Varkala, 50 km from Trivandrum, is one of the famous and upcoming beaches in South India. Varkala is famous for its quiet secluded stretch of sand. The Papanasam beach in Varkala is known for its mineral springs and rocky cliffs. The 2000 year old Sree Janardhana Swamy temple and the Nature care centre are the two main attractions here.
Varkala is also an important Hindu center of pilgrimage. The final resting-place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, is near Varkala, atop a hill called Sivagiri.
The silvery stretches of sands along the Arabian Sea offer a tranquil retreat of the beach lovers. The backdrop of rocky cliffs provides a perfect contrast to the lapping waves. Papanasam is one of the prominent beaches in Varkala. Absence of touristy crowd is an important feature in the beaches of Varkala. Sleep, swim or laze around - you are sure to have an uninterrupted leisure.
Built sometime in 12th century, the Janardana Temple is another important tourist attraction in Varkala. From the cliff top where most of the hotels and restaurants are located, the temple is a short walk away. The original temple, a Vishnu shrine, was destroyed by the tidal waves. Many years past, when a Pandyan king did penance to Lord Brahma, was instructed to rebuild the temple. Non-hindus are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum sanctorum.
Sivagiri is a pilgrimage centre in Varkala, India where one of its social reformer and sage Sree Narayana Guru's tomb is located and place where guru was enlightend and got the salvation. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days 30th December to 1st 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 - 30th December to 1st 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 tale of Varkala is incomplete without the great tunnel popularly known as ‘Varkala Turuthu’. The construction of the 924 ft long tunnel began in 1867 under the supervision of Divan sir. T Mahadeva Rao of Travancore. It was completed in 1880, at the time of Divan Sheshaya Sasthri. The tunnel was extensively used for ferrying of several kind of goods.
Kappil boat club is a recent venture in the back water tourism in the area. Kappil is 6kms north of Varkala. The people travelling in trains and buses through the area can enjoy the scenic beauty of the estuary in between Edava and Kappil . It is fascinating. Vettekkada, near Kappil and Varkala is a spectacular beach.
This beautiful island can be reached by boat. The cruize to the island is a memorable one. There is a temple dedicated to Sivan and Parvathy which is very famous.
Air: Trivandrum International Airport, about 57 km away
Rail: Varkala, about 3 km away
Road: It is easily accessible by road form other parts of the state.