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VARKALA
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Varkala : Varkala is a seaside tourist resort and spa. A small town 55km north of Thiruvananthapuram, it is also an important religious place for the Hindus.
According to a myth, sage Narada was approached by a group of mendicants who confessed to having sinned. Narada threw his valkkalam (the bark of tree which the mythical sages used to wear) into the air, and the place where it landed was subsequently named Varkala. The mendicants were directed by Narada to offer their prayers in the newly created place by the seashore. The place where they prayed for redemption came to be known as the Papanasham Beach ('Papanasham' means redemption from sins).
Attractions : Beach, mineral watersprings, the Sivagiri Mutt and a 2000 year old Vishnu temple Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu temple and the ashramam- 'Sivagiri Mutt' a little distance from the beach. At the serene Varkala beach is a quiet sea resort rich in mineral water springs.A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins. Hence the name 'Papanasam beach'.
A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple, stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach,a short distance away. The Sivagiri Mutt, founded by the great Hindu reformer and Philosopher Sree Narayana Guru (1856 - 1928) is also close by. The Samadhi (the final resting place) of the Guru here attracts thousands of devotees every year during the Sivagiri Pilgrimage days - 30th December to 1st January. Sree Narayana Guru propagated the ideology:"one caste, one religion and one god",in a society torn by the taboos of caste system.Varkala offers excellent accommodation facilities for the tourist and is fast becoming a popular health resort with many Ayurvedic massage centres.

Really spectacular is the unique, scenic red cliff on the seashore with magnificent views, while sea eagles and dolphins are passing by. It is also a great starting point for trips to the famous backwaters, the colonial town of Cochin or the wild life sanctuaries, nicely situated in the green Nilgiri Hills.