‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala is a popular tourist destination but tourists flock mostly to South Kerala. So we decided to look the other way and spent a weekend in Kasargod which is at the northern tip of Kerala. Kasargod is a melting pot of cultures and is home to Nairs, Namboothiris, Mapilla’s, Thiya’s and Tribals along with a significant Tulu population. It is just 87 km south of Mangalore and is hence strongly influenced by its culture and cuisine. Kasargod is also unique because it is on the side of the western ghats facing the sea so you can get the best of both worlds – the mountains and the sea. Kasargod is also the birthplace of the Kannada poet M Govinda Pai.
We stayed at Thalathoor Heritage Home Stay which is a century old home of the Kodoth Family. It is run by Dr. Nair, his wife Shyamala and their nephew Vijay. It is surrounded by acres of greenery and is close to the Chandragiri River. Only two rooms on the first floor are for visitors which makes the experience homely and warm. Shyamala Aunty is a great cook and I can assure you that every meal will be a delight. The home itself is beautifully curated and it feels like one is transported to a 100 years back. You can pluck jasmines and tie them or learn how to make appam or just take a walk around the property. Staying here makes Kasargod even more amazing.
There are many interesting places in and around Kasargod. The most well known is Bekal Fort.It was constructed by Shivappa Nayaka of Bednore in 1650 CE. It is a sea-side fort and an arm juts into the sea making it a great spot to embrace the waves during high tide. This fort is famous for being the location where an important scene in the movie ‘Bombay’ was shot. There is also a beach nearby which is popular with the locals.
Just outside Kasargod Town is the Chandragiri Fort which looks over the Payaswini River, Chandragiri River and the sea. It is not maintained well and is difficult to access. But once you get there, the views are breathtaking. This fort too was built by Shivappa Nayaka in the 17th century. Sunset is the best time to visit.
The Malik Dinar Mosque built in 642 AD, just 8 years after the death of Prophet Mohammed, is a testament to the religious zeal of the Arabic traders and merchants who rapidly spread Islam wherever trade took them. Built in a unique style combining Islamic and Kerala architecture, it is the resting place of the first Muslim of India, Malik Ibn Dinar.
There are some unique temples around Kasargod. The Ananthapura Lake Temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old! Situated on the top of a hill not too far from the town of Kasargod, the temple is built in the middle of the lake which is home to a crocodile called ‘Babia’. The vegetarian crocodile is considered as a protector of the temple. Surprisingly, only one crocodile resides in the lake always. Once it dies another crocodile appears miraculously to take its place. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the crocodile during my visit. This is the only lake temple in Kerala and is believed to be the original seat (Moolasthanam) of Ananthapadmanabhaswamy (who is the main deity of the temple in Trivandrum). There is a cave along the lake which is believed to lead to the temple at Trivandrum. Even if you are not a religious person, do visit the temple for its scenic setting and beautiful architecture.
Another interesting temple is the Ganapathi Temple at Madhur. Locals say that Tipu Sultan wanted to demolish the temple during his invasion of Coorg, Tulunadu, and Malabar. After drinking water from the well of the temple he changed his mind but to satisfy his soldiers and Islamic scholars he made a cut with his sword symbolising the attack. The mark is still visible on the building that is built around the temple well. The temple itself is built in a unique style resembling the back of an elephant. There are beautiful wooden carvings depicting scenes from the epics also.
Kasargod town is home to virgin beaches untouched by tourists and is close to many interesting forts, temples and natural wonders. So the next time Kerala is on your mind, consider Kasargod.
How to reach? Kasargod is 87 km from Mangalore and 375 km from Bangalore.
Where to stay? Thalathoor Heritage Home Stay
When to visit? October to January
Places to see
- Bekal Fort, 16 km from Kasargod
- Chandragiri Fort, 7 km from Kasargod
- Ananthapura Lake Temple, 16 km from Kasargod
- Madhur Ganapathi Temple, 7 km from Kasargod
- Malik Dinar Mosque
- Manjeshwar – Birthplace of M Govinda Pai, Srimath Anantheshwar Temple, 30 km from Kasargod
- Unnamed virgin beaches of Kasargod
What to buy?
- Cashews from Cashew Factories
- Traditional Kasargod Sarees directly from weavers
- Coir products
- Bell metal souvenirs from Payyanur