A seaside destination, red laterite cliffs rise majestically from its coastline. The famed Papanasam Beach, believed to wash away all sins, is a paradise for those who worship the sun, sand and the surf. Serene backwaters, natural mineral springs and secluded coves make this place really special. The final resting place of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru, atop a hill called Sivagiri and the Nature Cure Centre are the other main attractions here. A century-old tunnel is yet another landmark.
(20 km south of Varkala) Originally built by the Portuguese as a depot to store merchandise, it was converted into a fort by the British. Sandwiched between the sea and the backwaters, the fort premises shelter ancient tombstones and a garden.
(20 minutes from Varkala) This serenely beautiful destination along India's western coast is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre. A dip in the Papanasam sea is considered holy. According to a myth, Sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his Valkalam into air and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala. The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption came to be known as the Papanasam Beach. This calm and secluded beach is much-loved by tourists. A remarkable feature here is the long stretch of red laterite cliffs fringing the beach. The cliff-top is an ideal place to watch the spectacular sunset. A natural spring, said to have curative properties, originates from the cliff.
(20 km from Varkala) A delightful gateway surrounded by the Anjengo backwaters, this uninhabited isle is accessible by boat from makeshift jetty at near by Nedunganda Village. A 100 year old Siva-Parvathi Temple, rebuilt a decade back, is situated here and the entire island is temple property.
200 acres of sanctified land, this is the final resting place of the most eminent leader, saint and social reformer of Kerala, Sree Narayana Guru. SNDP, the organization he founded for the upliftment of backward classes, is headquartered here. The mahasamadhi of the revered guru is located on top of a hill rock. Further down is the guru's residence, where his humble belongings are kept on display.
Believed to be two thousand years old, the current structure dates back to the 12th Century. The deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu and Hindu pilgrims come here to perform final rites of the deceased.
(1 km from Thiruvambadi Road) Calm and serene, this solitary beach is adjacent to the North Cliff. Thiruvambadi or the Black Sand Beach is the ideal place for those seeking peace and solitude and can be easily reached by climbing down the cliff of driving down a kilometre.
The Centre near the North Cliff organises Kathakali and Mohiniyattom performances in the evenings. Visitors can watch the make-up process of the artiste and performance backed by English commentary.
(53 km from Thiruvananthapuram and 8 km north of Varkala) A confluence of the sea, river and the backwater, this secluded, picturesque spot is worth visiting. The Priyadarshini Boat Club here offers boating facilities