There is just one time in your life when you have time, energy and money (okay, not heaps, but bundles at least? small bundles?) to spend and in these times, you’re all pumped up. C’mon world. Bring it on. Listen up adventure squad and quiet time maniacs, there’s something here for all of you
Here is a list of 27 must-visit places in South India:
Elephants, waterfall rappelling, ultralight flying!
Widely known for being the “Scotland of the South”, Coorg is an enchanting hill station located not so far from Bangalore. The view of the grey clouds subtly blending with the greenery of the hills is a sight worth seeing. Ever tried waterfall rappelling? If not, now is the time! An exciting challenge to overcome, with the water flowing down with force, in a moist climate, hear your heartbeat in your ears. Over the sound of the waterfall. There is no better place for this than Coorg, which easily makes it to the list of best places to visit in South India.
Lose yourself in the mesmerising beauty of the rolling hills shrouded in the alluring mist and dense forest of Kodaikanal. Dubbed the Princess of Hill stations, Kodaikanal ranks high on the list of hill stations in the country thanks to the abundance of natural beauty, be it the waterfalls, the lakes, the lush greenery or the magnificent view of the Palani hills. Enjoy the eternally pleasant weather of the area as you trek to Green Valley View or Dolphin’s nose, where you can admire the scenic panoramas of this natural wonderland, or immerse yourself in the serenity of Kodai Lake or Berjarim Lake.
Home to the massive Periyar National Park, the quaint village of Thekkady is sure to capture your heart with its innocent charm and abundance of natural beauty. Spot tigers, as well as other wild animals frolic at the country’s largest tiger reserve, engage in the adventurous sport of Bamboo rafting or marvel at the wondrous ecology of the Periyar lake and its surrounding greenery.
A picturesque plateau nestled in the hills of the Western Ghats, Wayanad is one of the prettiest areas of the attractive state of Kerala. Part of the massive Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, this charming town is loaded with enchanting waterfalls, historical caves, vast spice plantations and exotic wildlife, making it a must visit for anyone looking to explore the untouched beauty of the enchanted Western Ghats.
5. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Scuba diving and Snorkelling
At the shoestring budget of a student, get the best snorkelling and scuba diving experience on these groups of islands that house large varieties of marine life that will brush by your ears while you stay amazed at how blue the water is. Experience the wonders of the aquatic world in their pristine form. If you thought the best beaches in India were in Goa, check Andaman and Nicobar out! You will be simply amazed to see the clear azure waters and the white sandy shores of the Andaman beaches. Snorkelling and scuba diving in this place would be an experience of a lifetime.
Go there and do nothing!
A small holy town situated on the Western Coast of India, Gokarna is known for it’s untouched beaches and is great for a relaxing holiday. A day or two of sunbathing on the beaches, flat on your stomach, sipping a cooler. If that is your idea of a vacation, or if what you simply need is a break from your hectic schedule of planned visits to sights in and around Karnataka, Gokarna is the place for you. A toned-down version of Goa, we suggest you take your beach hat, some sunscreen and a volleyball for a great time!
Known as the “Venice of the East”, Alleppey with its backwaters and floating houseboats, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in South India. The backwaters of Kerala are a breathtaking sight, particularly at the break of dawn. Surf on its gentle waters, or live in one of the houseboats. Or maybe just let the hammocks tied to the coconut trees cradle you to sleep. This is one of the most soothing places to visit in South India and a perfect way to round up your trip.
Get lost in the majestic ruins!
Hampi is one of those laid-back places with grandiose historical beauty that transports you back in time. A must visit place in South India, this places offer a wide range of activities as well. Once a part of the ancient south Indian kingdom of Vijayanagar, it’s a UNESCO World heritage site and also a very important historical and religious centre. The Virupaksha temple is an important temple which is visited by Hindus from all over the country. So jump over the ruins, take crazy pictures, read up on them or just feel the magnitude of the kingdom that once existed here. It’s truly magical.
Enjoy French Architecture
A world away from where you are, Pondicherry welcomes you to a totally different atmosphere, with its colourfully painted houses in French architecture and relaxed attitude. Something that you breathe in and absorb. Also known as Puducherry, it makes for a great backpacking haunt. It is a popular tourist destination in South India owing to its colonial-era buildings, churches and temples, and of course, the famous beaches. It is also one of the few places to visit in South India which is preferred by mainstream and offbeat travellers alike.
10. Varkala, Kerala
Scrumptious seafood delicacies on a cliff by the beach!
A beautiful experience in itself, you taste the food even better when all your other senses are treated to the fresh sea wind and the sight of the never-ending ocean. A complete and ideal tourist destination in South India, Varkala is Famous for its springs, fisheries, lighthouses, beaches, lake and much more. An important Vishnu temple known as the Janardhanaswamy Temple is present here which is said to be more than 2000 years old. An ashram known as the Shivagiri Mutt, founded by the well known Hindu reformer Sree Narayana Guru, is also located close by.
Roam amidst the tea gardens!
Located in God’s own country – Kerala, Munnar is undoubtedly the most romantic hill station in South India. A great place to drive to, you know you’ve reached Munnar when you smell tea in the air. It’s literally everywhere, and you will go back smelling like a teabag. The entire area is a collection of small hillocks that are trek friendly, with lakes, and water falls and large expanses of dense, green forests maintained by the forest department. The green countryside is bound to take your breath away. Have a look at the sandalwood forest as well while you are touring this place in South India.
Goa is synonymous with Indian tourism thanks to its famous party scene and stunning architecture. If you’re tired of the beaches and the churches, Goa is also the site of some intense quad biking expeditions that explore the rugged terrain of the forest or the intense trek to the magical Dudhsagar falls for the offbeat traveller.
Goa is THE must visit tourist place in South India the go to when you want that perfect balance of fun, adventure and a relaxed environment. With numerous beaches and an inexhaustible number of restaurants serving the freshest and the yummiest of seafood, could your vacation GET any better? Also, there are plenty of places for shopping in Goa as well. Something’s always happening in Goa, regular gigs at the local pubs, food festivals, and the most awaited, Sunburn music festival. One Explore rocky terrains and get brushed on the cheek by leaves as you take the quad bike expedition along a route that runs 3 kilometres.
Experience the Natural Bliss
The name says it all, you know what’s coming. Take the toy train from Mettupalayam, go boating, and breathe in the Nilgiri hills after climbing up the Dodabetta peak. No matter how many times you go to Ooty, it never fails to amaze you. This charming place in South India is a complete package to delight your senses. Also, having a romantic ambience, it’s one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in South India. Honeymooners from all over the country visit this lovely place throughout the year. There are several things to do here as well, such as trekking and angling. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the tea gardens.
Soak up the deep culture and complex history of ancient Pallavas on the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, home to a large number of intricately patterned rock-cut monuments and temples. This resort town lies on a strip of land between the Great Salt Lake and the Bay of Bengal and is designated as world heritage site by UNESCO due to the multitude of the timeless wonders left behind by the past civilisations that once inhabited this spot.
The second highest peak of Karnataka, Kudremukh literally means ‘horse-face’, named after the picturesque view of the side of the magnificent mountain that looks like the face of a horse. The mountainous paths decked with vast grasslands and dense forests make this serene hill station very popular amongst the inhabitants of Bangalore and Mangalore for a nature retreat, away from the din of the city.
16. Bandipur National Park
Part of the enormous Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, the Bandipur National Park is a plethora of varied fauna and flora, serving as a large habitat for tigers and the Asian elephant. Rich in its ecological biodiversity, opt to either visit this massive bio-park or drive by NH 181 or NH 766 which pass through this lush nirvana, promising you scores of soothing forests and the chance to see some really cool indigenous animals.
Camping and white water river rafting!
Dandeli wildlife sanctuary is a great tourist place in South India for you wild, dirt-loving travellers. It is blessed with dense deciduous forests, wide variety of wild animals and the Dandeli river to boot. A popular weekend holiday destination in Karnataka, this places is a preferred destination for coracle boating, trekking and rafting. The scenic beauty of the place coupled with the adventure sports activities makes it an ideal holiday spot. Go white water river rafting with friends, and relax in the lush rain-forest to make your trip to south India memorable.
Gawk at the magnificent peaks!
Yeracud, located in Tamil Nadu, is a popular hill station in South India. Soak in the beauty of the Eastern Ghats with the delightful little hill station of Yercaud. Famous for the beautiful forests that surround its marvellous lakes, this charming destination is sure to satisfy your naturaphilic tendencies. The divinity of the Emerald lake is worth the trip, the glory of the Kiliyur Falls, and the magnificent view from Pagoda point amplify the scenic serenity of this lovely region.
The land of seven forests, the peaks at Yercaud will leave you clicking away. You can never have enough. Also known as the poor man’s Ooty, this is one of the places to visit in South India that is comparatively less known, but with no compromise on the scenic beauty. It’s dotted with waterfalls and greenery all over. The remnants of the Colonial Era is visible in the colonial buildings still standing here. There are plenty of caves and coffee estates to roam in, and be sure to visit the silk farm as well.
Enjoy the light sprays of water at!
Located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, are the Shimoga falls which are popularly known as the Jog falls and one of the best places to visit in South India. A favourite of people travelling to South India, the Jog waterfalls are the second highest plunge waterfalls of India. Majestic in appearance and a treat for the eye, there is a wide range of activities in and around the place that tourists can indulge in. During the monsoon season, the already bustling waterfall becomes even more alive, and the surrounding greenery only adds to the beauty and magnificence of these waterfalls. Rainbows are also a very common sight here during the monsoons.
Mingle with the elephants in Gavi
Kerala’s favourite elephants greet you into this forest thickly populated by tropical flora and fauna. Many types of plants and animals can be found over here. Some of the rarest animal species include the great pied hornbill, Nilgiri Tahr and the Lion-tailed macaque. A little unknown and offbeat, Gavi offers a wide range of activities like trekking, camping, boating, safaris etc. One can also visit the spice gardens and factories nearby. It’s slowly emerging as a popular destination in South India for Ecotourism, owing to the untouched natural surroundings of this place.
The Caves at Siddara Betta
A nice place to trek to, Siddara betta is a perfect Tourist place in South India go if you want to spend time with your friends and not have other people around. It is said that a lot of holy men regularly come here to meditate for long spans of time. I’d like to call it an introvert’s trekking choice. It’s also a popular religious site as well, and so many pilgrims pay a visit to this place every now and then. Natur lovers will love this place as the forests nearby are a great place to do some birdwatching. If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the very rare Yellow Throated Bulbul.
Blessed with rich wildlife, attractive jungle and a scenic lake, Nagarhole is one of Karnataka’s best wildlife getaways and an important place to visit in South India. Despite sharing the same wildlife with the neighbouring Bandipur national park, it receives fewer visitors due to it being lesser known, making it all the more appealing. It is home to a large number of flora and fauna species, such as the tiger, leopard, wild elephant, dhole (Indian wild dog), and gaur (Indian bison). Other species present are chital, spotted deer, muntjac (barking deer), mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild boar, sloth bear, hyena, mongoose, civet, otter, and more
23. Cycling Through the Nilgiris
Fitness junkies will get a real kick out of cycling through the mystical and vast Nilgiris mountains. Literally meaning blue mountains, the Nilgiris is a hotbed for remarkable vegetation, exotic wildlife, and indigenous tribes of South India. Cycling tours are organised through the massive Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, allowing you to cover incredible locations like the Bandipur, Wayanad, and Mudumalai.
24. Party in Bangalore
Head to Bangalore for the coolest parties in the south! It is the hub of the Indian IT revolution and is popularly known as the Silicon Valley of India. Thus, Bangalore draws a very young and hip demography to its limits. This place has one of the best pub cultures in the country although most of the pubs and bars are known to shut down by 12. There are numerous places dotting the entire town where people can let their hair down. But the best thing about Bangalore is hands down its weather, which is what all the other metro cities in the country lack. One of the best places to visit in South India for all the youngsters!
25. Food in Mysore
It’s the time you can eat what you want, and the best place in South India for our favourite idlis and dosas is none other than Mysore! Head to this beautiful city for delicious ghee based sweets like the Mysore Pak (Something I can’t get enough of). Spend the evening walking by the lit up Mysore palace and eating at the roadside stalls. Mysore is also one of South India’s most popular tourist destinations. It has a rich historical and cultural significance which can be seen in the splendid Mysore palace and other places.
Keep stomach happy. Check.
Something most travel guides wouldn’t guide you to, the Thrissur pooram (held in the month of April every year) is a sight to behold in itself. the Thrissur pooram is a competition between the two most famous temples in the city, that are situated in the same circle, opposite to each other. This is a unique place to visit in South India and promises to be a lot of fun. The festival sees a larger than life turns out of people, who all gather to watch the competition. The most fun to watch is the headgear changing competition on the elephants, and it is amazing to watch how fast they change, and with such innovation. Thrissur is the cultural hub for a lot of other festivals and you can catch great gigs around the place like Electronic dance music shows at Fort Kochi.
27. Fishing at Bheemeshwari
Bheemeshwari is a popular destination in the south, known for its fishing camps and wildlife sanctuary. A host of adventure activities that include Kayaking, river rafting, trekking and rope walking await you at Bheemeshwari Adventure camp, Karnataka, which also allows night stays at the jungle lodges, where you can wake up to sounds of over 200 species of exotic birds and an amazing variety of animals. The camp is most well known for Mahseer fishing, the largest game fish known to man. Enough of watching people fish, how about giving it a shot yourself?
South India travel. Worth it? Absolutely!