VARKALA AND MAJULI ISLAND - 2 ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SHADES OF INDIA

Hi friends! India has so many stunningly beautiful and enchanting places that you are never short of inspiration and excitement to visit them or write about them. Let us today, know about three entirely different but equally magnificent travel destinations of India. These three places are located in three separate regions of the country with a strong cultural difference. And this is what makes the diversity of India so unique. The places I am talking about are Varkala, a coastal city in Kerala in Southern India, Orchha, a very beautiful and historical city in central India and Majuli Island in northeast India.

1. VARKALA - Located in the southernmost Indian state of Kerala, it is a coastal city in Thiruvananthapuram district. The unique feature of this city is the cliffs found adjacent to the Arabian sea, the only place in Kerala to have this feature. In fact, Varkala cliff has been declared a Geo heritage site by Geological Society of India. The city is known for its beach, the very beautiful Varkala beach and the 2000 years old Janardanaswami Temple apart from other things and places. This temple is an important Vaishvaite shrine of India. Varkala also has a mineral water spring, which is known to cure many diseases.

PLACES TO SEE IN VARKALA
1. Varkala Beach - One of the most popular places in Varkala, it is considered a paradise for sunbathers and swimmers. The cliffs at the beach house many resorts, restaurants, and spas. It also has a long stretch of small shops which go up to 1 km. The evening view and the sunset are truly mesmerizing at Varkala beach. It is also known as Papanasham beach. Pap is sin and nasham is washing away. People believe that Varkala beach has holy water and they can wash or destroy their sins. Varkala beach offers stunning landscapes. It is an ideal location for peaceful and leisure time. It is also known for Ayurvedic treatment.



Varkala Beach, Kerala
VIEW OF VARKALA BEACH
Source-google images

Cliffs at Varkala Beach
VIEW OF CLIFFS AT VARKALA BEACH
Source - google images
2. Janardhana Swami Temple - It is also known as Kashi(Benaras) of the south or Dakshin Kashi. It is located close to Varkala beach and is 2000 years old. It is Lord Vishnu temple. Its attraction is not only it's history but it's architecture also. There are broad stairs to enter the temple and you can see the arched tiled roof on the way. Idols of different Gods and Goddesses, painted in bright colors are there at the entrance of sanctorum.
 The captain of a ship, which sank near Varkala was so overwhelmed by the fact that there was no casualty even though the ship sank, that he donated a bell from the shipwreck to Janardanaswami temple. This ancient bell still hangs at the entrance of the temple.


Janardhana Swami Temple at Varkala, Kerala
JANARDHANA SWAMI TEMPLE
Source - google images

Timings to visit Janardhana Swami Temple - 4 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 8 pm


3. Anjengo Fort - Located 12 km(7.5 mi) away from Varkala, in picturesque natural surroundings, this fort has a great historical value. It is believed that this fort was built in the 16th or 17th century.  This is supposed to be the place given to the Britishers for their first trade agreement in Kerala. Currently, it is protected as a national heritage monument. It is an architectural marvel and will certainly interest those of you, who don't mind walking around to explore places of historical value. Though this fort was attacked many times by foreign powers, it still retains its architectural beauty. The backwater stretch on one side of the fort and the coconut groves dotting its vicinity, add to the charm of the fort. Anjengo fort is an ideal spot for a relaxed picnic.




Anjengo fort at Varkala, Kerala
ANJENGO FORT
Source-google images


Beautiful view of Anjengo fort, Varkala, Kerala
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF ANJENGO FORT
Source-google images

4. Kappil Lake - This is an estuary located at 6 km(3.75 mi) from Varkala. It flows serenely and merges with Arabian sea. A bridge built on Kappil lake is an ideal spot to see backwaters and a stunning view of the lake meandering through into the blue horizon. The surroundings are dotted with coconut groves and trees. You can enjoy boating in the lake. And if you are a shutterbug, this is heaven for you.




Kappil lake, Varkala
KAPPIL LAKE
Source-google images


Another view of Kappil lake, Kerala
ANOTHER VIEW OF KAPPIL LAKE
Source-google images

5. Paravur - Located 13 km (8.1 mi) from Varkala this is also called the land of backwaters and estuaries. This naturally beautiful place has all, see, rivers and lakes. Situated in Kollam district, this is a must see a place for nature lovers because of it's green landscapes. A houseboat ride in backwaters at Paravur is absolutely thrilling. The largest natural backwater lakes in southeast Asia are located in Paravur. You can enjoy swimming and surfing here and with prior permission from authorities, you can indulge in fishing too.



Paravur, Kerala
PARAVUR
Source-google images


REACHING VARKALA 


Air - Nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram airport located 51 km(32 mi) away. It is well connected to all the major Indian cities with regular flights. From here, you can get prepaid taxis to reach Varkala.


Rail - Varkala is located on the Thiruvananthapuram - Ernakulam line. It has its own railway station but since it is a small station, all trains do not stop here. Again, Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest major railway station and is well connected to all other major cities. You can hire taxis from here to reach Varkala.


Road - Varkala is well connected by road and you can get state road transport buses from Thiruvananthapuram to reach Varkala. However, this journey may prove to be tiresome.


WHERE TO STAY - There are hotels in Varkala which suit all budgets. You can get a budget hotel as well as a luxury hotel.


2. MAJULI ISLAND - Another great wonder of nature, Majuli Island is the largest river island. It is located in river Brahmaputra in the northeastern state of Assam. It is also called Majoli Island and had an area of 880 sq. km(340 sq. mi) earlier but due to erosion, it's area has shrunk to 352 sq km(136 sq. mi). It is the first island in India to become a district.




Majuli island, Assam
MAJULI ISLAND
Source-google images

Its chief attraction lies in its crystal clear waters and breathtaking landscapes. It is called the cultural capital of Assam as all the Assamese traditions and festivals are celebrated prominently here with great pomp and show. Different forms of local dances are performed during these celebrations. The main population here is tribal and their colorful culture is something to watch.





Majuli island, Assam picture
BLUE WATER AT MAJULI ISLAND
Source-google images
Majuli island is a center for Vaishnavite studies and there are many Satras(or Monasteries) of Vaishnav religious sect here. Sankardeva, considered to be the father of Assamese culture, found these Satras and presently there are 22 of these in Majuli island. These Satras preserve various antiques like jewelry, utensils, and weapons. They also house treasure contributed by Sankardeva like Matiakhara, Sutradhar, Borgeet, Satria Krishna dance, etc.

 Dakhinpat Satra in Majuli island is the most popular Satra. This place is so serene that it attracts devotees from all over the world. Established in 1584 by Vamshigopal, apart from being a religious institution, it also plays a historical role. Besides that, the architectural beauty of Dakhinpat Satra is also a treat in itself. You can see many animal forms, religious motifs and flower forms engraved at the entrance. The inner walls are adorned with beautiful paintings and sculptures.




Dakshinpat Satra, Majuli island
DAKSHINPAT SATRA
Source-google images

The monks, called Bhaktas stay here and devote all their life in the service of the Lord. The festival of Rasotsava is celebrated prominently and with full fervor in Dakhinpat Satra. This is one of the most important festivals in the culture of Assam.




Dakshinpat satra, Majuli island picture
INSIDE VIEW OF DAKSHINPAT SATRA
Source-google images

For five days, starting the second Wednesday of February every year, all locals are involved in the celebration of Ali aye Ligang festival, which is a treat of colors, dances and local dishes. Traditional dances like Gumrag Somah are performed in all the villages of Majuli island and local dishes made of rice, chicken, pork, and fish are served. For five days, villagers worship the almighty Donyl Polo (mother sun and father moon).



Festival of Majuli Island
TRADITIONAL DANCE AT ALI AYE LIGANG
Source-google images


Dance in Majuli Island, Assam
ANOTHER DANCE FORM DURING ALI AYE LIGANG
Source-google images

Majuli island is a paradise for bird watchers too. The southern end of the island is the spot for bird watching. Particularly between the period of November and March, the view is absolutely fabulous. Sakuli beel and Vereki beel are two other stunning bird watching points.


You must visit Majuli island for the following reasons:



  • The colorful culture of tribal people
  • Visit Vaishnavite Satras
  • The natural beauty of the place
  • Migratory birds watching
  • The traditional festivals 
  • To see pottery making and mask making
  • To enjoy ferry rides
  • The best part is that since Majuli is surrounded by water bodies from all sides, you have to use boats and ferries to go from one place to another.


REACHING MAJULI - Reaching Majuli island is an adventure in itself as this is one of the few places which heavily depend on waterways.

Air - There is no airport at Majuli. The nearest airport is Jorhat, which is 20 km(12.5 mi) away but has limited flights from Kolkata and Shillong. The nearest major airport is Guwahati, which is about 347 km(216 mi) away and is well connected with all the other major cities. From Guwahati, you again have to reach Jorhat. You can hire a taxi or get on a state-run bus to reach Jorhat.

Rail - Majuli again has no direct rail connection. Jorhat is the nearest station apart from Guwahati.

Road - There is no direct road connection to Majuli Island.

Ferries - Once you reach Jorhat, get on a bus or a taxi. From here there is a 14 km(9 mi) ride to Neemati Ghat. From here, there are two ferry services daily to Majuli island. One starts at 10 am and the other at 3 pm. This lasts for around one hour and then again a 10 minutes bus ride takes you to Major Sapori, another island en route to Majuli. After this, there is another short ferry and bus ride that will take you to Kalamkari, the main town of Majuli island. 
If you want, you can hire a taxi from Jorhat. Taxis are allowed to cross the river on ferries.

WHERE TO STAY - There are a number of budget and luxury hotels in Majuli. Accommodation is not a major problem in Majuli.

WHEN TO VISIT - Although November to March is the recommended period of visiting Majuli island but it can be visited all year round as it's natural beauty remains intact all the time.


SO HAPPY TRAVELING!!













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