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, 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.