Varkala is a small city that lies within the “God’s own Country” and its high, red cliffs make it a unique place to visit. This city is situated in the northern suburbs and is a major tourism and commercial centre in the municipality of Thiruvananthapuram.
Varkala Beach is one of the major attractions of this city and attracts hundreds of people every year from all over the country. The clear blue waters with the black sand shores make the beach unique while the stunning sunset is something truly worth witnessing. The natural beauty of this beach is enhanced by the high, red rocks that have existed for millions of years due to layers of sediment, giving the whole area a surreal setting and making for some breathtaking views.
If one is looking for heritage places here, then one must visit the Janardana Swami Temple. This temple is over 2000 years old and is believed to be the shrine of Lord Vishnu. The site is so sacred that it is also referred to as the Varanasi of the South. The other places to visit are the Kappil Beach, Anjengo Fort, Sivagiri Mutt, the Varkala Tunnel, and other ancient temples that Varkala is known for.
The city of Varkala is well connected through public transport. The nearest airport is the Trivandrum International Airport which is 39 km away from the city. The ever-busy Varkala Railway Station is connected to all the major cities in India. Private buses are also available at frequent intervals from all the adjacent towns and cities, as Varkala is situated near National Highway 66.
Since Varkala city has a tropical climate, the best time to visit is during the cool and pleasant winters. The summers are generally hot and humid and the monsoon months experience heavy rainfall which might hinder your travel and sightseeing plans. The city is well-equipped with multiple guest houses and hotels for a comfortable stay. The cuisine here is mainly South Indian, but variables are also available to cater to the tourist diaspora that visits Varkala every year.
About 5 km away from Varkala beach is a unique red stone cliff which is popular amongst Varkala tourist places. The Cliff is filled with excellent restaurants to cherish wholesome cuisine from across the world. It is especially famous for freshly caught fish preparations.This busy location has a local flea market with souvenirs shops. With a paranoiac view of the beach and the coastline, the hues of the fantastic sunrise and sunset can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee or a drink from the ambience of the cliff. Location: Behind Varkala Beach, Varkala, Kerala.Timings:Sunrise to Sunset.
About 12 km south of Varkala is the lush, secluded island of Ponnumthuruthu perfect for a secluded trip. The gateway to the island is a 30-minute tour through the backwaters from Nedunganda. At Nedunganda, the starting point is peculiar — the jetty and the walkway to the ferry are made up of coconut husk, mud and the waste of choir.The star attractions include a 100 years old Shiva Parvathi temple. The temple is situated amidst a thick coconut grove and gets decked up in lights during Sivarathri. The choir village on the other side can be visited by tourists. The majestic vistas of the ferry ride include husks waving through the backwaters and the greenery of land coming alive with fresh warm rays of the sun. With a plethora of flora and fauna, especially waterbirds and land birds like cormorants, egrets, and herons, the island is an enchanting delight for birdwatchers.Location: Ponnumthuruthu Island, Onnampalam Rd, Nedungada, Vettoor-cherunniyoor, Kerala 695312Timings: 5:30 am to 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Saint Sebastian's Pilgrim Church
Built by the Portuguese Missionaries, Saint Sebastian's Pilgrim Church Mongode is one of the religious places to visit in Varkala. Found on the banks of the backwaters of Varkala, with the dreamy ambience and serene location, this pilgrim centre for Christians is known for the procession of Saint Sebastian. The feast like procession is held every year in February.The church dresses up as colourful delight attracting bustling followers and visitors, also during Easter, Christmas and New year. The church feast is heavily visited by people of surrounding areas and hosted as a festival with attractions such as by boating, games, stage shows like dance, drama, magic.Location: Theresa Ln, Moongode P.O, Varkala, Kerala 695144.Timings: 6 am to 7 pm
Located in-between the Black Beach and Odayam Beach in a three-story building with a spiral staircase is one of the fascinating Varkala tourist places - Varkala aquarium. The aquarium hosts big chunks of exotic species including scorpionfish, angelfish, koi and the local karimeen. The marine species are placed along the spiral walkway.The aquarium is highly educational, especially for the kids, with detailed information sections. The top floor of the building has an open tank where all the species are placed. The scenic Varkala cliff is visible from the building area, and the lush of sea breeze can be churned upon from the walk-way. The aquarium makes for an exciting diversion from the beach.Location: Odayam Hatchery, Thiruvambadi Beach, Thiruvananthapuram, Varkala, Kerala 695141 Timings: 10 am to 6:30 pm.
Navigating through the coastal villages of Kerala and at a distance of 15 km from Varkala is the Chilakoor Beach. The beach is dotted with some good resorts to make the stay more comfortable.The spectacular journey through villages is a precursor to the enchanting views that the casuarina groves engulfing the beach bring to the visitors. One could watch time slow down while the golden rim of the horizon wears the serene atmosphere as the sun escapes to a new day lingering the essence of the warm evening near the beach.Location: Aliyirakkam, Chilakoor Beach, Varkala, Kerala 695141.Timings: Sunrise to Sunset.
For perfect seclusion, Thiruvambadi Beach is one of the pleasant places to visit in Varkala.Thiruvambadi or the Black Sand Beach is located 1 km off Thiruvambadi Road, adjacent to the North Cliff. The serene ambience of the clam location makes it an ideal picnic spot and a weekend gateway to unwind and relax.With no disturbances, the gentle undulating tides, the lust coconut grooves swaying across and charismatic, friendly locals help visitors rejuvenate. This Beach makes for a perfect escape from the rush and hush of the permeate urban life.Location: Thiruvambadi, Kurakkanni - Odayam road, Varkala, Kerala 695141.Timings: Sunrise to Sunset.
The Odayam Beach lies a few km ahead of Thiruvambadi beach and Cliff Beach. About 2kms away from the Varkala beach is this small oasis of splendour. With views more spectacular than the main Varkala beach and without the tourists hustle, the Odayam Beach is a calm surrender to the serene seeking souls. There are a plethora of places close to the beach which the visitors can stay in.Location: Odayam Beach Road, Varkala, Kerala 695311.Timings: Sunrise to Sunset.
Spread over 200 acres of hilly terrain, the Sivagiri Mutt is placed on a high platform and is the only quaint holy places to visit in Varkala. It has provided spiritual sustenance to thousands of people over the years. The Sivagiri Hills, where the Sivagiri Mutt is located, was selected by Sree Narayana Guru to create the commune after he fell in love with the vast landscape and ambience of Varkala. The teaching of the Guru include that of a singular faith, i.e. one caste, one religion and one God. The disciples and followers of the Guru run the headquarters of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham at the Sivagiri Mutt. This pilgrim centre has the Samadhi of the Guru and an elementary school which was created to bridge caste lines. The octagonal shape Saradha (Saraswathi) Temple resonates with the teaching, the prayers can be recited as per the devotees' preference- some choose sacred hymns, other chants. With the lessons and spiritual ambience, the vibe of the place is magical. The Mutt is heavily visited during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage on December 30th - January 1st and during Gurus Birthday and Samadhi in August and September. Pilgrims from different parts of Kerala gather at the Samadhi dressed in yellow shades.Location: Sivagiri Mutt, Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695141Timings: 5:00 am to 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
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