Bekal Fort is the biggest fort in Kerala, spreading over forty acres. The important features of this fort are the tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad and wide steps leading to the Observation Tower which is a rarity. From there one has ample view of towns in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikare, Bekal, Kottikkulam ,Uduma etc. This observation centre had strategic significance in finding out even the smallest movements of the enemy and ascertaining safety of the Fort.
The Fort appears to have been built up from the sea since almost three fourth of its exteriors is drenched and the waves stroke the citadel. The Hanuman temple and the ancient Muslim Mosque nearby hold testimony to the age-old religious harmony that prevailed in the area. The zigzag entrance and the trenches around the fort show the defense strategy connected with the fort.
Unlike most other Indian Forts, Bekal fort was not a center of administration for no remains of a palace are found within the fort. Arguably the fort was built exclusively for fulfilling the defense requirements. The holes on the outer walls of the fort are specially designed to defend the fort effectively. The holes at top are meant for aiming at the farthest points; the holes below are meant for hitting when the enemy is nearer and the holes underneath facilitate attacking when the enemy is very near to the fort. This is a remarkable evidence of medieval technology in defense strategy.
During the Perumal Age Bekal was a part of Mahodayapuram. The Kodavalam inscription (Pullur, 7 KM from Kanhangad) of Bhasakara Ravi II (the King of Mahodayapuram) illustrate the undisputed political sway of Mahodayapuram over this region. Following the political decline of Mahodayapuram Perumals by the 12th century AD, North Kerala including Bekal came under the sovereignty of Kolathunadu. The maritime importance of Bekal increased much under Kolathiries and it became an important port town of Thulunadu.
Somashekhara Nayak captured Manjeswar and Thaliparamba and built a fort at Kanhangad Hosdurg which means new fort. The other forts found in Kasaragod are constructed on the coastal region and on the route to Madikeri (Mercara in Coorg). It is believed that the 'Kotteyar' community found in Bekal, Panayal and other places in Kasaragod were brought to this land by the Nayaks to build and defend the fort. There was a prolonged struggle between the Kolathiries and Nayaks to recapture and maintain their hold over this area. These unending battles came to an end with the rise of Hyder Ali who conquered and defeated the Nayakas. Subsequently Bekal fell into the hands of Mysore kings.
During the reign of the Company Bekal became the headquarters of the newly organized Bekal Taluk of South Canara District in Bombay presidency. South Canara became a part of the Madras presidency in 1862 and Kasaragod Taluk was up in the place of Bekal Taluk. Gradually the political and economic importance of Bekal and its port declined considerably. Kasaragod became part of Kerala with the state reorganization in 1956.
Presently the protection and preservation of Bekal fort has been entrusted to the Archaelogical Survey of India.