Fisherman preparing boat

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Perched almost perilously along the edge of majestic 49ft- (15m) high red laterite cliffs, 31 miles (50km) northwest of Trivandrum, Varkala has a naturally beautiful setting that has allowed it to steadily grow into Kerala's most popular backpacker hang-out. A small strand of golden beach nuzzles Varkala's North Cliff area, where restaurants play innocuous music and shops sell elephant-stamped trousers, silver jewellery and cotton yoga-mat bags. While it's certainly on the beaten track and the sales pitch can be tiring, Varkala is still a great place to watch the days slowly turn into weeks, and it's easy to escape the crowds further north or south where the beaches are cleaner and quieter.


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