Varkala is a seaside tourist resort and spa. A small town 55km north of Thiruvananthapuram, it is also an important religious place for the Hindus. The Papanasam Beach at Varkala is a quiet, secluded beach known for its white, silvery stretch of sand, mineral springs and rocky cliffs. Varkala is also an important Hindu centre of pilgrimage.
The final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer of Kerala, is near Varkala atop a hill named Sivagiri. High cliffs from mineral springs majestically rise is a scene typical of Varkala. Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000 year old Vishnu temple and the ashramam- 'Sivagiri Mutt' a little distance from the beach.
A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple, stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach,a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) is also close by.The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days - 30th December to 1st January.
Sree Narayana Guru propagated the ideology:"one caste, one religion and one god",in a society torn by the taboos of caste system.Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for the tourist and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres
Varkala is the only place in southern Kerala where one can find cliffs adjacent to the Arabian sea. These tertiary sedimentary formation cliffs are a unique geological feature in the otherwise flat Kerala coast, and is known among geologists as Varkala Formation and a geological monument as declared by the Geological survey of India. There are numerous water spouts and spas on the sides of these cliffs.
Janardhanakrishna Temple entrance, Varkala Janardhanakrishna Temple entrance,Varkala is famous for its 2,000 year old Janardanaswamy temple, which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South).
The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.