Varkala is a calm and quiet hamlet, located on the outskirts of the Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala. It has several beautiful attractions apart from stunning landscapes, brown sand, and the sea; like a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the pilgrimage centre of Sivagiri Mutt.
The Varkala beach, also known as Papanasam beach, is ten kilometres away from Varkala. It is particularly known for its natural spring, which is considered to have medicinal and healing properties. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is said to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all the sins; hence the name ‘Papanasam’.
A two thousand-year-old shrine of Janardanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great religious reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 – 1928) is also close by. The final resting place of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage that happens between December 30 to January 1.
Varkala is peppered with spas and Ayurvedic massage centres that offer holistic practices; great for rejuvenating oneself completely. Popular for beach activities like swimming, wind surfing, parasailing and sun-bathing, Varkala is actually great for recreational activities as well. This beach also offers one of the most striking sunsets of the region. Interestingly, Varkala is the only place in Southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea.
Adventure freaks can hire surf gears from the Surf and Soul school. The best time for surfing is from September to March, though. If you’re interested in snorkelling, head to Thiruvambadi beach. Apart from these, you could also indulge in creative workshops that are offered here. Also shop till you drop at the never-ending rows of huts running along he cliff, selling everything from gorgeous jewellery to handicrafts.
The nearest airport from here is the Trivandrum International Airport, about 57km away; whereas, the nearest railway station is the Varkala station, about 3km away.