Varkala is a town in the Indian state of Kerala, about 40km north of Trivandrum and is home of the popular Papanasam Beach. Also, the Samadhi of Kerala's saint Sree Narayana Guru is situated in this town and hence has become a place of pilgrimage.
If you're looking for beaches and are fed up with the crowds and prices at Kovalam, then its well worth checking out Varkala. The best times to go, are of course in the season, when the beach extends out all around the cliff face for 500 meters.
The beaches around this area are excellent and if you're looking for a cheap holiday Varkala should definitely be on your list. In the off season its really mellow and relaxed, swim and sleep and chill out. Only in December does it get really busy and prices start rocketing till January/February, when it starts to quieten down.
The main season starts from Dec 1st- March 31st, with December & early January experiencing the biggest rush. If you want to go out of season, then you can stay very cheaply and of course avoid the crowd. Varkala is quite a new place to hang out in India and has only been developed as a tourist destination in the last 2 years.
Average temperature in Varkala in Celsius.
- Summer(Humid): Mar - May: 25°c-33°c / Summer Max: 35°c.
- Monsoon(Cloudy): Jun-mid - Sep: 21°c-27°c / Winter Min: 15°c.
- Winter(Pleasant): Sep - Feb: 22°c-28°c.
- Rainfall: 310 cm.
- Varkala is linked by state and national highways to all the major cities in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka.
- The nearest International Airport is Trivandrum.
- State Transport Buses are available from Trivandrum.
- Varkala is also connected by Rail Network. If coming from Trivandrum, the better option will be coming by Train. Almost all trains passing by stops at Varkala. From Varkala Railway Station, Taxis and Auto Rickshaws can be hired. Papanasam Beach is around 6km from Varkala Railway Station.( Rs 40/50 by Auto Rickshaw)
The town of Varkala is about 5km inland, centered around the train station, and can be reached via autorickshaw for Rs.40
The resort area lies along two cliffs, north and south, overlooking the beach areas. The main Papanasam beach is between these, while less crowded Black Beach is to the north. This entire area is easily accessible by walking the fine sidewalk along the cliff edges.
- Shree Janardhana Swamy temple. It is 2000 years old. Varkala has been a Hindu pilgrimage site since the 12th Century. The Janardhana Temple was built during this period and many Hindu's still visit Varkala to this day, for this very reason. The Varkala sands has become an ideal spot for confluence of cultures exotic and alien. Varkala also houses a leading pilgrim centre in Kerala. The temple, dedicated to Vishnu and Hanuman, atop the hill has brought a sobriquet for the region, Southern Kasi (Benares). Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the inner sanctum but can hang around the temple.
- Sivagiri. Sree Narayana Guru (1855-1928), saint, social reformer, philosopher and leader of Ezhava community, made Varkala his headquarters. Sivagiri mutt, instituted by Sree Narayana Guru, is another major pilgrim centre here.
- The 'Sivagiri Pilgrimage' is usually conducted between 30th December and 1st January every year. The Sivagiri Mutt - a religious retreat was founded by Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) the renowned philosopher and social reformer of modern Kerala. Even decades after the Guru breathed his last here in 1928, his Samadhi (resting place) continues to be thronged by thousands of pilgrims. The Sivagiri Mutt is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangham, a religious organization established by the Guru to propagate his concept of 'One Caste, One Religion, One God'
- Nature Care Centre. Papanasam.
- East West University of Brahmavidya. Established by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, Disciple of Nataraja Guru.
- Narayana Gurukula. Established by Nataraja Guru.
- Varkala Tunnel. Built by the British in 1880.
- Fishing Hamlets of Anjengo and its British Fort.
- Coir Processing Centres. In the Backwaters of Akathumuri, Kadakkavur.
- Play Cricket on the black beach most days from 4pm. See who's about and ask for a game. Watch out for the Indian Bureaucracy!
- Kathakali performances are put on nightly during the high season
Numerous small shops line the cliff-top, selling both local and touristy attire.
The only fancy restaurant available at Papanasam/Varkala is in the Taj Garden Retreat. Almost all Hotels and Resorts have room service. There are lots of Restaurants at the Cliff. Most of them and places-to-eat in the Cliff are seasonal and spring up during the tourist season (beginning late Nov). Try the fresh fish or seafood from any number of the cliff-top restaurants. Seafood is caught by local fishermen and displayed in front of many restaurants. Select your delicacy and have it prepared in the tandoor...enjoy the sunset while you dine.
- The Funky Art Cafe is easily the most happening place in Varkala, what with daily live music shows and great ambience,it definitely is the cafe to watch out for. Watch out for the staff distributing pamphlets for regular parties at the cafe.Also try Bhang Lassi which can be ordered only from the kitchen for 150-200 rupees.Definitely worth going for to make the Varkala experience consummate
- Hotel Suprabhatham offers vegetarian food, and is the only 100% Veg Restaurant in Varkala.
- Varkala Park Hotel(deluxe) is situated near varkala railway station offers Restaurant, Room Service and Bar.
- Cafe del Mar situated on top of the cliff. Unlike many other cafes in Varkala, it has fast service and first class food, and serves Indian, Mexican and Italian
- Oootapura Vegetarian Restaurant is almost the first restaurant you come to from the helipad. It is very good but does not serve beer.
- Reena Bakers situated almost opposite the railway station serves very good pastries and cakes.
- Trattoria's on north end of the cliffs, with a second story view, fast, cheap, and delicious.
There are several bars which serve booze.
- KTDC's Beer Parlour. Located at Puthanchanda, 6 km from Papanasam.
- The Restaurants at Cliff also serve Beer.
- Varkala Park near Railway Station.
- KR Bar Near Railway Station
- Babuji Bar, Maidanam
- Karthika Bar, Maidanam
- Casa Eva Luna, Off Kurrakkani Road, Varkala(Near Indian Coffee House), ☎ 00919946069770, . checkin: 12 noon; checkout: 12 noon. Casa Eva Luna is the name of Kerala Konnections homestay, located in a rural enclave of Varkala. Situated a few minutes from the beach and cliff. The house has two floors and is located on a 3000 square metre plot. It has two double rooms on each floor, each decorated in a different style that reflects the nature of the surrounding area. All rooms have marble floors, ceiling fans, en-suite bathroom and towels. On the upper floor we have a activity room and a large terrace. See our web page for more details, www.keralakonnections.com From Rs. 600.
- Bamboo Village, (near North end of cliff), ☎ +91 470 2610732. Individual huts around a small garden facing the sea.~Rs.700.
- Government Guest House, (located next door to Taj Garden Retreat), ☎ +91 472 602227. Former Maharaja's summer plalace, a bit run down.
- K.K. House, (Behind temple, south cliff. A place ideal for relaxation and comfort. Price reanges from 200-350), ☎ +91 470 9388720200.
- Shiva Garden Home Stay(located next door to Preeth Beach Resort), Kurakkanni,Varkala, Kerala, India(North cliff), ☎ +91 9349460261, . Operated by Jayan.R. Individually crafted and comfortable rooms.
- Taj Mahal Beach Resort, (located at North End Cliff), ☎ +91 470 2605215.
- Prathibha Park. ocated at Helipad, with good views and easy access to the beach.
- Seapearls Chalets, (South cliff), ☎ +91 470 2605875. located at the cliff, offering fabulous views.
- Sea Splendour, (1/2 km North of cliff), ☎ +91 470 2662120. Operated by a friendly couple, this small (5 room) guest house is off the beaten trail. The food is all home-cooked, and the coffee is delicious.
- Karthika Plaza ResortT, Wacher Mukku(Near Govt. Guest House), ☎ +919946388654, . 10 room B&B/Inn in 2 levels with private bath, facing a well arranged garden.Rates from USD 15 to USD 65.
- Mom Lekha's Private Homes, (Papanasam Beach Avenue), ☎ +91 470 2610756, . Lapped by the gentle waves of the Arabian Sea, Private Homes commands charm and mystery on a moonlit night. This beautiful resort fronting the beach and commanding a sweeping sea view embodies quintessential Kerala..Rs.1500-2500.
- Blooming Bay Resort, (south end of South Cliff), ☎ +91 470 3205151, . If you want peace and quiet and you have your own transport then this is the place.Rs.4000-6000.
- Hindustan Beach Retreat, ☎ +91-470-260 4254/55(email@example.com), . An alluring Beachside Resort, that offers excellent views and fabulous experience.
- Hill View Beach Resort, (North cliff), ☎ +91 470 2600566, . Has spacious and clean rooms on the cliff.$25-$90.
- The Royal Mount, tel: +91-470-2660037. - Ayurvedic resort.
- The Gateway Hotel, Janardhanapuram Varkala, Opp Govt Guest House, Janaradhanapuram, Varkala(Close to Janardhanaswamy temple, Papanasam Beach), ☎ +91 470 2603000, . checkin: 1400 hrs; checkout: 1200 hrs. Fancy Taj Hotels' 4 star property. Rs. 5000-8000.
- WoodHouse Beach Resort, ☎ +91 470 2156392. Beach Resort in Varkala near Papanasham.
- Mr KG Nair, tel 09446663147. For campground and all other guest accommodations.
- Sree Uthradom Thirunal Hospital, Tel: +91 470 2607766, 2607755.
- Sree Narayana Medical Mission Hospital.
- Varkala Government Hospital.
- Government Ayurvedic Hospital.
Travel Agency/Help Desk/Money Exchange
- Babu's Travels. The Cliff, Papanasam. - Ask for Mr.Babu (Thilakan)
- S.L Associates. Maithanam, Varkala. - Ask for Mr.Sateesh Lal
- Kollam - about an hour north by taxi, an easy half-day trip to take a boat ride on the backwaters.
- Kottayam - about two hours by frequent train, with backwaters and Kumarakom bird sanctuary.
- Alleppey - houseboats, snake boat races, and more via a three hour train ride
This page was last edited at 18:29, on 21 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Katrina Benito, Aine Hickey, Stefan Ertmann, James Yolkowski, David, Raghav, chris rowland and Bill Johnson, Wikitravel user(s) Morph and Texugo, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.