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Tourist Places To Visit In Varkala
Situated approximately 50 km northwards of Trivandrum, Varkala symbolises the tranquil coastal side of Kerala. This town offers tourists with a convenient low-budget trip to the land of backwaters. In addition, these backwaters house some of the most adulated religious shrines in the country. Varkala’s sands have always helped bring together several cultures under one abode. Varkala not only comprises of these backwaters and ashrams, but also idyllic beaches and paradisiac islands. This provides visitors with some heavenly tourist places to visit on their trip to Varkala. Let us delve deeper into these mesmerizing touristy spots that grace the town of Varkala.
Janardhana Swamy Temple
With roots dating back to the 12th century, Janardhana Swamy Temple maintains a 2,000 year-old ancient culture. Followers of Lord Vishnu throng the temple in large numbers during the festival of Arattu to revel in the company of God. Various paintings in the temple’s vicinity depict the different postures of Lord Hanuman. Janardhana Swamy Temple is regularly used by pilgrims to perform last rites of their loved ones. It is believed that praying at this temple can cleanse pilgrims of their sickness. This makes the spot a frequently crowded religious center.
Sivagiri Mutt has been acclaimed as one of the most sacred shrines in Kerala. The SreeNarayana Dharma Sangham consortium has its headquarters at this region. Ardent followers of Sree Narayana Guru, a great social reformist of his era, throng the organization on a frequent basis. The Guru was taken aback by the all-embracing spirit of Varkala and decided to spend the rest of his life atop the Sivagiri hillock. His retreat center attracts thousands of devotees throughout the year.
Sree Narayana Guru spent his life spreading knowledge far and wide, raising an elementary school at this hillock for the same purpose. The Sivagiri Pilgrimage draws many worshippers dressed in yellow outfits to the hillock during the month of December. The sheer dedication with which the faithful recite prayerful hymns and holy chants is awe-inspiring.
Kappil Lake, Varkala
The quaint Kappil Lake is situated around 6 km away from the city of Varkala. Encircled by coconut plantations, this peaceful lake’s waters trudge along elegantly and unite with the Arabian Sea. The boat club at Kappil Lake offers pedal boats on hire to explore the still waterway. A unique combination of beach and backwater is on display at Kappil Lake. The bridge running over the lake provides a breathtaking vista of the lake flowing toward the blue skyline. The surreal confluence of the skies and the waters attracts photographers, nature lovers, and peace seekers galore.
Varkala Lighthouse is located within close proximity to Varkala Beach. This lighthouse is an everlasting embodiment of architectural brilliance that the British portrayed. It was constructed by the British in the 17th century and stands at a towering height of 130 feet. Varkala Lighthouse was initially used to provide directions to ships that entered into Kerala from out of the country. These ships mainly included British vessels. Tourists are free to scale to the top of the lighthouse. Once atop, they will be mesmerized with the scenery on display. The tower offers a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea and the tranquil Varkala backwaters. These traits make Varkala Lighthouse an apt pit stop for photographers and families that wish to enjoy a picnic.
Varkala Tunnel is another example of the marvelous architectural prowess of the colonial era. This tunnel was constructed in the 19th century. It facilitated convenient trading of goods from Northern Kerala to Southern Kerala. Varkala Tunnel was instrumental in providing direct access to Thiruvananthapuram from Malabar. It symbolizes the well-connected inland waterways system of Kerala. Tourists will discover two tunnel diversions at the location. One tunnel stands at 2,370 feet and the other stands at 1,140 feet. Owing to its historical importance and natural charm, Varkala Tunnel is a must visit for all tourists.
Well-known for its black sands, Thiruvambady Beach is a wonderful extension to the never-ending line of beaches at Varkala. This beach lies within touching distance of the North cliff. The beach can be reached by either descending down the cliff or driving to the area. Thiruvambady Beach is located around 1 km away from Thiruvambady Road, which lies in the town area of Varkala. It lacks the jam-packed crowds that other beaches in the region witness. For tourists who wish to find an undisturbed spot to relax their senses, Thiruvambady Beach is a gift of nature.
Kilimanoor Palace is well-known as the place where the renowned Indian painter, Raja Ravi Varma, was born. The palace boasts of historical roots that date back to the 18th century and earlier too. Its present structure was constructed in 1753. The palace compound has a striking resemblance to the conventional architectural structures of Nalukettu homes in Kerala. Spanning around six hectares, the palace consists of several buildings, wells, a couple of ponds, and blessed groves. The Royal Travancore kin reside at Kilimanoor Palace even today. These royal traits make this place a historian’s dream come true.
Chirayinkeezhu is a tiny taluka located around 13 km away from Varkala. It is famous for housing the confluence of the Anchuthengu backwaters and the Vamanapuram River. The name of this place has geographical significance. “Chira” stands for backwaters in Malayalam and “keezhu” was utilized to specify the east. Chirayinkeezhu holds holistic importance due to the presence of Sarkara Devi Temple. Pilgrims from all over the country throng the temple to pay their respect to the Devi during the Kaliyoot festival. The region has also raised several Superstars of the Malayalam Film Industry over the years. Some of them include stars like Bharath Gopi and Prem Nazir.
Ponnumthuruthu Island is a small lush landmass in the backwaters, located 12 km from Varkala. A ferry will deposit you at Ponnumthuruthu from Nedunganda in all of half an hour, leaving you in a fragrant world of coconuts, wet land and coir. When on the island, do visit the coir village where they make use of this husk to create beautiful articles. The green landscape intermingled with backwaters add to the charm of the village, whose sacred deity resides in the ancient Shiva Parvathi temple.
Kappil Beach is one of the most beautiful places in Varkala, mainly for its thickets of casuarina trees. The shore is almost empty most of the time, making it a faux private beach for visitors. You might not find any food stalls or shacks here, so pack a picnic basket along to enjoy the rocks, casuarina trees and white sands. Sunrises and sunsets are coveted here, as are kayaking tours during season.
A beach surrounded by resorts, shacks and casuarina trees, Chilakkoor is all hustle and bustle in Varkala. When the sun sets here, a golden haze engulfs its horizon, spreading all the way to the glittering sands of this beach. Visit here for some downtime to absorb the beauty, explore nearby coastal villages and enjoy a day at one of the adjoining resorts.
Saint Sebastian's Pilgrim Church
The Portuguese Missionaries that came to Kerala back in the day constructed the Saint Sebastian's Pilgrim Church on the bank of Varkala’s backwaters. The location of the church itself is very pretty, adding to its old world charm, and making it a popular tourist stop. The pilgrims mainly come here to revere St. Sebastian, and there is a feast celebrated in February. A grand procession follows, along with magic shows, dances, games and even boating races.
Do not miss the Anjengo Fort when in Varkala. It is as majestic as it is historic, sitting magnificently on the bank of the backwaters. The tall coconut trees make a maze of screen, while charming ramparts protect its other sides. Anjengo was the first trade point of Kerala during the reign of the British East India Company, adding to its historic significance. You can visit it to admire the architecture, enjoy a small picnic at its top or get a glimpse of the local fishermen going about their daily life.
Located 2 km from the famous Varkala Beach is Odayam Beach. It is a known for its gorgeous views, some even claiming which are better than Varkala. Since most tourists prefer to visit Varkala Beach, Odayam is left for those who take the road less travelled and veer off the popular choice. Hence if you are seeking some quiet time, then head here.
Another one of Varkala’s never-ending beach destinations is Edaya Beach. Just 14 minutes away from the town centre, Edaya actually falls in the Thiruvananthapuram region of Kerala. And yet, its virgin beauty couple with the gushing water, backwaters, lagoons and serene villages attracts much of the crowd from Varkala. You can also visit the estuary here that connects Nadayara-Edava Lake and the great Arabian. During the monsoon season, through a heavy downpour, you can see the water rush out of the lake and straight into the sea. A phenomena that is a local favourite just as much as a tourist delight.