Varkala Beach

Varkala beach is a hidden coastal gem near Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. A lesser known beauty with fewer footfalls than the neighbouring Kovalam, but a stunning beach in its own right with red cliffs surrounding its golden sands. The colours of nature come together beautifully all the more during the magical hours of sunset making it a tranquil beach destination. In fact, Varkala is the only beach in Kerala with red laterite cliffs skirting the vast Arabian sea.

Varkala beach, a clean beach along the cliff fringed with coconut palms.
Sunset in Varkala. Captured from the cliff. Coconut palms and people are seen in the picture.
Captured from the neaby cliff

Beyond Beaches

Varkala is not just about beaches and natural beauty, it is also a popular destination for Ayurvedic treatments. There is an Ayurvedic hospital right next to the parking lot of the beach and there are many more Ayurvedic resorts in the area.

The Varkala beach is also known as Papanasam beach. It is believed that taking a dip in the waters on this beach can wash away one’s sins. I am sure there must be an interesting history behind this beach. There are a few mineral-rich hot springs on the cliffs as well as at the base too where tourists take a dip.

The 2000-year old beautiful Janardana temple next to the beach is also quite a popular pilgrimmage site and lends a spiritual aura to this place. Pictures were not allowed inside the temple and we adhered to the rules 🙂 Sivagiri mutt is another popular pilgrimage center near Varkala.

Mini Goa of Kerala

Varkala is a surfer’s paradise. Touted to be the Yoga and Ayurveda haven, it has also gained prominence as a backpacker’s beach town. The cliff top is the busy nerve of the town. The narrow road atop the long cliff ridge has become an activity hub for all visitors. Restaurants, cafes, shops selling trinkets and souvenirs all the way from Rajasthan and even Tibet! And not to mention the view of the beach and the sea from that height. One can spend hours on that little stretch of the cliff watching the waves ebb and rise. No wonder, it is called the mini Goa of South India.

Reaching Varkala:

We were put up in Ashtamudi and decided to drive down on a December afternoon to spend an evening here in this magical town. It took us two hours (!!!) to cover the 40 kms, all thanks to the one-laned highways prevalent in Kerala. That aside, this visit was a memorable one for the beauty that Varkala is.

Glowing skies of the sunset and the sands of the Varkala beach.
The beautiful sky during sunset

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