Varkala Beach- A calm and quiet hamlet -
Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivndrum) district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu Temple and the Ashramam – Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach.
Varkala, is renowned for the natural spring. It is considered to have medicinal and curative properties. A dip in the holy waters at this beach (Papanasham Beach) is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins.
Thiruvambady beach near the North cliff is also called Black Sand Beach. Compared to Papanasham Thiruvambadi beach is a less-frequented one. You can climb down the cliff or can drive about one kilometre to reach this serene and calm beach. It is perfect destination for those who are looking for that secluded spot where they could spend time in peace and silence. The unique feature of the beach is the black sand.
Apart from the Papanasam beach & Thiruvambady beach, there are other beaches in Varkala, which are unexplored and have a serene ambience. Kappil beach, and Chilakoor beach are some of the major beaches at Varkala.
A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. Varkala was known as the Southern Varanasi or Thenkasi owing to the presence of ancient Janardhana Swami temple. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 – 1928) is also close by.
Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for tourists and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres.
The place was also called Udaya Marthandapuram, commemorating the contributions of Udaya Marathanda Varma, a Travancore King, to the development of Varkala. The king in 1762 built rows of houses in the obscure sea side village of Varkala in order to make the local Brahmins settle here.
ATTRACTIONS NEAR VARKALA
Ponnumthuruthu is an island which is situated about 12km south of Varkala. You can board a country boat from Nedunganda and take a tour through the backwaters for about 30 minutes to reach Ponnumthuruthu.
Ponnumthuruthu, the name literally means Golden Island. Legends say that the queens of Travancore Royal Family used to hide their cache of gold and ornaments on the island in order to keep it safe and hence it obtained the name, Ponnumthuruthu. This lush island is a perfect getaway for those who seek a break from the hustle and bustle of the urban life.
Temple in the island
This island is known for the Shiva Parvathi temple, which is also called `Thuruthu kshethram’ by the natives. The temple is situated amidst thick coconut groves, which has grown over the entire stretch. The temple is more than 100 years old and the entire island is temple property. The temple was in ruins for a long time but about a decade ago, it was rebuilt.
Ambience at the island
The island is a must see, thanks to the enchanting ambience. Even the boat jetty at Nedunganda village from where the journey to Ponnumthuruthu starts is peculiar. It is a makeshift jetty and the walkway to the ferry is made up of coconut husk, mud and the waste from coir.
A view of the island from the ferry during evening will surely soothe any nature-lover’s mind. The greenery of the island will have a distinctive glow when the evening rays of the sun caress it. The island is also a haven of different types of flora and fauna. It will surely be a bird watcher’s delight to visit the island, thanks to the cormorants, egrets and herons seen in this area. Eagles and gulls too can be found here. Various water birds too can be seen here.
The mainland on the other side of Ponnumthuruthu is a coir village. There is a small coir-making unit near the ferry. Travellers can visit the unit. It is delighting to view the boats carrying husks waving through the backwaters to reach the island.