With its clean, quiet beaches, Varkala is a secret that Kerala has hugged to itself. Sarita Santoshini stumbled upon it.
This coastal town is a five-hour bus drive from Cochin and sits 75 easy kilometers from Kovalam, Kerala’s more celebrated beach beauty.
The lagoons by the long stretches of beach in Varkala are draped in serenity. A century-old ashram lets you heal your inner-self, and a temple island draws you towards its quiet beauty.
The town itself is slow and unspoiled, but plenty of adventure awaits you on its fringes. Take lessons in surfing or paragliding in ideal weather between October and May; wander around and stumble upon thriving fish communities that add soul to the place and you will come back with enough stories and pictures to keep you happy till you decide to head back again.
Following a receptionist’s advice, our correspondent Sarita walked towards “a narrow lane” and to her surprise stumbled on a stunning sidewalk along the edges of a cliff, the North Cliff Beach. Restaurants, cafes, and resorts line the road for almost a kilometer, with the vast Arabian Sea glimmering on the other side.
Here, coconut groves hide another surprise: Black Beach; so named after the color of its sand. Varkala beach is locally called Papanasam Beach, whose northern part lies below the cliff. At the southern end are the mineral water springs whose medicinal properties attract people from all over the world.
Another gem in the heart of Varkala is the Shiva- Parvathi temple. It is on the uninhabited Ponnumthuruthu Island, midst the lush forest and chirpy birdlife. Here you can reach by boat from Nenduganda Village.
The historical Anjengo Fort dates back to the East India Company. There’s a lovely view from the lighthouse.
Driving through this hamlet in the evening you’ll pass through vibrant houses of all sizes, men and women chatting away as they dry their catch of the day, a group of church-goers saying their daily prayers, and glimpses of beautiful stretches of the sea that the Latin Christian Makuva community lives beside. It’s good to see that the community has held its identity despite tourism slowly commercializing everything.
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