Varkala: The Beach and the Cliff

With its long coastline, Kerala is certainly not short of its beautiful beaches, and the names which everyone knows and is full of visitors at all times might be Kovalam and Cherai. Muzhappilangad is our lovely drive-in beach to remember. On that long list, there is one place which stands tall. Varkala Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches, one which is not to be forgotten. It is the only beach in Kerala with cliffs like these so close to the sea. It is the kind of place which reminds one of Dover Beach, and that wonderful lyric poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold, which we have studied more than once – “the cliffs of England stand, glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay”. About 170 km from Cochin, and 35 km from Kollam, the beach is Thiruvananthapuram district, with its capital 45 km from there. The town of Paravur is only 12 km from the place.

Along with its beauty, Varkala also have some places of spirituality with its temples. There are some fine options for food while walking through the cliff. There are some nice shots to be taken both from the beach and the cliff. In comparison with other beaches, this one has its shops opening late in the morning and closing late in the evening. When coming from the North of Kerala, both the Kottayam and the Alappuzha routes can be chosen. There is much to be seen through the latter route, even though both routes can be joined at different places except for certain parts of the low lying areas filled with water. There are some fine choices with food and accommodation, and if it is off-season, the better idea is to book directly from location as rooms should be available, unless some huge event comes up.

You look down from the cliff, and you want to be there right now.

Reached the hotel a little late for lunch, and had to rush through.

As the sunset approaches, you are always hoping to stay on.

Just another side of Varkala Beach which is not that explored.

Spent some time looking at Varkala beach and cliff at night.

The colours of the sunset spreads, and leaves us with a happy feeling.

Not exactly the while cliffs of Dover, but Matthew Arnold won’t mind.

Had some variety food from God’s Own Country Kitchen on the cliffs.

It is happy walking through the Varkala Beach and surroundings at night.

Thiruvambadi Beach Retreat Resort provided some good space.

Also read on the Indonesian Bali journey.

TeNy

A Blessed Birthday

Today is November 1st, the day after the Halloween night. I usually try to come up with a Halloween night post, but as horror always exists in my life a lot better than anything else, I thought that I should come up with the Kerala Piravi post instead. Today is the birthday of the state of Kerala or the Kerala Piravi Dinam. It is believed that Parashurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu created Kerala as he threw his axe into the sea, and water gave way to bring the land which is now this state, A part of his creation also forms a very small part of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Most of the Keralites do know all these, but I will share this for the first time on my blog. A reminder will only help to keep the memory filled.

Parasurama, who is credited with bringing Kerala out of the sea :)

Lord Parashurama, who is credited with bringing the land of Kerala out of the sea

I have read a good amount history, but all that I have studied has not got much about Kerala; still, I will bring something here. Kerala history also forms only a smaller part of our history books except for the times of the Renaissance, if I remember correctly from my school days. Three big kingdoms of Kerala on May 27th 1498 when Vasco Da Gama landed at Kappad included Travancore in the South with its capital at Padmanabhapuram which later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin at the centre with its capital at Kochi and the Kingdom of Calicut based on Kozhikode.

Once the most powerful among the Malayalam speaking kingdoms in the South, Calicut made good progress into Valluvanad and through Cochin, forcing the ruler to shift the capital to Thiruvanchikkulam and then to Kochi itself. Calicut was controlling most part of Cochin soon and later they were making tributaries out of the smaller kingdoms. After coming under Vijayanagara Empire, the ruler of Calicut under the title of Zamorin or Samoothiri could rise again only to face the Portuguese threat, changing the alliances and friends teaming up with the Dutch against the men from Portugal and their earlier nemesis Cochin.

The Mysorean invasion of Kerala led by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan began the end for Calicut with the ruler setting himself on fire as he faced certain defeat. Calicut would never really recover, and the kingdom would be part of Madras Presidency under British after the fall of Tipu. Once extending between Ponnani and Kochi, Cochin was restricted to a smaller state forcing it into alliance with Portuguese. The destruction of the city by the Zamorin of Calicut and Mysorean invasion would affect the kingdom, but would still rise to its best situation under Sakthan Thampuran, the most renowned king of the state.

Cochin also had its alliance with its former rival and the bigger Kingdom of Travancore in the South against Calicut. Covering most of central and southern Kerala along with the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, the rise of Travancore meant unity. The Battle of Colachel in 1741 had Travancore defeating the Dutch, becoming the first kingdom to win a battle against a European power. Led by the Flemish commander, Eustachius De Lannoy who surrendered in the battle, Travancore went on further North to conquer more. With the successful defence against a stronger army of Tipu in the Battle of the Nedumkotta and providing asylum to those who escaped the Mysorean onslaught, Travancore would rise to become the second most prosperous state in India with its kings of the people and a high level of religious tolerance.

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

The Dutch forces surrender to Marthanda Varma, King of Travancore

Travancore and Cochin would later join forces again to come up with the Travancore Rebellion against the British East India Company. The later history of Kerala goes back to three provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore; as the first one was under the Madras Presidency directly controlled by the Empire, the second and the third being kingdoms allied to the British. After independence, the first state to be formed was that of Travancore-Cochin, which was created on 1st of July 1949 by combining two kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin. Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai, the Prime Minister of Travancore, then became the Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin with the ruler of Travancore as the governor.

This arrangment existed for a few years until the situation had to change with Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress launching a campaign for joining Tamil-speaking regions of Travancore-Cochin with Madras State. Later, according to the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the current state of Kerala was formed as the Travancore-Cochin state combined with the Malabar district of Madras State and the Kasaragod taluk of South Canara district while Kanyakumari district was added to the Madras state. This is the fifty nineth birthday of the state which is known as the God’s Own Country, as that day of its current existence began on November 1st, 1956.

Happy birthday, Kerala 😀 There will always be only one true home and there is no other place like home 🙂

***The images used in this blog post are from the Wikipedia pages of Kerala and the Battle of Colachel.

TeNy

Airtel 4G at Trivandrum

Lets back to #Airtel4G again. No, I am not done with it, not yet! The immortality of the Vampire Bat has been brought to test many times, but he has survived, and so he is here to live another day, and that too with Airtel 4G at Trivandrum. He was there when it had launched at Cochin, attending the special blogger preview, and he was also invited to Trivandrum for the launch there as the Vampire Bat became a temporary Trivandrum blogger for a very short period of time.

Actually, my last few posts were written and posted from Trivandrum itself, and I managed to meet a few bloggers out there too during the launch and preview. I have been wandering around Trivandrum since morning that day, and the trip to a place which I had never really visited that much was going to be a lot more interesting with the 4G. I was caught in the web of 3G just before that, and so getting to 4G like in Cochin was something which would speed up a lot of things, not just the data.

Artists pay homage to the deeply saddening incident at Shankumugham Beach

Here at this beach, the artists pay homage to the deeply saddening incident

I have been using Airtel 4G since August twenty fifth, and it seems that I will be testing the same for more time, and I am also hoping to keep it recharged with the 2G and 3G until the 4G comes to my town. Back to Trivandrum, it surely seemed faster here as the speed suggested. But there was something lacking in the continuity as it didn’t remain as consistent as it was at Cochin. The highest speed was seen in the speed test at Pattom, and even with those seconds of loss of connection, things remained real quick.

There was the trip to Kovalam which was pending for a long time, and it was done with a double-decker bus which was faster around here than at Cochin. From Karamana to Kizhakkekkota (East Fort) and to Kovalam, the 4G maintained its power, and I would expect the same at Vizhinjam too – but wandering through the three beaches, there was some nice 4G experience which ensured that it was easy to post higher quality pictures taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5 – even the photos taken on lesser quality Asus Zenfone 5 camera used to take more time to upload on usual 3G.

Shankumugham Beach has its own Jalakanyaka a.k.a the mermaid

Shankumugham Beach has its own Jalakanyaka a.k.a the mermaid

The most interesting area of Kovalam was indeed the Lighthouse Beach which has the lighthouse as the name suggests. It feels good to have some Cardamom Tea on the beach here along with high speed browsing with #Airtel4G. The internet had returned to consistency at that time unlike the previous day. The rocks at the Hawah Beach area also formed nice place to look at and rest while working with some 4G. Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach still remains my favourite beach in the Southern part of Kerala.

There were plans to visit a few other places including the Kowdiar Palace, Napier Museum, Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Palayam Saint Joseph’s Metropolitan Church and even Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, but none of them really happened, and I adjusted with the Saint Mary’s Cathedral at Pattom which was closed, but provided a nice look from outside along with a white coloured church on the other side seemingly belonging to another Christian denomination; there was also the visit to Madre De Deus Church at Vettucad earlier.

And then there was the Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam.

And then there was the Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam, the best of the three there.

Airtel 4G surely has the advantage of launching first here along with being at Cochin and Calicut; it remains the biggest advantage of the network provider. I have also never heard about any mobile phone network provider giving a chance to the bloggers to experience the same when launching at this part of India, not at Cochin, Trivandrum or Kerala as a whole. May be I am not in touch with enough Keralite bloggers to know about such happenings, but as of now, it seems that along with that advertisement with a challenge, Airtel has gone ahead. Rakul Preet Singh of the earlier Airtel advertisements will be missed though 😀

Saint Mary's Cathedral at Pattom is an interesting structure at the centre of the city.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral at Pattom is an interesting structure at the centre of the city.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung Galaxy A5 during my visit to Trivandrum this week.

TeNy