KERALA’S northernmost district, flanked by the Western Ghats to the east and the Arabian Sea to the west, is a fertile region of thickly forested hills and meandering rivers. The district is named after its main town, Kasaragod, a hustling centre of the coir and handloom industries. About 8 km (5 miles) north of Kasaragod, is the Madhur Temple. This beautiful temple, with its copper-plate roofing, has a commanding location overlooking the Madhuvahini river. Situated 16 km (10 miles) south of Kasaragod is Bekal Fort, the largest and bestpreserved fort in Kerala. This enormous, circular structure is built with large blocks of laterite, and its outer wall rises majestically from the sea to a height of 39 m (128 feet). Inside is a cunningly concealed tunnel that leads directly to the sea. The fort’s origins are shrouded in mystery, though it is generally thought to have been built in the mid-1600s by a local chieftain Shivappa Nayak, whose fiefdom was in neighbouring Karnataka. The scene of much conflict, the

fort was eventually occupied by the British after the defeat of Tipu Sultan. Many beautiful beaches lie to the north and south of the fort. The closest, Paffikere Beach, provides a spectacular view of the fort. The Kerala government, along with the Bekal Resorts Development Corporation, have plans to develop this area as a major tourist complex. About 6 km (4 miles) north of Bekal, Kappil Beach is a secluded area, ideal for swimming. Kodi Cliff, at one end of the beach, is a scenic spot with wonderful views of the sunset on the Arabian Sea. The Chandraglri Fort, on the banks of the Chandragiri river, is 10 km (6 miles) north of Bekal. This 17th-century fort is also attributed to Shivappa Nayak, who built it to defend his kingdom against the Vijayanagar rulers. The imposing Malik Dinar Mosque, nearby, ism said rn have. been

founded by Malik Ibn Dinar, a disciple of the Prophet Muhammad, who introduced Islam to Kerala in about AD 664. The grave of Malik Ihn Muhammed, a descendant of Malik IhnDinar, lies here. The 9th-century Ananthapura Temple, 30 km (19 miles) north of Bekal, is the only temple in Kerala erected in the centre of a lake. It is said to be the original abode of Ananthapadmanabhs , the presiding deity of the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital . The small hill station of Ranipuram is situated 85 km (53 miles) east of Kasaragod. Set amid acres of rubber and spice plantations, it offers good opportunities for trekking. This region is also the centre for a number of performing arts, such as Theyyam  and Yakshagana, the elaborate folk art form from Karnataka.

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