At a distance of 25 km from Kollam, 44 km from Trivandrum, 51 km from Kovalam, 107 km from Alleppey, 118 km from Kottayam, 127 km from Kanyakumari, 158 km fro Tirunelveli, 174 km from Kochi, and 156 km from Kanyakumari, Varkala is a calm and quiet coastal hamlet situated on the Arabian Sea coast in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. It is one of the oldest municipalities in Kerala, and among the must include places in Kerala tour packages.
Varkala is the suburban city of Trivandrum. Varkala is a lesser-known yet absolutely paradisiacal destination that houses relatively untouched and clean beaches, historical forts, religious sites, natural springs, backwaters, and more. This quaint town in the southern part of Kerala is known for the unique sedimentary rocks belonging to the Cenozoic age, popularly known as the Warkalli Formation, one of the must-include places in Varkala tour packages. The Warkalli Formation, along with the Quilon formation, represent sediments laid down in the Kerala basin that existed during the Mio-Pliocene times.
Varkala was earlier called Udaya Marthandapuram after Udaya Marthanda Varma, the 16th century Travancore king who contributed immensely to the development of this little coastal town. This coastal town is sometimes referred to as the Southern Varanasi due to the presence of the 2,000year-old Janardana Swami Temple. Varkala can be visited along with Trivandrum tour packages.
There are some fascinating legends associated with Varkala. According to the popular myth, King Pandyan built the famous Janardhan Swami Temple here as a redemption for his sins, as instructed by Lord Brahma. Another story tells that a group of pilgrims sought help from Lord Narada to atone for their sins. The Lord flung his waistcloth or valkalam, which landed on the seaside, thus giving the town its name. The pilgrims had to offer prayers here, giving rise to the tradition of Papanasam or redemption of sins by dipping in the holy waters of the sea.
There are several places to visit in Varkala that include Varkala Beach or Papanasam Beach, Sri Janardhana Swami Temple, Sivagiri Mutt, Varkala Aquarium, Kappil Beach, Kappil Lake, Chilakoor Beach, Odayam Beach, Varkala Cliff, Edava Beach, Anjengo Fort & Lighthouse, Ponnumthuruthu Island, Kaduvayil Juma Masjid, Kilimanoor Palace, and Saint Sebastian's Pilgrim Church Moongode. Besides, Varkala is also popular for its hippie culture, Ayurveda Spas, shacks on the cliff serving great seafood, and Yoga centers. One can also indulge in several watersport activities here.
Trivandrum Airport is the nearest airport, which is 40 km away from Varkala. Trivandrum Airport has well-connected flights from almost all the major cities in India along with Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the USA & Europe. Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station is the principal railway junction serving the city of Varkala. It has well-train connectivity from Mumbai, Trivandrum, Kollam, Kochi, Chennai, Guruvayur, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Mangalore, Madurai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Hubli. Regular buses are being operated both by private and government owners, especially the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation.
The best time to visit Varkala is from October to March, while the peak seasons are from November to January. During this time, one can experience pleasant and balmy days with clear skies. Better to avoid visiting Varkala in summer as it remains extremely hot and humid. Monsoons, on the other hand, can be a good time for budget traveling but the peak months must be avoided as the town receives extremely heavy rainfall that makes roaming around the city very difficult.