Varkala to me was always the Papanasam Beach (Redemption Beach) and the frequent bathing rituals in remembrance of ancestors who have passed on through the ages. Like Kanyakumari.

Ashes to Sea

The souls are blended in these blue waters. There is definitely a certain spiritual calmness to the place. The waves roll in keeping silent time, the Brahmini kites sail above like hang gliders and there is hardly any tourist in sight. The Off-Season had its advantages. No touristy crowds.

Sudden rain bursts that lashed the cliffs and dropped temperatures. No thumping music or reggae riffs that seemed to compete with the potpourri pouring out of the speakers next door.

The ’70 Hippie standard tracks finding it hard to keep respectability above the Trance, House and EDM that pumped out. Everything goes as long as it makes a noise.

And the most disadvantageous was that almost all of the eateries on the cliff face for food were locked out for the season or were just being there.

Not that you get your regular Kerala fare here. This is a seaside tourist strip and therefore be prepared for fancy priced seafood cooked (the European – read Mediterranean way) and the usual Steaks, Pastas, Burgers, Breakfast platters, juices, shakes, cakes, ice creams etc.
Not even a whiff of good Kerala Fish curry, Beef fry or Mutton Mulagittathu. Forget Appams, Puttu or Patthiris.

The laterite cliffs tower 15 meters high over the shoreline like dinosaurs standing still and scanning the sea for life. These cliffs are of tertiary sedimentary formation, and named by geologists as the Varkala Formation. They are a geological monument as recorded by the Geological Survey of India.

The Ozone and the energy levels are high as you can meander over the Cliffside paths at your own sweet pace.

And sweet is the taste of the mineral springs that spout out of these cliffs. Wash your sins in the sea and then wash off the salt in the mineral springs. Spa treatment at its natural best.

The ancient Janardhana temple about 2000 years old adds to the spiritual feel of the place that drew the mystic Sree Narayana Guru to practice his hatha yoga and teach children at the Sivagiri Ashram which he established. The Janardhana temple myth of the Dutch Ship that got stalled at sea and the Dutch Skipper and his assistant, ‘Peter von Belson’ and ‘Michelle Evarald’ respectively and had to come ashore to tie bells in the Janardhana temple is alive for those who like myths. And when the Dutchmen rang the bells, the Dutch ship moved again. The bells even today bear their names.

Another of the temple myths also goes that the idol was reclaimed from the sea and will one day go back to it.

Global warming? Great Deluge? Who know about the future anyways.

I was visiting a friend in Varkala who was seriously into his yoga practice. He had just done his stint of naturopathy and these yoga sessions seem to keep him flexible and firm. His morning walks added to the health regimen and Varkala seemed just the place for this.

As he stayed in the domestic stretch of home stays, I could enjoy local cuisine which I love, Chilled non-strong beer and of course home cooked fish curry, Beef curry, Avial and Spinach thoran which is what I had for lunch. He ensures home cooked quality coz he sources the ingredients fresh from the local market in the morning!

I had driven in the previous evening with friends along the coastal road from hometown Kollam.

The early morning walk was pristine with fresh air adding to the buzz, and some local strong tea helped me wash down some eggs and Poori Masala. Wow. I could get used to this.

Varkala in the Off-Season it is. Off-Season but certainly not OFF KEY!
 Off-Season : March to August

How to get there?

From Thiruvananthapuram: Drive Time: 1 hour 18 minutes • Distance: 41.4 kms
From Kochi: Drive Time: 4 hours 7 minutes • Distance: 169.3 kms
From Kollam: Drive Time: 45 minutes • Distance: 23.1 kms
Closest Domestic/International Airports: Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi

About the Author

Monu Danesh Surendran
Monu Danesh Surendran works for a retail organization in Bangalore and heads it online and branding division. He is a foodie by passion and therefore tries his hand at stuff in his home kitchen. While not dabbling in cooking during his days off he likes his music and of course trying out food. He prefers home cooked cuisine though restaurant fare guarantees a good outing with friends.


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