We awoke pretty lethargic after our crazy temple experience yesterday so needed a hearty breakfast. We found an Indian Coffee House right next door which is series of cafes all throughout India which have been set up as worker co-operatives. The prices are ridiculously cheap and the food is great. We actually went for our first Western breakfast of poached eggs and man it was good!
We had a bit of a long bus journey ahead which actually turned into 3 buses and about 4 hours worth of travel time but to tell you the truth we are loving the buses. It’s a great way to see life in India and with the open air windows and slow pace you really feel captivated by the streets lined with stalls, temples, churches and houses. It almost becomes a challenge to see everything as there are usually interesting sights every which way. I have been really surprised by the amount of churches around but I can imagine there would have been thousands of missionaries out here when the British ruled.
We arrived in Varkala mid afternoon and found our guest house pretty easily. We were surprised when a French-Canadian girl greeted us as the host and were soon settled in to our very basic room which included a bed that was a king single. But you get what you pay for and we hadn’t paid much.
Varkala is a tiny town perched on top of a 15m cliff face overlooking a crescent shaped beach. It’s also a holy town with locals coming to the waters of Varkala to make offerings into the sea for passed loved ones. On the other side of the spectrum it’s also a popular backpacker hang out.
I must admit we were a little apprehensive with visions of pretentious hippies lazing about but we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. Apparently discovered by 6 French backpackers in 1972 it has grown into a lovely laid back village with an anything goes vibe. It was still relatively cheap and the cliff top scenery was amazing. The small stretch on top of the cliff is filled with restaurants and stalls selling all kinds of wonderful things. Yes you constantly get the hawkers trying to get you into their shop but their tactic has evolved into friendly banter and humor rather than pestering and they tend to accept your no thank you reply.
We spent the rest of that day and the next generally being lazy and enjoyed swims at the beach and amazing food and drinks along the cliff edge. Which included a pretty amazing sunset. I also attended morning yoga classes held at an ashram just around the corner. Very different to my usual yoga but a great experience which involved some pretty extreme breathing techniques and a little chanting. On the second day I was also treated to being instructed by a lady who had to be in her 90’s but was as fit as a fiddle. Even to the point of demonstrating to me the process of doing a head stand.
On one of our walks along the beach we came across Hindu priests who had set up shop under umbrellas along the beach. We found out that for a fee these priests bless the offerings that are made for passed loved ones. On inspection I think they also blessed people as men were kneeling and getting their hands washed by the priests.
In our busy schedule we also managed to fit in another Ayurvedic treatment. This one was a little different to the last and maybe not as upmarket. Needless to say we both had interesting experiences which involved not that much clothing or none at all in my case, lots of oil, a facial and a pretty amazing massage which seemed to go on it ever. I also had the added experience of being beaten with a heated pouch full of herbs.
We had booked 2 nights at the guest house run by Katie the French-Canadian lady and her partner Babu but we liked Varkala so much we decided to extend our stay. Although we were thoroughly enjoying Katie and Babu’s hospitality and as it is off season here we found a lovely little cottage closer to the cliff edge that had a fan that didn’t sound as if it was going to fall off, a toilet door that actually shut and a bed that comfortably fit both of us for a very reasonable price. Looking forward to a few more relaxing days here. S
The beach and above the cliff top shops, restaurants and accomodation.
View from the top. As you can see it’s pretty spectacular.