Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasham Beach is a beach in Varkala municipality ofThiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, along the Arabian Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. The wordPapanasham means wash away sins. It is believed that a dip in the waters of Papanasham Beach washes away all the sins in one’s life.
It is believed that a Pandyan King was instructed by Lord Brahma to build a temple at this very place to redeem him of his sins. But several other myths abound on the birth of Varkala. Another legend goes like this – when a group of pilgrims approached Sage Narada and told him that they had sinned, Narada threw his valkalam (a loin cloth made from the bark of a tree) and it landed at this scenic village and hence, the place came to be known as Varkala. Narada told the pilgrims to pray for their redemption at Papanasam, which literally means redemption from sins. Varkala Beach is an ideal holiday destination in Kerala for the tourists who want a peaceful vacation. Counted as one of the top ten seasonal beaches in the world by discovery channel, this beach has a stunning beauty of landscapes, brown sand, and sea. Varkala beach is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. These cliffs are of tertiary sedimentary formation, and named by geologists as Varkala Formation. They are a geological monument as recorded by the Geological Survey of India.
Weather and Climate
Varkala’s climate is very tropical and humid. It receives rain from both the southwest and northeastmonsoon, which produce intensely heavy downpours. The rain is at its worst from June to August and late October to December. Late December to March are the best months to visit, because the weather is dry and sunny every day, and the temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). The summer months of April and May become very humid and hot, with temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The Janardana Swami Temple is situated near the Beach. It is known for a 10-day festival held twice a year, called Arattu. Sivagiri Mutt is another attraction, located atop the Sivagiri hill. Varkala railway station is known by the name of Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station. The beach is famous for its natural springs which are said to have medicinal qualities. The 2000-year-old Janardhanaswamy Temple along with the Sivagiri Mutt attract a steady stream of visitors all year long. The main attractions are the beach, mineral water springs, the Sivagiri Mutt and a 2000-year- old Vishnu Temple. Varkala beach offers many beach activities like sightseeing, sunbathing, wind surfing, parasailing, and soaking in the beauty of this calm beach resort. It’s a beautiful place for someone who wants a peaceful atmosphere all around.
The warm pristine have short and quick waves that expand from 2 to 5 ft. Adventure freaks can hire surf gears on rent from the Surf and Soul school. The best time for surfing is from September to March.
One who is interested in snorkelling may head to the Thiruvambadi beach or the papanasham beach.
Around Varkala, it’s possible to take a canoe trip along the backwaters or walk 1.5 hours north to deserted Kappil beach along an oceanfront promenade.
Apart from these, art/creative workshops are also offered over here.
Shop ’til you drop at the eternal rows of huts running along the cliff, having everything from jewelry and to handicrafts.
Eating Out in Varkala
There are some popular restaurants in Varkala that offer delicious cuisines ranging from South Indian to Continental, Italian, and Chinese. Vegetarians need not have to worry as you can get vegetarian food too.
Festivals and Events
Over and above, you can also enjoy traditional dance performances, which are held in local theatres during evening time. Some popular festivals of near by temples that have been a part of tourist attractions.
Janardhana Swami Temple
This is a famous temple in the vicinity, which is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Varkala is also famous for the 2,018-year-old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the SouthIt’s ) one of the major centers for doing homages to the ancestor. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.
The Sivagiri Mutt
Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer SreeNarayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala state.Located at the distance of 2.5 kms from Varkala, this ashram is dedicated to Sree Narayana Guru, who urged against inequity and was always in the favor of one religion, caste and one god for humanity and social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. Sree Narayana Guru’s tomb is also located here. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days 30 December to 1 January. The Sivagiri Mutt, built in 1904, is situated at the top of the Sivagiri hill near Varkala. Even decades after the guru breathed his last here in 1928; his samadhi continues to be thronged by thousands of devotees, donned in yellow attire, from different parts of Kerala and outside every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days – 30 December to 1 January. The Sivagiri Mutt is also the headquarters of the Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham, an organization of his disciples and saints, established by the Guru to propagate his concept of ‘One Caste, One Religion, One God’. The Guru Deva Jayanti, the birthday of the Guru, and the samadhi day are celebrated in August and September respectively every year. Colourful processions, debates and seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts, group wedding and rituals mark the celebrations.
Sree valiyaveetil Bhagavathi temple
sree valiyaveetil bhagavathy temple is situating in kurakkanni. The temple is around 600 years old.
Papanasam Beach & Cliff
With white sandy beach, golden sunset, pristine waters and towering cliffs, the breathtaking Papanasham Beach is a popular haunt with tourist. It’s also a major heritage center that has so many historical values. From the cliff, you can view the fresh water spring at the beach. Taking bath over here is very important as it is believed that it will clean away all your sins.
Anchengo Fort & Light House
At the distance of 15 km to the south of Varkala, this place has its own history with British ruling.
Built by the regional rulers of Attingal Palce, this tunnel unwraps to a canal which keeps going the side of Sivagiri mutt.
Kaduvayil Juma Masjid
Kaduvayil Juma masjid is situated on NH47 in between Kallambalam and Attingal, is a famous Sunnipilgrimage centre which attracts local Muslims and Hindus. Another beach is at Tiruvambadi, one kilometre away and en route the old palace.An island calledPonnumthuruthu is near to Varkala which is another Tourist attraction.