Thursday, May 31, 2012

Varkala and Varkala Beach

Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam beach is a beach in Varkala, Kerala, India, along the Arabian Sea, part of the Indian Ocean. The word Papanasam means wash away sins. It is believed that a dip in the waters of Papanasam Beach washes away all the sins in ones life.

Varkala beach  
Situated in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala in south India, Varkala offers relatively untouched and clean beaches that are increasingly difficult to find in God’s Own Country. Situated 51 km north of Thiruvananthapuram and 37 km south of Kollam, Varkala is also a pilgrimage centre for Hindus. The 2000-year-old Janardhana Swamy Temple is located in Varkala. Thousands of Hindus converge on Papnasam Beach on Karkidavavu Bali held during the Malayalam month of Karkitakam (Jul-Aug) to pray for their ancestors.

Several myths abound about the construction of Varkala temple and the town. According to one myth, the temple was constructed by a Pandyan King at the instructions of Lord Brahma to redeem him of his sins. According to another legend, when a group of people requested the sage Narada to show them a way to get rid of their sins, Narada threw his valkalam (loin cloth made from tree bark). The place where Narada’s valkalam landed, came to be known as Varkala. Narada told the pilgrims to pray for their redemption at Papanasam, which literally means redemption from sins.

Visit the Varkala Cultural Centre to watch Kathakali performances which are organised every evening during tourist season. The shows are held from 6.30 PM to 8 PM. The Centre charges an entry fee of Rs 175 per head. Watch the martial prowess of Kalaripayattu masters at the Sudarsana Kalari Sanghom situated at Mundayil. Kalaripayattu is an ancient Indian martial art practiced in several parts of Kerala.
Varkala is not a shopping destination. Shops mainly stock products for the visiting tourist. Traditional handicrafts, coir products and little knick-knacks can be purchased in Varkala. Artifacts made of coconut shells are also popular things to buy. Tibetan expatriates also sell artifacts from Tibet.

Varkala offers a plethora of options to stay. Budget hotels, resorts, luxury hotels and homestays are available to suit every budget and choice. Some of the homestays are located close to the beach. While several homestays offer en-suite bathrooms, wi-fi connectivity, Ayurvedic massages and easy access to the beach, some even offer yoga classes. Budget hotels and homestays are priced under Rs 1000, tariffs at mid-range hotels start at Rs 1500.

Varkala offers a lot in terms of places to eat. However, most of the places-to-eat are seasonal and spring up during the tourist season. Being a beach town, Varkala is a sea-food lover’s paradise. Many restaurants and eateries display in front seafood caught by the local fishermen. Select your food, get it prepared and savour it watching the sunset. While the ubiquitous Kerala food is easy to find, one can find restaurants offering Continental, Mexican, Italian and even Tibetan cuisine. Thattukadas (street vendors) are also a common sight and some offer the best porotta and beef curry. Even though non vegetarian restaurants are common, pure veg restaurants are not hard to find.
Climatic conditions in Varkala like other parts of coastal Kerala, is generally hot and humid. October to March is best time to visit.

Varkala beach has very strong currents and there have been instances where even experienced swimmers have been swept away.
Children should not be allowed to enter the water alone.
It is always advisable to make your hotel reservations in advance.
Varkala is a laidback beach town; hence, things to do are limited to spending time on the beach or tasting fresh catch from the sea.
Visit the temples in and around Varkala.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TV Viewing Linked to Unhealthy Eating Habits in School Children

Television viewing (TVV) by young people has been associated with unhealthy eating and food choices that may track into early adulthood. Young people in the U.S. fall short of recommendations for whole fruit, whole grains, legumes and dark green or orange vegetables, while exceeding recommendations for fat, sodium and added sugar that can increase the risk of obesity and chronic disease throughout a lifetime, the authors write in their study background.

Leah M. Lipsky, Ph.D., M.H.S., and Ronald J. Iannotti, Ph.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md., examined the association of television viewing with eating behaviors in U.S. adolescents. They used data from the 2009-2010 Health Behavior in School-Aged Children Study, a survey of adolescents conducted every four years in the U.S. The survey included a nationally representative group of 12,642 students in the fifth through 10 th grades with a mean (average) age of 13.4 years.

Television viewing time was associated with lower odds of consuming fruit or vegetables daily and higher odds of consuming candy and sugar-sweetened soda daily, skipping breakfast at least one day per week and eating at a fast food restaurant at least one day per week in models adjusted for computer use, physical activity, age, sex, race/ethnicity and family affluence," the authors comment. "The relationship of TVV with this unhealthy combination of eating behaviors may contribute to the documented relationship of TVV with cardiometabolic risk factors."

According to the results, the odds of eating fruits and vegetables daily were higher for younger than older students, for girls compared with boys, and for white students and other groups compared with black and Hispanic youth. The odds of eating sweets daily were highest for older than younger youth, for girls compared to boys and for black youth compared with other racial/ethnic groups.

The results also indicate that the odds of drinking soda at least daily were highest for older versus younger youth, for boys versus girls and for black and Hispanic young people compared with other racial/ethnic groups. Skipping breakfast was more common for older than younger students, for girls compared with boys and for black, Hispanic and other youth compared with white students.

"Future research should elucidate the independent contributions of TVV, food advertising and TV snacking on dietary intake in this population," the authors conclude. "If these relationships are causal, efforts to reduce TVV or to modify the nutritional content of advertised foods may lead to substantial improvements in adolescents' dietary intake."


Lady Gaga wears a dress made from raw meat

Time and again the sensational Lady Gaga have grabbed the media attention for her bizarre and eccentric dressing sense. The pop star has yet again stunned all with her innovative attire.

Lady Gaga surprised fans in Japan by sporting a dress made from raw meat. reports that Gaga turned heads with her bizarre food-couture creation at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. She wore a corset-style strapless dress while holding on to a meat hook in a butcher's shop-style setting.

Lady Gaga danced on the 'Americano' song in Tokyo last weekend. In fact, Gaga might have to cancel her concert in the Indonesian capital after a few Islamic groups protested against her provocative manner of dress.

Late child actor Taruni Sachdev is compared to Sridevi

The cruel demise of child actress Taruni Sachdev has left filmmaker R Balki and his wife Gauri Shinde shocked. Balki, who casted Taruni in his movie Paa, recalls the memories of the lovely young girl.

Talking to a leading daily, Balki said that "Taruni was like Sridevi." She was the queen of expressions like Sridevi. He recalls how the 14-year-old would come up with new expressions for every scene.

Taruni and her mother Geetha Sachdev were amongst the 15 killed in the plane crash that took place at the Jomsom Airport in Mustang district of Nepal. The young star's death also left the film industry under tremendous shock.

Both Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan expressed their grief through twitter. Abhishek tweeted, "SHOCKED and very saddened to hear about the Nepal plane crash. Lost 1 of my cutest co-stars. Little Taruni Sachdev from PAA. Speechless." While, the Big B tweeted, "Just reading that Taruni Sachdev the girl child artiste in Paa, has perished in Nepal plane crash. Please God may this not be."
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