After Kovalam, Varkala is the greatly admired seaside resort in the state of Kerala. It is also one of the major Hindu pilgrimage destinations of the country. A bulk number of foreign tourists visit this place every year. Varkala lies 50 km north to Thiruvananthapuram center. The ancient temple of Lord Janardhana, almost 2000 years old, is the core attraction. The structure of the temple is supposed to date back to thirteenth century. An inscription found from the spot reveals the date of the renovation. A bell presented by a Dutch sailor in the 17th century serves as the main bell of the temple till now.
The small seashore called Papanasham attracts both the devout and tourists to a great extend. People come on the religious aspects of taking a dip in the water and relegate the ashes of dead. It is believed that the immersion of the ashes over this seashore redeems the soul from sins.
Overlooking the seashore is a headland that stretches several kilometers. Most hotels and shops along the headland face the sea. The business here is bulkily seasonal and the tourist season is from October to April. A causeway along the edge of the cliff goes up several kilometers. The headland provides a panoramic view of the seashore and sea. The place preserves an atmosphere of quiet away from the busy town. Varkala got its fame after Sree Narayana Guru, a famous social reformer and sage, founded his ashram (Shivagiri Mutt) near Varkala.
The laterite cliff walling the seashore oozes water that is supposed to be salubrious. Thus the place serves the best spot for spa as well.
Accommodation options are available here over all types of visitors. Most of these hotels cluster on the cape facing the sea with wonderful sight scene. Kappil Lake (also referred to as a backwater) and estuary, Shivagiri Mutt, Anjengo Fort (Anchuthengu) and Ponnumthuruthu Island are the nearby tourist spots.