Are you in search for a simple yet an amazing destination for your complete vacation – a place away from rush of city life yet not isolated, some place to relax, refresh and rejuvenate? Varkala may sound like just another place with its sandy beaches and blue waters, but it is so much more than that. Located 50kms Northwest of Thiruvanathapuram (the capital city of Kerala), facing the deep blue Arabian Sea is the blissful and scenic Varkala, known for its diverse and vibrant culture, great cuisines, fantastic beaches, Ayurveda and meditation, friendly people and many more. It has earned the name of ‘mini-Goa’.
Varkala offers plenty of things to do for travellers from around the world and in abundance. Here are 7 amazing reasons as to why Varkala is a lovely place to visit at least once in a lifetime.
There is no doubt that the soul of Varkala is the cliff along the coast that makes it so special than any other beaches in Kerala, an exception to the otherwise flat coastline of Kerala. The sedimentary formation cliff, also called as the ‘Varkala Formation’ by geologists adds to the serene and scenic beauty of the beach. In 2015 the Varkala Cliff was recognized as a Geo Heritage site by the Govt of India, Geological Survey of India and Ministry of Mines. Numerous resorts, hotels and other lodging facilities cater to the food and accommodation needs of the visiting tourists who can stay back relax and watch the most amazing sunrise and sunsets either on the cliff or on the beach. If one is lucky enough there are great chances to watch dolphins play near the cost. The restaurants and food joints along the cliff proudly displays the fresh catch of the day by the local fishermen and the guest are allowed to make their pick and meal prepared as per their wish. Apart from mouth watering sea-food specialities, various cuisines catering to North/South Indian as well as Continental, Chinese and Italian menus are also available in a few restaurants. One can also find various souvenirs, art and clothing shops to make their visit memorable and dress down to relax at the beach. Candle-lit dinner with variety music or sometimes even karaoke that allows guests to be part of memorable evenings and opportunities to meet new people is just another reason why you should drop by.
If you are travelling not just to have fun or pass time lazily, if you are suffering from an ailment that needs not just medicine but the heart and will to overcome it, Varkala can still be your travel destination but for a completely different reason. Varkala is home to numerous ayurvedic resorts as well as Yoga and meditation training centers – a perfect combination to refresh mind and body. Ayurveda or the “Wisdom / Knowledge of Life” is the traditional science of treating various ailments followed in India for centuries. Harmonizing the elements of nature, flow of energy and thus relieving ailments using completely natural herbs and oils with the help of various massages and traditional treatment method. Varkala’s scenic beauty and serene atmosphere not only provides a great environment to learn and practice the ancient art of Yoga and meditation but with the right care and medicinal food helps you to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
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RASAYANA CHIKITSA: Rasayana Chikitsa or Rasayana Therapy, aims to restore body’s vitality to its fullest. In other words, Rasayana Chikitsa aims to retain the youthfulness of body and mind. Basically, Rasayana Chikitsa can rekindle the lively radiance like a luminous lamp, and can contribute immensely in keeping away the old-age decline in life. Rasayana chikitsa helps a person to maintain good health or to establish impaired or lost physical or mental health. The Jarachikitsa regime comprises of a very strict diet. Amalaki, haritaki, trifala, brungaraj, ashwagandha, punarnava, chitraka are few out of the long list of herbs that are called rasayanakar. The Rasayana medicines are believed to have aphrodisiac qualities as well. In short Rasayana chikitsa is rejuvenation of the soul. It provides a long, disease free and vigorous life to the person, who undergoes this therapy seriously, as it helps to bring life back to normal.This is performed after setting up a suitable griha (home) for the appropriation. The person is treated with various procedures vizsnehana, swedana and panchakarmas during the course of the treatment with prescribed medication of rasayana properties. This is usually performed in courses duration lasts for weeks.
The never ending and not too harsh tides of the Arabian Sea along the clean and clear beaches of Varakala seems inviting to both local and visiting swimming enthusiasts to have some fun in the water and lazily relax under the sun. During the season (Oct – Feb) tourists from various corners flock down to the beach to soak the warm sun and dip in the blue sea. This is a unique beach where on one side fun filled and high spirited visitors jump-in to have fun but also spiritual and solemn hearted devotees come in devotion to dip in the same sea almost next to each other.
Adventure and fun seekers have their own reason to come to Varkala beach as they have the opportunity to take boat rides, scuba diving, dolphin spotting and surfing the great waves to have bit more of fun. This is one of the few beaches in India where you have the opportunity to ride the perfect waves and do some soul searching. If you are an aspiring surfer but with less or no experience at all there are a few joints in Varkala where you can even take classes and rent surf boards and meet more experienced riders to get proper guidance. If you want to pump a bit more of adrenaline and take to the skies there gliding services also available at the cliff for a nominal fee. Though there are not many facilities or instructors for gliding but there are experienced gliders who would accompany you to make the joyride safe and sound.
Trip to Varkala cliff is incomplete without taking a seat at any of the long lines of eateries that are available alongside the cliff. The seafood here is not to be missed especially from the fresh catch of the day by the local fishermen. Candle-lit tables facing the sea, either to have a romantic dinner or with a group of friends or being alone with a company of a great read and enjoying the meal is a great experience. Since you find people from different backgrounds visiting this great spot there are always opportunities to make new acquaintances and sharing a meal. Various themed restaurants make each joint a different experience and the cuisines varying from spicy North or South Indian, Chinese, Italian or Continental gives you a wide range to choose from. Strolling along the Cliffside one gets to see the fresh catch of fish, prawns, lobsters, crabs etc displayed out front. All you need to do is to choose what you want to try and how you want it to be done. Not just dinner but sipping tea or fresh juice and having breakfast of your choice watching the sun rise and fishermen returning on their boats with the nights catch is yet another amazing experience.
Known as the ‘Banaras of the South’, Hindu devotees in India flock down to the ‘Papanashini’ / Varkala beach to scatter the ashes of their passed loved ones. ‘Papanashini’ – the name itself means ‘sin destroyer’. Varkala is also home to nearly 2000 year old ‘Janardana Swami Temple’ for which it has been famous for a very long time. ‘Sivagiri Mutt’ is yet another important landmark here as it was established by the very revered Sree Narayana Guru, a philosopher and social reformer who influenced South India as well as Sri Lanka and his Samadhi or final resting place is an important and one the most famous monuments in Kerala. The ‘Sarkara Devi Temple’ and ‘Sree Saraswathi Temple’ are among the few other main temples located here. All though not in the heart of Varkala there are couple of churches and mosques along the way to Varkala like St. Sebastian’s Church and Kaduvayil Juma Masjid, a famous Sunni pilgrimage centre.
Being in Varkala gives you the opportunity to meet up with different people from various parts of the world but may be with similar interests. The locals are also friendly and helpful. One can get a bike or scooter or ride in the ‘tuk-tuk’ (auto rickshaws) to visit the nearby monuments and famous landmarks. Apart from the great ocean there are also few lakes and backwaters nearby for boat rides and short visits.
An all-inclusive vacation really takes the burden off your travel. No matter what are your travel plans are, once you reach Varkala everything will already be taken care of; that is, as long as you pick a top-notch hotel. You can find all kinds of all-inclusive resorts, from budget-friendly to luxury resorts, from ayurveda-focused to great and memorable Honeymoon packages. You can also find a few hotels with a private beach that offer you a more private space for relaxing and evening parties. To get a fair idea of the best hotels and resorts in Varkala you can check online hotel listing sites like Tripadvisor and Bookingso you chose where you wish to stay in Varkala. Most of the resorts or hotels have Wi-Fi facilities to keep you connected with friends and family and to share your amazing experience.
In short Varkala is one place you shouldn’t miss out if you are coming to Kerala. Best ways to get here is by air, nearest airport being Thiruvanathapuram International airport or Cochin airport. From there you can get buses or train to get down at Varkala/Sivagiri Station, and catch a tuk-tuk to reach the cliff. Tourist cabs can also be taken to reach the cliff directly.