Varkala Knowledge Guide
It is believed that a Pandyan King was instructed by Lord Brahma to build a temple at this very place to redeem him of his sins. Several other myths abound on the birth of Varkala. Another legend states that when a group of pilgrims approached Sage Narada and told him that they had sinned, Narada threw his valkalam (a loin cloth made from the bark of a tree) and it landed at this scenic village and hence, the place came to be known as Varkala. Narada told the pilgrims to pray for their redemption at Papanasam, which literally means redemption from sins.
Varkala Beach, or Papanasam Beach, is a haven for sunbathing and swimming. The cliff and the beach include resorts, restaurants, and other shops. The black part of the sand on Varkala Beach contains thorium-oxide, which is a radioactive substance. Thorium and thorium-oxide and its isotopes are found all over Kerala and can be identified by their black colour.
Paravur: Land of Backwaters, Estuaries, and Beaches
Paravur is another municipal town with estuaries and backwaters, situated 13 km from Varkala. Paravur is in Kollam district, sharing borders with Thiruvananthapuram district. Paravur has an array of backwaters and lakes surrounding the town. With the advent of roads and others means of transport, the inland waterways have been neglected. Renewed efforts are underway to start linking the waterways to an ambitious inland waterway system being sponsored by the state government along the lines of what once existed. Paravur Lake attracts tourists. The lake meets the sea and can be seen from a small stretch of road which divides them.
Kappil Lake is about 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) north of Varkala Town. This serene estuary meanders through dense coconut groves before merging into the Arabian Sea. The bridge over the lake is a vantage point to view the backwater stretching white and grey to the distant blue horizon. Boating is another way to browse this waterway.
Anjengo Fort is a fort near Varkala. The historic significance tagged to Anjengo comes through foreign powers like the Portuguese, the Dutch, and finally the English East India Company. In the year 1684, the English East India Company chose Anjengo to establish their first trade settlement in Kerala. At Anjengo, one can find the remnants of the old English Fort, which was targeted several times by other foreign powers, who were at that time fighting each other to get a firm footing in Kerala. The fort is now under the protection of National Heritage Monuments. There is also a cemetery inside the fort and the oldest burial site dates to 1704. Muthalapuzhi Lake is situated in Anjengo.
Varkala Tunnel is a 151-year old tourist highlight. It was a 924 ft long tunnel built in 1867 by Sir T. Madhava Rao, the dewan of Travancore, and took 14 years to complete. Varkala Lighthouse is another tourist highlight in the vicinity.