Kasaragod, located at the northern tip of Kerala, is one of the lesser known tourist destinations of Kerala. Kochi or Trivandrum will steal the stage when alluring tourists with vibrant charm and Kerala cuisines. Kasaragod was never a frontrunner among the conventional tourist attractions of Kerala. Geographical distance from the major cities of Kerala may be one of the reasons behind this. But this is an old story. With the advent of social media platforms, the rustic beauty and cultural richness of Kasaragod started winning the hearts of travelers. Kasaragod has everything that a tourist desires to witness, be it forts, beaches, temples, mosques, or folk arts. Today, Kasaragod is a sought-after destination for wanderlusts who love offbeat experiences. Our Kasaragod travel guide will tell you everything that you need to know.
Kasaragod is the northernmost district of Kerala. It shares its borders with parts of Karnataka. This fabulous district has the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats guarding it from either side. Kasaragod has its own unique culture and art forms, which bear a close resemblance to those of Karnataka. Kasaragod cuisine is a mix of Kerala and Karnataka flavors. Even the Malayalam dialect in Kasaragod has a significant variation from the Malayalam that we hear in the southern or central parts of Kerala. Kasaragod is a part of Kerala which feels like a different world in itself.
Tourist attractions in Kasaragod are vast and varied. Proximity to the Western Ghats contributes to the astonishing beauty of the place, while the Arabian Sea provides it with several tranquil beaches. Even though we are in the process of rediscovering the charm of Kasaragod, the outside world knew about Kasaragod from time immemorial. There are references to Kasaragod in many travelogues written by foreign travelers. Kasaragod is home to several majestic forts such as Bekal Fort and Chandragiri Fort. Yakshaganam, Theyyam, and Duffmuttu are the unique art forms of Kasaragod. This land of incredible magnificence definitely deserves more attention.
How To Reach Kasaragod
By air: Although Kasaragod is a part of Kerala, it is easily accessible from cities in Karnataka. There is no airport in Kasaragod. The nearest airport is at Mangalore, which is at a distance of 50 kilometres from Kasaragod. Kannur Airport in Kerala is at a distance of around 100 kilometres, and Kozhikode airport at a distance of 200 kilometres from Kasaragod. Kochi International Airport is separated from Kasaragod by a distance of 350 kilometres.
By rail: Kasaragod has a railway station with good connectivity to all parts of India. Kanhangad, Maneshwar, and Kumbla are the other major railway stations in the district. Major trains passing through Kasaragod railway station are New Delhi Ac Express, Mangalore Express, Chennai Express and Nizamuddin Express.
By road: You can reach Kasaragod by road from major cities in south India. Mangalore city is the closest to Mangalore. National Highway 66 passes through Kasaragod district, and so, is a good option for road travelers driving from Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore or other Konkan regions. Driving time from Kochi to Kasaragod is 9 to 10 hours depending on traffic and other factors.
Major Tourist Attractions in Kasaragod
Bekal Fort, located in Kasaragod district, is the largest fort in Kerala. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Kasaragod district. It is located along the coast, and overlooks the vast expanse of Arabian Sea. King Shivappa Nayaka constructed the fort in 1650 AD in order to secure the territory of his kingdom. Due to the strategic location of the fort, the succeeding rulers relied on Bekal Fort as a means to guard the borders of their kingdom from enemies. It became the headquarters for the British colonial empire also.
Splendid sea view is the first thing that welcomes your eyes in Bekal Fort. It is perched atop a hillock, and surrounded by the Arabian Sea. Stand on the observation deck of the fort and you will feel as though you are on the deck of a cruise ship. Remember the song Tuhi Re, from the movie, ‘Bombay’. It was in Bekal that the hero cried his heart out for his lover. Bekal Fort is a structure that has stood the test of time. Laterite bricks used in the construction of the fort still remain intact. The unique keyhole shaped fort and the stone-laden pathways are marvels of ancient architecture of India. The fort also has a tunnel inside! The current observation area was once used to keep cannons for firing.
Bekal beach is a soothing, unspoiled beach which looks magnificent with the fort in the background. As Bekal Fort is located on the seashore, it will be unbearably hot during summer months. Monsoons are the best time to visit Bekal Fort, provided you don’t mind getting drenched. How pretty will be the sight of raindrops whispering to the waves in the ocean! Winter months are also good as cool winds let you enjoy from dawn to dusk.
Our Kasaragod travel guide suggests Ranipuram Hills as one of the best offbeat destinations in Kasaragod. Former name of Ranipuram Hills was Madathumala. This is a picturesque hill situated at a height of 750 metres above sea level, and is close to the Kerala-Karnataka border. It is at a distance of 45 kilometres from Kanhangad town in Kasaragod district. This place is one of the ecotourism spots of Kerala. Ranipuram Hills is covered by grasslands and shola forests. The hills are so marvelous that they got the nickname ‘Ooty of Kerala.’
If you are a trekking enthusiast, this is ideal for you. In fact, trekking is the only way by which you can reach the viewpoints atop the hills. You will trek for 2 to 3 kms through an amazing landscape of forests and grasslands to reach the viewpoints on top of Ranipuram Hills. Top of the hill is more or less grass-covered without many shady trees. So winters are the best time to plan a trek, as you can escape the sweltering heat on hill tops. On the way to the top, you will find several thatched shacks built for the comfort of travellers.
The view from the topmost viewpoint over Ranipuram Hills will steal your breath! There are vast valleys and mountain ranges all around you. If you happen to be there on a misty day, you will feel like you are in heaven. You need to buy entry tickets from the Ecotourism Office before proceeding to the beautiful trek. Entry timings are from 8 AM to 4 PM. This area is a plastic-free zone, so please abide by the rules, and protect our precious nature.
Malik Deenar Mosque
Located at Thalangara in Kasaragod town, Malin Deenar Masjid is one of the most sacred places of worship for Muslims in Kerala. In fact, this is the second oldest mosque in India. This mosque was founded by the Persian scholar, Malik Deenar. He and his associates travelled to this region for trade, and also for propagating Islam. This mosque is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture. The interiors are awe-inspiring. Carved wooden doors, windows and pillars amaze us with their architectural finesse.
Tomb of Malik Deenar is preserved at this mosque. For this reason, thousands of Muslim worshippers visit the mosque every day, and offer their prayers. People belonging to other religions can also enter the premises, but everyone needs to follow the customs. More than a worship place, Malik Deenar Mosque is a feast for the eyes, and an abode of peace. It is located close to the seashore, and so you get outstanding sea views from here. According to our Kasaragod travel guide, this mosque is one of the must-visit places in Kasaragod for its spiritual significance as well as architectural excellence.
Ananthapura Lake Temple
This is one of the temples in Kerala that captured headlines not only due to its spiritual and mythological significance, but also due to its unique occupant! Sree Ananthapura Lake Temple is located at Ananthapura village, which is 6 kms from Kumbla in Kasaragod district. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ananthapadmanabha. Legends say that this temple was the original seat of Lord Padmanabha of the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum. The temple is in the middle of a tranquil lake, and is the only one of its kind in Kerala. We can see ruins of the old temple structure around the lake, which shows that this was an enormous structure in the past. Even today, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is a beauty to watch.
More than anything else, it was a resident crocodile that made the temple famous all over the globe! A crocodile with the name Babia has made her home in the lake surrounding the temple for over 70 years. According to the temple authorities, Babia is a harmless creature. She seldom attacks temple worshippers, and feeds on the rice and jaggery that the priests offer her. Nobody knows how the crocodile entered this land-locked water body! In the recent past, there was an instance of spotting the crocodile inside the temple. She made it to many news stories, but didn’t cause any harm. The gentle reptile retreated to her abode when the priest ordered her to do so. Ananthapura Temple is worth a visit, which is what our Kasaragod travel guide recommends. If you are lucky enough, you may get a glimpse of Babia during your trip.
Kasaragod has some of the best beaches of Kerala due to its proximity to the Arabian Sea. Thaikadappuram is a tranquil and comparatively less spoiled beach in Kasaragod district. This is located at Nileshwaram in Kasaragod district. You cannot expect the regular tourist attractions at this beach. There are no cafes, beach sports or other options for fun and frolic. But you do get charming views of the ocean spread out in front of you, without many visitors to disturb the charm. This is a sandy beach with coconut trees lining the shores. There is not much to do, except to soak in the beauty of the surroundings!
Tourists who love solace rather than beach amusements will love Thaikadappuram beach. This is one of the many beaches in Kerala where you can find the rare species of Olive Ridley sea turtles. These turtles visit the beach during the monsoons to lay eggs. So if you visit the beach in this season, you may catch a glimpse of these rare turtles. An NGO named Neythal has been proactive in protecting the biodiversity of this beach. They rescue the Olive Ridley turtles and also take steps to prevent the rampant sand mining which erodes the quality of the beach. If you happen to watch a sea turtle during your visit, please make sure that nobody harms the creature. We need to act as a community to protect our planet.
Though not as huge and majestic as the Bekal Fort, Chandragiri Fort is also worth a visit in Kasaragod. In our Kasaragod travel guide, we bring before you not only the sought-after and hyped destinations, but also the less crowded and pristine destinations of Kasaragod. Chandragiri Fort is one such. This fort is located in Kasaragod district, at the point where River Payaswini joins the Arabian Sea. Payaswini River, also called the Chandragiri River, is the longest river in Kasaragod district. The view from the fort is enthralling. You will feel as though the timid river shies away for a while before joining its mighty partner.
Unlike the Bekal Fort, Chandragiri Fort receives very few tourists. Upkeep and maintenance of the fort are not to the mark. Most parts of the structure are in ruins. Chandragiri Fort will not impress you with a massive structure or well-maintained surroundings. What makes it worth a visit is the terrific view of the river from the height of 150 feet above sea level. As Chandragiri is less-crowded than Bekal, you can absorb the beauty of the place at your pace. It is a delight for photographers. If you learn to love the ruins, you will love Chandragiri Fort!
Malom – The Coorg of Kerala
If Ranipuram Hills is the Ooty of Kerala, its neighbour, Malom is fondly called ‘The Coorg of Kerala’ by the locals. The word ‘Malom’ is a shortened form of Malayalam words, ‘Malakalude Lokam’ which means ‘the land of hills.’ So you know what to expect at Malom. This is a tiny hill town located on the fringes on the Western Ghats. Our Kasaragod travel guide recommends Malom as a place to watch nature in its pristine beauty. This is not a touted tourist destination and so, is not much of a crowd puller. Several small and big waterfalls and hilltop viewpoints are the major attractions at Malom.
Our Kasaragod travel guide recommends that you must include Malom in your itinerary, if you are planning to visit Ranipuram Hills. As the upcoming hill highway passes through this region, there are no accessibility issues. The best part about these tourist destinations in Kasaragod is that they are still free from the overburdening of commercial tourist activities. You won’t find tour guides queueing up to show you around. You are free to explore on your own. Malom Wildlife Sanctuary is a wonderful destination to explore in Kasaragod district. The forests under this sanctuary are home to several wild beasts. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of elephants, bison or porcupines.
What To Buy From Kasaragod
Kasaragod is not a fully developed tourist destination yet. For this reason, you won’t find many touristy shops where shopkeepers target tourists with overpriced items. Nileshwaram in Kasaragod is famous for its handloom works. You can take a tour to Nileshwaram, watch the local craftsmen deftly weaving clothes in their loom, and buy a few clothes as well. When in Kasaragod, do not forget to munch on their special snacks such as Kaipola, Goli Baje and Unnakkaya. Some of these snacks have a Karnataka touch to them. Theyyam and Yakshsgana are some of the unique art forms of Kasaragod. Souvenirs reminding the tourists of these art forms are also popular in the area.
Where To Stay in Kasaragod
Although commercial tourism is in its teething phase in Kasaragod, you will find accommodations suited to your budget. Our Kasaragod travel guide lists out a few of them for your convenience. Most resorts in the locality boast of beach or backwater views. Taj Bekal Resort and Spa, and The LaLit Resort and Spa Bekal are two high-end resorts in the region. Both have magnificent waterfront views. Malabar Ocean Front Resort, Oyster Opera Island Resort, Iman Beach Resort, and Gokulam Nalanda Resort are also good choices. A few homestays such as Thalathoor Heritage and Avisa Beach House are also highly popular among guests. While you are staying at these resorts or homestays, you can enjoy the local cuisine of Kasaragod, and also watch local folk arts such as Theyyam.