“Let peace be to every one.
Let my past actions not harm me.
Let others action not affect me.
Let others not be affected by my actions.
Peace be to everyone.” –Vedic Hindu mantra for peace
We all headed to Varkala for a little beach time. Sharing a taxi between the four of us was the easiest & quickest way for the 50km journey. Arriving mid-day we were quickly able to find accommodation; apparently the area is entering low season so there are lots of places to choose from.
Varkala Beach, Kerala (aka Papanasam beach) is along the Arabian Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. The word Papanasam means ‘wash away sins’ & it’s believed that a dip in the waters of Papanasam Beach washes away all the sins in one’s life. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the warm surf & big pounding waves, so one can only hope!
While the beach is the big drawing card, this is actually considered a temple town with a couple of temples where only Hindus are permitted to enter. Regardless of the time of day you will see families, lead by holy men, partaking in ritualistic ceremonies & making offerings on the beach for deceased loved ones.
The beach is rimmed by beautiful red laradite stone cliffs, rising 190 meters (620ft) up to the beach town area. The only challenge with this is you don’t run up & down the 100+ steep steps, regardless of fitness level, too often during the day. There is a path along the top where we found many gift shops, restaurants, hotels, Ayurvedic massage & yoga studios. Different types of Yoga practice is available everywhere here. Despite this I was lazy/negligent & didn’t join a class until the last day, silly me. Our friend Yossi told us about yoga on the beach in the late afternoon – thank you Yossi! What a way to end our time in Varkala, yoga on the beach at sunset.
Ayurvedic medicine is a big thing in India & is based on balancing the mind, body & soul. Programs can be anywhere from 3 to 21-days involving cleansing, curative & preventative aspects of treatment of the entire body.
We both opted for ‘just’ an Ayurvedic relaxing massage with herbal oil. Mine was full body – head to toe & everything (well almost) in between! I think every joint & muscle in my body was manipulated, painful at times, bit certainly got the kinks out. Bob opts for the head, shoulder, leg & foot massage, no one was getting near his back. This was probably a very good thing based on personal experience.
Varkala is certainly the place to power down & is a stretch to think this is India. It is very laid back & comfortable here, albeit touristy. We enjoy our long walks on the south beach & exploring the back roads that run parallel to it. The sun is unrelenting, so early morning/late afternoon is the time of day to venture out.
Kerala is known for its spices & we were very fortunate on one of our walks, off the beaten path, to find a man grinding fresh spices for garam masala. Actually our noses lead us to a ramshackle shed where bags of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, bayleaf & pepper, etc. waited to be mixed before grinding. We were fortunate enough to purchase some of the freshly ground spices (big bag for 100 rupees less than $2.00) now every time we enter our room our noses are pleasantly greeted by the sweet, spicy smell. Can’t wait to hit the kitchen & cook up something yummy.
We spent our last evening having dinner with Miri & Yossi (finally got the spelling of your names correct 😊). We are heading in different directions but will definitely stay in touch – Om shanti om friends.