Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South).The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment center.Train- Kanyakumari Express – seven days in a week- from KR Puram to Varkala stationThings to do in Varkala: Among the several picturesque beaches of Varkala, the prominent one is the main Varkala Beach, which is also known by the name Papanasanam Beach. The beaches of Varkala have steep cliffs. These cliffs, termed as Varkala Formation, that are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea are declared as geological monuments by the Geological Survey of India. Paragliding from the cliffs The most significant religious spot in Varkala is Sree Janardana Swami Temple. Sree Janardana Swami Temple or Dakshin Kashi is more than 2000 years old. With the rise in Varkala tourism, the healthcare industry here has flourished well. Varkala is a famous center for Ayurveda treatments. Natural therapies and spa treatments have become very popular here. Backwater cruising at the estuarine stretch between Edava and Kappil is another popular activity in Varkala. Traveling to VarkalaVarkala is well connected by road to various cities. Tourists can choose to reach Varkala by buses, trains, flights and taxis. The nearest airport is located at Trivandrum, 50 km from the destination. The best time to visit Varkala Beach is from November to March.We went by flight from Bangalore to Trivandrum. It just took 1 hr & 30 minutes & from there by a cab (provided by the hotel) took 1700 Rs.Accommodation options in VarkalaApart from budget hotels in Varkala like home stays and a few resorts, tourists also have luxurious options while visiting Varkala.We stayed at Hill top Ayurvedic Beach resort situated in the north CliffVarkala has a sizeable number of people from all over the world visiting during New Years. The ideal time to visit is during November to March as its crowded by the foreigners. Now a days people prefer to go to Varkala than Kovalam as its very lonely & perfect for relaxation, yoga & Ayurveda treatment. However, if you are looking for a much cheaper deal, you could choose to travel much before the peak season starts. A trip only to Varkala can last you 4-5 days, however others differ. As I have gone in the first week of April, the weather was also surprisingly very pleasant. I stayed in Hill top ayurvedic resort, situated in the north cliff. The main attraction of this resort is the Tibetan restaurant adjacent to the resort which offers good Tibetan food & also tasty sea foods. And by sitting their you can enjoy the beauty of the calm & quite sea & can spend the entire day. Importantly the manager, Mr. Ernesto a Spanish guy, very helpful person. You can find lot of restaurants, shops which sells dresses, show pieces, leather bags, libraries in the entire cliff. If you do plan to join them on 31 Dec, it is advisable to head in early to the Cliff and leave real late. The local crowd may increase in number and getting out of the cliff gates would get tough and suffocating. Having been to Varkala first time, I would like to next time also & just want to sit & do relax. I do have a favorite restaurants there- Clafoutti & Tibetan kitchen. Goes without saying that you must try the sea food there
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191 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July,August,September
If you have always dreamed of living in some beautiful suburbs, Aluva in Kerala is the place for you. It is in stark contrast to the hustle bustle of Ernakulam and a bliss to live in. Home to numerous rivers, streams and temples, this laidback town welcomes visitors with warm hospitality. Besides the stunning landscape, there are a few places to see here including Aluva Palace, Shiva temple and Marthanda Varma Bridge. The Aluva Palace is one of the largest archaeological palaces in Kerala and is definitely a must visit. Even if you are not fond of historical tours, you can enjoy the grandeur this palace offers. Instead of touristy sites, it's best to indulge in the spur of the moment tours where you will get a chance to interact with locals, learn about the culture and enjoy the many delicacies this small town offers. You may not have too many options when it comes to hotels, but there are a few budget hotels you can try.
300 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Coonoor, or Kannur as it is also known is a small district that is rather famous for its production of Nilgiri tea. The best way to get there would hands down be the Heritage Train, which gives you a chance to soak in the scenic route while indulging in interesting conversations with the locals. Established in 1984, Sim's Park is a lusciously filled botanical garden. A must visit, its sloping manicured lawns hold over a thousand plant species both rare and local, and make for a perfect picnic spot. While at Coonoor, it is easy to fall in love with the place and its people, and there are a variety of places to go to if you're looking for some serenity. The Dolphin's Nose (which is a rock that literally looks like the name) is another such haven for visitors and even offers you a misted view of the Laws Falls. For every person who comes here, a trip to the magnificent tea estates is definitely in order, where you can see everything from its manufacturing to actually getting a taste of it. It'll change your perception of tea – especially if you're a tea lover! Coonoor is definitely a highlighted trip on the bucket list of everyone looking to find themselves away from the hustle of life.
140 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,August,October,November,December
This seventh largest city of Kerala is popular for its houseboat cruises along the Kerala backwaters. Alappuzha is bedecked with lagoons, beaches and canals and offers lots of water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing and water skiing, to unwind during your vacation. The backwaters also happen to be the venue for the annually celebrated (January and August) Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race, where long serpentine boats being rowed with rhythmic furor by able-bodied Malayali men, is a spectacular site to behold. Some other famous attractions include Alleppey Beach, Andhakaranazhi Beach, Vemband Lake, Mannarasala Temple and the Alappuzha Light House, which offers a stunning panoramic view of the city and the coastline, especially during sunsets. One can also take a speed boat to Pathiramanal Island, a quiet and picturesque island on the backwaters where one can witness hundreds of rare migratory birds from around the world. South India is culturally rich and its abundance can be enjoyed through its music, dance and spirituality. Many resorts organise cultural shows in the evening where one can enjoy the traditional dance of Kerala and one of the oldest theatre forms of the world, Kathakali. Places such as Thaff Delicacy, Dreamers Cafe and Restaurant, Mushroom Restaurant and Kream Korner Art Cafe are famous for delicious local, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Alappuzha can be reached by air, the nearest airport being Cochin International Airport, which is 83 km from the city, while buses and trains are also available.
143 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,March,September,October,November,December
Kumarakom is an exotic cluster of villages in Kerala that was created for tourists by claiming land from the Vembanad Lake that surrounds it. The landscape is covered by greenery consisting of shrubs, grass and bushes punctuated by pretty lilies and other flowers. Coconut trees line the horizon and complete the picture. This sleepy lake village is the abode of countless rare migratory birds, including the Siberian Stork and Waterfowls. Egrets, herons, ducks and kingfisher are also commonly seen here. The Vembanad Lake is home to fish, shrimp and prawn. Tourists frequent this destination for its backwater boathouse rides. Though expensive, the experience is worth it, especially if you have a good chef on board, who can make you delicacies of the local cuisine. Kumarakom also houses the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, which is a great place to walk around and for birdwatching. If you happen to be here during the festival of Onam, don't miss out on the boat races. Various kinds of boats such as Odi-Vallam, Churulan Vallam, Chundan Vallam and Kochu-odi Vallam are taken over by more than a thousand oarsmen. Canoe trips can be organised on request and are best enjoyed early in the morning or during the evenings.
121 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,December
Boasting of a culturally rich history, this small town close to Kottayam is home to numerous temples. Changanassery is laidback and seems quite happy with where it is and there is no rush to do anything. The matter of daily business is taken very lightly but not casually, and it's actually quite a delight to escape the hustle and bustle of cities. There are many temples here that deserve a visit. Among the more notable ones are Perunna Subramanyaswami Temple, Vazhappally Temple and Thrikodithanam Temple. Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple is one of the five temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and connected to the Pandava brothers. It is one of the most sacred temples in Kottayam and the most visited. Besides the temples, there is not much to explore here and it's best not to spend more than a day here unless this is where you are staying. If you are staying here, you can travel outside the city to explore other touristy spots.
134 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,September,October,November,December
In God’s own country is the relatively larger city of Kottayam, famous for being the trade centre of rubber, commercial crops and spices. More than being a tourist attraction, this city is the gateway to the high ranges of central Kerala, Wagamon and Elaveezha Poonchira. It is also conveniently located between the ghats and the backwaters, providing easy access to both as well as the best of both worlds! Among the many places to visit here, Marmala is a wonderful option for its magnificent waterfalls and absolutely breathtaking beauty. The Poonjar Palace, on the other hand, is a testimony to the glorious past of Kottayam. From an enormous collection of antiques to exquisite furniture, everything is preserved in this former home of the royal family. The palace protects even the tiniest of items such as jewel boxes, lamps, sculptures of Nataraja, palm-leaf engravings and grain measures. Pathiramanal, fondly known as the 'sands of midnight' is small island on the backwaters of Alappuzha. Sparking in natural beauty, the reflection of the moonlight on the white sand of the island is a sight to behold. Vembanad Lake is also a good option to spend a day on the coconut-fringed backwaters enjoying a leisurely meal!
Eravikulam National Park
173 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - April,May,June,September,October,November
This national park is the breathtaking home of a plethora of precious flora and fauna, and lies along the Western Ghats. Considered the magnum opus of Kerala, the park provides magnificent panoramic views of tea plantations and rolling hills blanketed in mist. The grasslands protect the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and harbour several other species of animals, birds and butterflies, including a new species of frog that was discovered recently. Eravikulam park becomes a sought after destination when the hill slopes get veiled by a carpet of blue, a miraculous phenomena caused by the flowering of Neelakurinji, which blooms only once in 12 years. Anamudi, translating to elephant's forehead and located within the park, is the highest peak of South India and its might and height of 8,842 ft can be enjoyed from a distance at Rajamala, from where the endangered Nilgiri Tahr can also be observed. The park provides a number of safaris for convenient and safe tourism around the park. The Kurinji Trail, which follows through misty tracks of protected animals and flowery grasslands, is a must for trekking lovers. Another famous but charming spot is the Lakkom Waterfalls, which provide an enchanting view along with an eco-shop cafeteria to eat at. Close to these falls is a log house, which offers comfortable accommodation with complimentary food and the much desired solitude and peace amidst the lap of nature.
133 Kms from Papanasam
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
Very well known for the popular Shree Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha is a small town in Kerala and sees visitors from all across the country. Though the town doesn't offer much to visitors, the temple here more than makes up for the lack of other touristy spots. The Krishna Temple is situated alongside a small pond and is famous for its delicious prasad, payasam. The dish is made of rice and milk is perhaps the best in the southern part of the country. In earlier times, human sacrifice used to take place here but now the sacrifice is restricted to animals. The temple is also one of the very few temples in the country where Pallipana is performed by sorcerers annually. Ladies, do remember to wear a sari or lehenga when you are visiting the temple or else you will not be allowed. The language spoken in the temple is Malayalam and if you'd like to understand what is happening, it's best to request a local to help. Other than the temple, there is nothing much to explore in Ambalapuzha and you can use this town as a stop on your holiday itinerary rather than making it your entire vacation destination.