Undoubtedly when people consider taking a beach vacation, Goa tops the list. With its artistic, hippie vibes, delicious food, the music culture and just an overall atmosphere of relaxation, Goa has been my visit place minimum of once a year for the last 6 years roughly.In 2017, I made a decision that I was going to explore an element of the country that probably isn’t all that well- known but is a perfect go away when looking to flee the extra vibrant hustle of Goa.
Varkala is a coastal town in the southern part of Kerala known for the unique 15m high ‘Northern Cliff’ adjacent to the Arabian Sea, giving it the most beautiful natural setting from dusk to dawn.The town of Varkala is easily reachable by air, rail and road. I travelled by an over night bus from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram and then took a cab to Varkala which is a 1.5 hours drive away. I arranged for my stay ahead of time and lucky for me when I got there I discovered that the beach was a short one min walk away!
I reached Varkala around about noon and chose to relax a bit in the hotel I was staying in. A neat little place that was filled with backpackers and families alike. I chose to visit in the month of Feb because it is a good month to visit Kerala which otherwise is really hot during the summers. You can rent bikes and can comfortably roam around this quaint little heaven.
Over the course of my 3-day/2-night stay there, I did the following:
* Local Sight seeing (Anjengo fort, lighthouse & Kappil): 12 kms from the cliff is the fort that was built by the East India Company which in history acted as port of entry for the English. It has since then been handed over to the archaeological department for maintaining it as a tourist place. You also have access to the lighthouse which gives you the perfect aerial view of Varkala and its endless waters.
* With the roads being in excellent condition, one can roam around on bikes all day and that’s exactly what I did and it brought me to Edava-Kappil road. I do know just exploring roads might not sound all that glamorous but on this on, you reach a bridge which is basically located in between the backwaters and the beach. At this point, you will notice many water sports like kayaking and jet skiing being offered by a government run center.
* Chill by the cliff: Varkala beach is found right off the cliff and there are flights of stairs available at different points to get to the beach. Restaurants and shops that sell everything from clothes, to silver jewelry and souvenirs, line the cliff.
* Visit the Beaches: The beaches in Varkala are pristine and the actual hidden gem of this place. Compared to Goa, the beaches are a lot quieter, cleaner and the water more blue than anything I have ever seen but may not be the best for swimming, as it tends to be choppy. Among the three beaches – Varkala Beach, Black Beach and Papanasam Beach, my favourite was black beach as it was the first time; I was witnessing black sand on my feet.Papanasam beach is a religious beach as the Hindus believe that a dip in these holy waters wash away the sins and is considered a sacred place for performing the last rights for the departed.
* Ayurvedic Massage: On my last day in Varkala, I decided to stop by an Ayurvedic Massage place just a hop and skip away from where I was staying and this experience was out of the world. Treated by local professionals, they made sure that my problem points were taken care off.Watch the sunrise and the sunset:I honestly don’t care what anyone says, the sunrise and sunsets (especially) are the most breath taking in Varkala. Watching the sun at the horizon with a cup of tea/coffee was literally my favourite thing to do.
* Heavenly Food: As mentioned earlier, restaurants serving heavenly food overlooking the Arabian waters line the cliff. By the time the sun bids goodbye, most of these places, light up candles and then the otherwise rocky cliff magically turns into a romantic paradise. Most of these places serve fresh catch of the day and you can have them cook it as per your preference. From authentic Kerala cuisine to continental, Asian, Italian, there is a variety of spread that you can pick from. Most places also have live music, karaoke or a little dance floor where you can spend an evening dancing like no one’s watching.
* Other activities available: Though I did not indulge myself in these activities, there is plenty more to do in Varkala such as yoga, Reiki, surfing, parasailing and exploring the backwaters.Yoga – you are even able to pursue your yoga teacher’s training is few places and if not then there are short-term courses available for you to join at very reasonable rates.
Reiki – Being a little hippie heaven, there are plenty of places along that provide Reiki, crystal healing and self – transformational treatments. You are also able to take a Reiki course with a qualified specialist.Surfing and Parasailing – Varkala perhaps is one of the most picturesque places to bring out the adventurous side of you. Surfing, parasailing and so much more is offered in this little town and is an impeccable place for adrenaline junkies.
Overall, Varkala was my escape – An escape from the hustle of the rut of life to a magical land of endless blue, the skies and the waters. If you’re someone that’s looking to re-discover yourself, I cannot recommend Varkala enough!!!
Do not take my word for it but go on and experience it for yourself.