Varkala is a coastal town in the southern part of Kerala known for the unique 15m high 'Northern Cliff' adjacent to the Arabian Sea. It is popular for its hippie culture, shacks on the cliff serving great seafood and playing global music and the samadhi of Kerala's saint Sree Narayana Guru. Varkala is also known for its Janardhana Swami Temple, also known as Dakshin Kashi. Varkala Beach is also known as Papanasam Beach, which is 10 kilometers away from Varkala, is renowned for a natural spring. Which is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. Is believed as a dip in the holy waters at this beach is purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins, hence the name Papanasam Beach.
Varkala has some of the best pristine beaches, hills, lakes, forts, lighthouses, natural fisheries, and springs - all of this together makes this town a little paradise. You will also find a lot of shops with signboards in Hebrew selling Yoga mats, oxidized silver jewelry and harem pants made of cotton. Ayurvedic spas, affordable resorts, hostels, clean beaches make it a must-visit city of Kerala.
Kappil Beach is a strip of land by the Kappil Lake in Varkala. The beautiful beach is lined with coconut trees and offers a beautiful view of the backwaters. A bridge used to cross the lake is also a good location to get a stunning view of the backwater including the point where the backwater enters the splendid Arabian sea.
Anjengo Fort is one of the prime tourist attractions in Varkala, is positioned at a distance of 12 km which was constructed in the year 1965 by the British East India Company. Presently Anjengo fort is protected by the National Heritage monuments. The cemetery in the fort shelters the deceased occupants of the fort. The popular Muthalapozhi Lake is situated very close to the Fort. Autos or cabs can be taken from here to reach the fort.
Janardhanaswamy Temple is located in Varkala, is 25 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the Arattu festival celebrated here every year is attended by thousands of devotees. This is an ancient temple dating back to 2000 years. The Varkala sands have become an ideal spot for the confluence of various cultures.
Ponnumthuruthu is located 20 km away from Varkala, it is also known as Golden Island. Ponnumthuruthu Island is popular for its 100-year-old Shiva Parvathi temple situated amidst thick coconut groves stretched over the sandy beaches. Also, take a 30 m backwater ride from Nedunganda to Ponnumthuruthu which offers a perfect getaway from the bustle of city life.
Sivagiri Mutt is located at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram, is one of the most popular ashrams of Shri Narayana Guru, Sivagiri Mutt. This ashram celebrates Gurudeva Jayanti and the Gurudeva Samadhi every year. Sivagiri mutt, instituted by Sree Narayana Guru, is another major pilgrim center in Sivagiri mutt. The 'Sivagiri Pilgrimage' is usually conducted between the month of 30th December and 1st January every year. Janardhana Swami Temple and Varkala Beach are some nearby attractions that one should never miss during their visit to Sivagiri Mutt.
Varkala Cliff is a geologically important place in the region. The cliff is formed by laterite and overlooks the Varkala beach. Varkala Cliff has been declared as a Geological monument by the Geological Survey of India but the stunning view of the golden beach and the playful waves that it offers you is worth a visit for beach lovers and photographers.
Varkala Lighthouse was built by the British to assist the navigation of ships coming from Britain in 1684. It stands 130 feet tall on the Varkala Beach and attracts visitors for a mesmeric bird's eye view it provides of the Arabian sea and backwaters. It is a perfect tourist attraction for photographers, picnickers, and beach lovers.
Edava Beach is untouched and unspoiled by tourist activities, the beaches are the virgin stretches circling a blue lagoon where sea and backwaters run parallel divided by a more than one km of straight road. There is also an estuary that connects the sea with the backwaters here.
Varkala Beach is a beach along the Arabian Sea in Varkala, is also known as Papanasam Beach. The word ‘papanasham’ means a destroyer of sins. Hence many Hindu people come to this beach to take a dip in the waters to wash away their sins. Moreover, a segment of the beach is used by the Hindus to scatter the ashes of their dead relatives as is the belief that the water of the beach will cleanse the soul of the dead. Varkala Beach is the only beach in southern Kerala to have tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs called the Varkala Formation next to the Arabian Sea, which is a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast. There are frequent water jets and spas on the sides of these cliffs and hence is a preferred location for people wanting to sunbathe and swim.
Bekal Beach is also called Kappil Beach is a fabulous beach for strolling, especially at sunrise and sunset. The beach is clean, uncrowded and beautiful, fringed by coconut palms, which mimics a tropical paradise. The Kappil Beach is not advised for swimming, even for experienced swimmers, as the sand is uneven and drops abruptly into the ocean floor. You can gauge the unevenness of the ocean floor by watching the waves drop and rise abruptly. Moreover, there are no lifeguards at this beach so play it safe when entering the seawater.
The Anjengo Lighthouse was built by the British about a century ago. It is one of the important landmarks that throws light into the places that encountered with the European colonial powers in Anchuthengu. The lighthouse is 130 feet in height with around 11 floors and has around 200 steps to reach the top. The Anjengo Lighthouse has located 13 km from Varkala Beach but is worth the effort to pay a visit to this edifice. It’s a long climb to the top but rewards you with some amazing views of the sea, the nearby fort, the lake and palm trees. The lighthouse stands tall in an attractive little park with trees and flowers. The view from the top of the lighthouse is awe-inspiring.
Balanced almost terrifyingly along the edge of a 15 m-high red laterite cliff, the North Cliff part of Varkala has an unsurprisingly attractive setting that has gradually grown into Kerala’s most popular tourist hang-out. A small strand of beach nuzzles into the Varkala cliff edge, where restaurants play wild world music and stalls peddle kitschy memorabilia and jewelry. It’s touristy and the sales pitches can be tiring, but Varkala Cliff is still a great place to watch the days slowly turn into weeks, and it’s not hard to escape the crowds further north/south where the beaches are cleaner and quieter.
About 6 kilometers from the north of Varkala town is the tranquil and picturesque Kappil Pozhi Lake. Surrounded with coconut groves and trees this peaceful inlet wanders elegantly and joins the Arabian Sea. Get on the bridge that is constructed across the lake and you will get the most captivating view of the lake striding toward the blue horizon. The more exploratory can go boating to relish the exquisiteness of this lake.
Located in Varkala, Janardhana Swamy Temple is 25 km to the north of Thiruvananthapuram. The Janardhana Swamy temple is a fine example of Kerala art and architecture. The circular ‘Sanctum sanctorum’ prevailed by a conical dome of copper sheets, the square ‘mandapa’ with beautiful wooden carvings of ‘Navagrahas’ (nine planets) on the ceiling and copper-plated roof over it, the quadrangular enclosures around them, and a hall containing a ‘Bali peetha’ (food offering pedestal) in front of the inner temple, are the characteristic features of Kerala style architecture.
Ponnumthuruthu is an island situated about 12 km (7.4 mi) south of Varkala. To reach the island you can board a makeshift jetty where the walkway to the ferry is made up of coconut husks, mud and waste from coconut coir from Nedunganda and cruise through the backwaters. The name Ponnumthuruthu plainly means Golden Island. Legends say that the queens of the Travancore Royal Family used to hide their reserve of gold and ornaments on the island for safekeeping, and hence it earns its name. This lush island is a perfect retreat for those who need a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Although Varkala is surrounded by multiple beaches, Black Beach stands out for its rather serene area where the water and the surroundings are much quieter than other beaches in Varkala. If you’re not really into swimming, Black Beach is the place to be as the waters are rather choppy and are usually just best for just sunbathing on the shore. Spend a couple of hours at this quiet part of Varkala and enjoy the sun, sand, waves, and shopping at this hidden gem for travelers.
If you’re traveling to Varkala alone, do something spontaneous and learn how to surf at Soul & Surf, open seven days a week for surf lessons. They offer surf lessons from beginners to advance and are just a week-long before you are set to go off on the waves alone. Surf instructors are professionally trained and also work with qualified lifeguards that make learning a new water sport all the safer and also nothing short of exciting. Training starts at 6:30 am and typically ends at 11:00 am for surfing lessons and is followed by sunset yoga, chill-out sessions at the Arabian Sea, and having a couple of drinks at bars by Varkala Cliff.
Nearest Airport:Trivandrum International Airport, is situated 57 km away from here.
Nearest Railway Station:Varkala, about 3 km away