You will have the unique experience of seeing endangered animals, lush greenery, and the serene backwaters of Varkala on your journey.
1-Day Trip to Varkala
The state of Kerala in South India is not only beautiful, but has been termed “God’s own country”. The majestic town of Varkala has retained its heritage and its lush green gardens and vintage temples are most attractive to any visitor.
Varkala is one of Kerala’s most picturesque destinations and also a bustling commercial hub, with trading activities dating back to over 600 years. The city has to its credit art galleries, upmarket stores, breathtaking beaches, and several ancient temples as well. It is also a traveller’s paradise with some great tourist attractions like the Anjengo Fort, Poovar backwater cruise, and Sivagiri Mutt, to name a few.
People are attracted to this magnificent holiday destination, which is marked by some gorgeous greenery, golden beaches and crystal clear seawater. Moreover, for nature lovers, the city also offers an abundance of wildlife, waterfalls, hills, and backwaters.
Varkala town is in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, adjacent to the Arabian Sea. Besides its natural beauty, the place is known for its thriving culture. Moreover, one witnesses its rich heritage also by visiting its palaces, museums, forts, pilgrimages and monuments.
Best Places To Visit In Varkala
Start your day with the Poovar backwater cruise
The Neyyar river in Kerala is also known as the Poovar river. Poo means flower, whereas var implies the river, which has a number of estuaries, with some canals surrounding Poovar Island. The river banks are marked by rich and diverse flora and fauna. While cruising down the river, you can spot some rare birds like the Brahminy Kite, Sea Egret Kingfisher, Indian Cormorant Eagle and Night Heron, to name a few. The cruise takes around 2 hours.
Enjoy amazing water sports in Varkala
The Varkala beach, also called the Varkala formation, is one of the most scenic coastal areas in Trivandrum district. Furthermore, it is also a highly popular spot among adventure sports lovers. You can happily go sailing, scuba diving, paragliding and parasailing, particularly on weekends. Kapil Lake and Chilakoor Beach are also close to Varkala and can be visited on weekends. Enjoy watching the most picturesque sunsets from these somewhat remote locations, as they are slightly removed from the main city. Hence, they are not that developed commercially. It takes about 3-4 hrs to engage in watersports.
Don’t forget to visit historic places like the Anjengo Fort
The Fort is located in Anchuthengu village, 32 Km away from Trivandrum and about 12 Km from Varkala and is ideal for lovers of history. It was built during the 17th century by the East India Company as a trade settlement and is a torchbearer of Kerala’s rich heritage, which attracts the state’s history buffs mainly.
The term “Anjuthengu” implies 5 coconut palms, and the Fort was also the first signalling point for ships arriving from Britain. The Fort’s construction commenced in 1696 and ended in 1699, and it played a critical role during the Anglo-Mysore war when Britishers used it as an armoury for storing their weapons.
Sivagiri Mutt is a prominent pilgrimage of Kerala. It is located at a distance of 3 Km from Varkala and is the official headquarters of the Sri Narayan Dharma Sangham. The Mutt’s campus spreads over an area of 200 acres on a hillock, and its distinctive multi-tiered terraces never fail to fascinate visitors.
The Mutt is a memorial dedicated to the life of Sri Narayana Guru, who breathed his last here in 1928. Hence, this samadhi or final resting place of Sri Narayana Guru, attracts millions of pilgrims every year.
The Sharada Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of knowledge and learning, Saraswati, is also located on the Mutt premises. It is believed that Sri Narayana Guru himself consecrated the statue of the Goddess. Hence, for those who are spiritually inclined, this is a must-visit place when touring Varkala.
Don’t forget to shop at the Khadi Store
There are numerous khadi and organic products that you can buy on your Varkala tour:
- Kasavu Mundu and Dresses: Such garments come with handwoven zari borders. The store also keeps fabrics for lacquers, blouses, and sleeping mats, among other items.
- Coir and Coconut Products: In the land of coconuts, you will find a host of coconut shell and coir-based items like puppets, footwear, and small rugs.
- Aromatic Oils: Varkala is known to be a haven of Ayurvedic medicine. Various organic treatments using a variety of natural oils, soaps and ointments are available for a number of maladies at various spas the town has on offer. A wide range of aromatic oils are also available at affordable prices.
- Wood Carvings: For those with a passion for handmade wooden items, this place is ideal. You are at liberty to buy landscape paintings on wood, a wide variety of wooden utensils, sculptures, and carved, decorative sticks.
Varkala has managed to retain its vintage charm and majesty through a striking contrast between its lush green gardens and centuries-old temples. Located on the shore of the Bay of Bengal, Varkala combines art, commerce, heritage and upmarket stores with a breathtaking sea to enjoy.
You might have now realised how enchanting Varkala can be. There are other things that can excite you as either a lover of history or nature. However, remember to carry certain essential items like sunscreen lotions, bathing suits, sunglasses, sats, tank tops, sandals, a good book and shorts to be more comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many days are enough to complete a visit to Varkala?
A 1-day trip is enough to explore some of the city’s prominent beaches, monuments, and shopping areas. You can even take a boat ride from Kollam to Alappuzha.
- Which has better beaches, Kovalam or Varkala?
The beaches in Varkala are broader and longer, whereas those in Kovalam have more black sand. Hence, Varkala beaches are more preferred to the ones in Kovalam.
- Is drinking alcohol allowed in Varkala?
Since Varkala is considered a place of pilgrimage in Kerala, alcohol is not officially permitted within town limits. However, some places do serve alcohol.
- What is the best time to visit Varkala?
The best time to visit Varkala is in winter, which is between November and February.
- Which are the best places to visit in Varkala?
Varkala Beach, Edava Beach, Mangrove Forests, Anjengo Fort, Sivagiri Mutt, Ponnumthuruthu, Janardhanaswamy Temple, Varkala Cliff and Kaduvayil Juma Masjid.
- What makes Varkala Beach famous?
The beaches of Varkala are famous for their natural springs and medicinal properties. The Janardhanaswamy Temple, a 2000-year-old Hindu temple, attracts thousands of devotees from all over India. Various centres for Ayurvedic treatment have also been set up in this area.
- Is swimming permitted on Varkala Beach?
Yes, swimming is allowed on Varkala Beach. However, it is advisable to be properly dressed for swimming when locals visit the beach, particularly on weekends. The beach is usually always packed with both Indian and foreign tourists.
- Which is the nearest airport to Varkala?
The Trivandrum International Airport is closest to Varkala at a distance of nearly 42 Km. There are various transport options like cabs, rental cars and buses available between the two destinations and it takes approximately 1 hour to reach either way.
- Is Varkala an urban or rural city?
Varkala is a municipality in Trivandrum and also a coastal cum suburban city. The distance between Trivandrum’s city centre and Varkala is 40km.
- What are the best things to do in Varkala?
There are numerous water sports like sailing, scuba diving, swimming and paragliding to indulge in and enjoy in Varkala.
- Which are the most famous markets and shopping areas of Varkala?
Beach bazaars, seaside cliffs, the Khadi Store, and Tibetan Shops are some of the most prominent shopping areas of Varkala.