Kerala’s most popular beach resort, and just over an hour’s drive from its capital, Thiruvananthapuram, Varkala has a thriving yoga and surf scene, with all the trendy restaurants and cafés that accompany such attractions. With its beautiful long coastline, overlooked by dramatic rocky outcrops and palm groves, it is a stunning spot. Known by some as ‘‘The Varanasi of the South’ Varkala is home to the 2,000-year-old Janardana Swami Temple, an important Vaishnavite shrine. Located close to the Papanasam Beach, whose waters Hindus believe to be holy, it is common to see pilgrims bathing in its waves. Visit between November and February for the best weather.