Varkala is a coastal city and municipality in Thiruvananthapuram district situated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is the suburban city of Trivandrum .It is located 40 kilometres north-west of Thiruvananthapuram and 37 km south-west of Kollam.Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South).The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.
Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala state.
Varkala Beach or Papanasam beach is a haven for sun-bathing and swimming. It is one of the most popular tourism destination in Kerala. The evening views of the sunset are worth lingering over. The cliff and the beach houses a lot of resorts, restaurants and other shops. The cliff has a long stretch of small shops which goes on for over a kilometer. The black part of the sand on the Varkala Beach contains Thorium-oxide which is a radioactive substance. Thorium and Thorium-oxide and its isotopes are found all over Kerala and can be identified by its black colour.