- Sunday, 3 October 2010

Varkala (Kerala), India: Looking for a hidden retreat in Kerala over a cliff ? Visit Varkala.

My memories are still fresh of Varkala, which came as treat destination when visiting Kerala back in December 2007. As Richard Paris puts across, Varkala is an unhurried affair with the sun and sand, sea and cliff ! Varkala will refresh your mind, touch your heart, and reach your soul. It’ll rekindle your spirit and renew your vows.

It was going to be a week long trip with 4 girls, each from different homes, cities & circumstances. B was in India and wanted to travel south. S wanted to take a much awaited break from her hectic work in Bangalore. And S wanted A to get away from her boring bank job in Delhi & take a plunge in her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel independently with some crazy girls. The fourth one was of course me, who had developed deep interest in traveling. Nothing was more important to me than traveling.

While we travelled across Kerala for over 7-8 days, it was our beautiful stay in Varkala which is still so fresh. We took a local train from Thiruvananthapuram which run across Kerala at a gap of about 20-25 minutes. The Railway station was sparkling clean and i must add, hi-tech with touch screen timetable displays etc. The train compartments were comfortable. We reached Varkala in about 45 minutes really not knowing what to expect. I had tried to google Varkala back then in 2007 and all i could understand was that its a 'secluded' beach. The railway station was small, clean. We had a telephonic booking in one of the cottages, but had no idea how it looks or where its situated. After getting out of station with our back packs, we mentioned “Bamboo House” to a tuk-tuk guy and yeah, he knew where to take us. The lanes around station were usual full of dirt & stray animals. It was another 10 minutes later that we realised we have reached a whole colony of independent cottages and guesthouses seperated by lush green vegetation. The cottages were prettiest we had seen till now and its location right on top of cliff was really surprising. The blue sea, black/white sand, people, cafes, food everything seemed like a traveller's delight. It did not look like my India.

We stayed in Varkala for about 3 days and had wished to have stayed longer. We would get up late in the mornings and stroll upto any one of the cafe's in the front yard, sip our juices, read, file nails, sleep yet again while overlooking the crystal blue-geen waves of the sea. Soon it would be time for lunch, we would decide to sit at same place or lazily stroll into another one and order our lunch. Yet again we would sit just looking across and killing time or walk over the cliff, through stones and land at the beach. Evenings were quite a jazzed up affair, specially because it was Christmas. The cafes were done up with colorful lights and 'dj evening' or 'moonlight beach parties' flyers already floating around. Most tourists in that yard were Europeans, with a few Americans. Unfortunately we did not come across any Indian family or group in an expanse of over 3 kms and over 100 cottages. The cafeterias & bakeries were owned by locals, Nepalese and a few Europeans. As per the warning given to us earlier- we had reserved a sea facing table at a small Nepalese cafe for Christmas eve. The place was done up with red lights and paper lamp shades. We had a good time, having our dinner, sipping wines and chatting up with the young Nepalese owner of the cafe.

Oh how can i forget, this place was actually suggested to me by a German friend of mine- J, who was planning to visit Kerala around same time with her family. She also reached a day before christmas with her family and we had small reunion there.

Apart from getting a few odd glances from local cafe waiters (who were only wondering on our nationality), the stay was very relaxing and wonderful. We were almost wiling to cancel our trip to Munnar and come back to this place for our second last day in Kerala. The cottages were completely booked, so we had no chance of coming back here. The air was so fresh, that i would literally close my eyes and breathe it in. It was as if i wanted to carry the air, colors, people, laid back life and blue sea with me. I personally recommend this place for anyone who is looking for an off beat stay in Kerala other than back waters, or tiger reserves or tea estates. Varkala is a tiny sleepy town- and i love sleepy laid-back towns. And if you plan to be in Kerala around Christmas & New year, and you feel like being in Goa without actually being there, try this town. There is something for everybody from laid back cafes, to ayurvedic massages, to moon light beach parties. Ofcourse its not as vast as Goa and parties do not compare to the ones in Goa, this place will still take you by a pleasant surprise. 

Later we headed for back waters and homestay at Mr. Varghese- the journey had just begun in Kerala.

Check out a few pictures below:


  1. Awesome .. u gave the feel of the place w/o actually visiting there .. :)

  2. Thanks for listening to my advice to pen past travels. This one is also very well drafted and illustrated travelogue. keep it up!