(This is part 2 of my trip… after we had had great fun at Kumily and Periyar..)
Budget Travel in Kerala – Varkala / Alleppey
Our next destination was Varkala post checking out Alleppey backwaters. There runs a super fast bus from Kumily to Kottayam every 1 hour starting 8 am. Little did we expect that the Rs.70 that we paid for the tickets was inclusive of a roller coaster ride! Living up to its name, this super fast bus reaches Kottayam in 3 hours (1 hour earlier than normal buses).
The Kodimalla boat jetty at Kottayam runs ferry to Alleppey every 1 hour. This 2.5 hours boat ride cutting through the back waters is an experience one should take. Live through the scenic beauty of string of coconut trees, plantains and stretching to limitless backwaters, as you head towards Alleppey all for Rs.10!
Though there are house boat options available at Alleppey at rates that differ from season to season. A 2 bed room house boat during peak season for 24 hours may cost you upto 10k-12k while at off season it might be in the range of 5k-7k. Rates would be lower if you opt for a day cruise only. The rates are inclusive of a welcome drink, basket of fruit, sumptuous lunch, evening tea with snacks and drinking water. Ofcourse you will be served breakfast and dinner in case you are staying on the houseboat.
After a quick lunch at a restaurant in Alleppey we headed towards the railway station. A train ticket to Varkala will cost you anything between Rs. 50 to 100 based on the class you travel in.
Varkala is a small town with a population of around 45000 and is situated 55 kms north of the state capital – Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum). You can reach Varkala by road (there are countless buses plying to Thiruvanathapuram via Varkala from any part of Kerala). The nearest airport to Varkala is the airport at Thiruvanathapuram.
We reached Varkala later evening and advanced towards the cliff area to check out the budget resorts. 2 minutes walk from the helipad is MK Gardens run by a German lady, which after checking out; we decided to take as our base. A house with 4-5 rooms has been opened as a stay option for many. Clean and tidy the rooms here will cost you Rs. 400 per night. Breakfast service can be availed at an additional cost of Rs.40-75. We learnt that at MK Gardens all earnings minus the cost are sent to the Lama foundation for the welfare of the Tibetan kids.
A cliff and a breathtaking panoramic view to the Arabian Sea – that is Varkala for you. There is Papanasam beach, Thiruvambady Beach and the Kappil Beach all residing one after another within a stretch of few kilometres. We lounged around the countless cafes on cliff overlooking the Thiruvambady Beach, our favourite hangout place being Café Delmar and Sunshine Café.
If doing nothing is in your agenda, Varkala could rightly be your choice. As you momentarily gaze at the ocean and its vast horizon with a background score of rustling leaves of tall coconut trees, crashing of the waves coupled with some real upbeat music played at the cafes, a sip of strong cappuccino and a good book to read, if there is heaven on earth, this could be it.
To further relax you mind and body Varkala offers ayurvedic treatments through various centres. We decided to get a rejuvenation massage and zeroed on Sidhi Ayurveda Panchakarma Centre (purely on reference) located out of the Cliff Mannor beach resort.
Five days of travel just flew. One can only imagine how fun it was. Now you know what you need to do if you are feeling bogged down by the rigmarole of the city life and feel the dire need to unwind….pack, set and just GO!
Feel free to write to me if you need phone numbers for the accommodations at Varkala / Alleppey!