Tucked in the southern part of Kerala, away from the typical touristy locales of the state, Varkala sits on edge of Trivandrum. Apart from being known as Kerala’s ‘Temple Town’, Varkala is also recognized as ‘one of the top 10 seasonal beaches in the world’. The endless expanse of the Arabian Sea, the golden sands, and the laid-back vibes make this town a perfect place to relax.
Being close to Trivandrum, the best way to reach Varkala is by air till Trivandrum airport. From there you can hire a car and reach the beach town, at a distance of about 51 Km. There are also buses and trains from Trivandrum to Varkala.
Things to do in Varkala
- Janardana Swami temple– Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this is one of the most famous places of worship in Varkala overlooking the Varkala Beach. The 2000-year old temple enshrines an ancient deity of Vishnu and is an important site for Vaishnavas. The temple also houses a historic bell that had once been brought in by the sea from a wrecked Dutch vessel.
- Sivagiri Mutt– At about 2.5 Km from Varkala town, this mutt or ashram stands as a spiritual place. Commemorating Shree Narayana Guru, a holy saint, this place evolved as a place that promoted equality of humans, irrespective of their religion, caste, and creed.
- Papanasham Beach– Varkala Beach, also known as the Papanasham Beach is known for its natural beauty as well as spiritual significance. This white sandy beach, lined with towering laterite cliff, imparts a breathtaking vista. For nature lovers, this beach is an ideal spot to watch the sunset against the clear blue sea. The beach, miraculously, also has a natural freshwater spring which is believed to be sacred and bathing here can wash away one’s sins. Hence the name (pap- sins, nasham- to get rid of).
- Anjengo Fort – Away, but not far from Varkala town, the Anjengo Fort stands as a remnant of Kerala’s rich historical past. From the Portuguese to the Dutch and then the English East India Company, Anjengo remained a place of historical significance in Kerala. It houses an old English fort, dating back to 1700s, which is a now a National Heritage Monument.
- Varkala Tunnel– Established in 1867, this is a 924 feet long tunnel that runs through the periphery of the town. Built by the Dewan of Travancore, for the East India Company, this 151 canal served as an internal waterway as well as an irrigation source.
- The expansive beaches of Varkala offer an array of beach activities like swimming, parasailing, and windsurfing, or simply sunbathing on the golden sands. There are surfing equipment on rent and also the Surf and Soul school which provides surfing training for beginners.
- Kerala is known for its profound understanding and practice of natural remedies and traditional Ayurveda. And Varkala has are a host of Ayurvedic centers and spas, offering therapeutic treatments.
- Stay at one of the yoga retreats on the beach which offer yoga therapies and meditation sessions for a relaxing vacation.
- Get rejuvenated at the natural spring which is rich in sea minerals and clay, and is known for its healing properties.
- Try snorkeling at the Thiruvambadi Beach or Papanasham beach and explore the underwater.
- Shop at the beachside shops or from the vendors selling jewelry, locally handcrafted trinkets, and colorful hippie goods.
Kerala’s cuisine is known for its eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary flavors.
- Head to Jicky’s Rooms, Oottupura and Hotel Suprabhatham for simple and delectable vegetarian flair.
- If you are looking for international flavors, then Café Del Mar is the perfect place for Italian and Mexican food.
- The beachside eateries like Dolphin Bay and Funky Art Café are backpackers’ pit stops and make for great places to hang out on the beach.