidence of technology in defense strategy.
During the Perumal Age Bekal was a part of Mahodayapuram. The Kodavalam inscription (Pullur, 7 km from Kanhangad) of Bhasakara Ravi II (the King of Mahodayapuram) illustrate the undisputed political sway of Mahodayapuram over this region. Following the political decline of Mahodayapuram Perumals by the 12th century AD, North Kerala including Bekal, came under the sovereignty of Mushika or Kolathiri or Chirakkal Royal Family (who were a secondary royal family at that point to the Cheras, Pandyas and Cholas). The maritime importance of Bekal increased much under the Kolathiris and it became an important port town of Tulunadu and the Malabar.It was usual in older days for every royal palace to be protected by a fort. The Bekal fort might have, therefore, existed even from early days of the Chirakkal Rajas. While writing a description of the Kolathiri Kingdom in his Kerala History, K.P. Padmanabha Menon writes: "The eldest of the male members reigned as sovereign Kolathiri. The next in succession, the heir apparent, was the Thekkelamkur. The residence assigned to him was the Vadakara fort. The third in succession was the Vadakkelamkur in charge of Vekkolath fort. This V(B)ekkolath fort is identified by some scholars as the present Bekal.H.A. Stuart, in his Handbook of South Canara (1985), makes this observation: "Several forts were built by the Shivappa Nayaks of Badnore between 1650 and 1670. The two forts of Bekal and Chandragiri were originally under the Kolathiri or Chirakkal Rajas until the time of Shivappa Nayaka's invasion. Perhaps, the Bednore rulers might have rebuilt and improved it.The Battle of Talikota in 1565 led to the decline of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire and many feudatory chieftains rose in political prominence including the Keladi Nayakas (Ikkeri Nayaks). The Nayakas realized the political and economic importance of Tulunadu (which is the region comprising of modern-day Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts along with the Northernmost part of Kasargod District ) and attacked and annexed the region. Bekal served as a nucleus in establishing the dominance of the Nayakas in Malabar. The economic importance of the port town prompted the Nayakas to fortify Bekal subsequently. Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka initiated the construction of the fort and it was completed during the period of Shivappa Nayaka. The speedy completion of the port was aimed at the defense of the fort from overseas attack and to strengthen their attack on Malabar. Chandragiri fort near Kasargod was also constructed during this period.Bekal served as an important military station of Tipu Sultan when he led the great military expedition to capture Malabar. The coins and other artifacts unearthed by the archaeological excavation conducted recently at Bekal fort is a manifestation of the strong presence of the Mysore Sulthans. The death of Tipu Sulthan in Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 saw the end of Mysorean control and subsequently the fort came under the British East India Company.