Varkala: Pilgrims to the Left, Tourists to the Right

Varkala in May, like Kovalam, is almost devoid of tourists . Those that are here fall pretty much into two categories. There are the leather-skinned old hands, eking out the last of the sunshine before heading to the mountains when the monsoon hits. Then there are the pale-skinned first-timers, who are wondering where everybody is.

The beach here is set dramatically below a red cliff face. Tourists swim and sunbathe at the northern end, while the southern end is left to the Hindu pilgrims. They come here from the Janardhana Swamy Temple with the ashes of their loved ones and float them out to sea.




Later on, I visited the temple. To my untrained eye, it seemed unremarkable. With one exception: a tree shrine with hundreds of little plastic dolls hanging from it. Women prayed in front of it and put coins into the devotional box. It was, I have to say, a tad spooky.


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