Varkala, near Kerala`s capital Thiruvananthapuram, is another backpackers’ haven offering the perfect combination of peace, calm and natural beauty. This seaside destination is popular among backpackers for its sunbathing opportunities, swimming, water sports, seaside walks or just sitting on the beach, raising a toast to the setting sun. While there, you could spend your time visiting the 2,000-year-old Janardhana Swamy Temple to witness the evening aarti, exploring the 17th century British-constructed Anjengo Fort, or taking a trip to the Sivagiri Mutt, headquarters of a sect that follows the 20th century social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.
The beaches hold a special attraction in and around here. Visit the scenic Kappil Beach or the even more awesome Varkala Beach. The latter is sometimes underrated, it could easily compete with the beaches of Phuket and Penang in terms of natural beauty! That is perhaps why you will find so many foreign tourists at Varkala much more than what you see at the more famous Kovalam Beach in Thiruvananthapuram situated only 50 km away.
WHO YOU’LL MEET
You’ll meet plenty of Indian tourists clamouring for a dip in the holy waters of Papanasam Beach at the North Cliff according to Hindu belief, a dip here is believed to absolve people from all their sins. You will also see a lot of western tourists spending their days soaking in the sun, sea and sand.
HANG OUT AT
The Rock N Roll Cafe has an exhaustive list of cocktails for as little as ‘100 each and is also equipped with a dance floor. The Chill Out Cafe allows you to do just that till the wee hours of the morning. Cafe del Mar offers Indian, Italian and Mexican food.
Not every train originating or passing through Kollam or Thiruvananthapuram stops at Varkala Sivagiri Station. Do check before boarding.
Before you choose a homestay, inquire about the facilities provided. Breakfast may not always be included in your room tariff; it will be offered only if you ask.
Hire a scooter—it’s the best way to explore Varkala.
Air : Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest airport, at a distance 51 km from Varkala.
Rail : Varkala Railway Station is the nearest rail head.
Road : Varkala Bus Stand is well serviced by buses from Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. Varkala is less than 50 km away from National Highway 47, which means it’s well-connected by road.
While it’s hot and humid most of the year, the months between December and February are pleasant for visits.
The intriguingly-named Vedanta Wake Up (www.vedantawakeup.com), Varkala’s only hostel, is situated only two minutes away from the clifftop with dorms, private rooms and a vibrant social scene.