Varkala: Masterpiece in the God’s own art gallery

Year 2002. Month of October. Same planet, India, Kerala, Varkala but an absolutely magical world. We were on a road trip, Bangalore-Kanyakumari-Bangalore. We touched Thiruvananthapuram and were trying to navigate to Kovalam beach when I noticed boxed information in The Lonely Planet about this beach resort less traveled called Varkala. I had been to Kovalam and anything less traveled and commercialized than Kovalam would have been better so we navigated ourselves to Varkala beach. We reached the main town and from there it was another 30-minute drive through narrow and meandering lanes. We could hear the roaring call of the sea from far. We checked into a moderately priced hotel and I remember that the street was narrow, cobbled and very clean. It was almost nightfall and the roar was still on. We dumped our suitcases and rushed down the street and to our surprise, a short walk led us straight to the panoramic view. 00007.jpg
Including us we were only 15 odd people on that long beach. No shops, hawkers, junk, beach umbrellas, vehicles, hotel lights. Call it off-season, odd time of the day, our luck or simply Varkala.

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We soon realized that the cobbled streets had been cut through high cliffs and led to the beach. There were streams of fresh water running down through the sand. Enjoy the sea, wash the salt in the streams, go to step one and repeat till exhausted!

We walked back to the hotel only to wake up next morning and rush back to the beach. This time with less clothing and extra towels. Then I think it was 40 people.

We drove down to the high point of the cliffs in the afternoon. The roads again were deserted and lined with humble homes and grand villas. We saw a confectionery shop run by a French lady (we did not stop there but you have option of eating original french pastries)

If the beach was what came out of the magic hat, this was the inside of the hat itself.
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Wide-open space, edge of the land lined with thick growth of palms shading a trail along the cliff edge and the only sound you could hear was the roar. 00004.jpg
There were lot of spas and eating joints constructed in a minimal and least intrusive fashion. Most of the sitting was outdoors unless it started pouring and you needed a shelter. One can simply wake up with the sun, energize in the cool breeze, bathe in the sea, rejuvenate at spas, munch on the continental snacks and explore your romantic/philosophical/etc self as the great fireball falls off the mountain and sinks in the Arabian sea.

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Other high points of our visit were a gift shop very close to our hotel offering papier-mâché, wood, stone and metal items and a temple situated on top of a hill where I had a stint with Kerala rain.
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I was walking down the road when people around me suddenly started running which left me completely confused. There could be no hidden danger in a place so serene as Varkala. But then it hit me. LITERAL DOWNPOUR. My defences were down and I was drenched in a jiffy. The local ears had heard it raining in the neighborhood and ran in time for shelter. I remember they indicated something to me.

I wish I knew Malayalam!

9 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    Welcome back doc, your story came much before what you promised :) Good one. And when I read ‘papier-mch’ I knew I rather read well.

    Probably, if you wouldn’t have been teaching bio-technology, it would have been angrezi.

    Hang in there, we have some great ghumakkars at this place.

  • manish says:

    We too are drenched but with the beautiful description of the place.

    One Request: Please change the photo size from thumbnail to middle sized. The size of these photos are too small to enjoy the beauty of Varkala.

  • nandanjha says:

    I did it.

    Choose ‘Full Size’ and then you need to add height=”240″ width=”320″ before / > so as to give them a fixed size. If we dont give this then photo would be displayed in its actualy size which is usually very big.

    Also, these photos seems to be from a scanned lot and the digitized versions are not of high quality. Probably they have been converted to JPG format from a s/w which is not from a imaging company like Adobe :)

  • backpakker says:

    Varkala is a beautiful beach and your post does full justice to it..Ive been there many times and I forget to take my camera ..

    If you know Tamil , its very easy in this part of Kerala ..Ive managed to always add a nasal tweak as well :)

  • Sanjeev says:

    Thanks Backpakker. Now I know a bit of Tamil but on a positive note language barrier never exists for people who know how to enjoy!

  • Sanjeev says:

    Thanks to Manish too for appreciation! I promise Varkala will not disappoint you.

  • Smita says:

    You write so well. You know it, dont you?

    Please write more!

  • Sanjeev says:

    Thanks Smita. zarra nawazish!!!

  • Annette Tepe says:

    This year, Ive opened my hotel Saraswati in the village of Varkala, which can be found in the province of Kerala, South India. It is located within short walking distance of the famous Papanasam beach. The beach is a haven of sunbathing, swimming and is known for its fantastic sunsets. You can forget all about your everyday problems and chaos. At the same time my hotel functions as a starting point for you to discover new things in a fascinating country. Spend easy-going days here, my team and I are looking forward to welcoming you.

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