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Local Attractions

Papanasam

Varkala beach (also known as papanasam beach) is situated on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram District. Varkala beach is called Papanasam beach because it is believed that a dip in the water destroys all kind of sin. Hence, people prefer this shore for their offering of “vavubali” in honour of ancestors and relatives whose souls are in rest. After the offering of “vavubali”, people visit Sree Janardhana temple and get done ‘Thilakahoma”, a pooja done for the sublimation of the departed souls. The 2000 years old Sree Janardhana Swami temple and the mineral springs are the main attractions of this place. Sree Janardhana Swami is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu. The mineral spring near the beach is considered to have medical and curative properties and the people who visit here, never come back without drinking the holy water from the spring. Sometimes they like to have a dip in the holy water too.

Sivagiri Mutt

Sivagiri Mutt, one of the popular ashrams, was established by Sree Narayana Guru, the famous philosopher and social reformer. The premise of the site houses the tomb of the founder and his ‘samadhi’, which attracts large number of people. Constructed around 1904, the site served as the residence of the guru until 1928, when he left for his heavenly abode. The ashram is located at the top of the Sivagiri Hill near Varkala and is mostly visited by pilgrims during 30 December to 1 January, when an annual festival is organised. Dressed in yellow attire, the sages and saints residing in the ashram propagate the phenomena of One Caste, One Religion and One God. The premises of the site are also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham. The mutt is popular among locals for organising debates, colourful processions, seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts and group weddings. Besides these, the site also organises the Guru Deva Jayanti, the anniversary of the Guru, and the ‘samadhi’ day during August and September, respectively, every year.

Sight seeing around varkala

A Place Where Beauty Abounds
Varkala, an internationally renowned tourist destination, sets stage for a memorable vacation with its long stretch of beautiful beaches, historic monuments and prominent Hindu pilgrimage spots. The place with its vibrant historic legacy still exudes a warm aura of its glorious past. The Janardhana Swamy temple, believed to be around 2000 years old, and the Anjengo Fort built by the Dutch are some of the well preserved historic landmarks of Varkala. The Sivagiri Mutt, a major centre of Hindu pilgrimage, built by the saint, sage and social reformer of Kerala - Sri Narayana Guru, is located in Varkala.
The 'Papanasham beach', tops the list of the popular tourist haunts in Varkala. The beach is unique and one-of-a-kind with its rocky cliffs and mineral water sprouts. These cliffs - a unique geological formations known as 'Varkala Formations', add a surreal charm to the beauty of the beach. This beach is clean and secluded – an ideal spot to unwind enjoying the sea. The beach, according to legends and myths, is believed to cleanse the soul of its sins. Varkala is that perfect place to rejuvenate and experience the magic of the tropical paradise of Kerala.

Golden Island

The verdant Ponnumthuruth (meaning Golden Island) is in the middle of the placid backwaters near Varkala. Untouched now for centuries, this virgin island is a vibrant ecosystem home to a variety of flora and fauna. There is a still beauty about the place, occasionally broken by the rustling of wind through palm trees, the twittering of birds or the gentle lapping on water on the white beach. Amble down the coastline, enjoy the refreshing sea breeze and listen to the fishermen as they hum earthy songs while casting their nets in the lake. You can easily spot cormorants, egrets and herons fishing in the emerald waters while gulls and eagles surge in the sky. The island also has something for those who are spiritually inclined. Shrouded by dense coconut groves is a century-old Shiva-Parvathi temple. If legend is to be believed, the royal ladies of Travancore used to hide away their jewelry here, and hence the name Ponnumthuruth. 

The island is about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Trivandrum, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Kollam and only 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Varkala. And if you are driving down from the capital, take National Highway 47 up to Attingal about 25 kilometers (16 miles) away, and further on take the Kadakkavur road. From Kadakkavur it is a lovely coastal drive to Nedunganda village – the ferry boarding point. For those coming from Kollam, it is the road to Varkala from Kallambalam on the NH 47. And from Varkala you can take the road to Kadakkavur to get to the ferry point at Nedunganda. 

Board a ferry from this sleepy backwater village and sail through a pictorial tree-lined canal to the backwaters, and thence to Ponnumthuruth. Or hire a country boat rowed by an oarsman if you feel that the continuous hum of the onboard ferry motor tends to break the peace of the area. The ferry takes a round of the backwaters, then to the pristine island, and back. Tourists can also be picked up from the Akathumuri Resort by the lake on the mainland. You can get snacks and soft drinks at the jetty. Since the soil of Golden Isle is believed by the locals to be sacred, smoking and consumption of alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited both on the ferry and island. You are not allowed to carry non-vegetarian food.

Anjengo Fort

Anjengo Fort, one of the prime attractions of Varkala, is a testimonial to many historic events and links related to the colonial rule in the region. Situated in the vicinity of Varkala town, the fort is believed to have been constructed between the 17th to 18th centuries. The period of construction of the fort can be estimated by the oldest buried grave dating to 1704. Presently, the fort remains in ruins but stands as a testimony to the fact that many foreign invaders had tried to capture it for getting a firm footing in Kerala. The name is believed to be derived from a small land with five coconut trees, which was given to the East India Company by the Queen of Attingal on lease. The small land served as a site for establishing a huge fort to help the British in carrying out numerous trading activities. Preserved under National Heritage Monuments, the fort also houses a cemetery that has the mortal remains of the occupants of the fort.

Kappil

About 6 kilometers (3.75 miles) north of Varkala town is the scenic Kappil Lake that gives way to the enchanting world of Kerala backwaters. This serene estuary meanders through dense coconut groves before merging into the Arabian Sea. The bridge over the lake is quite a vantage point to view the backwater stretching white and grey to the distant blue horizon. Boating is another great way to browse this tranquil waterway. For this measure Kerala tourism has set up the Kappil Boat Club in the area, from whom you can hire row/pedal boats. Lots of people taking trains and buses through this area get a scenic view of the estuary in between Edava and Kappil. Do explore as far as Kappil beach, the meeting point of Kappil Lake and Arabian Sea. It is a secluded, rocky stretch lacing a grey sea.

In this part of the Varkala coastline you will not find a single fishing boat. Perhaps the sea is too choppy for such an endeavor. In the quietude - only broken by the waves crashing on the shingles – you will fell like spending hours perched on a rock and gaze at the blurry white-grey sea swelling and breaking tirelessly. If getting great pictures is also important to you, amble down this narrow strip of country road lined with swaying palms between the roaring sea and the placid backwater. The place brings upon you an absolute sense of calm.