Varkala – Virgin paradise in the God’s Own Country
Lapping of the waves, clear blue sky or star studded nights, whiffs of brewing coffee and freshly made cakes, foot tapping melodies, beauty of the sunset, crawling time, majestic cliff, raising toasts to good times – that is Varkala in capsule for you.
Varkala is a small town with a population of less than 50,000 and is situated 55 kms north of Thiruvanathapuram, the state’s capital. The nearest airport destination to Varkala is Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum) which has excellent air services to both national and international destinations. It is also possible to reach Varkala via myriad buses plying towards Thiruvanathapuram from other locations in Kerala. For those who wish to lap up the picturesque and serene beauty of Kerala backwaters, a boat ride from Alleppey is also an option. Though it takes longer (8 -9 hours) and there are no direct boat services to Varkala. You need to go to Kollam and further by bus to a stop from where Varkala is at a distance of ½ hour by bus/auto.
We reached Varkala late evening and decided to check in at the Santa Claus resort located on the cliff with a panoramic view to the Arabian Sea and its coastline. The resort, as we were told, got its name from the owner’s mother which was Shantha! The trees of araucaria fringing the entrance to this tiny resort only reaffirm its name. During off season the room tariff is Rs.650 (non AC room) and Rs.1000 (for AC room) while during the peak season (Nov-March) the rates shoot up to Rs.3000 per night. This is the case with the battery of resorts that line the cliff and the beach.
Varkala is known to be an important centre of pilgrimage for the Hindus. 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 Papanasam Beach. Besides, there is the local Janardhana temple that attracts many a devotees. The final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer of Kerala, is also near Varkala atop a hill named Sivagiri.
There are two other beaches besides the Papanasam – Thiruvambady Beach and the Kappil Beach; all of them having one thing in common, sheer silence and pristine beauty.
Coconut trees form the periphery of the towering cliffs facing the Thiruvambady beach. If you are an early riser you can catch the daily activities of the local fisherman with their catch of the day. Though a small town, this place is extremely getting touristy. Our bet would be that it might be next Goa in making. Come morning you will find tourist hailing from different countries bathing in the sun and sea.
To tickle your taste palate the cliff is outlined by numerous cafes and eateries. With English speaking and courteous staff, open/ semi-open air seating, warm ambience, salty breeze from the pure sea, lively music; these joints can be your perfect sit-out while you relax with a hot cappuccino or a cold beer. Divine feeling better understood when experienced, (Our pick: Sunshine Café and Café Delmar).
To further relax your mind, body and soul, one can avail the ayurveda programs and services offered by most resorts in Varkala.
I was in double mind whether to write about Varkala and increase its popularity, for Varkala’s beauty lies in its calmness that gives a soothing healing touch to your overworked mind. We silently wish for the everlasting beauty of Varkala for we like it just the way it is now.
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