We arrived by night in a hotel that was nicely lit. After freshening up we stepped out to explore the property and the beach. Our friends were holidaying in another hotel, we had to meet them for dinner, so they asked us to walk down the beach road towards Clafouti. We asked the hotel staff for directions for the ‘beach road / cliff path’ and here we came up with some early ‘learning’s’:
v English language is an alien communication tool for the locals
v Sense of distance is equally foreign to them
v Power blackouts is a constant phenomenon in Varkala
v Toddy (liquor) is a constant companion to most local males
v DO NOT expect professional anything :D
We walked from our room to the boundary of the hotel property, guided by the sound of the ocean surf, wanting to locate the “cliff path” - we reached the edge and looked down and saw the white surf of the waters, and just then there was a complete blackout. Complete darkness! Slowly a few lanterns lit in the distance…but not enough to show us clearly what was “the beach road / cliff path” -since we were not yet familiar with the geography of the locality, it was unnerving standing in the dark, we retraced our steps back inside the hotel.
We requested for transport as the Hotel staff said Clafouti is approx. 2km away. He called for an auto whose driver was drunk- the auto in standstill mode, was sliding in the reverse, the driver was oblivious to it. We asked the Reception to get us another auto, but the Receptionist told us its ok, he is in control, there is no problem- so despite our senses screaming otherwise – we took this transport. Given it was late, given it is a small town, given friends were waiting, given we wanted dinner and some sleep for that night. The worst auto ride ever!
The 2km distance turned out to be less than 2 minutes for which we paid 100 bucks. To top it, our nerves were grazed, being on the edge with the driver reeking of alcohol, not in control of his auto on the upward climbing slope, on a pitch dark narrow road, with not a person in sight (post the Delhi incidence) was a horror of all sorts, the mind was working its wily hands about! Such was our relief to have reached Clafouti in one piece- incidence free, unbridled joy was the only feeling we soaked in!
It took us the rest of the trip to realize that these (above) first impressions (while some maybe true) – were a bit harsh. Largely speaking - the locals are harmless even when drunk, they are genuine, warm, and honest and trusting them is easy as they are humble; despite the city menace narratives we all unconsciously carry about with us.
Varkala is beautiful. A wonderous place. It is a Hindu belief that a dip in the Papanasam beach of Varkala can wash away your sins. What I can indeed say with certainty is that it will wash away the stresses and strains of a busy life. Our hotel was situated on the seashores of the magnificent beach of Varkala, providing us a panoramic view of the setting sun, the lashing waves, the coconut orchards, the fishing boats & the anglers at work.
You cannot tire of walking on the beach cliffs, enjoying the freshness of nature, be a sun bathing enthusiast or simply be; on the silky beaches, around the many hotels dotting this 2.5-3 km stretch called Varkala. The walk along the cliff takes you to many interesting spaces, some offering Ayurveda massages, special oils, yoga classes, even a library while you wait for your order or sip on a drink.
What is unique about this sea resort destination is that Varkala is a small town, pretty much off the beaten track. Located an hour away from the Trivandrum airport, the growing number of curious travellers who decide to stop by and then end up planning their next vacation here, is a testimony to the fact that Varkala is getting popular. (PS: not sure if that is a good thing tho…)
Varkala is a virgin beach with a beautiful cliff lining the beach stretch with a string of eateries and shacks offering a choice of world cuisines. The walk that seems to lead you to the end of the cliff gradually slopes down until you find yourself climbing down on to the other side of the beach. It is also a more secluded area on the beach which some tourists who discover the path, seem to prefer. No matter how many times I walked along the cliff road separating the sea and the hotels/shops, I invariably was tempted to stop and soak in the sights a zillion times over. Having grown up in cities and metros most of my life, one finds here the peace and tranquillity that the human soul craves for.