Varkala and Kollam, Kerala trip – part 1

When I started out, as always, we didn’t have much clue about the destination. THAT has to change from now on, as I seem to miss out on many places due to my laziness of not checking wikitravel before embarking on a trip. Sometime I intentionally don’t read about the destination so as to have a “pure” experience of the place.

So it was for this trip too. Didn’t do much research, I just knew the destination, packed my bags and started. I had my android phone, of course with google maps and some money – that’s enough to travel, believe me.


That’s the stuff I travel with

Day 0 & 1 – 4 buses and 1 auto rickshaw to reach Varkala from Chennai

I was surprised to see that there was no direct bus from Chennai to any place in Kerala. So, I got a bus from Chennai to Tenkasi, a town in the TamilNadu-Kerala border. I reached Tenkasi by 6:50 AM – to this bus stand.


Tenkasi Bus Stand, 6:30 AM


BUS no. 2 – Tenkasi to Kottarakkara

Once there, got some biscuits and water, asked around for a bus to Kollam (a bigger town compared to Varkala). There were only two buses at the bus stand and neither were going to Kollam. But one of the buses was going to a town called Kottarakara, which is some 30 kms from Kollam. Boarded that bus and enjoyed the ride, it was shaky, bumpy and scenic 🙂


Bus from Tenkasi to Kottarakkara, Kerala


Some of the scenes on the way to Kottarakkara:

en route to kottarakara, kerala from tenkasi


Bus no.3 – Kottarakkara to Kollam (25 kms)

After an one hour drive, reached Kottarakkara and got another bus to Kollam. Reached Kollam 11:45 AM of Day 1.


Bus no.4 – Kollam to Parippally (20 kms)

One could get a bus to Varkala from Kollam (30kms), but I had to wait for another 45 mins to get that bus, so I decided to take one bus till Paripally (how did I know about this info, thanks to google maps)


To bus or not to bus – 5th

Got down at Paripally by 1 PM, HOT HOT SUN. Varkala was 12 kms from my reach. I decided not to wait for a bus and took an auti-rickshaw (tuk tuk). I asked the auto guy “how much it would cost” and he said Rs.2000, I was totally shocked and told him it’s only 12 kms (thanks to google maps :)), then he corrected himself and said “Rs.200”, I went to the next auto guy and asked him how much he would charge, he said “Rs.150”, much better, so hopped in and tukked tukked my way to Varkala.

After 17 hours of travelling I reached Varkala. Honestly, I was tired and wanted to get out of the sun, so didn’t really appreciate the beauty of the place till I checked into the resort – Eden Garden resort. After a quick shower, went for lunch to one of the many beach-view restaurants.


Day 1 Lunch at Varkala


Went back to the resort, which was next to the beach, and took a nap till 5:30 PM. Hurried to the beach to enjoy the sunset.

Varkala, Kerala - sunset

Varkala, Kerala – sunset


To be continued…

[Video]Papanasam beach, Varkala, Kerala

A short video of the famous Papanasam beach in Varkala, Kerala. Shot from the cliff, at least 100 meter, above the beach.

Be patient, while the video loads!


This is where I shot the video from (If you see carefully, you will find two people walking on the rocks):

papanasam beach varkala kerala

Papanasam beach, Varkala , Kerala


Read about Varkala, Kerala

Varkala beach and Kollam backwaters, Kerala [Tweets]

Tweets from my Varkala and Kollam, Kerala, 3 day trip from Chennai.

Varkala beach, kerala.

Varkala beach, kerala


You can follow me on twitter here. Full travel story will be published soon.


Tweet URLs in Tweet (click to view photos)
My travel companion for this trip will be @natgeo 2 days to go for #rTrip10 #kerala
Yay. Packing 🙂 #rTrip10
Boarded the bus and the trip begins. To varkala #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
@der_phoenix follow #rTrip10 for instagramed pics and plain Tweets of this trip 🙂
KPN used to give a quilt to passengers before. Whatever happened to that now. Cost cutting? #travel #rTrip10
Crossing rajapalayam 🙂 #rTrip10
Travelling with @mapswithme and i’m impressed 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel
More greenery #rTrip10 #travel
Greenery 🙂 how soothing to the eyes.  #rTrip10
Beautiful greens and a good morning to all 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel
Reached thenkasi. Have to find a bus to kollam #rTrip10 #travel
Taking an auto rickshaw ride across tenkasi town to New bus stand. Most bumpy ride ever. #rTrip10 #travel
My Travel stuff. #rTrip10 #travel
Bus to Kerala #rTrip10 #travel
Towards kerala #rTrip10 #travel
What better music than listen to Eddie Vedder ‘into the wild ‘ OST 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel
Even in the most rural places. Kids going to school. THAT makes me happy 🙂 #india #rTrip10 #travel
#rTrip10 #travel
#rTrip10 #travel #TamilNadu
#rTrip10 #travel #tamilnadu
Bus to #kerala #rTrip10 #travel
Crossing the western ghats into kerala #rTrip10 #travel
Got off to kottarakara and now on another bus. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
This is fun 🙂 4 th bus now 🙂 from kollam to paripalli #rTrip10 #travel please translate. #malayalam #rTrip10 #travel #kerala @chuck_gopal @Pushkala
Are the right side seats in kerala buses reserved for women?? #rTrip10 #travel
Kerala autos no different from Chennai ones. Meters don’t work here too. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
Guys, what dish is a must-try in #varkala. Suggestions please. And any particular restaurant? #kerala #rTrip10 #travel
Varkala reached ! #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
Varkala sunset #rtrip10 #travel
Varkala beach #rTrip10 #travel
Tried bokeh with my mobile cam at the restaurant in varkala #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
Superb relaxing time at varkala 🙂 good night . Will post more pics tomorrow  #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
Eden garden resorts #rTrip10 #travel
What a relaxing beautiful morning. Good morning all, from Varkala 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel
Trail less travelled 🙂 #varkala #rTrip10 #travel
This. 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel #kerala
My Travel must-haves. In varkala. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Lunch by the beach 🙂 varkala #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
I give you varkala beach. 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Arabian sea. As seen From varkala  #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Most of the beach restaurants are very unwelcoming to Indians. Varkala. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Sunset at varkala #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Smile please. Noh?! 😛 #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Varkala beach #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Lights from blue moon cafe 🙂 having dinner here. Varkala #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Hee hee : #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
En route to kollam, from varkala. Wonderful  Experience. Will blog in #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
How can i be in kerala and NOT have bananas 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Sitting in the last seat in a kerala bus. Big mistake. Tossed around. No tweets for some time #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Waiting at DTPC KOLLAM, and they think i don’t understand malayalam. Lol. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
I HAD respect for kerala tourism. ’nuff said. Details when i cross the state border. Don’t want trouble!  😛 #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Feel sorry for this brit – aus couple. Charging heavy prices. Getting royally cheated. 🙁 #rTrip10 #travel #ttot
Y dont they use G maps and twitter. #rTrip10  #travel #ttot
Rs. 850/head for 2 hrs boat ride in kollam backwaters. I know im overpaying. But by how much? #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Check these shoes(or whatever) out. 🙂 #rTrip10
Cute little house boat prototype #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Eww noone told me that the backwaters stink! Is it a pun?! eww #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Kollam backwater boat ride. #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot #Slkt #lp
Fishing net 🙂  Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot #SLKT #LP
Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot #lp
This. 🙂 Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot #lp #slkt
Fishing nets. Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Should have packed my 55-200 nikon lens 🙁 #nikon  #rTrip10 #travel #photography
Boats. Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
The big fish. 🙂 Kollam backwaters #rTrip10 #travel #kerala #ttot
Bus back to Chennai. Almost the end of #rtrip10. Where to, next? Orissa or west coast or rajasthan ? 🙂  #travel #India
#Chennai reached. after a wonderful trip 🙂 #rtrip10 #travel
#kerala Trip done. Blogs and photos will be updated here 🙂 #rTrip10 #travel


You can follow me on twitter here.


Trip to Hampi [By car, from Chennai]

Long pending post!

Most of you might have already read the post on ‘Hampi: beauty in ruins’ and ‘the other side of Tungabhadra‘. Three of us did this trip about a month back. This post is mostly about how we went, where we stayed and how many days we spent. So here it is. Will try to keep it short and sweet!

For me a good road trip has two significant elements – journey and destination. Journey was great: three friends, Skoda Rapid, beautiful weather and the destination, was beyond beautiful: historical Hampi.

We had planned a 3 day trip, with 2 days spent in car and 1 day in Hampi. Looking back, I think one needs at least 3 days in Hampi to do justice to that place.


The route we took(700 kms from Chennai to Hampi):

View Larger Map


 Day 1:

We started from Chennai around 7AM. It was the cyclone week and low-hanging clouds made us rethink our trip in the morning. When in doubt, try it out! so we took the plunge and decided to go ahead with the trip.

low hanging rain clouds during our chennai to hampi trip

low hanging rain clouds during our chennai to hampi trip

The weather turned out to be perfect for a roadtrip. As drivers, we were a little anxious because of the wet roads, but Skoda Rapid grips the road well and soon we were touching good speeds. A little rain, now and then:

rain during our chennai to hampi trip

Rain – here and there!


We stopped at Hotel Aryaas in Vellore for breakfast. 

hotel aryaas, vellore during our chennai to hampi trip

hotel aryaas, vellore


Once the breakfast was done, we headed towards the B’lore, bit of a longer route but the roads were better. Took the NICE road to Tumkur. We had lunch in a dhaba somewhere between Sira and Chitradurga, at around 2:30PM

At Jai Matha daba for lunch:) NH4 #rtrip9 :-)#TRAVEL

The clouds were quietly staring at us:

chennai to Hampi NH4



We reached Chithradurga by 5:15PM and stopped for tea, of course! Then we started towards Hospet, where we planned to stay for the night.

The view was picturesque with sunflower farms on either sides. I would suggest you try to cover this strip when the sun is still up, especially if you are the kind to photograph and capture the beauty.

We reached Hospet by 8: 30 and checked in to hotel Malligai, Hospet. We took a 3-bed room for Rs.1200 per night. The room was clean and well-maintained. 24hrs running hot water and TV in room. The attached restaurant provides a variety of cuisines and the service is real good. Do not miss on eating ‘paan’ from the shop that is inside the hotel. 

Checked in the hotel, freshened up and went for dinner, we were really hungry. After dinner, we hit the sack as we were looking forward  to a long day.

Day 2:

Ideally, you would need three days to relax and absorb the entire beauty of this erstwhile vijayanagar empire capital. We crunched the  whole thing into one day.

We started from our hotel to Hampi, and reached Hampi by 9 AM. Thankfully, we hired a guide, it was definitely worth it. We paid him Rs.1000 for 7 hrs, which was basically the whole day. Without the guide you wouldnt know where to begin and where to end.

PLEASE HIRE A GUIDE. To read more about what we did and places we visited in Hampi – check the post on ‘Hampi: beauty in ruins’ and ‘the other side of Tungabhadra‘.

After a wonderful dinner at Mango Tree, Hampi, we came back to our hotel and slept off.


Day 3:

We started back from Hospet to Chennai at around 7:30 AM. Nothing eventful, the same route back and reached Chennai by 7:30 PM.

Short and Sweet post, just as I promised!





Dinner at Mango Tree, Hampi

It was a good time listening to their Indian experience and having the delicious dinner, in the lantern-lit beautiful place filled with stories and laughter from other tables too!

If you are in Hampi and you want to have food that you want to fall in love with, you have try Mango Tree. Not just the food, the ambiance is also wonderful. Situated on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, it offers awesome food with equally wonderful ambiance.

dinner at mango tree, hampi

Dinner at Mango Tree, Hampi

After a beautiful day of looking at all the monuments, taking in all the stories behind those and a walk on the other side of river Tungabhadra, it was time for dinner and this restaurant(Mango Tree) came highly recommended from different sources. It is a popular restaurant and you can ask any guide in that region, they will give you directions to reach there. There are also lot of sign boards that point to this restaurant.

Like I said, we went there for dinner and got a table to sit. Dinner may not be the best time to go to this place if you want a view of the river as you eat. It was dark! Nevertheless the place was dimly-lit(in a nice way) with lanterns. Very simple seating, nothing posh, but comfortable. Service was prompt and staff, friendly. The fruit salads at Mango Tree is to die for! You can choose to sit on the wooden seats or sit on the cement floor, legs-folded.

dinner at mango tree, hampi

Lanterns light this place – Mango Tree, Hampi

We started with some fruits and believe me, that was the most delicious papaya and water melon I’ve ever had. It was perfectly ripe and so yum! One of us had ordered Samosa’s which were equally delicious but were not pyramidal but they were large, semi-circular.  Most of the people there were foreigners, and we were sharing the table with two travellers (from UK). They introduced themselves and we started talking, they were working in South Korea as teachers and were travelling across various Asian countries. They were in India for 6 weeks and had already visited most of the known places in India.  Note: Travel Inspiration!

They saw the Samosa and asked us what that was and we told them that it was Samosa. They commented that in England, the Samosa’s are pyramidal in shape! ha! We told them that this semi-circular shape was first-time for us too! It was a good time listening to their Indian experience and having the delicious dinner, in the lantern-lit beautiful place filled with stories and laughter from other tables too! The dinner went on for about an hour and a half, and it was a dinner to be remembered.

I’d have loved to meetup with the owners and ask them about the story behind that place, but it skipped my mind. There will always be a next time!

Bottomline: If in Hampi, Mango Tree is not to be missed!

Read all my posts on Hampi here.

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