What are the top ten things to do in South India?
Plan your South India vacation around the top ten things to do in South India with our expert advice.
Culture, history, traditions and the laidback air of its backwaters – that’s South India for you in a nutshell. From the French colonial flair of Pondicherry to the colorful temples and palaces in the heartland, verdant spice and tea plantations and the tranquil charm of Kerala, South India attracts with its myriad charms.
Set an indulgent tone with a leisurely cruise in Kerala’s backwaters on a houseboat, followed up by a therapeutic Ayurvedic treatment at its many wellness spas and resorts. Tamil Nadu is all about the beautiful temples of Chennai and Madurai, while Pondicherry remains the eternal draw for its colonial charms. The attractions of Karnataka are diverse – from the magnificent architecture of Hampi to safaris in Nagarhole and the vibrant charm of the capital city of Bangalore. The city of Hyderabad is all about its flavorful cuisine and grand Mughal heritage; revel in the hill station charms of verdant Conoor, Munnar and Wayanad, and savor delicious seafood in Cochin! There are so many places to visit in South India!
If you are wondering how to plan your trip to South India, when is the best time to visit, and how best to maximize your options our destination experts can help curate the perfect trip for you. Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in South India that should definitely be part of your India vacation!
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1Discover Pondicherry’s Colonial Flair
Stroll through the streets of Pondicherry and enjoy the French flair of the coastal town during your tour of India. Try the unique regional cuisine, a fusion of Indian and French cookery.
Pondicherry was a French colony for several hundred years till India gained Independence in 1947. But the French influence remains strong even till today, in its architecture and cuisine. There’s are so many things to do in Pondicherry – from walking along the beautiful Promenade that fringes the coastline to admiring vestiges of French architecture and, of course, dining at its many quaint restaurants. Another must-visit is Auroville, an experimental township, based on the premise of establishing and forging human unity.
2Explore Ancient Temples and Palaces in Hampi
The palaces and temples of Hampi, and former capital of the Vijayanagar kings, are found in the midst of a barren rock landscape. Discover the mystical beauty of the ruins, which still puzzles archaeologists.
There are so many things to see on your Hampi tour, such as the Virupaksha Temple, the Vijaya Vithala Temple, the Krishna Temple, various hill temples as well as stunning examples of the ancient town infrastructure such as the community kitchen and water pavilion among others.
3Savor the Diverse Charms of Madurai
The Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai impresses with its bright colors from afar, making it one of the best-loved highlights of India. The ancient temple is a stunning example of Dravidian architecture and it is hard to escape the stunning sight of its 14 gopurams (temple towers) from wherever you are in the city.
The city’s market is just as colorful, famous for its vibrant flowers.
4Go on a Plantation Tour
The Tea Museum of Munnar tells you everything about the history of tea cultivation in South India. You can also explore the lush, green plantations on foot or by bicycle.
Another popular hillstation destination is Wayanad, located in the Western Ghats, famous for its rolling coffee and spice plantations. Unwind amid its verdant charms for a wonderfully relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
5Relish the Tranquil Charm of Kerala’s Backwaters
Find peace and relaxation in the backwaters of Kerala. Lie in a hammock and let your mind wander, or taste delicious regional fish specialties on your Kerala trip.
A network of canals, lakes and rivers connects the dreamy little villages of Kerala. Explore the backwaters on a houseboat from Kumarakom and visit Alleppey, also known as the “Venice of the East”. Stay at a homestay and unwind as you watch scenes of the unhurried daily life unfold in front of you.
6Discover the Charms of Kochi
Did you know that Kochi has been listed as one of the top cities to visit in 2020 by Lonely Planet? And it’s not surprising to see why – there are so many things to do in Kochi!
Known for its bustling spice trade in the colonial times, Kochi’s architecture, such as what is seen in Fort Kochi, harks back to this glorious past. Equally popular is the sight of the Chinese Fishing nets, dotting the shoreline. The colorful harbor town also offers numerous impressive temples, churches and synagogues. Enjoy an immersive cultural experience as you watch a Kathakali (Kerala’s traditional dance form) performance, and sample flavors of Kerala’s flavorful cuisine. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale has also become a big draw on the international art calendar – a must-visit if you are in Kochi around the time.
7Explore Trichy’s Rock Fort
Climb the 432 steps of Rock Fort Temple in Trichy – the view will spoil you! The fort’s origins go back to the Pallava dynasty and though the climb is a long one, the stunning views of Trichy sprawled out below you are well worth the effort!
Some of the popular temples you will encounter along your climb include the Thayumanaswamy Temple, a cave temple built during the Pallava dynasty as well as the Uchipillaiyar Temple at the top. Also visit the imposing temple town of Srirangam, the religious center of Hinduism, as well as the massive Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.
8Admire Mamallapuram’s Architectural Splendor
Around an hour and a half drive from the city of Chennai lies the popular seaside town of Mamallapuram, where you can combine relaxation with culture. Visit the impressive temples, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, and watch the sunset from an inviting sandy beach.
The exquisite architecture harks back to the Pallava dynasty; the Shore temples are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site – a must-visit on your Mamallapuram tour.
9Immerse Yourself in the Myriad Charms of Mysore
With its wealth of historical and cultural treasure, the city of Mysore is a popular destination in the state of Karnataka. The most prominent landmark is the Mysore Palace, built in the earlier 20th century, as the residence of the Wodeyar kings, the erstwhile princely rulers of Mysore.
Another must-visit on Mysore tour is the Devaraja Market, a sea of colors with its huge selection of spices, flowers, fruits and vegetables. From the Chamundi Hills, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Other popular attractions include the Ranganthuttu Bird Sanctuary and the Vrindavan gardens with its brightly lit fountains.
10Heal and Rejuvenate with an Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala
Not just backwaters and beaches, Kerala is famed for its Ayurveda treatments, available at several Ayurveda resorts and spas that dot its beautiful coastline.
Spend a week healing your body, mind and soul, far away from the crowds by the azure Arabian Sea.
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