Having heard a lot about “Gods own country” right from my childhood, Kerala always had a special place in my imagination. So for my first trip to Kerala we chose the Varkala, a quiet and serene place, around 55 kms north to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala.
We made our plans around 2 weeks, so we could not find train reservations from Bengaluru to Varkala, so we had to rely on redbus to provide us with a bus. Redbus gave us buses provided by KPN. The bus was scheduled to come to the Bomannahalli boarding point at around 4:45 but came at around 5:30 PM on Saturday. This is probably due to the high amount of traffic that is generally there on the Bengaluru roads. The entire journey to Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram took around 15 hours. I thought that the journey would take place on the Hosur, Salem, Coimbatore road and then would enter Kerala. But the journey, both upwards and the return was on the Hosur full south through Nagercoil to Trivandrum. The roads through Tamil Nadu are good except the part after Nagercoil on the borders between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
After reaching the place we tried to see if we can book an Ola or an Uber for Varkala from Trivandrum. But Alas! even though there were a lot of cabs, outstation traveling to Varkala was not possible. So me, my wife and my inlaws, had to take two autos and travel to a nearby taxi stand. The auto driver was very polite and helpful and he was present till we had negotiated with a taxi owner and had decided on employing his services. One thing I noted was that he did not show any impatience. He even helped us and talked to other locals in the area.
So once the cab was ready we started on our journey of around 55 kms. The road is fairly good and passes through some other small towns. One of the things that I noticed was the architecture of the houses. Interestingly many building had a small width facing the road but was spread over a long area over the inside.
We had booked the Black Beach Resort which we had been able to book at a very cheap rates off-season timings. Once we reached the resort we were given two cozy rooms. Another thing that I liked was although I had booked online at a highly discounted rates, still the hotel staff was highly polite and courteous and took care of all our needs. This was in stark contrast to our experiences in Pondicherry.
We freshened up a bit and then started for lunch in a restaurant named Milky Way which was adjacent to the resort and was a part of the resort. We had grilled fish and fried rice. The cook was good and he made good fish. After our lunch we went out for a walk. Through the back of the resort ran a small path that had an awesome view of the sea. The cliff fell over a steep ridge and met the sea. This was a different experience altogether. We walked over to the beach. Swimming was prohibited due to high tide. Locals had warned us that there is always high tide in this time of the year and the sea subsides by the start of August. We had some coffee and then returned back.
At night we talked to the hotel manager and he helped us to book a cab for some sight seeing. The cab driver brought a white Swift Dezire with white number plate. Probably his other cabs were already booked and so he brought his personal car. We went to another nearby beach, then the Sivagiri Mutt and the Janardhanswami Temple. The architecture in both these two places symbolism the two places. On one hand we have the serene and simple architecture of the mutt emphasizing simplicity while the temple had a more traditional architecture.
Once back we had our dinner in the Italiano Cafe. My parents in law had a more traditional foods while me and my wife tried some sea food. I didn't like the prawn spaghetti that we had ordered. This may not necessarily mean that the food was not tasty, but just be a reflection of the fact that I generally do not like such foods like pasta. But yes, the taste in all the foods was the same so I did not leave with a high impression of the place.
The next morning we thought of going for some rides. So we called a local vendor who manages and asked him about the prices. A two hour boat price would cost 1200 INR per person, a one and a half hour ride would cost 750 while a one hour ride would cost 500 INR per person. As we were short on time and we had to be back by 12 and leave for Trivandrum by 1 PM we thought of taking the one hour ride. But it started raining and so we had to cancel our plans.
So my wife thought that she now has the time to get some massage done for which Varkala is famous for, so after breakfast at Milky Way we went in search of a nearby massage parlour. Massages in Varkala is quite cheap and cost around 500 per person. The weather in the morning was ethereal with light rain falling and the music of the sea waves. I passed some time in the resort and completed reading the Meluha book — not proud of it although its good for a quick light read.;)
Later we had our lunch and then we started on our return journey. Recounting my stay in Varkala I was quite touch with the calm nature of the whole place. This may be because it was off season and not very crowded. Varkala leaves me with a sense of calmness and peace. May be one day when I will have a book to finish writing I will come back and spend a month or two here.
Expenses of the trip are given below. All values are in Indian Rupees.
- Ride from Trivandrum to Varkala. 1900.
- Stay in 2 rooms. Black Beach resort. Booked over MakeMyTrip. Around 3394 INR.
- Milky way . Fish grill and prawn fried rice. 1100
- Ride around town. 1300.
- Cafe Italiano 1144
- Food morning in Milky Way 770
- Lunch milky way 930
- Spa for two 1000
- Ride from Varkala to Trivandrum 1600