1. VarkalaA small town just north of the state capital Trivandrum, is an area that attracts backpackers like nobody’s business is the cliff top path town of Varkala with its many restaurants and hostels. Hugging the ragged cliffs that tower above the beach below, a small dirt track runs the length of the cliff top, dotted with guest-houses and mellow cafes, restaurants and the odd shop and book exchange.With a laid back vibe and a great selection of places to eat and drink this small cliff top hang out is the perfect place to relax. If laying on the beach all day becomes a tad monotonous, there is a nearby temple for a spot of culture and lots of shops to spend your rupees in, as well as lots of yoga on offer but the main activity of the day is surfing! We spent many an evening here enjoying a delicious curry and a kingfisher watching the sun set over the Arabian ocean.
It's easily accessible through bus and train and is a small town to get around. You can hire a bike and explore the cozy town tucked away from anything mainstream. You can give in to temptation and splash out on a bay side beach resort located on the cliff overlooking the beautiful sea. Varkala is quite a new place to hang out in India and has only recently been developed as a tourist destination. Majority of the travelers flocking there currently are backpackers from other countries and couples who are looking for a romantic beach retreat or a rejuvenation holiday therapy as it is famous for its yoga and ayurvedic centers.
Featuring panoramic views of the Arabian Sea, Varkala displays the purest form of a natural beach retreat in India. Why is it the best coastal getaway? From secluded beaches, lip-smacking culinary delights to exotic beach resorts located on 'the cliff' overlooking the ocean, it presents the opportunity for travelers to make the sprawling beach their own.
I have said this earlier, I will say it again. One of the best things about travelling is the people you meet- some give you life goals, some lend a fresh perspective, some just make you smile and few more humble you down, the nice way. Here is my share of experiences from the humans I met in Varkala, may be also the humans who make Varkala what it is. Meet Stephen. Actually Stephen has a personality interesting enough that it will find you, even if you may not necessarily go looking for. In the last couple of days of my stay in Varkala, it almost became customary to halt by this small shop selling small artifacts carved out of marble and say hello to Stephen. From London, Stephen is in Varkala to train as a yoga instructor. I first met Stephen at the marble artifacts shop, where he has been spending a couple of hours each day to learn how to shape marble pieces perfectly. Here he poses with his yoga instructor; the picture below is the shop is where he sharpens his artifacts skills.
What made me choose Varkala:Ø “cliff adjoining the Arabian sea” offering good view to watch sea waves from mean sea levelØ Away from crowd and cleaner beachesØ Authentic ayurvedic massages at reasonable cost.The weather was quite sunny in the day time. By the afternoon it became overcast. After delicious morning breakfast at the guest house , we decided to explore the cliff area. We got all the information of the place by the owner’s of the guest house. This guest house is being run and managed by two Spanish ladies Katrina and Esther. Just amazing human beings. On one of their visit to India , they just fell in love with the place and decided to do something here only. Rest as they say is history.
We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurant at cliff as the guest house was just 5 min walking distance from there. The view of the cliff and the sea was absolutely breathtaking. Light drizzle and the breeze was icing on the cake. We spent the entire evening on the cliff and strolling down towards the beach. The scenery , weather and calmness did not let us go back to the guest house. There are many restaurants of all types at the cliff. It is also a small shopping hub for the tourists. One will find all the handicraft items and local items of Jaipur, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and of course Kerala. The prices are no doubt on the higher side but bargaining is the key.
Towards the south of the cliff is the famous Papanasam or Vakala beach. Shree Janardhana Swamy temple is also situated there (Open 0400 – 1200 hrs, 1700 – 2000 hrs). This 2000 years old temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Hanuman. It is one of the famous hindu temple in the south. All the males have to remove their t-shirts/shirts while entering in the premises of the temple.
Varkala has been on my list for quite a time and 4 days break was apt for it.A captivating beach town located about one and half hour’s drive from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, Varkala is a heartening mix of beach beauty and devotional ambience. This is perhaps the only location with a cliff-land-sea combination. Here steep cliff and flat land adjoins the Arabian Sea, a peculiar geography!After spending numerous hours on planning and search on internet, the itinerary was finalized.We planned to reach Varkala from Hyderabad via Trivandrum. One can reach via Cochin too but its closer to Trivandrum. We booked one of the guest house in Varkala in advance.
Varkala BeachVarkala Beach is located 50 km from Thiruvananthapuram, and is not as crowded as some of the other beaches in Kerala. It is also the only beach in Southern Kerala where one can see cliffs that run adjacent to the sea. For those looking for a relief from city life and beautiful sights, there are also many natural streams that are mineral-rich. It is often said that the sunset here is the most beautiful anywhere in Kerala. For the religious ones, there is also a Vishnu Temple, which is 2000 years old.
The beach was awesome as many were doing exercise, yoga, swimming, some rituals along the sea side. The morning walk was better as we can get fresh air.The beach was almost 4 to 5 km long. One can walk the entire beach in two hours. There was cliff adjacent to the beach, which add extra beauty to it.
Varkala Tales is my new travel series based on my latest travel to Varkala in Kerala. This series will cover sunsets, teas, people, solo travelling and ofcourse places. Brace up for some poetry too. This is part one of Varkala Tales, Feedback welcome and highly appreciated.