Bekal Fort is the largest and perhaps the best-kept fort in the state. The fort, in the shape of a giant keyhole, was built in 17th century. The tall observation towers of the fort offers a panoramic view of Arabian Sea. These towers were originally built a couple of centuries ago for monitoring the sea and placing huge cannons.
The fort, in the present structure, was built by Shivappa Nayaka of Bedanore dynasty in 1650 CE. It was controlled by various forces in the course of time like the Kadampa dynasty, Kolathiri Rajas, Vijayanagar Empire, Tipu Sultan and the British East India Company.
According to historian HA Stuart, Bekal fort would have been built by the Kolathiri or Chirakkal rajas and rebuilt or modified by the Shivappa Nayakas. Near the fort is an old mosque built by Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
Bekal was a strategic station of Tipu Sultan during his Malabar expedition. Mysore kingdom's coins and other artifacts were unearthed from the fort premises in the past. After the death of Tipu Sultan, British East India Company took over the control of the structure.
Bekal fort is different from other huge forts of its size in the country since it served the sole purpose of defence. It did not house any administrative office or residence of any of the dynasties which controlled it from time to time.
The fort is also hailed as an intelligent defence structure with a series of holes to attack enemies. Those on top of the structure helps to target faraway enemies, while those in the middle helps attack the nearby enemy and those underneath helps attack enemies closeby.
The fort also gives one a good view of the mainland. Nearby towns like Kanhangad, Pallikkara, Bekal, Kottikkulam and Uduma can be viewed from the watchtower.
The fort is a prominent tourist spot in the state visited by thousands of foreign and domestic tourists everyday.