A Trip to Varkala – Part 2

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In the beginning there was the sea,
Then there was a coconut tree,
And then a glass was placed in front of it,
And I thought it was good.

So, in the Part 1 of my travelogue, I told you how I made the trip from the east coast of India to the west to visit a charming little sea-side town called Varkala. Relatively unknown by the general populace, it makes for a fantastic getaway nevertheless. Be it for just a weekend, or months together. Varkala is one place where you can find time slipping by without notice as you lazily amble through the day. And like I said, it is one place I wouldn’t mind moving to for good if I could.

It is also obvious why the average see-all-the-things tourist might give this place a miss, because “technically” speaking, Varkala just has a beach (with a cliff, though), a temple and a handful of restaurants that serve good food. Just as well, because Varkala is not a place you come to to see things. It’s where you come to relax and rejuvenate yourself. Basking in the glorious sunsets everyday on an ever changing beach, letting the whiff of fresh air from the sea sweep over you, and taking in the splendid beauty of the coconut trees lined up pretty much everywhere – it’s an assault to the senses in the most pristine form.

And that is what you do best in Varkala. Nothing.

And yet, since this is the first trip I did had to visit a couple of places that TripAdvisor seemed to suggest. So, this is how it went. On the second day of my travel – me and and my dorm-mates (five of us in all) decided to rent scooters as it’s the best way to get around apparently. Rs. 350 per day didn’t seem to be a bad deal anyhow. So, below the list of things that one can see and do around Varkala.

What to See

1. Laze around the North Cliff, Varkala beach, Papanasam beach

The above three are the only points of interest in the actual town of Varkala. But they’re all you need to be honest. The North Cliff must be the most happening cliff in the whole world (Ok, I don’t really know that 😛 ). There’s a lively selection of restaurants, shops, resorts, ayurvedic therapy centers where you can get a blissful rub-down. All of it perched precariously on the edge of the cliff with just a little walkway separating it. And most of it is not even fenced so definitely not somewhere you go with your kids. Little kids I mean. Big kids are okay!

Varkala beach is the one that’s right underneath the cliff and which you reach via narrow cut steps on the cliff face. Since I’d gone in the monsoon, the sea has come further in devouring the sandy beach but usually it’s much wider and attracts good crowds. But Papanasam beach, which is just further down the road is always available as it is more wider and this is where I went to capture the sunset photos!

2. Kappil Beach

Now this is not a traditional beach in the sense that there is no sand. If you’ve seen the main beach in Pondicherry, it’s pretty much the same albeit a bit more vast and over-encompassing. But what makes this spot better is the presence of a lake on the opposite side of the road. And it is wonderful to drive on this strip of the road for this very same reason – there’s sea to your left and a lake to your right. Drives don’t get any cooler than this.

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That’s Doue, and yes he’s a mountain.
3. Ponnumthuruthu Island

Yea, I know. That’s quite a mouthful to say. And we’ve struggled to find the spot for the very same reason. It’s also called ‘Golden Island’ apparently, but nobody seems to know it by that name. So don’t even try asking. Anyway, if you indeed do manage to reach this place, you’ll instantly  fall in love with the idyllic backwaters (with what looked a million coconut trees on the banks). Basically, this is a huge backwater opening that has a little island at the center which houses a charming temple. There’s a boatman who will take you to the island for a temple visit and will bring you back to the shore. If you go at the right time (early mornings or evenings are the best), the boat ride can be such a beautiful and calming experience.

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4. Anjengo Fort

Ok don’t let the fort in the title throw you off. This had been built in the 17th century by the British for God knows what reason but as it stands today, it is nothing more than a little wall around a garden. But it’s well kept and has lots of shade to relax on a sunny day. There is also a lighthouse nearby that you can climb but which, unfortunately, was closed when we went. A total bummer there. Still, a good place for history buffs and you can spend considerable time here looking at old Portuguese style churches in the adjoining village.

Where to Eat

You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to food in Varkala. Since the town attracts such a wide variety of folks from around the globe, the restaurant owners too have adapted to the different cuisines and serve a melange of stuff ranging from Italian, American, Classic English and down to Israeli and Swedish!

Fancy a bruschetta? Game!
Yearning for a bacon breakfast? You are covered!
Or just looking for some comforting Dosa or a Butter Naan with Paneer Masala? Yay.

Almost every restaurant is good and is unique in their own way but the following are a couple that I personally liked.

Coffee Temple

Seriously, this place is a real temple of food. Run by an Englishman, they pretty much got you covered when it comes to Continental as well as Indian breakfast. They have an open courtyard with a lovely view of the sea, they play wonderful music, and waiters are just too friendly. What more could you ask for! I had their crispy bacon, eggs, beans and toast and it was amazingg! And of course, the Afogato (which is bitter coffee poured over TWO scoops of vanilla ice-cream!). Heaven in a ceramic cup. (I forgot to take a photo of this, which is sad)

Cafe Italiano

Visit it for their woody decor, the book exchange library and yep, the best lasagna I’ve had ever. Unfortunately, I never tried their pizzas so have to remedy that next time!

ABBA Cafe

The most crowded restaurant at any time of day! And the proof is in the pudding too. Simply great food and they have a wonderful array of condiments and sauces and dressings to go with it that you simply don’t find anywhere else.

God’s Own Country Kitchen

They named it after Kerala’s tag line. And they don’t disappoint. I had a Red Snapper cooked in Kerala style served with Coconut rice and it was just beautiful food! The fish was cooked perfectly. The succulent flesh just falling off the bone as I dug into it and the chef even heeded my request and made it extra spicy!

Oh and these are the two important facts – 

  • Most of the restaurants will serve beer, even if they don’t have it on the menu. So you just gotta ask for it.
  • All of them have FREE Wi-Fi. (borne more out of competition, than benevolence) So don’t feel shy and just ask for the password 🙂

So, there you go. This is the end of my travelogue. But I’m not done with Varkala yet. I feel like I’ve only barely scratched the surface and I will be back for more. And probably, sooner than you’d expect.

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14 thoughts on “A Trip to Varkala – Part 2

  1. Great piece of detail. Its very interesting to hear about Varkala. Where exactly is it in Kerala? I’ve been to Trivendrum, Kotakkal, Kottayam, Kollam, Munnar, Allepey, Cochin, Guruvayur and Thekkady. Kerala is truly an amazing place and makes justice to its title ‘Gods own place’.

    Keep them coming. I’m addicted and like your wording in the article.

    Just noticed a typo- Under Cafe Italiano, the best lasagna I’ve ‘had ever’ should’ve been ‘ever had’

    Like

    • Hey there! Varkala is just an hour’s drive from Trivandrum. I guess it just goes to prove my point. Not many people are aware of Varkala. But it’s a gem of a place and also it’s the only place in Kerala I’ve been to till now.
      Thanks for pointing out the mistake in word order. It does sound awkward when read aloud.

      Cheers,
      Uday

      Like

    • Yay my boy is finally back on blogosphere! 😀 Or are you just passing through again? 😛
      The dream. It’s sad that it lasts only for a handful of days before I have to wake up to real life. I should have become a tour guide or something, honestly, lol.
      And well, with the Red Snapper I’m actually just helping out people. So the next time you’re in Varkala you know exactly what to ask for 😛 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes!! Back for now 😀 😀
        You know, when I grow up, maybe we should just go on a big long vacation together, maybe Europe, or wherever you like. And then when we’re old enough we’ll be like those swaggy grandpa who’ll be always happy to show people round the town! Now that’d be a pretty cool dream! 😀
        haha…oh yes, I seriously need to taste that snapper 😀
        P.S.- Check your email!
        P.P.S- Guess what, I share my birthday with SIRIUS!!! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Okay this is crazy. I replied to your mail and was cursing you for not replying back but only just now saw that my mail is stuck in Outbox and I have no idea why :O Let me check that.

        On other note, that sounds like a killer plan bro! Europe sounds awesome. Paris and Rome and Venice and Amsterdam. Aahhhh. And we will totally rock the swaggy grandpa thing!

        And this is going to sound completely creepy, but I share my birthday with Gary Oldman, the actor who plays Sirius! :O I mean, what are the odds!

        Liked by 1 person

      • hm.. dude, check again because I haven’t received it yet.. :/
        Right na! And we’ll be all like backpacking; no destination, no bookings; just the journey and everything in between! 😀 :d *feels*
        O.O wow! We have a connection beyond the blogosphere ;_;
        Yay! 😀

        Like

      • Check now. Something is wrong with the Outlook app on my Windows 10. I now used the outlook website to send it and it’s finally in Sent folder. This mail is almost a month old though :O

        And the birthdays is one of the most surprising coincidences in my life yet 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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