Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Varkala is a coastal town and municipality in Thiruvananthapuram district situated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is located 50 kilometres (approx. 32 miles) north-west of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and 37 km south-west of Kollam city.

Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature on the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological Survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.

Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South). The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.

Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala. The adjacent hills house the East-West University of Brahmavidya and Sree Narayana Gurukulam


Tourism started thriving by the end of last century at the Varkala beach(Papanasam), which was earlier famous for Vavu Beli, a Hindu custom performed at the beach. Another beach is at Tiruvambadi, one kilometre away and en-route the old palace. There is a helipad close to the beach. Scores of ayurvedic massage parlours line the promenade above the beach.

Varkala Beach or Papanasam beach is a haven for sun-bathing and swimming. It is one of the most popular tourism destination in Kerala. The evening views of the sunset are worth lingering over. The cliff and the beach houses a lot of resorts, restaurants and other shops. The cliff has a long stretch of small shops which goes on for over a kilometer. The black part of the sand on the Varkala Beach contains Thorium-oxide which is a radioactive substance. Thorium and Thorium-oxide its isotopes are found all over Kerala and can be identified by its black colour.


Sections of Varkala Beach (Papanasam Beach) are used by Indians to scatter the ashes of their cremated dead relatives into the sea. Devotees believe that the strong religious properties of the water will extend to the souls of their most recently departed. Despite this burial activity, the sea is popular with swimmers both locals and foreign tourists.

Kappil Lake

Kappil Lake is about 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) north of Varkala Town. This serene estuary meanders through dense coconut groves before merging into the Arabian Sea. The bridge over the lake is quite a vantage point to view the backwater stretching white and grey to the distant blue horizon. Boating is another great way to browse this tranquil waterway.

Anjengo Fort

Anjengo Fort is a fort near varkala. It is a place of historic importance as well as beautiful natural setting, Anjengo is an ideal destination for those who don't mind walking around and explore what is in store.The historic significance tagged to Anjengo comes through foreign powers like the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the English East India Company. In the year 1684, the English East India Company chose Anjengo to establish their first trade settlement in Kerala. At Anjengo, one can find the remnants of the old English Fort, which was targeted several times by other foreign powers, who were at that time fighting each other to get a firm footing in Kerala. The Fort is now under the protection of National Heritage Monuments. There is also a cemetery inside the fort, which most probably would be having the remains of the occupants of the fort, and the oldest among the burial sites dates to 1704. The beautiful Muthalapuzhi lake is situated in Anjengo.

Varkala Tunnel

Varkala Tunnel is a popular tourist highlight. It was a 924 ft long tunnel built in 1867 by T.Mahadeva Rao the dewan of Travancore, and took 14 years to complete. Varkala Lighthouse is another tourist highlight in the vicinity.

Ponnumthurut Island

Ponnumthurut Island is a beautiful spot you can reach by cruise boat. There is a sivaparvathy Temple on this island.

Sivagiri Mutt

Janardana Swami Temple is a very important Vaishnavite shrine and attracts thousands of pilgrims. The temple is about 2000 years old. Facing the temple is the Papasnanam beach where devotees take a bath in the belief that the sacred waters will wash away their sins. A large bell washed up from the wreck of a Dutch merchant vessel is kept on display at the temple.

Sivagiri Mutt is a famous ashram in Varkala, founded by the philosopher and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. Sree Narayana Guru's tomb is also located here. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days 30 December to 1 January. The Sivagiri Mutt, built in 1904, is situated at the top of the Sivagiri hill near Varkala. Even decades after the guru breathed his last here in 1928; his samadhi continues to be thronged by thousands of devotees, donned in yellow attire, from different parts of Kerala and outside every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days - 30 December to 1 January. The Sivagiri Mutt is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham, an organization of his disciples and saints, established by the Guru to propagate his concept of 'One Caste, One Religion, One God'. The Guru Deva Jayanti, the birthday of the Guru, and the samadhi day are celebrated in August and September respectively every year. Colourful processions, debates and seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts, group wedding and rituals mark the celebrations. The Universities of Kerala's MBA's college IMK is located near Sivagiri.

Sarkara Devi Temple

Sarkara Devi Temple is a famous old temple situated near Varkala at Chirayinkeezhu. The temple is famous for the kaliyoot festival on the Malayalam month of kumbham (March).

Sree Saraswathy Temple located in Venkulam, Edava is a VidyaDevi temple famous for Navarathri Sangeetholsavam and Vijayadesami Vidyarambam.

Kaduvayil Juma Masjid

Kaduvayil Juma masjid is situated on NH47 in between Kallambalam and Attingal, is famous sunni pilgrimage centre which is attracted lacal Muslims and Hindus.There are various charitable organisations run by this trust such as Hospital, CBEC school and conevention centre

Kasi Yoga Anushtana Kendram

Kasi Yoga Anushtana Kendram is a Yoga Retreat Center Located at Varkala. Its also a training Center for Yoga and Retreat.

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