This was my second visit to Varkala,a coastal town located north-west to Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala . First time around, I was backpacking around Kerala with friends from Slovenia and Canada; and landed up in Varkala towards the end of our vacation. It was love at first sight.
For me, the charm of this little town lies on its 2-3 km stretch on the cliff. The cliff overlooks the ocean and has a lovely walkway, albeit not fully paved, at various stretches,but that really shouldn’t bother one much.
The cliff is inundated with shops selling knick knacks, cafes and resorts, small and big; that gives colour and life to this otherwise sparsely populated and seemingly uninteresting area. Most of the shops are filled with Tibetian curios, pashmina shawls , bags, footwears, dresses,.. etc and are priced on the higher side. But if you have an eye for quality along withsome time and the knack for bargaining; then you might find some interesting stuff to buy.
Much had changed from my last visit, 5 years ago. One of my favourite restaurant the Sunshine Cafe is gone; but Cafe Del Mar still exists. I had breakfast here on one day this time around. The music they played (Indian classical) was different from the upbeat Bob Marley numbers that were belted out from the music system, last time around. However, my mood was the same – relaxed
I noticed two things – all the restaurants/cafes were wi-fi enabled and most of the them served Israeli fare in its menu, in addition to English, Thai &French cuisine.I had an Israeli breakfast platter on the last day at ABBA, another cozy cafe, just before I left Varkala. It consisted of a bowl of salad, humus, pita bread and eggs made as per your liking. It was a very different order from my regular pancakes & fried eggs/ sandwiches & omelettes and hence, experience was also unusual in a nice way. At ABBA Café, you have the option to exchange your books for free; some little toys for toddlers and color pencils and crayons to keep your kids creatively settled.
Come night and most of the restaurants put up on display, their fresh catch of the day. You get the options to choose your fish before getting it grilled or tandoored or what ever suited your fancy. And that’s exactly what we did. Clafouti Café is a fairly large set up as compared to other cafes around, with good food in fair quantity, and has a good view to the ocean (actually all the places on the cliff do). They have their own cottages too which is a good option for stay, if you are planning a trip to Varkala. We had dinner here, on all the days of our stay this time around. Tip: Meet Max at the fish counter and he will do the needful as per your taste!Green Palace, Bohemian Masala tribal boutique resort, 5th season, Puthooram, Thanal, Krishnatheeram ayur holy beach resort,… etc are few of the resorts you will find on the cliff. Options for stay to suit every pocket is there.
Bohemian Masala organizes an Indian evening on almost all weekends, which is a major attraction for the non-Indians; who enjoy the vast Indian meal spread over performances from various artists (dance & music). For those who like to shake a leg or two, there is Rock & Roll cafe pounding with music in a relaxed setup but with dance floor with all the right lightings to set the mood
For the water babies, the whole ocean is for you . There are surf boards to rent out; there are umbrellas dotting the beach, under which you can chill out ; or you can just walk the lovely stretch as you finally catch the sun set on the horizon, which is a view that never ceases to delight me.
If you are looking at an action packed vacation, then I would say, stay away from Varkala! About 4 hours from Kochi (Cochin) and 45 minutes from Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum); this place is only to be visited in between two action packed destinations or if you are looking at a short break from routine.
Go to Varkala, when you simply want to put your feet up with a drink in your hand and do nothing. Absolutely nothing!
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