Want to get metamorphosed the holidayer in you to a pilgrim and the pilgrim in you to a holidayer. Then take a dip in the rolling waves at the Varkala beach lulled in by the prayers of the nearby temple. The coconut trees tasseled with the rowing leaves in the wind and the gentle waves cuddling the laterite cliff with a purifying touch, offer a priceless panoramic view of this distinct topography. And the towering laterite cliffs here stand like sentinels, overlooking the serene sea along the beach. Varkala has recently earned for itself a place among the ‘Best Value Index’ tourist spot around the globe according to a survey by Trivago, an online travel meta search engine. As per the survey, Varkala occupies the 28th place among the Budget Travel Destinations.
Varkala is the only beach in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. The cliffs have natural springs and they are believed to possess medicinal qualities. Its therapeutic effect draws a lot of visitors to the spot. Paapanaasam is one of the main beaches here with religious significance. It is believed that a dip in the waters here will wash away all the sins and hence the name Paapanaasam (paapa is sin and naasam is elimination). Considered to be very auspicious, the Hindus immerse the ashes collected from the cremation grounds in the sea here.
Varkala is an ideal getaway for anyone who wants to escape from the hullabaloo of the urban life. Hemmed in by the coconut palms and blessed with an idyllic serenity, the beach has a laidback ambience to rejuvenate visitors. You can collect sea shells; take a stroll along the sand enjoying the unending stretch of blue waters or lie down on the sun drenched beach.
The Janardhana Swamy Temple at Varkala, which has a history of some 2000 years is located on a steep hill, at the beginning of the road leading to the beach. Facing the Papanasam beach, the temple with its architectural splendour abounds in a mystic spiritual as well as an aesthetic aura.
Situated about 3 km from Varkala, the Sivagiri Mutt sprawls over an area of 200 acres and you will surely be attracted by the distinctive multi-tiered white terraces of the Mutt. The samaadhi or the final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru, a saint and philosopher, who had a defining role to play in the social reformation in Kerala is situated on a hillock here, attracting thousands of pilgrims.
Nearby Varkala and sandwiched between the sea and backwaters is Anjengo Fort at Anchuthengu. It is like an enclosed bastion with high laterite walls. Anjuthengu situated about 12 km from Varkala en route to Kadakkavur brims in historical significance as various colonial powers – the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English tried to occupy the place.
Venture into the lush island, Ponnumthuruthu, a perfect getaway for those who seek a respite from the hustle and bustle of the urban life. You can board a country boat from Nedunganda and take a tour through the backwaters for about 30 minutes to reach Ponnumthuruthu. The makeshift jetty and the walkway to the ferry, which is made up of coconut husk, mud and the waste from coir surely captivate your heart in its sheer simplicity.
Thiruvambadi beach a calm and serene beach is adjacent to the north cliff of Varkala beach. Kappil a nearby place offers a rare confluence of sea, river and backwaters and its picturesque setting is a sight to behold. The laterite cliffs, the golden sands and the undulating waves of the sea provide a singular charm to Varkala and its unique geological formation attracts a lot of geologists to this place. Here, in Varkala the fabric of ethereal is brilliantly interwoven into the ordinary.
Nearest railway station: Varkala, about 3 km.
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 57 km.