Kasaragod, the northernmost district of the State of Kerala, is situated at 12.5°N 75.0°E with an average elevation of 19 metres (62 feet). To its south is Kannur District, Southeast it’s Kodagu district (Coorg) of Karnataka and to the north the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka state. All along its east, it is walled by the Western Ghats while along the west it is Sea borders. The district has seashore of around 29.3 kilometers, and has a very vast midland also containing high hill ranges of Ranipuram-Kottencheri belt. The countryside is dominated by the distinguishing coconut palms accompanying gently sloping hills and streams flowing into the sea. The landscape of the region is spotted with tiled-roof buildings, topped with the famous Kasaragod tiles made with the local solid red clay and typically walled with laterite blocks. Older houses are decorated with elaborate woodwork.
The district is popular with its forts, rivers, hillocks, beaches, and shrines. The district is exceptionally known for its linguistics culture and it is the best example for the "Linguistic Harmony." With 7 major languages spoken by different group of people, the District is also known as "SAPTHABHASHA SANGAMABHOOMI."
Kasaragod was part of South Kanara district before it was reorganized as a separate district following the reorganization of states and formation of Kerala in November 1, 1956. Kasaragod is named after Kasaragod Town, which is the administrative headquarters of the district. Down through the decades, the world Kasaragod is renowned for its coir and handloom industries. Kasaragod is a place where the three dream lands North Malabar, Tulunadu and Coorg intercepts. Kanhangad, Kasaragod, Uppala, Trikaripur and Nileshwar are the major towns in the district. According to the 2001 census, Kasaragod district has a literacy rate of 85.17%.
Kasaragod has a long list of tourist spots with hill stations, backwaters, beaches, lagoons, and wild life sanctuaries.
The 300-year old Bekal Fort, located 16 kms south of Kasaragod on the national highway, is one of the largest and best-preserved forts in Kerala. It is a serene hill station with beaches, backwaters offering a total unique place to relax and to get refreshed. The historical significance of the place is being uncovered with the presence of large number of forts both big and small like Bekal, Chandragiri, Hosdrug, Kumbala, Panayal, Kundamkuzhi, Bandaduka etc.
The fort is a circular structure of laterite sites rises 130 ft. above sea level and stands on a 35-acre headland that facing the Arabian Sea. The Fort appears to have been built up from the seas since almost three fourth of its exterior is soaked and the waves do knock the fort. As no wreckages of a palace were found within the fort, it is found that Bekal fort was not a center of administration unlike most of the forts found in India. It is believed that the fort to have been built for meeting the defense requirements.
The holes on the outer walls of the fort are so outstanding that they were particularly designed to guard the fort well. The medieval technology of defense strategy applied in the fort is very apparent as the holes at the top of the fort were intended to aim at the utmost points; the holes below were intended to hit when the enemy was nearer and the holes underneath smooth the progress to attack when the enemy was very near to the fort. The wild and ecstatic panorama of the setting sun makes the fort an adorable place to be.
Chandragiri Fort, 4 kms from Bekal and 3 kms south of Kasargod city, is located adjacent to the union of Payaswini River and Arabian Sea. The fort stands high spreading over 9 acres on the hilltop is one among a chain of forts built by Sivappa Naik of Bedanore in 17th century. Chandragiri fort was built with stones larger than the stones used for Bakel fort but it is smaller than Bakel fort. Chandragiri fort has a pond and a well in it. The fort wall facing north has big openings for fixing cannons.
The fort offers an incredible view of the convergence of the river and the Arabian Sea. The place is a vantage point to visually examine the sunset from the antediluvian Kizhur State Temple at Chandragiri, which celebrates the annual festival called Pattu Utsavam.
The isolated and serene Kappil beach located 6 kms from Bekal fort is becoming a major attraction. The wide beach and calm waters offer an unmatched experience. Kodi cliff offers a panoramic view of blue skies and gently sloping sands, making it an amazing place to be in.
Ananthapura Lake Temple
The temple constructed in the 9th century situated 30 kms far from Bekal is the sole lake temple throughout Kerala. It is the pristine abode (Moolasthanam) associated with Anandapadmanabha of Sri. Padmanabha Swami Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.
Manjeshwaram at the northern tip of Kerala, adjoining Karnataka is located 21 kms from Mangalore city 26 kms from Kasaragod. A long list of famous temples and fifteen mosques make the major cashew-growing town, Manjeswaram, a well-known pilgrim centre.
Manjeswarama is a home to the famous temples of all is the 1200-year-old SriMutt Anantheshwara Temple, which is stated in the Sahyadri Khand of the Skanda Purana and it is among the very few temples having a puranic background. Kanwathirtha is a significant place of pilgrimage for the Madhwa Brahmins across India. The Holy Cross Church, Pavoor in Manjeshwar is the only church across the world where the prayer services recited in Tulu language. Shri Chathurmukha Basadi, Manjeshwar is one of the most important Jain shrines of south India.
The Sree Madanantheswara Sidhivinayaka Temple, also known as Madhur Temple is located about 8 kms Northeast of Kasargod. The temple with its distinctive three-tiered dome, copper-plated roofing, and a cloistered court, stands royally against the picturesque landscape of the Madhuvahini River makes it a serene place of divine worship. It is believed that a dip in Madhuvahini stream near Madhur Temple is considered purifying with its essence of spirituality.
Madhur temple was originally a Shiva Temple and as the tradition goes, an old low caste woman "Madaru" found out an "Udbhava Murthy" (a statue that was not made by a human) of Shiva Linga. The Ganapathy statue was drawn by a priest's son on the walls of the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) while he was playing in the temple premises. As days passed by, it became big and fat; so the boy called Ganapathi as "boddajja" or "bodda ganesha."
The history says that Tipu Sultan wanted to knock down the temple like Adooru Mahalingeswara temple during his incursion of Coorg, Tulunadu, and Malabar. However, after having water from temple well, he changed his plan on destroying the Garbhagudi and marched towards Malabar. In order to keep up the fighting vigor of his soldiers he made a cut with his sword on the building indicating the anger, is still visible on the building that is built around the temple well.
It is one of the most famous Ganapathi temples among the six Ganpathi temples of ancient Tulunadu. Devotees flock to the temple during the celebration of various temple festivals.
Anandasaram located 15 kms away from Bekal is an internationally famous spiritual centre founded by Swami Ramdas in 1939 offering a calm, serene ambience best suited for being one with God and studies on spirituality.
Ranipuram, in Talakavery-Kottencheri-Ranipuram belt of Western Ghats is about 10 km's from Malom in Kasaragod district, renowned, as the “Ooty of Kerala” is definitely an incredible hill top. Ranipuram can possibly be accessed from Malom by trekking about 5 km through dense forest from Maruthom tattu, or by road Ranipuram is 10 kms apart from Panathady on Kanhangad-Panathur-Coorg State Highway.
Ranipuram has various and rich vegetation, shoal woods, monsoon forests, rolling grasslands, natural trails and evergreen forests. The other tourist spots adjacent to Ranipuram are Theanvarikallu falls, Kottencheri hill station, and Maruthom Tattu.
Pandiyan Kallu is a rock mounting in the sea about 2 km from the famous Trikkannad Temple. According to the myth, one of the Pandya Kings tried to attack the temple through the sea, but his ship was burnt by Lord Shiva. The burnt ship was later turned into a rock and later it came to be known as Pandiyan Kallu. It is an ideal spot for audacious swimmers.
Nileshwar the cultural capital town of Kasaragod district and once the seat of the Nileswar Rajas is located at a distance of 36 kms from Kasaragod town. Undoubtedly, it is one of the top backwater destinations in Kerala. Nileshwaram town is situated amidst two beautiful rivers: Nileshwaram River and Karyangodu River flowing so gently tempting the tourists to this charming destination.
The Nileswaram palace functioning as the folklore center of the Archaeology department is one of the major attractions. The palace was built by Nileswar Rajas to whom the town owes its name. The destination is renowned for its numerous shrines, temple festivals and the Kavil Bhavan Yoga and Cultural Centre, which offers rejuvenation therapy and naturopathy treatments like mud baths and herbal baths.
Pallikere beach is just 1 km away from Bekal fort offering a spectacular view of the fort and has ample space for recreational facilities and relaxation.
Bekal Hole Aqua Park
Bekal Hole Aqua Park located just 1 km away from Bekal Fort is the only one of its kind found in Northern Kerala. Water sport facilities like pedal boats and water cycles are offered here for the tourists.
Malik Deenar Mosque
Malik Deenar Mosque is located about 35 kms away from Kasaragod gained substantial importance as a center of Islam. The momentous Malik Deenar Juma Masjid built in the typical Kerala style is believed to have been founded by Dinar. The Juma Masjid, which is one of the best kept and most attractive in the districts is located at Thalankara.
Ranipuram Wildlife sanctuary `
Ranipuram Wildlife sanctuary/National park can be seen 36 kms away Kanhangad, sundry flora and fauna in forest array houses are prevalent for the Western Ghats. Elephants, Leopards, Deer, Crazy canines, Wild boars, Macaques, Rainforest felines, Leopard cats tenuous loris, Porcupines, Malabar large squirrels, Malabar civet feline, many species involving birds, recherche butterflies and medicinal plants are seen only in the sanctuary.
The proposed Munnamkadavu Dam will be helpful to form a fresh water and wetland ecosystem and sanctuary for wild crocodile, otter, endangered fish, and water birds. Afforestation around the catchment area of dam reservoir will help to create new wildlife sanctuary to restore lost wild elephant corridor.
Kasaragod is bestowed with its folk-culture, visual arts and festivals. In the historical development of various religions, groups and communities have subscribed to the growth of folk art and visual art forms in the region. The famous festivals celebrated in the region with much cheerfulness are Boothasthanam of Hindus, Makham Uroos of Muslims and Perunnals of Christians. Boothasthanam is known as Kalliyattam or Theyyam.
Every year during September the festival is celebrated in association with Ganesh Chathurthi, by the local people under the banner of Sarvajanika Ganeshotsava Samithi, Kasaragod. With clay, a big idol of Lord Ganesha is made and it is decorated for five to seven days by officiating poojas and on the final day, the idol is taken with a procession to be immersed in the Temple tank. Ganesh Chathurthi attracts thousands of devotees and the day has been declared a public holiday in Kasaragod District.
The district being famous for Mosques, Kasaragod gains considerable significance among Muslim community on the west coast. Festivals well-known as Urooses are celebrated in the Makhams (grave of holy persons) every year. The Makhams are additionally known as Jarams and Urooses as Nerchas.
Juma Masjid, located 2 km away from Kasaragod Town at Thalangara, is one of the best-kept and most alluring mosques in the district. The mosque is believed to have been founded by Malik Ibu Dinar MaIt and He is buried there in the mosque itself. Uroos conducted once in every three years in accolade of Malik Ibu Mohammed and on feeding the poor is the main part of the celebration.
Perunal in vernacular language means festivals of churches are well-known in the district. The two famous churches; The Church of Our Lady of Dolurus at Kasaragod and The Mother Dolorus Church of Bela were constructed during 1879 – 1880.
The Church of Our Lady of Dolurus at Kasaragod situated near the Railway Station Road is quite famous and the church festival over here attracts thousands of people. The Mother Dolorus Church of Bela, about 11 km on the Kumbla-Badiadka Route, is a centenary old Gothic Style Roman Catholic church under the jurisdiction of Mangalore diocese. The festival in the church falls during the month of December every year, which attracts large number of people.
Buffalo race which is a part of Tulunadu culture is only prevailing in Kasaragod district as well as the southern parts of Dekshina Kanada district. Spreading the message and importance of soaring and harvesting, the buffalo race is being held at the beginning of an agricultural season. Initially, the race was held in the ploughed paddy field but later on, it got popularized involving hundreds of bull buffaloes and thousands of men, and being conducted in extensive race fields. Strong buffaloes are being bred and specially trained for the race.
Usually the race is held at a length of 500 to 100 feet and a breadth of 20 to 50 feet, formed in to large boroughs in the muddy fields known as Kanbalam. The race is very popular in the northern parts of Kasaragod district especially in Kumbala and Manjeswar. The magnificent and charming animals exhibit their atrocious strength and speed when ridden by the skillful riders. The race evokes great enthusiasm among both spectators and participants and upholds the cultural heritage of Tulunad alive and evergreen.
Cockfight is yet another rural charm in Kasaragod District. With a legendary origin, it is widely referred in the folk songs of Malabar. Cockfights have been indispensable part of temple festivals, especially in the northern parts of Kasaragod district. Cockfights are held in secret in many parts of the district, though it was legally banned.
Cockfight is conducted in the premises of temples because of it strong religious connection. Cocks with great vigour and strength are grown for the fight and these cocks display immense courage in the fight. With the sharp double-edged small blade-like weapon tied to one of the legs of the cock, the cocks rise high and attack the other. The cock that is fatally wounded eventually dies. The winner cock’s owner is entitled to get the defeated or killed cock. In case both cocks are killed at the end of the fight, the owners of the cock exchange the dead cocks.
Cockfight provides a recreational ambience to the rural folks, though it is a cruel sport inflicting enormous pain and harm to the poor creatures. Cockfight keeps the cultural heritage of Tulunadu alive. Women are not permitted to watch this brutal sport.
Kasaragod was a major trade centre for Arab merchants between 9th and 14th centuries but Harkwillia was the name by which Kasaragod was known among them and the name Kasaragod remained totally strange to them. In 1514, Portuguese traveler Duarte Borbosa visited Kumbla in Kasaragod recorded rice being exported to Maldives. Arthur Wellesley’s family doctor, Dr. Francis Buccanan, visited Kasaragod in 1800 and later in his travelogue, he penned on places like Athiraparambu, Kavvai, Nileshwaram, Bekal, Chandragiri and Manjeshwaram. The place where the great Maurya Emperor, Chandragupta, is believed to have spent his last days as a sage was known as Chandragupta Vasti and later the name was evolved as Chadragiri.
Tuluva kingdom had made most of the Northern parts of Kasaragod District their territory while Mushika/Kolathiri/Chirakkal Royal Family of North Kerala ruled the central and Southern parts of Kasaragod. According to local folklore, 32 Malayalam and 32 Tulu villages had been there in the region then. Kasaragod was still under the Kolathiri Raja who had Nileshwaram as one of his capitals, when the Vijayanagara Empire attacked. The administration of this area was vested upon Ikkery Naiks when Vijayanagara Empire was facing its decline. At the beginning of the Vijayanagara Empire ruin, Vengappa Naik declared independence to Ikkery.
Kumbla, Chandragiri, and Bekal are considered to be constructed or renovated by Shivappa Naik. In 1763, the capital on the Ikkery Naiks, Bedanoor (Bidnur), was captured by Hyder Ali and His son Tippu Sultan surmounted major pieces of Malabar. Tippu surrendered Malabar, except Tulunadu (Canara) to the British, as for each the Sreerangapattanam Treaty of 1792. The British could surmount Tulunadu merely after the death of Tippu Sultan.
With the frontline leaders such as Mohammed Sherul Sahib and Kandige Krishna Bhat, Kasaragod played a remarkable role in the National Movement for the independence of the country. The prominent freedom fighters from the land were Umesh Rao, K. M. Krishnan Nambiar, Shreesankarji, Naranthatta Raman Nair, A.C.Kannan Nair, T. Gopalan Nair, and Meloth Narayanan Nambair. The Kadakom Sathyagraha and various struggles unleashed for the uplift of the scheduled castes and tribes also supported and enlivened in National Movement.
The majority of the population in the district is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Variety of crops and heterogeneity in cultivation are the key notes of agriculture in the district. The eastern tract comprises of forests and hilly areas and is with a variety of timber with teak and other plantations. The other major crops that are being cultivated are rubber, cashew, ginger, arecanut, pepper, cocoa are grown. In the coastal tract, paddy, coconut, arecanut, cashew, tobacco, vegetable, and tapioca are cultivated.
Kasaragod district has prodigious potentials for the establishment of sizably voluminous and medium industries, but the district is at present industrially rearward. There is no major industry here. Extending from Trikaripur to Bangra-Manjeshwar, Kasaragod district has 80 kms long seacoast. There are many fish landing centers in this district and conveying facilities.
Communal harmony and religious tolerance are the worth mentioning characteristics of the people. The Hindus, Muslims, and the Christians live in perfect harmony, each persuade and being persuaded by the creed and culture though they converse diverse languages.
The array of art forms speaks of the volume of rich cultural heritage of Kasaragod region. Kasaragod becomes a land of fabulous fantasies with the spectacular procession of Theyyam deities impersonated. The visitors are delighted by the symphonic melody created by Yakshgana, Kambala (buffallo race), Cockfight etc. of the Thulanad culture, rousing along with Poorakkali, Kolkali, Duff Mutt, Oppana etc.
The term Theyyam is an altered form of Daivam or God and it is a rare combination of dance and music and reflects important features of a tribal culture. Theyyam or Theyyattam now found in the traditional Kolathunadu of the present Kannur and Kasaragod districts is a renowned ceremonial dance of North Kerala. Theyyam encompasses almost all castes and classes of Hindu religion in this region as a living cult with century old traditions, rituals, and customs.
Yakshagana would mean a style of music and it is a musical dance drama played in the open air. Yakshagana is one of the most important folk theatres of Karnataka and Kasaragod. The sister art forms of Yalsjagana are the Terukkuthu of Tamilnadu, Koodiyatam and Chakyarkuttu of Kerala, Veedhinataka of Andhra Pradesh. Formerly, Yakshagana was known as Bayalata. From Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha, and other mythological episodes the stories of Yakshagana were taken.
The center attraction of Yakshagana is stagecraft where characters like Gods, Demons, and Sanyasis are exhibited in a mystical ambiance and the audience is carried to a world of fantasy. Bhagavatha is the Narrator, Director or can be called as Suthradhara is seated on one side of the stage floor with his accompaniment. He also sings with the accompaniment of Tala (Jagate) Mridanga (Maddale), Harmonium (Shruthi) and Chakrathala. In addition, high-pitched 'Chende' is used in special occasions. In olden days, oil lamps were used to light the stage.
"Yakshagana Prasanga" is the text of Yakshagana, which is narrated in sets of songs. According to the "Kalas" (Periods of night), these songs are set in different Ragas and Talas. There are about 100 ragas in Yakshagana. Yakshagana is a total theatre it being a performing art. It entertains and enlightens people of all the walks of life. Seeking the divine blessings of Lord Ganesha, Yakshagana performances start.
Kasaragod has an array of traditional Kerala-Malabar food dishes like Rice/Biriyanis, Dosa, Puttu, Appam, Idly, Seafoods etc. Stuffed Mussels (Arikkadukka) is a local flavor available with most of the local vendors. Hotels and restaurants across Kasaragod serve Chinese, Multi-cuisine, Continental, North Indian and South Indian foods. Malayali food items and special desserts in plantain leaf are served to both natives and foreigners.
It is advised to carry appropriate winter warmers while traveling in the winter season.
Kasaragod has as many as 7 different official languages spoken by a substantial number of people. The official administrative language is Malayalam. Along with Malayalam and English, Kannada also being recognized as a language of medium in schools and Tulu and Konkani languages are also widely spoken. Apart from these languages, Marathi, Beary Bashe, Hindi and Urdu are also spoken by minorities. As Malayalam spoken is influenced from Kannada and Tulu, Kannada and Tulu spoken are influenced by Malayalam language as well. Kasaragod has 82.51% of literacy rate.
The various physical features results in a corresponding diversity of climate as warm, humid, and tropical. The regular maximum temperature is 31.2oC and minimum is 23.6oC. The heat is domineering in the damp weighed down atmosphere of the plains though the mean maximum temperature is only around 90oF. Humidity is very lofty and escalates to about 90 percent during the south-west monsoon.
Towards the end of May or the beginning of June the southwest monsoon starts, heralded by thunder-storms and hold till September when the monsoon fades out. North-East monsoon begins in October-November. December to February, it is dry weather. March to May is the hottest season. The coolest months of the year are January-February so this period is recommended as the best tourist season
The most proximate airport to Kasaragod is Mangalore in Karnataka State, which is about 65 km away. The most proximate International Airport is Kozhikode (Calicut) which is 200km away. Kochi International Airport and Thiruvananthapuram Airport with direct flights from the Middle East, Singapore, Maldives, and Sri Lanka are other alternatives to reach Kasaragod.
Kasaragod as well as Kanhangad are effectively linked and serviced by rail to all major cities; L. Nizamudeen, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Jammutawi, Gandhidam, Jaipur, Pune, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, as well as Bangalore.
Kasaragod could be reached by KSRTC (Keral Point out Road Transport Corporation) and lots of other private shuttle operate from Kozhikode, Mangalore, Kochi, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Mysore along with Goa to Kasaragod.
NH17 (from Mumbai-Cochi), SH (Kasaragod-Kanhangad) connects Kasaragod with major cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Kozhikode, Chennai, Bangaluru, Coimbatore, Mysore, Shimoga, Koorg, Goa.