Kerala Varkala's Papanasham beach among world’s 100 best beachestext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: The picturesque coastal getaway of Papanasham Beach in Thiruvananthapuram has been named one of the world's top 100 beaches by the prestigious Lonely Planet, a testament to Kerala's vibrant beach tourist industry.
Papanasham Beach, also known as Varkala Beach, is a popular tourist destination on the Arabian Sea about 40 kilometres from the state capital due to its silvery stretches of sand and the serene ambience. It has been featured in Lonely Planet's "Best Beaches: 100 of the World's Most Incredible Beaches" guidebook.
Fringed by coconut palms, blessed with an unending stretch of blue waters, and endowed with an idyllic serenity, the beach has earned the reputation of a traveller’s paradise and rejuvenation point dotted with spas with therapeutic effect gushing out from the surrounding laterite cliff.
Besides being a tourist hotspot, Papanasham beach is also a revered pilgrim site. The belief is that a ritualistic dip in the waters here washes away all the sins (papam) and hence, its name.
The ashes collected from the cremation grounds are immersed in the sea here, in the belief that it will wash away the sins of the deceased and the soul will achieve moksha (eternal salvation).
Another highlight of the beach is that it is the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. This has been recorded as a geological monument by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).
Kerala Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas said featuring in the list of best beaches in the world is a remarkable recognition for Varkala Beach.
"Lonely Planet travel book has a global readership among travel enthusiasts, and the recognition accorded by it will further reinforce the reputation of the beach as an attractive destination," he said, adding that the government will also fast-track the destination development project for Varkala to turn the core site and the adjoining areas into a world-class tourism destination.
The project includes protection of the Varkala Cliff, a distinguishing feature of the panoramic site, exploring possibilities of using buggies and electric autos to gain access to the cliff, enhancing infrastructure and safety measures, and sharply reducing the use of plastic and other polluting materials.
As the first step of taking it to greater heights, a floating bridge and a host of other adventure tourism activities at this beach were recently launched. Spanning 100 metres in length and three meters in width, it provides a spacious viewing platform that can accommodate more than 100 visitors at a time.
Kerala Tourism will be organising the International Surfing Festival at Varkala from March 29 to 31. Surfing athletes from overseas and also India's east and west coastal cities are expected to compete in various categories during the event.
With inputs from IANS