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  Life   More Features  18 Oct 2017  Varkala for a soul vacay

Varkala for a soul vacay

THE ASIAN AGE. | CAROL HAYES
Published : Oct 18, 2017, 12:15 am IST
Updated : Oct 18, 2017, 12:15 am IST

The welcoming waves of this beachside haven beckon every yoga aficionado, the novice surfer and the happy-go-lucky tourist to its shores.

Varkala Beach
 Varkala Beach

Far from the madding crowd on the famed sands of Kovalam lies this tranquil coconut palm fringed haven called Varkala North Cliff. As the tufts of white caress the golden sands, and the waves weave their magic, the din of tourists  and beach bums, all descend on this picturesque part of God’s own country which is essentially a beach and yoga sojourn with a bit of surfing added in. A temple town, the Papanasham Beach is considered a holy place and one can see many devotees and priests in a huddle. Easily accessible by train or bus from Bengaluru, a 16-hour journey awaits, albeit long but worth the wait!  Or you can get to it quicker by booking a flight to Trivandrum. The journey on land is a flurry of picture postcards waiting to be unearthed — untouched and beautiful. What makes Varkala unique is its cliff-caressed vista set against the azure blue of the Arabian Sea. This geo-heritage site is famous for the 2,000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple too. Of course, Varkala’s yoga retreat centres and ayurvedic treatments offer a plethora to choose from, but be the informed customer and check reviews before. The innumerable yoga shalas are the best bet for a tranquil Hatha yoga class to a strenuous Vinyasa-style class. Most of the beach retreats have a view of the Arabian Sea as well. Many people flock to Varkala for its yoga teacher training that is very popular and well worth the 200 hours of practice!

For the happy budget tourist, there are reasonable options galore. We stayed at The New Skyline Tourist Paradise which was fairly clean with a sea view at a distance. There are many options on various websites, though do go through the recommendations before.

You can spend a nice windy afternoon walking to the town, and sifting through the local market and its offerings. We spotted the Rock n Roll’ Café which overlooked the sea and gave one a vantage point to lookout at the breathtaking sealine! Spoilt for choice, there are many cafes along the Cliff belt that dish out different cuisines. We enjoyed breakfast by the sea at ABBA and The German Bakery which are quite popular. When it comes to food too, there are healthy spaces that offer great options for the perennial weight watcher. And some absolutely delicious local seafood, Kerala style — spiced and flavourful. We had an amazing organic breakfast of Honey ‘n’ Lemon Pancakes at Puchinnis, and dined at different cafes. For a view and a mouthful, Café Italiano  is a great option, do try the woodfire pizzas here. For local Kerala fare, try the spicy fish curry rice. The evenings are a breeze as Varkala has various hubs with live bands on the weekends and some good ol’ retro music through the week.

The waves are high which makes it an ideal surfer’s paradise thanks to its windy environs. From lessons on surfing, to riding the waves true surfer style, one can get a bit adventurous as well.

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The walkways all along the cliff offer spectacular views of the sea at sunrise and sunset. No beach vacay is done and dusted without a pick of some local arts and crafts, do pick your own souvenir from the varied shops lining the cliff.   Since season starts October to February, this is the right time to get the best of a Kerala beach holiday. Off season starts from March to September when prices are relatively cheaper, though. You can also hire your own self-driven automobile and drive around the beautiful expanse. Varkala has short spells of rain... which can be quite delightful as well, though be careful while swimming in the sea, as the currents during the sudden pitter patter can be quite unpredictable.

 — The writer is a travel enthusiast.

Tags: varkala beach, papanasham beach