Varkala: Prayers and Pleasure in Equal Measure
Varkala wears two hats: one is that of a seaside tourist resort and spa and the other, completely opposite, is that of a Hindu religious centre.
To begin, there is the quiet stretch of white sandy beach, the Papanasam Beach. Myth has it that the sage Narada was approached by a group of sadhus who told him that they had sinned. In anger, Narada threw his valkkalam, the loin cloth made from the bark of trees, into the air. The place where it landed was Varkala. Narada then told the sinners to pray at a place near the seashore. That came to be known as the Papanasam Beach. The added attractions are the mineral springs and rocky cliffs. Varkala is worth taking a look for it is out of the ordinary. It is so peaceful that no one would bother disturbing you when you watch the sun set into the sea.
The Sivagiri Hill, near the beach also happens to be the final resting place of a great social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru. Nearby are the high cliffs and the mineral springs. Varkala is home to the 800-year old Janardhana temple, dedicated to Ayyappan and Hanuman. Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the inner sanctum but can look around the temple.
Reaching Varkala: The nearest airport is Trivandrum, 50 km away. Varkala has rail connection but not all trains stop here and the best place to get off is at Quilon, the nearest major railway head. Varakala is accessible by road.
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