We were at the last leg of our two day outing in Kerala. The morning sun broke the peaceful sleep to a get ready reminder for the next course of move. As decided with the homestay owner, he helped us rent a cab for the entire day as our wheel partner. The plan was to end our tryst with beauty by the beach, peace, serenity, remoteness, and date with laziness. It was time to move into the historical facts and figures of Kannur and Bekal. The morning was blissful with shadows from the coconut trees serving a black covering on the shining pitched roads while we left it behind and the beach of Muzhappilangad.
Our first stop was at a roadside eatery to break the fast and chomp on some Parathas and Channa masala. I always found the flavor of Kerala quite appetizing because of the richness of the spices they use and coconut oil. Although, most of the travelers from North or Eastern India won’t favor it but, if properly cooked does strike resemblance with the taste of dishes from the right hand-side of India.
St. Angelo Fort or Kannur Fort as better know is at the end of Arabian sea facing the twiddling waves of the blue water. To reach here, you have to cross through the main town of Kannur. While on road and capturing sights of the city’s architecture, it quite resembled those of the Portuguese era and gave an understanding of dominance of Portugal once out here. The roads are a doubtful competition between narrow and broad structures blanketed with tidiness. One can print a portray image of Goa or Fort Kochi while in Kannur.
It took us approx. 50 minutes to cover the distance of 15 KM. The fort at the entrance doesn’t alert the idea of its opulence. When you are at such places which speak of glory and power, it is apparent to think and go back to the time of chariots, arrows, cannons, swords and shields and think how different it is today to observe silence which once saw bloodshed, game for the throne and supremacy. It’s Ironical, yet factual. You stare at the long walls made out of unimaginable blocks which look to have better engineering than today’s upgraded technology.
The fort had no guides, but to our wonder we met the security at the entrance to the fort from Kerala Police and he had the history of the Fort’s existence. To drop one liners on the history; Vasco Da Gama laid his foot at the Malabar Coast in 1498. The fort was ruled by many European colonies in the past 500 years. The St. Angelo’s was built by Dom Francesco De Almeida in 1505 who was the first Portuguese viceroy of India. The fort was once attacked by Zamorin in early 1500’s but couldn’t survive at the hands of Portuguese army which is known in the pages as Siege of Cannanore. Also, it attacked by the Dutch in mid 1600s and gave a touch of modern architecture with extending the fort’s hands by the sea. In 1790 The British captured it and made it their chief military station in Malabar.
It was told, the fort has 19 preserved Cannons. After taking a bite on the history of the place, it was time to explore. The fort is built with a combined style of Portuguese, Dutch and English architecture. It is build up off Laterite triangular in foundation. Portuguese rulers during their reign created a deep water moat around the fort connecting Arabian Sea to the Mapila Bay to isolate any outsiders to get in. The view from the top of the fort is breathtaking. It gives you a panoramic view in a landscape mode with never ending sight of the sea. Some shades of blue at the top and green shades of coconut trees with a long stretch of ochre makes it look worth capturing. To have a satisfactory view of the seashore and the shine of the water, it requires a sunny day and not a gloomy overcast condition. Fortunately, the Sun was a blessing as well as the tiring guardian for thirst. After walking for minutes on the stables, we reached at the other end of the fort which pictured a better view of the sea. The place was not overcrowded which is a good sign of an uncommon spot to meander and unleash your curiosity about the fort in freedom. While on a shore, you expect silence and sound of the waves. The waves of Muzhappilangad played soulful tune but, the ones at Kannur Fort were beating the drum hard and trying to escape the cage to change tune into a sound. The stories surrounding the fort were more or less similar to Kala Paani. Prisoners had been given harsh treatment while they were imprisoned. There are prisons where prisoners would be thrown into a complete dark environment where the sun rays don’t reach for a point of light. The ceilings were able enough to only touch a human head while being seated. It is Strange and horrific how being imprisoned might have felt. History is subtle and contradictory. We go to a place of interest and stand on a platform to admire an enchanting view of nature whereas the structure was built to carve out inhumanity and punishment with never lasting barbarous ideas.
If this was not enough, we came across another metal sealing, covering the ground. Beyond the cover it had a cylindrical hollow which is known as House of Mercy. Prisoners were put down there with tied hands. They had the kiss of heaven to survive inside the cylindrical hole until the high tide reached above the cover and drowned the jailed completely succumbing to death. In modern times the fort works as a tourist spot ringing in revenues for the government which is protected and preserved by Archaeological Survey of India.
We were there for two hours which is enough to take a tour round the fort or if you want to be part of the serene surroundings you can spend it by the shores admiring the Mother Nature.
After Kannur fort, we were set towards our main destination – Bekal fort. But, thought of exploring some other important points in between within Kannur if it had. Our driver told about Baby beach and Cannanore lighthouse which would fall on our route. It was decided to take a turn towards Cannanore lighthouse as it was something which we heard of but never been to. Upon reaching and visiting the museum, it was clear of the histories that are laminated in Kerala. The state has around 21 lighthouses which were once an important feature of trade for the ports during the 15th centuries as Kannur port served as an integral junction under the kingdom of Arakkal, Malabar and Kolathiris.
The present lighthouse painted in red and white was commissioned in 1975. One can go to the top of the Lighthouse which is open for tourists. Whoever has acrophobia should grasp the demon in to struggle few steps above to get a sight of a view certifying the abstruse creation of the god.
At the one end it is a carpet of Pines and the other end a stretch of beach which takes a right turn at far end and vanishes. It’s only a battle of nature’s beauty between greenery and various forms of water shades. The shades of the sea changes with the highlights of the sky. Nothing can be more appetizing to the vision than what you see from the peak. During my visit, I was accompanied by light drizzle and force of the wind which did not allow for a greater length of stay, but looks to be a place to dwell romance. Romance are certain as two couples felt perturbed by the three of us breaking into their cocoon.
The lighthouse campus also houses a museum which firstly doesn’t welcome you with a regular quote “Photography Prohibited”. Rather, they say light the house with your camera. When we reached the lighthouse, I wondered what a lighthouse museum can have. It might have history or the types of lamps used over the time and would show the level of technology put into with changing times. But, to my bewilderment it had more than I thought in every score. It hangs painted canvases of the evolution of lighthouse over the centuries. It starts with days when a thick wooden stick stood on the ground and a candle lamp used to work as the indication for the approaching ships. The stories through the pictures slide-showing the built up of a lighthouse from 1500s to 2000s was an interesting subject to look into. It will amaze one who has interests in diving into the past. A fog bell was an interesting presence which when gongs can shatter the glasses as the presenter said because of the wavelength of the sound. A Beam Lamp was also housed inside for visitors which looked like a retina multiplied thousand times to form up a gigantic stand.
The Beam Lamps Pharaos of Alexandria and Colossus of Rhodes : 2 ancient wonders of the world
It’s been an interesting morning to spend at the Kannur fort and lighthouse. Kerala is a place which will never be completely toured. It is the big bonanza of nature’s jackpot.
After the brief stay, knowledge, rain and stand still sight we headed off to Bekal…
Note: Visiting the Forts were part of my journey and I had spent almost 4 hours combined which is good enough to explore. It cost around 1000 whereas the entire 3 day trip of Kannur cost me 4500/- approx