Think a cliff overlooking the beach, think glistening ocean water, think gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, think European and Israeli cafes, think yoga, think lazy days spent reading, eating and just being – and you have arrived in Varkala. To me, this hippie town seems like the amalgam of the soul of a yogi and the body of a hip bohemian, so it wasn’t odd that I fell in love with Varkala the moment I set my foot here the first time two years ago. And I have revisited this town many times since and spent a good deal of my time when I did a solo trip across coastal Kerala. What adds to the magic of this beach town is that it is not your quintessential touristy-touristy destination and does not commonly make to the usual Kerala itineraries. It is for this reason that Varkala is a haven for soul searchers or bohemians who want to practice yoga and meditation, sip organic tea for breakfast, read over lunch with maybe a side of beer, ponder or talk about self-discovery and detox their mind, body and soul. Here in Varkala, you’ll find fellow tourists on the same journey as you are – albeit some lost, some deviated, some right on their path.
My first time in Varkala wasn’t exactly as I had hoped for, yet it was. For example, I had come here with an unclear motive, maybe to prove a point to myself that I was still capable of connecting to myself, or nature, or world, or just life. And introspect I did, just as I had hoped. But it came with bouts of depression as I dug deeper into sections of my life that I had long buried. Beers helped, by the way.
Side note: Alcohol is prohibited on the Varkala cliff but the restaurants serve beers in ceramic mugs to avoid police attention. From what I hear, the police is aware of the “ceramic mug” situation and does periodic raids, but poetically speaking, these raids are more like charades, because the next day the mugs are back on tables and police turns away its eye. Not that I am complaining.
Varkala has something to soothe every soul. For the peace lover, there are many quiet and secluded spots; for the yogi, there are dozens of yoga classes, organic food and ayurveda shops; there are water sports for the adventure lover. I lazily spent my days reading books by the beach or at the cafes overlooking the beach; evenings walking along the beach line and watching the sun go down; calling it a night after a beer or two.
The cafes in Varkala sit on top of the cliff and have gorgeous view of the ocean. If you’re like me, just loitering at a cafe for the whole day relishing the view, sky gazing, pondering, reading and writing will quench your soul. My favorite was Cafe del mar and Abba’s.
Mornings and evenings are particularly gorgeous in Varkala. I stayed at Clafouti Resort and their cafe overlooks the ocean. It was my daily business to have my coffee while watching the sunrise and sunset show there.
There’s little nightlife in Varkala but Rock n’ Roll cafe is alive and lit up until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. They serve great food with beers while the DJ plays the best classic rock. Being here will make you forget that you’re in a conventional religious town.
Varkala is not touristy per say, but you could head out for some local sightseeing at Kappil Lake or Varkala Aquarium. Papasnanam beach I hear is worth seeing too, as is Varkala light house. As for me, I spent all my days guiltlessly lazing around the cliff and I can’t wait to go back to get some more of that.
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And tell me, is there a place that brings out deep seated emotions in you?