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A quick guide to Varkala in Kerala and its famous beach

 

Guide to the popular beach side retreat of Varkala in South Kerala - popular with both Hindu pilgrims and latter day hippies. Varkala is a small town located 32 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, is a beach retreat and Hindu pilgrimage centre.

It is an important pilgrimage center for Hindus who come on pilgrimage to the 2,000 year old Janardanaswamy temple near the Papanasam Beach. A dip in the sea at this beach it is believed washes away one's sins . The ancient bell in the temple, which was retrieved from a ship wreck, was donated by the captain of the Dutch ship which sank near Varkala without causing any loss of life . Varkala is also home to the Sivagiri Mutt of the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru whose distinctive bright yellow flags and banners are a common sight in this part of Kerala and further.

Varkala has all the pluses of Kovalam. Solitary beaches, serene backwaters and mineral springs but less of the sense of tourism.

Dolphins are often seen swimming close to the coast and if you are lucky you may be able to swim with them by arranging a ride in a fishing boat. keep away from the no-swim zone as the undercurrents are very strong.

The beach assumes religious significance on the full moon day of Karkidakam (December/January)when Hindu perform rites for the departed souls here. This rite is called 'Vavu Bali'.

Shivagiri Mutt near Varkala is the final resting place of the great social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru . Several thousands of people come here on pilgrimage.

Spectacular sands and towering red cliffs along the Arabian sea coast is typical of Varkala. Varkala has today become a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres. Motorcycles available on rent help you to potter around its quaint alleyways. There are many bank ATMS and other places to change money.

Trains from Thiruvananthapuram and most other Kerala towns stop at Varkala. There are also frequent buses from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam that terminate at Varkala village, from where a 5 minute auto rickshaw ride would take you to the beach.