Varkala, India: The Holy Spots and Temples…It’s Not JUST a Gorgeous Beach
Since Kerala, India is such a mix of peoples, languages and religions (Hindu, Muslim, Christian and even Jewish), it only makes sense that there would be many places of worship and piety. What I did not expect was to find so many close to one of the best beaches I’ve visited…Varkala Beach.
Even the beach itself happens to be a spot for puja (the act of showing reverence) at sundown.
Makes sense to me…it’s ridiculously and consistently breathtaking.
Over the past few days, I’ve done quite a bit of shopping (crazy colored $4 pants that MIGHT last 4 washings), a bit of reading and napping, a bit of beach lounging, lots of walking and some sightseeing. Each trip with a lovely tuk tuk driver who usually tells me he knows EXACTLY where I want to go…and then we end up asking for directions and translations again and again.
Who cares? It’s good times…and I think it is either a state trait or perhaps a national sport to just agree to everything – whether you speak the same language or not. Happy Tuck Tuck.
Here are three holy spots (other than the beach) that I’ve visited over the last few days.
I’ll start with the first one that I visited and the oldest – about 2000 years old. The famous pilgrimage spot, Janaranaswamy Temple – dedicated to Vishnu.
It is close to the beach…the sand that of the red cliffs. HOT. Especially when shoes must be removed to enter.
The temple complex is gorgeous but what really struck me was this HUGE tree – the trunk covered in gorgeous flowers and fruit the size of cannonballs. The tree is called a snake tree and actually from Central and South America. The flowers are absolutely amazing and do resemble a cobra.
Even more interesting was that the tree was skirted by dolls…hundreds and hundreds of plastic dolls.
According to the man playing the instrument next to the tree, people that are unable to have or want more children come here to ask for assistance.
I headed out…
The next day I took a walk down to “Black Beach” to see the Muslim mosque that was looking over the sea.
After just a few minutes, the area gets much less touristy and I ran into some fisherman.
Many unraveling and cleaning nets…this man mending one.
The black sand is RED HOT.
I’m not even sure how these boats stay together. Cracked and mending and re-mended.
Just beyond, there was a gate for a mosque.
I wandered around a bit but all was quite…just a few pairs of sandals at the front entrance.
I continued down the beach passing the cemetery.
My last visit, just this morning, was to a famous ashram just outside of Varkala town. The Sivigarthi Mutt. It was built in 1904 and is the place of burial and enlightenment of a famous guru.
Oddly, most of the signs there are in Malaylam (well…that’s the local language and not odd) but there is one of a handful of signs in English. And the biggest touts how the Mutt is trying to write the world’s longest letter for the Guinness book of records. “Around 30,000 people will write the ‘Daiva Dasakam’ in the form of a letter on a single paper which roll up to 10 km”.
I’m not sure if it was completed. Here are some pictures.
The compound is over 200 acres on a hilltop and it’s beautiful to walk around under the huge trees.
There is another sign with English. I like the idea of “Noble Silence”.
Tomorrow, I leave Varkala to head to Trivandrum (where I originally landed in Kerala) for one night and then make my way back home. I’ll be staying at a gorgeous hotel that we visited way to briefly on the trip – Vivanta by Taj.
I still have more to say about this town (the food, the shopping and my lovely lodging…a bunch more. But I will save that for another day. Varkala really a special place.