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Varkala (a.k.a Papanasam) beach is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of “God’s own country”. It was my first trip in this New Year.
The beach of Varkala is called the Papanasam Beach which literally means the ‘redemption of the sin’. This scenic beach gets visitors from all over the world. The best season to visit is from October to February, as the climate will not be as hot as it is in March and the following two months. Let’s begin our exploration from the cliff.
The Cliff of Varkala
The Varkala cliff is one of the main attractions of the town. Once you reach the peak of the cliff, hold your breath…because you’re going to witness the utmost beauty of Mother Nature!! Behold the full view of the Arabian Sea below your feet, especially around the golden hours. One might need a thousand eyes to grasp fully, the beauty of sunset and admire the tint of the sun’s rays grazing over the blue sea. Even though it’s a common scene in every beach, watching it from the top of the cliff takes it to another level. This is what makes Varkala unique among many beaches.
Hotels and Restaurants:
There are many hotels and restaurants lined up along the cliff line. The hotel cost depends on the season. During seasonal time, it’s a bit high but it’s affordable (btw I’m talking about middle class like me). The rate during non-seasonal times drop to a minimum range. As far as restaurants are concerned, finding normal Indian food at a nominal rate is kinda tedious as the restaurants here are either Italian or Tibetan. The fresh sea food is very popular in these areas. If you are a fish freak, the restaurants here are perfect for you. Alcoholic drinks and soothing instrumental music are common and almost all restaurants here have semi/full open dining that face the beautiful beach. As the sun sets, the candles will be lit in every table and what else do you want??… It’s the perfect time to enjoy a romantic dinner with your loved ones.
The shoppers’ zone:
The cliff line does not only nest the hotels and restaurants but also numerous small shops that sell ‘the Indian things’ like handicrafts, pashmina shawls, loose cotton shirts and traditional aromatic things like incense sticks, the ‘dhoop’ and colorful powders. The cost is little high for the quality of products sold. If you have bargaining skills, then definitely it’s your zone. These tiny shops extend up to around 2 Kms. along the cliff line and has a narrow path to walk. Vehicles can be brought only till a certain distance.
A semi open restaurant
The relaxation spot:
We can spot many yoga and meditation centers too. They teach
different types of yoga depending on the time of the day e.g. Hatha yoga,
Kundalini yoga. The fee for each class depends on the teaching centers.
Few hotels run Ayurvedic centers for which the cost is exclusive of the room charge. Even household people have Ayurvedic centers which can be located a little distance away from the cliff.
To the beach:
The cliff is actually turned into a helipad. Ironically, people who visit the cliff, park their cars and two wheeler here as there is no explicit space allocated for parking near the shore. Taxi facilities are available to take us to the Trivandrum airport.
The steep steps on either side of the cliff lead to the beach below. It’s easy to climb down than hiking. So first finish exploring the cliff and then head on to the beach.
The Papanasam beach:
Oh, what can I say! This very beach keeps changing its shape depending on the seasons. Yes you heard me right! When I visited in winter, the shore was kind of narrow in comparison to that of March. In March, the gap between the sea and the shore drastically increased. The sea water has pulled itself from the shore, exposing the sand beneath it. Wait…does this happen to all beaches??
I didn’t expect much of a crowd in March as the ‘season’ finishes by February. Ironically, the beach was more alive than ever. It was much more crowded than in November.
The ‘Beach’ life:
The Varkala beach attracts crowd after 4 pm. We can find people from all walks of life cherishing the atmosphere around them.
From toddlers to the late 70’s, people enjoy the cool, criss-cross and jumping waves after a hot day. The moment you place your bare feet in the soft sand with cool gentle sea waves striking the tip of the toe…. I guarantee, it makes you leave behind all the stress and get a kick out of this beautiful nature.
I’m kind of a beach person…been to many beaches. To be honest, I loved this beach more than others. The water was clean, the sea waves were gentle yet thrilling, and the depth of the sea remains constant even as we go further into the sea. But there are few spots where it gets deeper suddenly. So watch your steps and stay around the area where people are present.
To add to our safety, coast guards are always available at the shore who never fail to whistle if anything unusual happens at the sea. We are allowed to enjoy our bath only till 6 pm. After that, everyone is evacuated. This is kind of strict rules they follow here.
Meanwhile, on the shore, people from all walks of life enjoy the golden hours. People take sun bath, do yoga, build castle, play with their ‘on the spot’ adopted dogs, frisbee, beach ball and the list goes on. Holding hands with our loved ones, a long walk in the wet sand along the shore, while the gentle, cool waves soothes our bare feet and love-shielded souls in the golden hour accompanied by the moist breeze is an absolute heaven. The air around us holds the cheerful voices of children, the thrilling sound of waves and the divinity of the Yogi’s…This scenery fills us with positive vibes and makes us stay on the beach for a little longer. Want to energize yourself even more? Worry not. Few restaurants can be found a little away from the shore lined along the cliff. Again, it’s rare to find ‘desi’ type food.
Varkala is the best place to vlog and serves as a paradise for
photo shoot. Varkala is not only popular for the Papanasam beach. There are also various other tourist spots like the Black beach, some private beaches, aquarium, Sivagiri Mutt and 2000 year old Janardanaswamy temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to lord Vishnu.
PS: If you are interested in travel, please visit my new travel blogging site: www.theclumsyhippie.com
Image via Tourism of India
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