Varkala Featured Image

Beautiful Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, a beach destination of Kerala welcomes you to come & enjoy the bliss of miles and miles of sun-kissed white sands and calm blue waters of the Arabian Sea! 

Lying on the outskirts of Trivandrum, Varkala is a town in the south Indian state of Kerala. Varkala is precariously perched along the edge of majestic 15 m-high red laterite cliffs skirted by the blue waters of the Arabian Sea. The beautiful natural setting of Varkala has allowed it to steadily emerge into one of Kerala’s most famous beach paradises. A strip of golden beach embraces the North Cliff area of Varkala. 

Varkala has excellent beaches, and if you’re looking for a cheap holiday Varkala should be on your list! In the offseason, the place is rather mellow and relaxed. There are many affordable resorts, hostels out here. You can just swim and sleep and chill out. In the peak season from December till January/February, Varkala becomes a bustling town, and the prices run sky high!¬†

At Varkala, you can watch the gorgeous sunsets painting the skies in crimson hues and have a laid-back holiday. The beaches are cleaner and quieter here and are suitable for beach frolic and fun.

Varkala town has become a melting pot of exotic and alien cultures. The town also houses a leading pilgrim centre in Kerala. The 2000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and Hanuman, atop the hill has made the region famous as Southern Kasi (Benares). Even though the entry inside the temple is restricted to Hindus, only people can still hang out around the temple. 

The Sivagiri mutt, established by Sree Narayana Guru, saint, philosopher & social reformer of modern Kerala, is another major pilgrim centre here. The Samadhi (resting place) of the Sree Narayana Guru is visited every year by thousands of pilgrims. The Sivagiri Pilgrimage is usually conducted between 30th December and 1st January every year. The Sivagiri Mutt also functions as the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangham, a religious organisation founded by the Guru to propagate his concept of ‘One Caste, One Religion, One God’.

Apart from some of the best pristine beaches, Varkala is also famous for its natural fisheries and springs. The mineral springs in Varkala is known as Papanashini and is believed to cure many ailments. The Edava Nadayara Kayal is one of the favourite tourist hotspots in Varkala.  

You can also visit many uninhabited islands like the Ponnumthuruthu island and be amazed by the pristine beauty of nature!

Here on the Varkala cliffs lies a busy shopping and dining hub where you have shops with signboards in Hebrew selling beachwear, Oxidised Silver jewellery, Yoga mats, Harem pants, bags and more.

You can indulge in delightful cuisines at the trendy cafes and restaurants playing music from worldwide. Varkala is undoubtedly a place off the beaten track!

Varkala is a place of hills, beautiful lakes, ancient forts & lighthouses. Together all these makes Varkala a tourist paradise and a must-visit city of Kerala.

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Why Visit Varkala?

Varkala, Kerala is the place for you if you are a beach bum! Deemed as one of the most sensational beaches of the world by the Discovery Channel the Varkala beach is the best place to go if you need to soak up the sun and have fun and frolic in the white sands without much of a crowd around you! The Papanasam beach is the most popular in Varkala, which is the favourite of domestic and international tourists. Varkala also has the Black beach, Kappil Beach and the Edava beach nearby which are also the goto spots for travellers here.

Apart from the beaches, Varkala also has a spiritual connect! Varkala Kerala is home to the 2000-year old Janardhana Swamy Temple and the popular Sivagiri Mutt, the final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru. As well-known pilgrim spots, these places are visited by hordes of travellers. 

Even though Varkala is a scenic location, the Ponnumthuruthu island and Kappil Lake located near Varkala are like green paradises that charm you with their beauty. You can be one with nature in these beautiful spots in peace and solitude with enchanting views and memories that last a lifetime! 

Varkala is not just a lovely beach location! There are some historical and cultural locations in Varkala that you can visit. The ancient Anjengo Fort and Lighthouse near Varkala date back to the 17th century, and they still stand proud! The Varkala Cultural Centre in Varkala offers tourists a closer view of its culture of Kerala. The traditional folk dances of Kerala like Kathakali and the martial art form of Kerala – Kalaripayattu are regularly performed here.

If you need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, you can visit the famous Yoga and Ayurveda centres in Varkala, and you’ll undoubtedly be surprised at the reasonable rates here too! 

Varkala lies near to Trivandrum & the Venice of the east- Alleppey to Varkala distance is 118 km and can easily be reached by hiring a cab. 

Altogether Varkala, Kerala is a fascinating and charming destination which is not to be missed in your visit to Kerala!

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Where is Varkala?

Varkala is a significant tourism destination in Kerala located 51 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city and lies 37 km south of Kollam. It is a substantial commercial, industrial and tourism area in the Thiruvananthapuram district. Varkala, a calm, sleepy hamlet which lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district.

How to reach Varkala?

Air:The nearest airport is at Thiruvananthapuram located around 45 km away from the beach town. Varkala can be reached by hiring a cab from Trivandrum Airport.

Rail:Varkala Railway Station is the nearest train station with access to trains coming from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam. It is located 2 km from Varkala and serves as a convenient rail route to connect Varkala with major cities like Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Kochi, Bangalore and Mangalore and other parts of Kerala. You can hire a cab or taxi to reach Varkala town from the Railway station.

Road:The state-government run KSRTC plies buses regularly from Thiruvananthapuram. Bus services are available from Varkala to many parts of South Kerala and Kanyakumari. Travelling by bus is somewhat uncomfortable as they are quite crowded.

What is the best time to visit Varkala?

When you are planning a trip to Varkala, it is best to get an insight into the weather out there. Varkala has a pleasant climate all through the year. Here is a season by season account of the weather in Varkala remains pleasant and plan your trip accordingly.

Summer Season

From March to June is the Summer season and it is not recommended to visit Varkala during this time. The weather at Varkala during Summer is scorching hot and humid. The temperature ranges from 22¬įC to 40¬įC.

Monsoon Season

The Monsoons in Varkala begin from June till September. The rains renew the greenery of Varkala & increase beauty. Monsoon season is also a good time to avail Ayurveda rejuvenation.

Winter Season

The winter season in Varkala begins with December, which lasts till February. A pleasantly cold climate exists in Varkala with temperatures ranging from 12¬įC to 31¬įC. Hence, winter is considered as an ideal season for sightseeing in Varkala.

However, the best time to visit Varkala is from October to March.

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Places to Visit in Varkala

Varkala Beach

An awsom Beach
Photo credits: Nivedh

A perfect spot to relax with a laid-back atmosphere! Varkala Beach, otherwise known as the Papanasam Beach skirts the Arabian Sea. The beach lies just ten kilometres away from Varkala. There exists a natural spring at the Papanasam Beach which is believed to have medicinal and curative properties. The holy waters at this beach are said to remove the impurities of the body and soul; hence the name ‘Papanasam Beach’.¬†

With its spectacular landscapes and the sun-kissed waters of the Arabian Sea, Varkala beach has the distinction of being marked as one of the top ten seasonal beaches in the world by the Discovery channel. The waters of Varkala Beach are perfect for beach activities like swimming and sunbathing and also for other water sports. The gorgeous view of the sunset from the Varkala beach is just excellent! There is a beautiful stretch of the cliff right next to the Arabian Sea at the Varkala Beach. 

Varkala Cliff

Best view of Beach from the top hill
Phoro Credits : Greeshma

Be ready to be amazed by the enthralling beauty of Varkala Beach Рthe second most stunning cliff beach in the world. In Varkala, a set of red Sandstone cliffs line the beach right next to the Arabian Sea and add to the beauty of the place. 

The Geological Survey of India has recognised the cliffs as a national geological monument and taken steps for their protection, maintenance & promotion for improving the tourism of Varkala. These cliffs have several water spouts and springs on their sides.

Janardanaswamy Temple

A temple at the top of a hill
Photo Credits: Gopika

Seek the blessings of Janardhana Swamy at Varkala! The Janardhana Swamy temple is highly auspicious Vaishnavite shrine and attracts thousands of devotees every year. The history behind the Janardhana Swamy Temple at Varkala amaze visitors to this temple initially built around 2000 years ago. The present structure of the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu dates back to the 12th century. A majority of pilgrims come here to perform the final rites for their loved ones. The paintings depicting Lord Hanuman in different poses adorn the walls of the temple. The temple is extremely popular as people believe that praying here heals all sorts of ailments and hence, people of all religions visit the temple in hordes.

The temple is built in an old Kerala architectural style and can be easily reached from the Varkala railway station. Climbing a series of about 200 steps will take you to the top of the hill where the charming Varkala Janardhana Swamy temple is built. The temple is considered as one of the top places to visit near Varkala.  

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Varkala Aquarium

Aquarium
Photo Credits: Sarika

Marine lovers РHere’s a chance to get a glimpse of exotic sea life at the Varkala Aquarium! Situated between Black Beach and Odayam Beach, Varkala Aquarium brings to you dazzling displays of a large variety of fish and other aquatic organisms. You can also get a magnificent view of the sea and beach from the aquarium, and scenic surroundings are just marvellous! A great place to visit while you’re in Varkala!  

The aquarium is built as a curled ram, and the place is perfect for spending an hour or two if you have kids travelling with you. The aquarium has on display Scorpionfish, Angelfish, Koi, the local Karimeen, Pufferfish, Jellyfish, Tortoises, Sea Horses etc. along a spiral walkway. The jellyfish display near the entrance is the pièce de résistance of the aquarium. There are detailed info boards offering information on sea life. The top attraction of the aquarium is the 3D show where information about varieties of fish and other marine species can be viewed. Your kids will just love it! Quite an exciting diversion from the beach,

Varkala Culture Center Kathakali Dance 

A picture of Kadhakali
Photo Credits: Sinsha

Here‚Äôs a chance to be one with the cultural fabric of Kerala. The Varkala Kathakali Centre is situated near the north Cliff. It contains artefacts from Varkala‚Äôs past and often hosts traditional Kathakali dance ceremonies. Kathakali – the classical dance of Kerala and is a dance drama or a ‚Äústory play‚ÄĚ in Malayalam. Through the Kathakali classic dance stories from the Indian epics are narrated. Kathakali is a unique blend of dance, music and acting which depicts these epics. The Kathakali dancer be it male or female wears a painted face and communicates stories to music using animated expressions and mimes with hand gestures and facial expressions. Kathakali music is made up of Carnatic ragas, and traditional instruments of Kerala like the Chenda, Idakka and Shankhu, Maddalam, Chengila, Ilathalam are used in the orchestra.

At the Kathakali Center, the tourists can watch all the aspects of the art, starting from the elaborate and time-consuming make-up session. Each performance is accompanied by English commentary. Mohiniyattom another dance form of Kerala as well as the Kalaripayattu – the martial art form of Kerala are also performed here which are arranged on prior request.

During the tourist season, Kathakali performances are organised at the Varkala cultural centre every evening.

Bali Mandapam 

Bali Mandapam Near to Sea
Photo Credits: Ajeesh

Pay your respects to departed souls at the Bali Mandapam located on the Varkala Beach. It is one of the most popular pilgrim sites amongst Varkala tourist places. Balimandapam is where pilgrims perform Vavubali rituals on the Vavubali day to appease the spirit of their ancestors. 

A most religious tourist place to visit in Varkala! The Balimandapam is visited by lakhs of people annually as they come to do the Bali rituals (paying respects to departed souls). Balimandapam is dedicated to performing the rituals of Vavubali at the most sacred Papanasam River. In the month of Karkitakam (July-August) hundreds of devotees visit Balimandapam. Nearly 50-60 pilgrims can perform their rituals at the same time here at the Balimandapam. You can also get a fabulous view of the architectural splendour of the Janardana Swami Temple from the Bali Mandapam. The Balimandapam is constructed such that it also blends with the beauty of the beach. 

Balimandapam should be on your list of must-visit attractions in Varkala on your next trip! Don’t miss it!

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Sivagiri Mutt

Sivagiri Temple
Photo Credits:Kripa

Beautiful Varkala hills play host to one of the holiest sites in God’s Own Country Рthe Sivagiri Mutt! The Samadhi or the final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru Рthe saint and social reformer of Kerala is located in the 200 acres of the Sivagiri Mutt. Sree Narayana Guru was a famous saint who worked for the upliftment of the backward classes. It’s believed that this is where Sree Narayana Guru became enlightened. People from all walks of life arrive at the Sivagiri Mutt to pay tribute at the Guru’s Mahasamadhi at the hill summit. From the hilltop, the Guru’s humble residence can be viewed, which still has some of his old belongings on display.  

The headquarters of the SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam), is also on the same premises. 

The Sivagiri Mutt is a highly popular Varkala sightseeing place and experiences a steady flow of devotees. During the Sivagiri Pilgrimage on December 30th-January 1st, there is a phenomenal increase in the number of tourists to the Sivagiri Mutt. In the pilgrimage, different rituals are observed which are different from other religious pilgrimages. Devotees to Sivagiri Mutt follow the principles of Buddha – purity of mind, body, food word & deed!

Odayam Beach

Beach
Photo Credits: Vijeesh

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Odayam Beach located between the beautiful Thiruvambadi beach and the Cliff beach. A simple stretch of soft sands Odayam Beach is one of the best places to visit in Varkala. You can explore the quiet side of the coastal town of Varkala. If you’re inclined to visit the hippiest side of Kerala, Odayam Beach is the perfect place to be!

In the mornings, you can get to watch the local fishermen pull in their nets. The gorgeous view of the sunset at the Odayam beach is a thing not to be missed! You can also set out on a sunset ride out on a home-made canoe, and Odayam Beach is a lot more beautiful and less crowded than the Varkala beach.

Edava Beach Varkala

Beach
Photo Credits: Rejisha

 Submerge yourself in the quaint beauty of the Edava Beach Varkala! One of the best places to visit in Varkala, Edava Beach is an unspoilt beach staying far away from the crowd! The town of Edava is situated amidst the cities of Paravur in the North and Varkala in the South.

Untouched and unspoilt by tourist activities, the Edava beach is the virgin stretch of land circling a blue lagoon. A one km stretch of straight road divides the sea and backwaters run parallel. An estuary connects the sea and the backwaters here at Edava.

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Kappil Beach 

Beach
Photo Credits: Vineeth

One of the best places to see in Varkala! The gorgeous sight of the Kappil Beach where Kappil Lake meets the Arabian Sea makes you wonder at the beauty of nature! The lake is right across the beach but is separated by a road. The rocks and Coconut palms lining the beach create a perfect backdrop for that perfect shot! A bird’s eye view of the calm lake on one side and the sea creating waves, on the other hand, make for a splendid contrast! The secluded beautiful Vettekkada Beach is perfect for travellers who prefer peace and solitude.

Edava Nadayara Kayal 

Lake
Photo credits: Swathy

Take time out to visit the picturesque Edava-Nadayara Kayal at Varkala to make your holiday memorable! The Ayiroor River which originates from Vilangara in Navaikulam flows through Thiruvananthapuram district and empties into the Edava- Nadayara Kayal.   

Winding through dense coconut groves, the serene estuary merges into the Arabian Sea. The enchanting view of the lake from the bridge over the lake is not to be missed! The backwaters stretching white and grey to the distant blue horizon is quite beautiful. You can go for boating to browse this tranquil waterway.

Sreenarayanapuram Temple

Temple
Photo Credits: Sreeja

Seek the blessings of Lord Mahavishnu at Sree Narayanapuram Mahavishnu Temple at Manakkala village, Adoor! Built-in the typical Kerala architectural style, the 18th-century temple is one of the main temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Kerala.

The major annual festival of the Sree Narayanapuram Mahavishnu Temple is the Dasavatarachartu which is celebrated with much pomp and splendour. On each day of this ten-day festival, one avatar of Mahavishnu is revered from his Dasavatara is revered. As one of the few temples which celebrates the Dasavatarachartu festival, the temple is visited by many devotees. A must visit place in Varkala!

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Kappil Bhagavathy Temple 

Bhagavathy Temple
Photo Credits: Siya

A perfect spot to find your inner soul! Devi Bhadrakali blesses her devotees at the Kappil Bhagavathy Temple, a famous temple in Varkala. Located at Kappil, Thiruvananthapuram there are two temples, one for Lord Shiva and the other for the Devi Bhagavathy. The Meena Bharani festival is celebrated on a grand scale at the Bhadrakali Temple.  

The idol of Lord Shiva faces to the west in the ancient Kappil Lord Shiva temple which is believed to be about 2,000 years‚Äô old. As per legend, a 5,000-year-old temple is believed to have been positioned in the same direction towards the west.¬† The ancient temple subsequently got submerged under the Arabian sea. That 5,000-year-old temple was said to have a ‚ÄėSwarna Kodi Maram‚Äô or the Golden Flagstaff. The residents of the area believe that the temple has strong cosmic powers.¬†

Golden Island Varkala 

An island
Photo Credits: Akhil

Get ready to explore the beautiful Golden island or the Ponnumthuruthu island near Varkala! Situated nearly 10 km from Varkala in the middle of the lake, the Golden Island is truly a nature lover’s paradise! The island has a beautiful century-old temple of Shiva Parvathi known as the Golden temple & it can be reached by a 10 minutes ride by boat.  

A must visit place nearly 10 km from Varkala, the Acacia-filled island is a place where you can hear the sound of birds all the time and is frequented by bird lovers. You can go boating around the island in punt-powered boats amidst the coconut groves stretched over the golden beaches.

The Ponnumthuruthu island is a perfect tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life, and the old ambience of the island is still maintained here. The island comes to life with dazzling lights when the Shivratri festival is celebrated here. Relaxing at the island is one of the best offbeat things to do in Varkala!

Anchuthengu Fort 

Fort
Photo Credits: Adhinath

A sneak peek into the history of Kerala! The historic Anjengo Fort built in the late 17th century by the East India Company was gifted to the Queen of Attingal. As per the local legend, British were having a hard time pronouncing the name of the town of ‚ÄėAnchuthengu‚Äô where the fort was built and instead called it ‚ÄėAnjengo‚Äô.

The Anchuthengu and Anjengo Fort are one of the most visited places in Varkala. The Anchuthengu town has many old structures including a 100-year-old convent and tombs of soldiers. You get an ancient world feel as you walk through the streets here! Certainly, one of the best Varkala places to visit!

Anjengo Lighthouse Varkala

Lighthouse Black and white in Colour
Photo Credits:Sreehari

The perfect place to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Varkala coastline and the blue waters of the Arabian Sea! Many important landmarks in Varkala throw light into the influence of European colonial powers in Anchuthengu apart from the Anjengo fort.

 The Varkala Lighthouse was built in 1684 by the Britishers to help the British ships with navigation. The 130-feet tall lighthouse is undoubtedly one of the best places to see in Varkala and a famous photographic destination. The panoramic view of the vast Arabian Sea and never-ending green sea of trees makes the climb of the 250 steps worth it! The lighthouse premises is a favourite picnic spot for visitors to Varkala.

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 Places to Visit near Varkala

Trivandrum

When at Varkala, visiting Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, can easily be included in your itinerary! Trivandrum brings you a perfect fusion of deep-rooted heritage and a wistful colonial legacy. Trivandrum, built upon seven hills, today seats the headquarters of the Government of Kerala. 

Trivandrum presents to you a metropolis with a mix of quaint urban & age-old cultural charm. The magnificent palaces, sacred temples, fabulous beaches and lakes add to the beauty of Trivandrum. With numerous tourist hotspots, Trivandrum is a great place to visit near Varkala! 

Kovalam Beach

Take time out to relax and be beach happy at the Kovalam beach! Undoubtedly one of the pristine clean beaches in India, the falcate shaped Kovalam beach has a rocky premonitory. The beach is bordered with coconut palms, and they keep swaying gently to the salty breeze of the Arabian Sea. Kovalam beach lies 56 km away from Varkala and can be reached by hiring a cab from Varkala. 

The silvery-white sands of Kovalam beach attract tourists from far and wide, and the crystal clear waters are ideal for swimming. If you are a person who loves the peace and solitude of nature, Kovalam beach is where you can sit and relax!

Jatayu Adventure Center

Adventure seekers get ready for a mind-blowing adventure! The Jatayu Adventure Center is at Chadayamangalam, just 27 km away from Varkala can be reached by booking a taxi. It is a unique and spectacular tourist destination renowned for the gigantic bird sculpture of Jatayu and is situated at an altitude of 350m above mean sea level. 

The Guinness book of world records has recognised the Jatayu Para as the massive functioning bird sculpture in the world. The Jatayu Adventure Center brings to you a thrilling experience to adventure seekers and visitors here can indulge in Paintball, trekking, jumaring and archery, rappelling, stepping stool climbing, jumaring and smokestack climbing etc.

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Interesting Questions on Varkala

How far is Varkala from Cochin?

Kochi to Varkala is 170 km and can be reached by a 3 hrs 30 m drive by hiring a Taxi from Cochin.

How far is Varkala from Trivandrum?

Varkala is situated at a distance of 46 km from Trivandrum and is about 1 hr 18m by hiring a car.

What are the best things to do in Varkala?

At Varkala, you can enjoy the clean, pristine rocky beaches and witness the gorgeous sunsets, visit the historic Anjengo Fort and the Lighthouse. Enjoy the Varkala beach nightlife, experience the authentic Kerala cuisine, visit the beautiful Ponnumthuruthu island and have a sneak perk at the traditional art forms of Kerala like Kathakali & Kalaripayattu.

Which beach is better Varkala or Kovalam?

It is a difficult choice as both Kovalam and Varkala have a beauty and charm of their own. At the same time, Kovalam is a busy, clean coconut palm-lined beach, Varkala is a less crowded rocky beach with a spiritual side to it and many Ayurveda centres to relax and rejuvenate.