Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seems pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.
I am not sure if Edgar Allen Poe ever visited the Varkala Cliff. The words in this poem, The City In The Sea, seem like a perfect tribute to the almost virgin cliff. It’s unfortunate that many, especially from the northern parts of the country, recognise Varkala Beach as Goa’s distant cousin when it comes to a beach lover’s immediate destination. The shore which tries to calm the roaring waves of the Arabian Sea deserves its own distinct identity.
“The ever-expanding inclusive nature resulting from the inevitable ‘global-village’ phenomenon is erasing the dividing lines between cultures of different states,” Lopa Mudra (who also helped click the pictures), an International Baccalaureate teacher and an avid traveller, shared her views after being greeted by Bollywood numbers as we explored the stretch of this cliff in the state of Kerala.
Irish Coffee was available in abundance but coconut water was available in packed and sealed cans. Aerated and not natural. Limited cans. The fish though, especially sea fish, seemed to land on the pavements, just to be cooked fresh. The vendors exhibited their respective stocks with pride as the innumerable restaurants and food dens tempted tourists to try them.
Varkala Beach is a beautiful stretch between the cliffs and the Arabian Sea.
For those looking for local flavour, the array of fish fresh from the sea is a heartening option.
“We usually have foreigners and not just this time of the year, but throughout the year,” informed the owner of Sand Castle. He lamented that last couple of years, because of Covid, hardly an Europeans visited the cliff. He was amused that young couples from neighbouring states were flocking though.
There’s no direct flight to Varkala. I boarded a connecting flight to the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The 41km stretch from this capital city to the helipad at Varkala Cliff is best covered by train. A tourist will be easily spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. There’s provision for every wallet. On an average, the budget hotels will cost Rs 750 to Rs 2,500 per night.
The loud hungry waves lashing against the shores, post-sunset, create a picturesque impression that is difficult to replicate. With the moonlight being the other spectator, nature seems to have designed the Varkala Cliff as a balcony in an auditorium where an opera is being performed. The symphony is created between the sea waves and the rocks. The foam gathering as they create fountains in the sea is like a ballet between the waves.
Varkala Beach is also known as the Papanasham Beach. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is believed to have spent hours on this beach, coding. Londoner In Sydney, a travel guide, has declared this beach to be ideal for yoga teachers and practitioners.
There are shops that sell souvenirs on the same stretch of the cliff. There are mementos and fridge magnets that one may want to gifts friends. The weather is usually pleasant in winters and it’s coastal in nature, obviously.
It was heartening to discover this tourist spot. It’s a personal perspective that somewhere in the congestion of a global village, perhaps a bit of retaining of originality would be ideal. The all-inclusive nature has the potential for cultural identities to merge.
Imagine, in Kerala, it was difficult to find dosas but continental breakfast was available in abundance. Tourist spots like the Varkala Beach need to retain not just their beauty but also remain an ambassador of culture of its origin.
Pictures by the author with the help of Lopa Mudra