2nd March 2016
The Kerala Blog Express is officially over. 15 days, 30 bloggers, 25 countries (26 if you include Belize) and a whirlwind tour of the entire state – from mountains, to the gorgeous houseboats to the tea plantations. But we had only a brief visit at the beach (Kovalam) – and I had read that the beaches of Kerala are THE BEST in India…and some, the best in the world.
To check out profiles for all the bloggers who joined me and their updates and social media, see the site:Kerala Blog Express. A VERY varied bunch.
I did a bit of research and read about Varkala…red sandstone cliffs precariously lined with restaurants, shops and lodging, a drop to the gorgeous Arabian Sea and magical fresh mineral waters running between the two. It was also touted as “the new Goa” and one of the top 10 beaches in Asia.
I took the train – relatively uneventful and I will tell you about that later – and just get to the photos that I took of Varkala Beach and the nearby temples. Absolutely, phenomenonly gorgeous. Here’s the completely unedited sunset.
But let me start at the beginning rather than the end.
I took a walk down the winding alleys behind the cliffs to the beach side. Here’s the view from the top.
I started my day at Coffee Temple. DELICIOUS coffees and lattes…I went for a white cardamom coffee. Huge and just over $1USD. The spot serves wood fired pizzas, burritos and baguettes, delicious hummus…very international.
Like the whole beach side. It’s about 75% visitors and 25% locals.
And the shops and stalls all along the way. You DO get asked to visit each shop but everyone is extremely friendly and a polite NO thanks takes you very far.
Varkala is a hippie haven for the young and the old. You can find people at every restaurant bemoaning the meaning of life and wonder where the “next destination” is. Yoga and medition is offered everywhere. Dread locks and Bob Marley abound.
A man making sandals from camel leather – prices ranged from about 300 rupees to 1600 rupees or $4USD to about $22 but all prices are extremely negotiable.
Pants and shirts are anywhere from $3USD to about $8. Most of these shops are getting to fold for the low season which starts soon. HEAT and rain. Not a great combo for tourism.
Gorgeous handmade skirts from Afghanistan. Or “gypsies” as they say here.
You can get a serious hour long massage for around 1000 rupees and up. (About $15USD)
And the path along the top of the cliffs…
And the steps leading downward…you do not want to take these stairs in the dark.
From the French in bikinis (both men and women) to locals in full dress…
…to lots of people practicing tai chi at sunset.
I walked south towards the temple on the beach. Umbrellas and chairs are rentable for 200 rupees each (a bit less than $3USD). Savvy beach dogs were already claiming the shade.
Did I mention that it is HOT on the southern coast of India? We are towards the end of the “high season” – and it is in the mid 90s by early afternoon.
It was heating up nicely as I walked to the temple and there decided to find a tuk-tuk to take me to an even more beautiful one.
But I leave that, my lodging and more until tomorrow. It’s been a ROUGH computer day for me. Apparently cheap and pink are not the number 1 criteria for buying a computer.
I leave you with a painting on a wall of the famous Kathakali dancers/performers of Kerala. This seems to be the state symbol.