Monday, November 18, 2013

Varkala wanderings

Sunday was my day off from classes, so I decided to take a break from teaching Management students at a B-school located between Trivandrum and Varkala, near the little town of Pallipuram. Well guarded by the CRPF (Central Reserved Police Force) camp nearby, this Institute may even be the most well protected in India. A lovely, modern campus, set among rolling hills and miles of coconut trees stretching towards the west. 

The highway is about a kilometer way. Local state transport buses fly between towns along the narrow road. Pallipuram to Attingal (Rs 10). Attingal to Varkala (Rs 13). Total distance 30 km. Time taken about one hour, including waiting. 

Hopping off the bus in Varkala town, it seemed a good idea to get refreshed. Red banana (Rs 8) and Tender coconut (Rs 20). 

Now off to find the beach. The walk along quiet streets was over two kilometers, with the help of Google Maps.

The final approach road would down towards the beach, where a prominent advertisement welcomes visitors to the South Varkala area. God's Own Vilas. In God's Own Country. Kerala has been quite successful on the tourism front, at least by Indian standards, where most of the country seems not to do enough. A quick comparison with Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and even Cambodia will reveal the trends. 

Most of the beach has been fortified with granite blocks. Convenient for keeping your footwear safe from the waves. And convenient for throwing rubbish, as well.

The cliffs of Varkala appear to be suffering from the effects of deforestation. A stroll towards the north seemed to be an interesting activity.

At one point, the granite blocks got too uncomfortable to walk on, with all the sharp edges. A flight of steps magically showed up, leading way up to the top  of the cliff.

The first impression was that of the usual tourist things, but well maintained and pleasant. A few Doctors have set up shop, as well. I would certainly love to understand their business model, and include that as a case study in the Healthcare Management course that I am teaching!

Soon, it was time for lunch at a cool, comfortable restaurant. How do you choose? No idea. There are so many of them. Many display their menus outside. Some have staff sitting along the walkway who try their best to wave you in.

Turned out to be a good choice. The staff was an all-Nepali crew. Food was excellent. My choice was Tuna fish steak without rice and chips, with additional veggies and salad, just what the doctor ordered.

Post lunch was walk time again. Hundreds of stores, guest houses and resorts. This guest house seems to be recommended by the 'Old' Lonely Planet!

Restaurants wait for patrons.

Some looked particularly comfortable and inviting.

Several resorts all along the path, very well manicured and maintained.

Here's one with a pool.

And many without pools.

Looking back, I got a pleasant view of Varkala towards the south.

A budget guest house has been well sponsored by Airtel and Vodafone, with matching colours, too. The Napali lads handed me the business card.

A look further north showed miles of sea and coconut trees. Not much beach, though.

Finally, I reached 'Black Beach'. The sand is rather dark in colour.

Time to turn off and head back to Varkala.

The tarred road running parallel to the beach is lined with gates that lead into the resorts.

This resort seemed very modern, indeed.

I'm not sure what a 'boutique tribal resort' means, but that's what the board said.

Varkala was a little distance away, in the 'hot sun', as they say in these parts.

Good idea to stop for another banana. I chose a red one, which is not found in Bangalore. The store gentleman smiled. "Only one?", he asked. Some long stayers were buying food by the bag.

Varkala, here I come. Up and down winding roads. This part was an easy downhill walk.

An interesting sight along the way, the tank of a large temple.

Finally I made it to Varkala, found the bus stop and headed back to the campus. Local bus to Attingal (Rs 13). Air-conditioned bus to Pallipuram (Rs 26), that was a luxury ride.

You may be interested in this post: please click here for a glimpse of the FOOD and MENUS in Varkala.

The day trip was an appetizer, enough to make a few mental notes and plan a longer visit sometime. 

Thank you for joining me. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kerala - Food, Menus - Varkala

Here is a glimpse of the food and menus in the Varkala area (November 2013).

Some of the pictures are not clear, apologies for that.

There appears to be very little, if at all, Kerala cuisine in the restaurants up on the cliff. Mostly continental, Chinese and Tibetan. Cooked predominantly by Nepali boys. Several signs indicating vegetarian and organic food.

Tuna grill, without butter, very little oil, without rice and chips (my request), with additional salad and veggies (in lieu of rice and chips). 

The bakes counter. Look don't touch (for me!).

View of the path, cliff and beach from the restaurant.