Ever since I bought my first bike, I had a dream that one day I will cover the Western Coastal Route of India. After I got married, I was able to sell this idea to my wife Anu. We decided to cover the route in multiple trips. This is our second trip to Kerela and this time we targeted the Northern Kerela from Kasargod to Allepey. In our previous trip, we had covered the route from Varkala to Kanyakumari. With this trip, we concluded the Kerela Coastal Route. In the same month, we covered Bangalore to Delhi to cover the last piece of our dream ride. It took total 4 trips and 18 days to cover the complete Indian Western Coastal Route from Kanyakumari to Delhi.
Travel Dates: 8th to 12th Oct 2016 (Dussehra Holidays)
Day 1: Bangalore to Bekal
Day 2: Bekal to Athirappilli
Day 3: Athirappilli to Alleppey (Read here all the details about planning a trip to Houseboats of Allepey)
Day 4: Alleppey to Kozhikode
Day 5: Kozhikode to Bangalore (via Wayanad)
Bags were packed, hotels were booked and maps were downloaded for offline access. We were all set to cover another piece of our dream ride. Baanke and Chang decided to come with us (Anu and I) till Bekal as a weekend trip. We left home around 5:30 am and took Nice Ring Road to reach starting point of Mangalore Highway which was our meeting point. After having a quick tea break, we started the journey and set the next meeting spot to A2B near Hassan. This part of journey is quite monotonous as we have already covered this route till Hassan around ten times earlier but the thrill of riding at 150 km/hr on this highway is always great.
Experiment with the breakfast place
To add a little variation, we decided to skip A2B for breakfast and explore some another place. A2B being the first good option on the highway is usually very crowded. Anu was completely against the idea as she was not in a mood to experiment forthe first meal of the day but we somehow convinced her. Later we realized there is no good option for the next 10 km and as we were getting impatient, we stopped near one random restaurant which has only set dosa with full oil. Anu was staring at me while eating her bad oily dosa and I knew that I should be quiet. When we started from this bad breakfast place, we saw couple of good restaurants in the next few kmstretchesh and we accepted that it was just our bad luck.
Road Condition and Ride
Road from Bangalore to Hassan is a great 4 lane highway and even after that, a two lane road from Hassan is very good till the ghats start near Sakleshpur. The stretch from Sakleshpur to a place called Gundya was very bad with a lot of traffic. We switched the playlist to Kishore and reduced the bike speed to enjoy the view ofthe Western Ghats which compensated for the bad roads.
Halt at River side
We were riding along a river and I was trying to find a place to go near rthe iver bank. Finally ,we stopped near a temple just about 3-4 km before Gundya and there was a way to go down near the river bank. It was a very hot day and as always coconut water was the savior. This one thing i love about riding in South, coconut water. We spent around half an hour there and then started again.
Road after Gundya till Kasargod is very well maintained and much more scenic than the previous stretch. There were several places where I convinced my self to keep riding against the temptation of taking out my DSLR and at few places I failed 😛
Finally ,we managed to reach Kasargod by 3 pm. We stayed in a nice but expensive hotel named Hotel Highway Castle. I would say this was the cheapest option we found near Bekal Fort with a tariff of 3K per room for a night. The hotel was easy to find and as the name suggest it was on the Highway with underground parking, warm staff and clean AC rooms. Food was really good in the hotel specially Biryani.
We confirmed from the hotel staff about timings of Bekal Fort which we realized on the way and to our surprise we didn’t have much time left as the Fort entry was supposed to be closed by 5:30 pm (Timings : 8:00 am to 5:30 am). We quickly got freshened up and had lunch at Hotel’s restaurant. I must say their service was super fast and we managed to leave the hotel by 4 pm. It took us another half an hour to reach Bekal Fort. The ticket window closes at 5:30 pm but you can stay till 7 pm unofficially, although there are certain sections in the fort which close after 6 pm specially the stairs to go down near the beach.
Frankly speaking, I was not expecting it to be that big. I saw some reference pictures on 500px, but I expected to be slightly bigger than Agoda Fort of Goa. There were so many visitors but you won’t feel it because of the vast open space except a few major view points.
Anu and I acquired a place at one good view point and spent a majority of the time there clicking selfies and other top views of the fort while Baanke and Chang were busy in finding other great view points.
One evening is not sufficient for this place
Bekal Fort alone gives you endless ways to spend your evening : fun outing with friends, silent walk around the fort, panoramic sunset from a hill, go to the base and enjoy with violent waves, photographing nature and lot more. One evening is definitely not sufficient to experience all these. Opening time of the fort is really late otherwise we could have made another visit in the morning next day.
Sudden Rain : A blessing in disguise
We were not done with the place when suddenly it started raining. I had to put my DSLR back to bag but we roamed in the fort and got drenched. Moments after we left the fort rain stopped as it was a conspiracy to just kick us out. While riding back to hotel, even clouds parted and bright sun appeared in the sky to double the frustration. Then I saw a beach on my left and suddenly we had everything for a perfect coastal sunset click : colored Clouds, Sun, Sea and Boats that too with rain drops.
So, we conclude our Day1 with a great ride of 500 km, great experience at one of the amazing coastal forts, getting completely drenched in rain and finally some great shots to remember.
Checkout our Day 2 when we rode from Bekal fort to Athirapally waterfall down south.