Things to do in Varkala, a coastal town in Kerala

Varkala is a coastal town in Kerala which has only recently become a tourist destination. It is the perfect place for anybody looking for beautiful beaches, sacred religious centres and relaxing ayurvedic massage parlours and spas. We explore popular things to do in Varkala.

1. Papanasam Beach: Also known as Varkala Beach, this beach has a mythological significance. ‘Papanasam’ literally means ‘destruction of sins’ and it is said to have been created by Narad Muni for a group of pilgrims to free them of their sins. But for beach-lovers it is simply a delightful place to swim, sunbathe, get an ayurvedic massage and enjoy some water sports. It is possibly Varkala’s premier attraction.

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2. Temples: The Janardhana Swamy Temple is an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus and receives a large number of believers all throughout the year. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Hanuman and as it is located atop a hill it offers beautiful views to visitors. Another important temple, both religiously and historically, is the 3,500 year old “Dakshin Kashi”. This is a Vaishnavite shrine and an important source of history.

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3. Sivagiri Mutt: a historically and culturally important center, this center was founded by Sree Narayana Guru. This revered philosopher, social reformer and leader had enormous influence on the state and the center attracts many of his devotees all year round.

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4. Anjengo Fort: This massive fort was an important garrison for the Dutch East India Company. It is located near Varkala town and is a photogenic site with a rich history. Walking in and around the fort will lead people to the old cemetery, a 300 year old burial site.

Anjengo-Fort

5. Varkala Tunnel: It is also called ‘Varkala Turuthu’. Boats rides that take you under the bridge offer a more exotic version of canal rides in Bruges, Holland or Venice. It was built in 1867 and is considered a marvel of civil engineering for its time.

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6. Kappil Lake: Located 4 kilometers from Varkala Town is this serene estuary. It passes through dense coconut groves and then falls into the Arabian Sea. The bridge over the lake offers beautiful vistas to the backwater and the distant horizon.

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VARKALA IN KERALA

Season – November till April is the most pleasant to visit. The sea recedes a little during this season and the sparkling clean beaches are spotted with sun bathers. The sea almost reaches the cliffs during the monsoons, consuming the beaches at that time. One can still enjoy the Kerala monsoons from atop the hill, sans the sand.

Connectivity – Trivandrum, about 40 minutes drive away, is the closest and well connected hub for flights and trains to major metros and places in South India.

Homestays combine the comfort and distinction of a boutique hotel with the personal hospitality, informality and local knowledge enjoyed when staying with family friends. They offer an insight into the culture, traditions, history and everyday life of an Indian family. What’s more, guests get the chance to enjoy authentic Indian food at its very best – home cooked.

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