Blessed with sun kissed beaches, placid lagoons and silvery sands, Kerala is 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.Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam beach is a beach in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, along the Arabian Sea, part of the Indian and ten kilometers away from Varkala, is renowned for the natural spring. It is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. A haven for sun-bathing and swimming, the beach offers picturesque evening views that extend over the Arabian Sea.Lying along the edge of stunning cliffs, Varkala Beach is located an hour’s drive north of Trivandrum in Kerala. The mineral spring that flows from the cliff at the southern end of the beach is believed to have medicinal properties.
A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. 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 propagated the ideology: "one caste, one religion and one god", in a society torn by the taboos of caste systemA paved footpath runs along the length of the cliff, bordered by coconut palms, quaint shops, beach shacks, hotels, and guest houses. Nestled at the bottom of the cliff is a long stretch of sparkling beach, reached by steps leading down from the cliff top.
Varkala is located south of Kollam, around one hour north of Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), in India's southern state of Kerala.
Must Do at Varkala
Varkala is a wonderful place to relax and rejuvenate. It's well known for its dramatic sunsets. Settle into one of the beach shacks with a drink, and you'll have an uninterrupted view of the sun as it slowly sinks down the horizon. The beach is believed to have medicinal and curative properties and a dip in its waters is believed to purge the body of all impurities.
Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres.You'll also find plenty of places specializing in yoga and Ayurvedic therapies. Yoga with Haridas classes are popular at the Green Palace Hotel on the cliff .For traditional Hatha yoga, head to Kasi Yoga Gurukulam Absolute Ayurveda is recommended for Ayurvedic treatments as too are Sanjeevani Ayurveda and Yoga Center and Doctors Ayurveda and Yoga Center.
Meditation and art/creative workshops are also offered from time to time. Shop 'til you drop at the endless rows of huts lining the cliff, stocking everything from jewelry to handicrafts. Or, try Khan's cooking class at Cliff Lounge Guesthouse .
The swimming in Varkalas' beach is superb, clear crisp and of course warm waters great you with a reasonable amount of surf for body surfing or boogie boards.
Varkala's main beach is called Papanasam Beach -- which means destroyer of sins. The beach is divided into two parts, with the southern area at the end of the road leading from the Janardhana Swamy Temple considered sacred to Hindus. It's where they come to perform the last rites after close relatives have died.
The tourist part of the beach is located further north. There's also another small beach with black sand (affectionately called the Black Beach) near the coconut grove where the cliff ends in the far north, past Papanasam Beach.
Just further north of Black Beach, quiet Odayam Beach is just starting to be discovered and developed. Head there if you want peace and quiet away from the action.
Nightlife and Parties
Night life is mellow and most venues are closed by 11:00pm, some may offer dance or live must. Varkala night life is happening. Many variety of excellent fruits are grown in Kerala, particularly the coconut and banana are local favorites there are over 80 variety of banana grown in Kerala, look out for the famed 'red banana' that has a sweet taste like strawberries. Nepal bakeries have take then evening away in Varkala serving sweet milk chai to go with it a stop at the little Tibet bakeries and restaurant is must. Apple pie and chocolate brownies will keep you occupies doe the wee hours. Molly Curry is a non spices local dish. Polachi fish banana leave wrap
The nightlife in Varkala is quite laid back. Some beach shacks, such as Rock n Roll, do have parties and play music late into the night. However the party scene is restricted by complaints from nearby hotels about the noise, and also the prohibition of alcohol.
Dangers and Annoyances
Varkala has undergone a dramatic amount of growth in just few years to be transformed from sleepy village into sought after beach destination. This has had a significant impact on the locals. Females should take particular care around local men, as incidents of drunkenness and groping are common. Many foreign women also end up being charmed by the staff from the beach shacks, who usually end up wanting money or are married. Begging and hawking are becoming issues as well. Also bring a flashlight as power cuts are prevalent. At the beach, swimmers should be aware of strong currents and not swim out too far.
During the monsoon season it's therefore best to stay at the northern end of the cliff near the Black Beach, while in peak season, the southern end of the cliff provides the easiest access to Papanasam Beach as the stairs leading down the cliff are located there. This end of the cliff is also quieter.
It's cheaper to stay away from the cliff, at the Indian southern end of Papanasam Beach, however the cliff isn't easily accessible from this area (which suits people who want to avoid the crowds!). The Indian end of Papanasam Beach also remains isolated from the tourist part of the beach until the monsoon fully retreats and the beach completely opens up. Therefore if you want to go up to the cliff from there, it's necessary to take an auto rickshaw.