Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam – Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach. The Papanasam beach (also called as Varkala beach), which ten kilometers away from Varkala, renowned for the natural spring. It considered to have medicinal and curative properties.
A dip in the holy waters at this beach believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins; hence the name ‘Papanasam beach’. A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple, a short distance away from the beach. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 – 1928) is also close by. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days – 30th December to 1st January.
Sree Narayana Guru
Sree Narayana Guru propagated the ideology: “one caste, one religion and one god”, in a society torn by the taboos of caste system. Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres. Attractions: Beach, mineral water springs, the Sivagiri Mutt and a 2000-year- old Vishnu Temple.
Blessed with sun kissed beaches, placid lagoons and silvery sands, Kerala one of the internationally known destinations for beach tourism. Both the northern and the southern parts of Kerala draw tourists with their sun-drenched beaches.
While Kappad, Darmadam and Muzhapilangad are the major beaches in Northern Kerala Kovalam and Varkala are the major ones in Southern Kerala.
Varkala, though it possesses a beach-resort atmosphere, is not entirely like the other beaches. It is different from Kovalam in many respects – be it topography or ambience. Though visited by a fairly large number of tourists every day, Varkala still harbours a calm ambience and devoid of the hustle and bustle that usually associated with Kovalam. Apart from holding the charms of a quiet beach,
Varkala is also a major pilgrim destination with the presence of Sivagiri Mutt and various ancient temples including Janardhana temple. One of the key factors that set apart Varkala from other beaches of Sothern Kerala is the fascinating stretch of cliffs.
Kerala coasts are generally flat in nature. Varkala alone the only beach in southern Kerala where cliffs found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. “The Varkala Formation” as it called by the geologists is declared by the Geological survey of India as a geological monument. On the sides of these cliffs we can see several beautiful spouts and spas.
Climate Varkala has a moderate humid climate, with temperature ranging from 30 to 36 degree Celsius. It experiences heavy rains from June to August (Southwest Monsoon) and the average rainfall is 310cm. with heavy rains during June-August due to the southwest monsoon. The best season to visit the place is October to February.
According to the census in 2001, Varkala has a population of about 42,273. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. The average literacy rate here is 88% and a large number of the people here work abroad especially in Middle East, Singapore, US, UK, France, etc. most of them are working in the service sector.
Varkala has a distinctive topography and this itself is the highlight of the place. It not only harbours the scenic charm of a calm beach, but attains a majestic quality with the towering laterite cliffs along the beach. Standing like sentinels overlooking the turbulent sea, the cliffs provide the best enchanting view of the sea.
The wide plateau of the cliffs also houses many hotels and restaurants. You can see long winding roads from Varkala town which leads to one of the higher cliffs, where a helipad built. The laterite cliffs, the golden sands and the rolling waves of the sea provide a unique charm to the place and its unique geological formation attracts a lot of geologists too to this place. The cliffs also harbour natural springs and they believe to have medicinal qualities.
You can see a lot of people taking bath in the medicinal springs. The beach here called Papanasam beach which believe to wash away sins. During monsoons, the place is less frequented by tourists due to sea erosion and heavy downpour. Kappil Beach, another major attraction in Varkala, situated a few kilometres away and it also draws large crowd.
Beauty of Varkala
The beauty of Varkala enhance by the presence of backwaters at some places and Ponnumthuruthu Island, surrounded by backwaters near Varkala another hot tourist spot.
A boat ride through the backwaters, watching the vegetation on either side is a delightful experience.
Travel and Accommodation
Varkala town well connect through road, rail and waterways to Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam. Water transport, which was the main means of travel during earlier times, has now become almost out of use. Nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram.
Accommodation options are many and you can see a lot of hotels in the town as well as on the plateau of the cliffs overlooking the sea. You can avail lodgings and accommodation at reasonable rates in Varkala.
Getting there Nearest railway station
Varkala, about 3 km away Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 57 km away.