Kasaragod district in Kerala’s far north is home to the gorgeous beach towns of Bekal and Nileshwar, located 25 km away from each other on the Malabar coast. Nileshwar (a.k.a. Nileshwaram) is also known as the cultural capital of North Malabar.
Nileshwar lies 90 km to the south of Mangalore on the Northern Malabar coast, nestled between the Thejaswini and Karingode rivers. The name ‘Nileshwaram’ comes from one of the names of Lord Shiva ‘Neelakandeswaran’, the deity of the Thaliyil temple in the town. A folktale tells the story of Sage Neela, after whom the place is rumored to have been named, who installed the deity of Lord Shiva thousands of years ago. Another legend says that Nileshwaram comes from ‘Neelichutta Idam’ (now Karuvacherry). Nileshwar once served as the seat of the Nileshwar monarchs of the Kolathiri dynasty and is famous for being the region associated with the wars between the Nileshwar kings and the Bednore Nayaks.
Interestingly enough, Shivappa Nayaka of the Bednore Nayaks was the architect of the Bekal Fort in 1650. Later on, Bekal went on to become an important part of Tipu Sultan’s administration and consequently fell to the British, and ultimately became part of India after independence.
Nileshwar is famously known as the ‘Cultural Capital of Kasaragod district and is home to numerous temple festivals, old markets, sacred groves and is also the fountainhead for various folk arts. Bekal is famous for the coastal jungle trail ‘Mangrove Trail of Malabar’ which offers much boating, birding and hiking opportunities. The long white-sand beaches of Bekal are now seeing a host of five-star resorts catering to high-end millionaire clients.
Summers in Bekal and Nileshwar are humid, tropical and hot, with maximum temperatures hitting 35 degrees Celsius, while monsoons see very heavy rainfall. The best time to go on a road trip in the region is during the winter season when the temperatures are around 20-30 degrees Celsius.
The nearest airport to Bekal and Nileshwar is Mangalore International Airport which lies 71 km and 96 km away respectively.
The nearest train station is Nileshwar, which lies on the Mangalore-Palakkad line.
1) Bekal and Nileshwar > Madikeri
Appx Driving Dist: 140 Km / 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Madikeri, a.k.a. Mercara is a hill station town in the Coorg (Kodagu) district of Karnataka. The town was formerly known as ‘Muddu Raja keri’ (‘Mudduraja’s town’) after Mudduraja, the prominent Haleri King who ruled the region in the 1600s. Madikeri also came to be called as Mercara. Travelers can visit the stunning viewpoint of Raja’s Seat which offers gorgeous views of the valley and the forests, the Omkareshwara temple, the Madikeri Fort, Abbey Falls, and St. Mark’s Church.
2) Bekal and Nileshwar > Sakleshpur
Appx Driving Dist: 133 Km / 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Nestled amongst areca, pepper, cardamom and coffee plantations in the Malnad region of Karnataka lies the hill station of Sakleshpur. The legend goes that the name of Sakleshpur is derived from ‘Sakala-aishwarya-pura’, which literally means the place that has been blessed with all kinds of wealth – climate, spices, coffee, and water. During the British Raj, Sakleshpur earned the sobriquet of “poor man’s Ooty”. Places to see in and around Sakleshpur Manjarabad fort, Kukke Subramanya and Sakleshpura temples, the Hemavati River, Bisle Ghat and Jenukal Guda, among many others.
3) Bekal and Nileshwar > Coorg
Appx Driving Dist: 150 Km / 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Dubbed as the Scotland of India. Coorg is all about the aroma of honey, black pepper, cardamom, the fragrance of coffee and the lush greenery of the lovely sandalwood forests. Travelers can stay at one of the homestays in this postcard-perfect town to retreat and enjoy their vacation. They can visit the Dubare Elephant Camp, Chikli Dam, Golden Temple, and Nagarhole National Park. One can even go for a trek into the jungle, visit the coffee plantations around or indulge in rafting at the Barapole River Rapids.
4) Bekal and Nileshwar > Udupi
Appx Driving Dist: 218 Km / 4 Hours 20 Minutes
The temple town of Udupi is a blend of activity and peace. The town is also known as Krishna Nagari (Krishna’s Land) since it famously houses the 13th-century temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. Udupi cuisine is popular throughout the country for the delicious dishes that are parts of it such as dosas and thali. Travelers can visit places of interest such as the Moodabidri and Karkala Jain temples, the Bahubali statue and the Malpe beach, among others.
5) Bekal and Nileshwar > Kozhikode
Appx Driving Dist: 174 Km / 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Kozhikode, a.k.a. Calicut, is a former Portuguese Colony, a trading town as well as the capital of the great Zamorins of the South. Places to see in Kozhikode include the Kadalundi bird sanctuary, planetarium, Kalipoyika lake, Pazhassiraja Museum, Lion’s Park, the Ancient Tali temple, King Vikarama’s palace tank and the many scenic beaches.
6) Bekal and Nileshwar > Mysore
Appx Driving Dist: 232 Km / 4 Hours 45 Minutes
Mysore is a city of palaces and gardens. Travelers can visit the grand Mysore Palace, the splendid Chamundeswari temple at Chamundi Hills, and visit the sprawling lush green lawns of the Brindavan Gardens.
Sight Seeing Places
Travelers can enjoy overnight cruises or stay in houseboats in the Nileshwar backwaters, visit the many temples in the town, visit Thaikadapuram and Azhithala beaches, trek in the Kottencherry hills, and enjoy views at the Nileshwar harbor. In Bekal, travelers can visit the Bekal Fort Beach, one of the best beaches in Kasaragod, Kappil beach, Valiyaparamba backwaters, Chandragiri and Bekal forts, and the Nityanandashram caves.
There is no dearth of accommodation especially in a beach town like Bekal. There are a number of beach resorts with rejuvenating spas. Holiday homes and homestays offering authentic Kerala fare are also available for those who are on a budget holiday.
Here are a few suggestions verified by us
The Tranquil Hideaway At Nileshwar is your key to enjoy a stay in this scenic destination, replete with all the comforts and amenities you can desire at a holiday abode.
Lush gardens of frangipani and hibiscus mark the property. Palm-roofed cottages designed in Kerala architectural style, with interestingly designed indoor-outdoor bathrooms, secluded verandahs, well-stocked library, in-house restaurants, bars, and an infinity pool are just a few of the attractions that this retreat offers.
During your stay here, you can indulge your taste buds with fresh seafood procured from the daily catch of the local fishermen. The beachside restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy the authentic home-style delicacies.
This Enchanting Houseboat At Nileshwar offers you all the amenities of an excellent hotel within a traditional Kerala houseboat.
The houseboat takes you on a journey through the palm-fringed tropical backwaters of scenic North Kerala. Pass through the winding canals and watch as boats laden with coir or cashew pass you by. See the various temples and hidden shrines along the shoreline and catch glimpses of a variety of water birds, turtles, and cattle that live along the water.
The two bedrooms feature teak wood floors and have large glass observation windows covered with protective netting to let in natural light and air at all times. Both offer you a private verandah to drink in the stunning views.
Overall, Kasaragod district is a safe place to drive around and the roads are generally excellent. However, the towns and the surrounding areas usually get deserted after nightfall. Although tourists aren’t targeted, they are advised to reach towns well before it gets dark to order to avoid any untoward incidents. Also, travelers can find wine and beer freely available, but hard drinks are prohibited.
Bekal and Nileshwar is a natural, culturally important travel gem on India’s western coast waiting to be discovered.