Varkala Beach - A Five Minute Rickshaw Ride from India
It's a five minute ride by auto rickshaw from the Varkala Railway Station to Varkala Beach.
As we traveled, the streets became lanes with great trees providing welcome shade and coolness. The rickshaw ride quickly ended at a dirt walkway where we gained our first view of the expanse of sea and surf. Suddenly we were in a place that was very different from the places in India we had visited so far. Gone were the incessant noise of traffic, the dense blocks of buildings with small storefront business and the hectic pace characteristic of most Indian cities. Instead there was quiet, few vehicles and a relaxed slower pace - in short, it felt like we had been quickly transported to a whole different world.
Varkala Beach is a tourist destination, where people from all over the world come to relax, swim in the surf, and enjoy the casual life along the clifftop. Hotels, restaurants and shops are perched atop a red stone cliff, 100 feet above the pale sand beach and the turquoise Arabian Sea below.
The setting is very dramatic. A walkway extends for 2 to 3 km along the edge of the cliff top, with shops, restaurants and hotels on one side and the sheer dropoff to the beach on the other.
Some of the newer hotels are just a bit upscale, but not flashy or out of character with the place. The rest of the more moderate or inexpensive places are more 'laid back', like our place (picture below with views from our balcony). Few if any are more than 2 stories high. We wondered why 'more intensive' development has not happened, but are thankful that it hasn't.
The architecture and, indeed, the whole atmosphere is 'tropical beach' and mostly very casual. Most all the restaurants and shops are 'open air' and therefore very inviting and comfortable. In some cases it's perhaps a little too open (Susan lost a 6 inch chunk of her breakfast poori to an opportunistic raven, when she let her attention stray for a moment).
We adjusted quickly to the slower pace of life here, influenced by the hot and humid weather. One evening we were cooled by rain storm preceeded by an intense lightning show that continued for many minutes - who needs TV when Mother Nature provides the entertainment. For people who need to stay connected to the rest of the world, there were Internet cafes and newspapers available, but it's optional - we chose not to.
Fresh fish is one of the highlights of our choices for dinner. To entice customers in, the restauants display the fish they are offering in trays along the cliff top walkway. We learned that each night, fishermen go out in small boats boats to catch the fish for the next days meals. We could see their lights out on the water a short distance off shore.
After a few days enjoying this respite, it was time to move on. A rickshaw took us back to the railway station, our portal back to India, so we could continue our exploration of "God's Own Country", feeling certain that Varkala Beach offered clear evidence of the truth of this claim!
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