Varkala is a famous beach destination situated in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Varkala is a small town located about 53 km to the north west of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and about 40 km to the south west of Quilon. Besides being a popular getaway for backpackers, Varkala is a well known religious destination also.
Varkala has a glorious past. During the Sangham era, Varkala had been a major port known by the name Balitha, the references of which can be found in Ptolemys Periplus as well.
Anjengo Fort, a national heritage monument near Varkala, tells about the bygone era of trade settlement by the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the English East India Company. Anjengo Fort was built by the Dutch during the17th century to guard the coastline. Anjengo Fort had been the target of foreign powers for several centuries so that they could have a strong foothold in Kerala.
During the pre independence days of India, Varkala was a part of the state of Travancore. In 1956, Varkala became a part of the state of Kerala.
Among the several picturesque beaches of Varkala, the prominent one is the main Varkala Beach, which is also known by the name Papanasanam Beach. The beaches of Varkala have steep cliffs, natural springs, etc. These cliffs, termed as Varkala Formation, that are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea are declared as geological monuments by the Geological Survey of India.
Varkala has witnessed great developments in its infrastructure since the advent of the tourism industry. There has been a boom in the hospitality sector in Varkala in the recent years owing to the popularity of its beaches and various religious spots in the area.
The most significant religious spot in Varkala is Sree Janardana Swami Temple. Sree Janardana Swami Temple or Dakshin Kashi is more than 2000 years old. Other prominent places of attraction in Varkala are Varkala Tunnel, Ponnumthuruthu Island, Sivagiri Mutt, Kaduvayil Thangal Dargah, etc.
With the rise in Varkala tourism, the healthcare industry here has flourished well. Varkala is a famous centre for Ayurvedic treatments. Natural therapies and spa treatments have become very popular here. Backwater cruising at the estuarine stretch between Edava and Kappil is another popular activity in Varkala. There are many Varkala holiday packages that focus on similar treatments.
Varkala is well connected by road to various cities. Tourists can choose to reach Varkala by buses, trains, flights and taxis. The nearest airport is located at Trivandrum, 45 km from the destination. The best time to visit Varkala Beach is from November to March.
Apart from budget hotels in Varkala like homestays and a few resorts, tourists also have luxurious options while visiting Varkala.