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 Varkala (Kerala)

Introduction: Varkala is a sea-side tourist resort and spa. It is a small town 55 km north to Thiruvananthapuram and also an important religious place for the Hindus.

History: According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his valkkalam (the bark of tree which the mythical sages used to wear) into the air, and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala. The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by the seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption came to be known as the Papanasham Beach ('Papanasham' means redemption from sins).

Description: The Papanasham Beach at Varkala is a quiet, secluded beach known for its white, silvery stretch of sand, mineral springs and rocky cliffs. Varkala is also an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage. The final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer of Kerala, is near Varkala atop a hill named Sivagiri. High cliffs from mineral springs majestically rise is a scene typical of Varkala.

Varkala Quick facts

  • Varkala Geography and Climate

    The climate like the rest of Kerala can be classified as in equatorial type of climate. It is hot and humid but in comparison to other inland cities, the ocean makes the climate quite pleasant. From June to Sept. it experiences torrential rains brought by the monsoon clouds. However from October to February, the climate remains relatively dry and cool.

  • Best time to visit Varkala

    Varkala is the place for you if the lapping of the waves and the rustle of the trees sound to you like music and if the majestic silent cliffs seem like a companion as you star gaze head or if your heart desires to visit some of the less crowded pilgrim shrines. And if you desire an inexpensive holiday, Varkala is the right choice. Especially during the off season the region is a laid-back rustic haunt and the accommodation charges come down significantly. They rise sharply again in from November to March.

  • Varkala Orientation

    Varkala beach is bordered by high cliffs. If you want a cheap holiday, Varkala is the place to be. In the off season, the area is mellow and relaxed and hotel rates drop to a couple of hundred rupees. In November, the season starts and prices soar. The season continues till March-April. During the monsoon, Varkala beach disappears almost entirely to gradually emerge during the tourist season.

  • Varkala Near Getaways

    Ponmudi is an idyllic hill station located about 54 km from Thiruvananthapuram. Nestled at an altitude of about 1000 m, Ponmudi is a treasure trove of natural beauty and soothing environs.

  • Varkala Distance(s)

    Varkala is 54 km from Thiruvananthapuram and 37 km from Kollam. The town of Varkala is about 5 km inland, centered on the train station, and can be reached via autorickshaw for Rs. 40.

    Distance from Varkala to
    Click on link For a list of distances from Varkala to various cities .

  • How to reach Varkala by Road

    The beach is 2 km from the beach, journey by auto-rickshaw will cost around Rs 25. If you are coming from Ernakulam or Kollam, you can take a bus from any of the KSRTC bus stands.

  • How to reach Varkala by Rail

    A train headed for Thiruvananthapuram. It would take 1 hour from Kollam and 4 hours from Kochi by road or train.

  • How to reach Varkala by Air

    Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is 55 km from Varkala.

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    Varkala Festivals and culture

  • Varkala Festivals

    The main festivals, Onam and Vishu are celebrated in a grandeur manner. The Kathakali, Ottanthullal and music concerts are performed in the surroundings of the old Devaswom building during December and January.

  • Varkala Culture

    Despite invasion by many dynasties, the Keralite culture is intact which can be observed in the temples of Kerala. Same is the case in Varkala. Similarly in preserving their traditional art, the Keralites were firm. Varkala has centers for Kalaripayattu, one of the oldest living tradition of martial training and physical culture in the world, which also strengthens mind through physical exercises.

  • Varkala Religious Places

    Janardhana Temple: The Janardhana Temple is said to be 2000 years old and has a Vishnu shrine. It is said that the original temple was engulfed and destroyed by tidal waves. Years later, a Pandyan king came to the site to do penance to Brahma for a sin he committed. The Lord pardoned the king and in return, asked the king to build another temple at the same site. The story goes that in a dream he was informed of the location of the original idol that was lying deep in the sea. With the help of fishermen, the king reclaimed the idol and reinstalled it in the temple. The legend also says that Brahma appeared and completed the rituals. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple, but are allowed to walk around the sanctum and stroll around the huge banyan tree. The festivals of the temple are colorful with noisy parades. Another Hindu ritual to be watched is the 'Vavu Bali' performed on the beach on the new moon day of the month of Karkkidakam (Malayalam Era).

    Sivagiri Mutt: Sivagiri is the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust. The ashram is devoted to Sree Narayana Guru (1855-1928), whose followers; the Ezhavas form a large group of Kerala population. Guru preached the doctrine, 'one caste, one religion, one god for humanity' and attracted a large following among the lower castes. Thousands of followers visit the Mutt each year. Every afternoon, 'Sadhya' is served at the mutt for Rs 10.

    Christ the King Church: An important pilgrim centre, this church is famous for the annual festival in November. High Mass, Vespers, a two hour long Holy Eucharistic procession and benediction are the highlights of the festival. Nativity feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also celebrated with religious spirit.

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    Varkala Entertainment and Night Life

  • Varkala Adventure

    The beach is backed by a sheer cliff wall. Several steps are cut into the cliff and lead to the cliff top path, where Kashmiri souvenir sellers, fish restaurants owners and vendors vie with each other for tourist Euros. The cliff top path overlooks the entire beach, which is not quite one kilometre long and 20 m wide. It made me wonder how all package tourists could find a spot in December and January, the high season.

    Ponnumthuruth (Golden Island): This beautiful Island can be reached by boat. The cruize to the the island is a memorable one. There is a temple dedicated to Sivan and Parvathy which is very famous.

  • Varkala Nightlife

    Nightlife in Varkala is pretty laid-back and revolves around the cliff top restaurants that serve Kingfisher beer and toddy. When they close, the beach is a good place to watch the stars.

  • Kidding around Varkala

    This secluded beach known as the Papanasham beach is a beautiful picnic center. The High cliffs with mineral springs rise majestically from the coastline giving the visitors a spectacular view. The best time to visit the beach is when the beach extends up to the very cliff face giving an additional 500 m of serene beach space. The Aaranmula Boat Race is staged each year in the scenic village of Aaranmula in August/ September. This river carnival is part of the Aaranmula Temple festival.

  • Varkala Shopping

    Shopping is a good option for the visitors, as the markets are located on the Varkala family beach. These bazaars are always bustling with activity and the shops are full of little trinkets and souvenirs that you could take home with you.

  • Famous To Eat at Varkala

    Staple food of Varkala and common to Kerala, viz., rice and fish curry. Nendranga chips is famous all over the world. Nendranga is a Banana variety of Kerala. This apart it is usually Dosa or Idly, made from ricepaste, with coconut chutney for breakfast.

  • Varkala Museum and Hill Stations

    Anjengo Fort: Near to Varkala is the site of the Dutch East India Company's main garrison, Anjengo Fort. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the fort protected their powerful position in the state.

  • Lake at Varkala

    Kappil Lake: Kappil boat club is a recent venture in the back water tourism in the area. Kappil is 6 km north of Varkala. The people travelling in trains and buses through the area can enjoy the scenic beauty of the estuary in between Edava and Kappil . It is fascinating. Vettekkada, near kappil and Varkala is a spectacular beach.

    Papanashanam Beach: Papanasam beach is a perfect place to watch the sunset or relax gazing at the horizon. The area is covered with coconut palms and small restaurants that mushroom during the season. This beach is bordered by high cliffs. Right below this cliff is the 500 -metre stretch beach.

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    Varkala Tips

  • Varkala Travel Tips

    • Should carry swim-gaurds for the better protection at the time of swimming or any other type of water sports in the sea
    • It is better to buy films and other necessary items from Varkala town than from the beach
    • It is also advised to drink only mineral water. Try to avoid drinking tap water
    • Internet browsing centres are plenty on the cliff. You can bargain and fix the rates before you start using. The rates vary from Rs. 1 to Rs. 2 per minute
    • Be careful of shady dealers who claim to give you a good deal for backwater trips
    • One should also be careful while going up and down the steep cliff.
    • Carry a torch during night
    • Surfing boards are available for hire at the beach
    • Many of India's larger cities are highly polluted and travelers with respiratory ailments may wish to take precautionary measures

  • Varkala Tourist Offices

    Backwater Tourism Promotion Council,
    Papanasham Beach Road, Varkala,
    Thiruvananthapuram District.
    Tele/Fax: 0091-470-2605071
    Email: btpc@postmark.net

  • Must do at Varkala

    • Close to Temple Junction is Varkala Cultural Centre with frequent Kathakali performances. Kathakali is a traditional dance-drama. The artist's face is painted green or black, according to whom he represents. Green for the Gods and black for the villains. The artist wears a huge headgear and a costume that makes him rotund. Female parts are played by male actors
    • Ayurveda massage is also very popular. It restores balance in a person, and balance stands for good health. A massage is relaxing but offers no long-term benefit because Ayurveda treatment means a two-week or longer committment. It involves a special diet, exercises and massages. It is not difficult to find places for Ayurveda massages in Varkala. They are clearly indicated, but there is no way of knowing whether they are good or not

  • Not to do at Varkala

    • Not to swim at the time of strong tides and current and should be aware about the currents and tides are especially dangerous in the sea (water sports) and be careful. Varkala had experienced strong coastal rips. Many lives, even that of experienced swimmers have been lost in the turbulence of the tides. It is not advisable to swim too far into the sea. Varkala has only one lifeguard post with two lifeguards and it is advised to swim around this area. On a crowded day spotting when in trouble becomes difficult

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