Home to majestic cliffs, lush coconut groves, pristine beaches, and the mesmerizing Arabian Sea, Varkala is truly one of the best seaside getaways in India. Varkala is blessed with a natural postcard worthy setting and still retains a quaint rustic charm. With its idyllic beaches, yoga and Ayurveda centers, and untouched greenery, Varkala is an ideal destination to get back in touch with your life, soul, and nature. Here is a comprehensive list of amazing things to do in and around Varkala –
Varkala’s biggest attraction is its spectacular beaches, some of the best in the country. The most popular beach in Varkala is Papanasam Beach, also known as Varkala Beach. Literally meaning ‘to wash away sins’, it is believed that taking a dip in the serene waters of Papanasam Beach washes away all your sins. This serene beauty of this beach if further accentuated by the rocky cliffs that flank its coast.
If isolation and privacy is what you seek, then head to Thiruvambadi Beach near Varkala. This secluded beach is one of the rare black sand beaches in India. Kappil Beach is another quiet and peaceful beach near Varkala. This beach has a stunning natural location bound by the Arabian Sea on its west and on its right lies the Edava Narayan Lake. With a picturesque backwater lake adjoining the beach, this palm-fringed azure beach seems straight out of a postcard. Kappil Beach is also one of the few beaches in Varkala that is not lined with shacks and cafes, making it an ideal beach for photography.
Anjengo Fort and Lighthouse
Situated along a beautiful beach near Varkala, this 17th century fort was built by the British East Indian Company and served an important purpose during the Anglo-Mysore War. Anjengo is also known as Anchuthengu that literally translates to 5 coconut trees in Malayalam. This fort is best explored on foot. Inside the fort there is a cemetery dating back to 1704. A few steps the fort is the lighthouse that used as signal station for the ships and cruises from England. Climb to the top of the tower for some mesmerizing views of the Arabian Sea. The lighthouse is open on all days between 9am and 6.30pm. While you are here, also explore the nearby fishing village to get a glimpse of the rustic rural side of Kerala.
Sivagiri Mutt is worth visiting for the soul-searching traveller. This mull was built in 1904 atop the Sivagiri mountain by Sri Narayan Guru, a popular reformer and thinker. Every year thousands of pilgrims come here during Gurudeva Jayanti and hold vibrant processions, cultural programs, conferences, and feasts. A visit to Sivagiri Mutt is perfect to meditate and get some peace of mind.
Janardan Swami Temple
This 12th century temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is one of the most important temples and popular tourist spots in Kerala. According to the local legend, the history of this temple goes back two thousand years. This beautiful temple has a stunning location amidst coconut trees on a cliff overlooking Papanasam Beach.
Yoga and Ayurveda
If the heavenly tropical beaches and laidback lifestyle of Varkala hasn’t calmed you enough, then awaken your senses, mind, body, and soul with some tried and tested Yoga and Ayurveda therapy. With a number of yoga centers, Varkala is a hotspot of yoga enthusiasts. Most of the popular yoga classes are situated near the iconic Varkala cliff. At Varkala you can take lessons in different types of Yoga including Laughter yoga!
After a day well spent exploring and surfing, what better way to end it than with a soothing Ayurvedic massage! Along with massages you can pamper yourself with Ayurvedic therapies and treatments.
Shopping till you drop at in the colorful street market near the North Cliffs in Varkala. If customization is what you are looking for, then look no further; many shops here take orders for made-to-measure clothes – from skirts to kaftans to dresses! Besides clothes you can also pick up scarfs, sarongs, CDs, spices, trinkets, and tea and coffee powders.
Being a seaside town, Varkala is a paradise for seafood lovers. Most restaurants, cafes, and thattukadas (street vendors) serve an array of local and seafood delicacies. But thanks to the influx of western tourists you can find European, Chinese, Mexican, and Tibetan restaurants. One of the must-visit cafes is the homely Kerala Mama Kumari’s Home. Make sure you are starving hungry because at this family-run café you will be savoring a lavish 14-course authentic Kerala veg meal served on a banana leaf.
Situated atop the famed cliffs of Varkala, Vedanta Wake Up! is the perfect base to explore Varkala. At Vedanta Wake Up! you will get to stay tastefully designed organic bamboo huts, a truly tropical experience.