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 Jardana Swami Temple, also known as Dakshin Kashi. 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, oxidised silver jewellery and harem pants made of cotton. Ayurvedic spas, affordable resorts, hostels, clean beaches make it a must-visit city of Kerala.
Water Sports in Varkala
Varkala is the only place in Kerala where the hills come close to the sea. The uniqueness of the place is the merging of cliffs with the Arabian Sea. Varkala Beach is a popular beach where you can enjoy various water sports activities such as para-sailing and paragliding. The Geological Survey of India calls it as the Varkala Formation. The Discovery Channel has named Varkala as one of the top ten seasonal beaches. Several water sports operators are to be found along the beaches, and travellers can easily do a lot of water activities with good fun. The Kapil Lake, situated close to the beach, is another famous destination to enjoy moments of peace. The Chilakkoor Beach which is close to the Varkala town is a perfect destination to view the sunset. Though the beach is not developed commercially, it is an ideal place for leisurely evening walks.
Set amid a beautiful setting about 10 km away from the calm and quiet hamlet of Varkala in Kerala, Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach, is a beautiful stretch of sand renowned for its solitude unlike other commercial beaches of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The backdrop Arabian Sea against the cliffs of Kerala is a unique one since these sedimentary formation peaks are not found anywhere in the otherwise flat coastline of Kerala. The beach itself is divided into two parts, the southern area of the beach lying at the end of the road leading from Janardhana Swamy Temple regarded as sacred by Hindus. However, if you are a tourist, the north part of the beach right at the bottom of the cliff is worth going renowned for its natural mineral spring. The water of Varkala Beach is regarded to own medicinal and curative properties. A dip in the hoy water is said to cleanse the body of impurities and all sins and thus the name Papanasam Beach meaning ‘Destroyer of Sins’. Sunsets at the Varkala Beach are especially pristine and call for a serene walk along the beach. Also if you are a seafood lover, then the place is a paradise for you. The eating joints nearby offer some of India’s best moth watering and affordable food.
Untouched and unspoilt by tourist activities, the Edava 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.
Mangrove Forest Kayaking
Mangrove forest in Nedungolam, Paravur, in the district of Kollam, is located at a distance of 18kms from Varkala. Perfect for a half-day trip, one can go on 4km kayaking during morning or evening. Sailing through these canals of Nedungolam, especially the mangrove forest, is a must-try experience.
Lying 1 km off Thiruvamdabi road, this black sand beach adjacent to the North cliff is an ideal picnic spot amidst lush coconut groves to relax and unwind.
Anjengo Fort, situated 12 km off Varkala at Anjengo, is believed to have been built in 17th century. Presently the fort is protected by the National Heritage monuments.
The cemetery in the fort shelters the deceased occupants of the fort. The popular Muthalapuzhi Lake is situated very close to the Fort. Autos or cabs can be taken to reach the fort.
Located at Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala is the one of the popular ashrams of Shri Narayana Guru, Sivagiri Mutt. This ashram celebrates Guru Deva Jayanti (in August) and the Guru Deva Samadhi (in September) every year. Janardhana Swami Temple and Varkala Beach are some nearby attractions which one should never miss during their visit to Sivagiri Mutt. Sree Narayana Guru (1855-1928), a saint, social reformer, philosopher and a leader of Ezhava community, made Varkala his headquarters. Sivagiri mutt, instituted by Sree Narayana Guru, is another major pilgrim centre here. The ‘Sivagiri Pilgrimage’ is usually conducted between 30th December and 1st January every year. Even decades after the Guru breathed his last breathe here in 1928; his Samadhi (resting place) continues to be thronged by thousands of pilgrims. The Sivagiri Mutt is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangham, a religious organization established by the Guru to propagate his concept of ‘One Caste, One Religion, One God’.
Varkala CLIFF is a geologically important site in the region. The cliff is formed by laterite and overlooks the Varkala beach. It 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 is worth a visit for beach lovers and photographers.