Ponnumthuruthu (Golden) Island


Around 10km south of Varkala, this acacia-filled island in the middle of a backwater lake conceals a Shiva-Parvati Hindu temple also known as the Golden Temple. The vibrantly coloured, century-old shrine is usually closed to non-Hindus, but the main reason to venture here is the scenic punt-powered boat ride to and around the island. Allow 1½ hours round trip; autorickshaws from Varkala cost ₹600 with waiting time.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Varkala attractions

1. Anjengo Fort

2.78 MILES

Fringed by colourful fishers' houses, 12km southeast of Varkala, this laterite-and-concrete fort was built by the British East India Company in 1695…

2. Sivagiri Mutt

2.84 MILES

Just east of central Varkala, Sivagiri Mutt is the headquarters of the Shri Narayana Dharma Sanghom Trust, devoted to Shri Narayana Guru (1855–1928),…

3. Janardhana Temple

3.37 MILES

Varkala is a temple town and the Janardhana Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is the main event – with its roots dating back to the 13th century, this…

4. Helipad

3.81 MILES

Towards the southern end of North Cliff.

5. Papanasham Beach

3.94 MILES

Ringed by rust-red cliffs, Varkala's main beach is a holy spot for Hindus, who for centuries have made offerings for passed loves ones and washed away…

6. Durga Temple

4.12 MILES

A colourful Hindu temple just inland from Varkala's North Cliff.

7. Black Beach

4.58 MILES

A sandy little blonde-and-black beach just north of Varkala's North Cliff.

8. Varkala Aquarium

4.61 MILES

Between Black Beach and Odayam Beach, Varkala's aquarium displays large tanks of exotic species – scorpionfish, angelfish, koi, the local karimeen – along…