There are few towns which possess their own charm – Varkala is one such beach destination in Kerala. I never heard of it till I visited this place in the southern part of Kerala state which is just 41 km north of city of Trivandrum.
My first impression of this place!! –
“Ok!! So, this is yet another beach destination!! Isn’t it?? What is so special about it??”
But believe me, you have to visit it once to actually feel the very difference. Make it a point to not just make it a day trip, instead Varkala demands a night stay to see how it differs from other such destinations.
Town is nicely connected via Bus (private as well as Kerala state KSRTC) and train with other major town of Kerala state. Though, bus journey might get bit tricky because of language issues. We parenthetically happen to travel by bus and suffered a bit.
As we were coming from Thekkedy our route by all means has to be via “Kottyam”. From Kottyam, we were sent on a wild goose chase by a bus enquiry officer – he told us, there is no direct bus to Varkala and you have to go via “Ayoor”- another pit stop for us. We took our bus to Ayoor, and after reaching there as well, we were again told that this was not a good way to reach Varkala, there are no direct bus, just reach Paripallai and from there you will get another bus to Varkala.
Our final route looked like:
Thekkedy – Kottyam – Ayoor – Paripallai – Varkala – Varkala Beach (our stay)
A strenuous route which took more time as well.
Once reached, I got to know, there ar direct bus from Kollam, or a direct train from Kottayam to Varkala, both of which will save quite a lot of time and moreover energy. For information on trains please check –www.indianrailinfo.com or www.seat61.com.
There is one direct KSRTC bus to Trivandrum from Thekkedy (if following same route as mine) at 10:30 AM from Kumli bus stand. This bus will be most suitable to disembark at Paripallai or Ayoor based on buses route to reach Varkala.
Where to stay?
Near Cliff (Varkala Beach) – Tourists choose to stay in Varkala for comparatively longer duration owing to the calmness this town provides and many specialized certification level courses offered in front of beach itself. Because of this, there are multiple stay options in almost all range for tourists, while most of them provides basic level of amenities.
Staying in the cliff area/near market is highly recommended, but might be expensive comparatively. If, you are on a short vacation this is definitely where you should stay. There are numerous restaurants available along the cliff itself and every other night bring some special musical theme around.
Staying in Varkala town – If staying for longer duration to attend courses, there are much cheaper homestay’s available in the town, not very far from beach.
We stayed in Mother’s Palace run by a young group, with their specialization in Hospitality itself. Hotel is along the cliff and one of the highly rated accommodation around.
Accessibility of Varkala for Wheelchair users!
Varkala is a small town, and offer calm environment. It offers a good accessibility to most of the sightseeing places (besides lighthouse). Varkala beach also has limited accessibility owing to its entry through cliff which went through stairways.
All the activities along north cliff are recommended and accessible for wheelchair users.
Going out from Varkala:
From Varkala there are buses as well trains to almost all major destinations in Kerala from where connecting trains to other Indian destinations can be taken. Take a train/ bus to Trivandrum to go further south. Or, to Kollam/Kottayam to get to any northern part.
Just get refreshed!! Authentic Ayurvedic Massage..
What to do in Varkala
Most Important question !! Though, already answered extensively by many travelers..
- Eat, Drink, Shop along the North cliff of Varkala beach – If possible, choose your stay along North cliff, this is the place to witness what Varkala is. You can get customized clothes, get Tattooed, pick up trinkets, western music CD’s, different types of spices, tea, coffee from all over Kerala and can have western style food in the kind of restaurant setting not very common in India.
- Go Surfing – Varkala is known for surfing. It attracts tourists from all over world to try their hands with surf. There are multiple surfing schools in Varkala, which offer courses from beginner (where you can learn how to paddle) to advance level. Though beware, as few instructors are not certified by ISA, make sure you choose the one with certification. Surfing starts early from 6:30 AM and goes till 10.
- Try Yoga – might sound bit peculiar, but area around Varkala beach, particularly north cliff area has more foreigners than locals. They not only practice yoga regularly, but also teaches the same. Practice few of the “yogic kriyas” beside the serenity of Varkala beach, either in the calm and peaceful environment of early morning or while sunset in the evening.
- Get authentic Ayurvedic Massages – Once done with surfing, or a full day of sightseeing activity, get some authentic Ayurvedic massage. Massage in Varkala is considered to be one of the best in whole of Kerala. Try either a body cleansing programme or get a relaxing massage.
- Sightseeing in Varkala – This is not it, Varkala has various points to see as well. Get spiritual – go to Janardhana Swami Temple; or do water sports in Kappil Lake, or experience local culture in Sivagiri, or just visit Varkala lighthouse – an average light house with 180+ stairs, a good visit to click some of the awesome photographs of the area.
I hope you find the information about this town useful. Do you have any other questions or suggestions? Please comment below and let us all know of the same.
Thanks for reading and happy travelling!!