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Varkala, Kerala

  • (worth a detour)
  • 5-10 km
  • Easy
  • Average
  • 2-3 days
  • 2 2

The backpacker centre of Kerala; also known for its temples.

Varkala Kerala
Majority of diners in Varkala feature the same menu consisting of Indian, Asian, and Western cuisines. In fact most play the same kind of music too – Bob Marley and other trance soundtracks. Unlicensed places sell alcohol discreetly just like in Kovalam. Sreepadam is a nice place to taste some authentic south Indian dishes at a nominal price. Café del Mar is famous for its coffee and good food and a 10 page menu! Hungry Eye Kitchen is the place to try some Tibetan momos and other Thai, Chinese and Indian dishes.
Varkala is one of the most dangerous beaches in Kerala. Even professional swimmers have fallen prey to the water currents here. Do NOT take chances. Swim only in the area between the flags where lifeguards can keep a watch over you. During the monsoon, the beach shore totally submerges under the water and the cliffs erode too. Watch your steps while walking as the land can be very slippery – especially during the night. Also, it is best to dress sensitively and avoid unwanted stares.

Located amidst a naturally picturesque setting, Varkala is yet another famous beach town of Kerala. In fact, Varkala is known as the most popular backpacker hangout of Kerala. The town is located along the edge of cliffs with a golden beach adding in to the panorama of the town. Plenty of restaurant and makeshift shopping stalls line up the beach side. Music oozing out from the joints and colourful t-shirts and clothing decorate the shore.


Despite its backpacker popularity, Varkala is still majorly a temple town, and the Papanasham beach, which is the main beach here, is a holy beach often used by Hindus assisted by priests who come here to make offerings to their deceased dead ones, a ritual known as shraadh in India. It is fascinating ritual to watch if you would like but maintain respect.


Laze around at the beach watching rituals being performed, local fishermen at their daily jobs, tourists and visitors playing volleyball and football, and the waves at their playful games.


Apart from these, Janardhana Temple is the main temple attraction in the town of Varkala. Located above Beach Road, the temple is a technicolor edifice. Unfortunately, entry to the temple is closed for non-Hindus, however, you may be invited inside the complex where you can see a huge banyan tree and a few shrines dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, Lord Hanuman (Indian Monkey god) and other Hindu deities.


Yoga is offered at many guesthouses and hotels. Each session costs around INR 200-300. You can also hire boogie boards for INR 100 but be aware of the strong currents. Many of the resorts and hotels offer ayurvedic massages and treatments. Haridas Yoga (Hotel Green Palace) offers an hour and a half of hatha yoga classes conducted by professional teachers. Classes start at INR 250 onwards.

How to get there

There are frequent local trains connecting Trivandrum to Kollam which takes a mximum of an hour. A taxi to Kollam costs around INR 800. From the station, you can easily get a rickshaw to the beach which is about 2.5 km away.