With its sparkling beaches, soaring laterite cliffs bordered by coconut palms and views that extend over the Arabian Sea, the coastal town of Varkala in Kerala is a wonderful place for a relaxed beach holiday.
Varkala’s star attractions are its long sandy beaches, dramatic sunsets, towering red laterite cliffs, soothing mineral springs, and the picturesque backwaters. The spiritually inclined can visit the ancient temples while heritage buffs can explore the fort, lighthouse and its environs. Varkala’s main claim to fame is the 2000-year old shrine of Lord Vishnu, the Janardhana Swamy temple, and the Sivagiri Mutt – the final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru, a great social reformer of Kerala. Its beaches, temples, forts, history, myths and mythology continue to draw beachcombers, pilgrims and heritage lovers who find this place a peaceful alternative to the beach town of Kovalam.
Must see must do:
It’s a golden sand beach lying in a cove between the North Cliff and the South Cliff. Stand on the wide plateau atop the laterite cliffs beside the Papanasham Beach and bask in the glorious sunset. Locals visit this sacred place to perform ritualistic rites for their departed souls. On Karkkidaka Vavu (the new moon in August), crowds congregate here to perform annual obsequies to their dead ancestors. Varkala is also known as Dakshina (southern) Kasi where people come to wash away their sins, as at Kashi (Benaras).