The quiet sleepy town of Varkala, situated almost 50km from Thiruvananthapuram, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala. It has much to offer by way of natural beauty, from the Varkala Beach with its rock cliff to the Kappil Lake which is surrounded by lush coconut plantations. Besides its natural beauty, Varkala also boasts a rich cultural legacy. However, throughout your travel around Varkala, you will find serenity in abundance. It’s one of the things that will make you fall in love with this sleepy town instantly. In this blog, we tell you the best things to do in Varkala that will enable you to make the most of your visit.
1. Varkala Beach
Visiting the Varkala Beach is one of the must do things in Varkala. Its cliffs and clear sand lend it a delightful appearance. This beach is popular among those people looking for an enjoyable day out without the usual crowds and commotion. It’s interesting to know that this beach is also known as Papanasam Beach, as it was once used by Hindus to scatter the ashes of their relatives. The cliff is dotted with restaurants and shops that cater to the various requirements of the visitors. Varkala Beach is also popular for the mineral springs which lie in close proximity. It’s believed that these mineral springs possess medicinal properties and is visited by tourists in large numbers.
2. Janardhana Swami Temple
Janardhana Swami Temple is special because it is the only temple where Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Janardhana in the country. The temple is almost 2,000yrs old and is built in the traditional South Indian architecture. It’s believed that the temple was once maintained by the Pandya kings. The main idol is a sight to behold, with its four arms possessing all the attributes of Lord Vishnu. The southwest and northeast corner of the outer enclosure of the temple house the shrines of Sasta and Shiva with Nandi. Several festivals and rituals are also celebrated inside the temple. An example of this is the Arattu festival whose main attraction is a procession led by elephants adorned in colors and costumes.
3. Kappil Beach
Surrounded by lush coconut plantations with gorgeous views of the Arabian Sea ahead, the Kappil Beach is one of the best places to visit in Varkala. Located almost 6km from Varkala town, it enchants you with its mesmeric beauty and dreamy aura. Visitors to the lake can also enjoy a boat ride. Make sure you carry your camera with you during your visit to the lake, there are fabulous views to be captured.
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4. Anjengo Fort and Light House
Anjengo or Anjuthengo Fort once served as the bastion for the East India Company. In Malayalam, its name translates to, “a bunch of five coconut trees”. According to the locals, it got its name from the fact that there were five coconut trees on the property when it was gifted to the British by the Queen of Attingal. At one point of time, the fort served as an important depot for coir and pepper trade for the British East India Company. Located in close proximity to Varkala town, the fort is accessible via an auto ride. According to history, this was where the first rebellion against the British broke out in the country. Another attraction is the light house which measures almost 130ft. Here, one can see the ruins of the earliest factories established by the British East India Company.
5. Sivagiri Mutt
Sivagiri Mutt is one of the top places to visit in Varkala. Spread over 200 acres, it’s the headquarters of Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham, a religious organization built by Sree Narayana Guru’s disciples and followers. According to popular belief, the Guru was fascinated by the charming ambience of Varkala and decided to build a hermitage atop Sivagiri Hill. He also built a new temple at this site and dedicated it to the Goddess of Knowledge, Sarasvati. In honor of the Guru, the Guru Deva Jayanti is celebrated during the months of August and September. It is marked by colorful processions, community meetings, conferences, team feats and others. Rare images of the Guru can also be seen inside the mutt. If you are looking for some peace of mind, this is where you need to be.
6. Ponnumthuruth Island
Ponnumthuruth Island is just a boat’s ride away from Varkala. The name means “Golden Island” because it’s believed that this is where the Queen of Travancore Royal Family hid her gold and other precious ornaments. If you want an escape from the monotony of city life and a taste of the rustic, this is where you need to be. It’s quite fascinating to know that the entire island is the property of the temple. One can’t help but fall in love with the peaceful ambience of this island.
7. Kilimanoor Palace
Visiting the Kilimanoor Palace is one of the top activities in Varkala, simply because of the heritage and history associated with it. With a history dating back to almost 300 years, the palace is famous for being the birth place of Raja Ravi Varma, the celebrated Indian painter. The palace is constructed in the traditional architectural style of Kerala and enchants visitors at first sight. Kilimanoor Palace still serves as the residence of families related to the Travancore royal house.
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