73. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY- 1. KASARGOD.

TheBlueDrive is a journey along the coast of India. When you come to Kerala you find that most of the state is along the coast. Out of the 14 districts 9 have a coastline and one is so close you can throw a stone into the sea from there.

The state starts with the district of Kasargod. This was earlier a part of the District of South Canara ( which is now part of Karnataka). Later on it was detached from Karnataka and added to Kerala. This was part of reorganization of states on linguistic basis. History has now left Kasargod district to grapple with Malayalam. In the past, it has had speakers of as many as five languages- Kannada, Malayalam, Konkani, Tulu and Beary.

When you cross into Kerala from Karnataka you don’t feel that you have done that. There are no check-posts, no barricades, no men in uniform as one would expect whilst crossing a state boundary especially a boundary between a state having no prohibition and one having partial prohibition. This is perhaps because of the fact that the coastal road is not considered important by the authorities.

A few kilometres into the Kerala territory and you start feeling the change. The north Kerala buses are painted artistically and carry a wide variety of colours and designs on their bodies. In the restaurants at lunch time water served is hot. (this might have started somewhere in southern Karnataka), the newspapers are in Malayalam, God becomes Goad to rhyme with Goat or Boat.

For most part, Kasargod is a mixture of Karnataka and Kerala.

The first monument of Kerala’s first district is at Kumbla or Kumble. I have no clue if the Cricketer has any association with this place. It has a  fort which is now on the roadside. It might have been on the seaside which is now about half a kilometre away and is separated by a railway line. The fort is not visible when you drive down. Ask for the Maruti temple. The fort is close by and does not show any signs of life.

The fort was constructed by Kaladi Shivappa Nayaka who also was involved with two more forts in this area which we will look at in this post.Kasargod has a long political history and has been visited by a number of foreign travellers in the historical times. Among them is the Portuguese traveller Duarte Barbosa. The Arabs also seem to have been travelling to the places in the district. 

Anantpadmanabhaswamy Temple at Ananthpura is another major landmark in the area. The temple is surrounded by water.

North of Kasargod town there are some more landmarks. The chief among them is the Bela Church, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the district.

Kerala has its own distinctive style of temple architecture.The Madanantheshwara Siddhivinayaka Temple at Madhur is a fine example of this style.

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Unfortunately the temple is under renovation and some of the woodwork is being replaced by stonework.

The temple is worth visiting for the sheer beauty of its architecture.

Not far away from here is an old palace called Maipady Palace. Not a very maginificent one but beautiful in its humility and modesty. It belongs to the Kumbala kings.

Let us move to the south of Kasargod town. The major attraction is the Malik Dinar Mosque. One of the oldest mosques in India and constructed in the local archetectural style with no ‘minars’ which are typical of Arabic style.

Malik Ibn Deenar is believed to be a merchant who had travelled to India for trading as well as propagation of Islam. About him and similar Mosques you will see more in this blog shortly. What should be noted here is that the surroundings of the mosque are being modified to make things grand and ‘Arabic’.

Hope the interiors and the artwork is not changed to make it ‘grand’.

There are three other forts in the district and we will briefly touch on each.

The first one is within the town but one has to take some local help in locating the place. It is not easy to approach. The fort is overlooking the creeks and is called Chandragiri fort. It is a 17th century creation of Sivappa Nayak.

The views from the fort are beautiful.

The second fort is the more majestic and well-maintained one at Bekal. Shivappa Nayak created this in 1650 and is a major tourist attraction to-day.

Bekal fort has its major part jutting into the Arabian sea and it has a beach down below.

The last of the forts in Kasargod district is called Hosdurg fort. It was built by Someshekhara Nayaka of Ikkeri at a place now called Kanhangad.It is almost gone, only some few traces remain. The major part is occupied as a school and a playground.Not much is known by way of history either.

Kasargod has a number of temples. It also has a pretty lighthouse and a beach.

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On the eating front one cannot fail to notice pickled raw Mango and Gooseberry      ( Avala) being sold wherever you go.  There can be other things like slices of Pineapples and other sour things added.

We end the travel within the Kasargod district here and start with Kannur district in the next post.

Text by Suryakiran Naik

Pictures by Veena Naik & Suryakiran Naik

 

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