Day 8: Varkala

All good things are wild and free is a famous quote attributed to Henry David Thoreau. The quote is from his lecture titled Walking which he delivered first at Concord Lyceum on April 23, 1851.

What better place to walk than the Varkala cliff on the western coast and watch the sunset. That is the highlight of the day. I started from Alleppey to Varkala. It was a bit of a challenge to find a stay for the night as New year was closing by and it was the weekend already. Due to the unrest caused by CAA protests, I was told that the tourist inflow has come down a lot this season. Finally after checking multiple places we were able to find a cheaper accommodation. Again thanks to my friend and his bargaining skills, we got down the price a bit.

We checked in to the homestay and went out looking for lunch. We found a restaurant/cafe serving fish curry meals but at a very costly price. The crowd eating there also had a mix of foreigners and Indians. It looked like a very cheap makeshift place, probably assembled in the last few days and will again be disassembled in a few days.

But that is something to be expected in Varkala at least close to the new year. The place is costly for the same quantity and quality of food one would get anywhere else.

I started walking from the Helipad till Kappil beach along the shore. The walk was around 5 kilometers. I started after lunch and ended around midnight. It won’t take so much time, except if you walk leisurely like me. The initial crowd around the helipad is touristy with foreigners, cafes and tattoo studios. The stretch is filled with shops trying to sell from shawls to fridge magnets.

The Varkala cliff

Slowly as I passed the crowded touristy stretch. I was able to notice coconut groves on one side and the other side was the cliff at some places and beaches at others. Each small beach had its own name. So we had crossed Odayam beach, Edava beach to reach Kappil beach. One would call it a beach hopping session too.

Even after crossing the initial stretch of shops and tourists, the shoreline is dotted with resorts and restaurants. There were some well decorated, well lit resorts and restaurants which looked so romantic. I slowly crossed them hoping to come back when I wore the luxury traveller hat.

Since it was afternoon and the sun was at its peak, I felt thirsty so soon. Since I had crossed the touristy place, it was difficult finding a shop to drink something. So I had to stop at a good looking resort to have a lemon juice for some hundred bucks. But since the drink was costly and I was also a bit tired, I sat in the open restaurant close to the beach and chilled for sometime before I started my walk again.

The whole walk was on a nice walkway, built and well maintained. They even had automatic solar lights across this stretch which switched on when the sun is down and it detected movement around the pole.

The beach at places had cliffs protruding into the sea. There was even a cliff which had large holes into them. I walked along the walkway to reach Kappil beach. The walkway is dotted with palm groves and people playing cricket and going about their normal day to day things.

The Sun was hot and I was tired again. I should have carried a water bottle with me. I had to buy a water bottle. This was the first and the last water bottle I bought in the whole trip. It was a tough decision to buy a bottle of water, but I had given in to the thirst.

I decided to wait and watch the sunset at Kappil beach. I waited to watch the majestic sunset. It was one of a magical experience.

The magic hour

I watched a fisherman spreading his net in the nearby cliff. It looked like a very dangerous thing to do. Each wave pushed him back a little and it was not soft sand where he would be hit if he was not careful. He spread the fishing net along the cliff and in some places tied stones to the net to keep it under water. In some time, he was done with his job and came out of water as if it was a very normal thing to do. Now he has to wait for his catch.

I slowly started walking back the way I had come. The path was getting darker. By now all the people in the resorts had come out to the beach and restaurants to have their beers. I too stopped at a restaurant to have dinner. I made sure that the restaurant takes online payment before settling down on the table setup on the beach lit by a candle.

The food was not great, but not bad either. Once done with the dinner, I tried paying with Google pay just to find that the payment was not successful. Then after multiple failures, I had to install the phonepe app to pay the money. The people there had stopped trusting me and had to confirm that the money got credited into their account before letting me go. And then I walked back into my room for a good night’s sleep.

The day in Varkala was spent in beach hopping and watching the sunset in a nice small stretch of beach with no one around.

This post is part of a series of posts. Do check the whole series here.

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