Plan your South India tour
keeping in mind some of these best highlights of South India tour packages
The peninsular region of the Indian subcontinent, South India is surrounded by the Indian ocean touching in the south, the Bay of Bengal on its eastern coast while the Arabian sea kisses its shore on the west. Constituting the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala, South India
has always been a popular travel destination because of its marvellous ruins of ancient dynasties, fine temple architecture, gorgeous hills, spectacular coastline, rich heritage and varied culinary delights. Not to forget its spice, tea and coffee estates along with Ayurveda therapies are much sought-after.
South Indian temples are rich in legend and stunning in grandeur. The architecture of these temples is beyond comparison. From Dravidian architecture with their monumental entrance tower called gopuram to Vijayanagara style of architecture. Any South India tour packages
would be incomplete if it does not include temples.
Mahabalipuram Shore Temple :
An ancient port town situated about 60 km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Mahabalipuram is known for its stone temples and stone carvings. These world-renowned temples are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and are nestled on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Built of granite, this temple was constructed during the Pallava dynasty, largely during the 7th and 9th century and has since stood the test of time. Apart from the temples, you can also see different monolithic rock carvings and rock monuments in Mahabalipuram, which together with the temple form the Mahabalipuram Group of Monuments.
Meenakshi Temple :
Dating back 2,500 years, Madurai’s Meenakshi Amman Temple is among the most impressive and important of temples in South India. The temple is huge and there’s so much to see from its thousand pillared halls to its art museum, holy golden lotus tank to musical pillars, and many smaller shrines inside the temple complex. One of its 14 towers (gopurams) stretches nearly 170 feet; thousands of sculptured and brightly painted gods and goddess adorn these towers. No matter where you stand the pillars at the Hall of Thousand Pillars (which is interestingly only 958) appear to be aligned.
Virupaksha Temple Hampi :
A very significant temple in the city of Hampi in Karnataka, Virupaksha temple is one of the most important structures still intact among other historical ruins of Hampi. This sacred temple of Lord Shiva started as a humble shrine, which was later expanded during the reigns of the Vijayanagara Empire, Chalukyan and Hoysala eras. The temple is around 350 km (approximately seven hours) away from Bengaluru. Check out the temple’s intricate architecture, which uses ancient mathematical concepts.
Tirupati Temple :
The Tirupati Temple also known as Tirumala is one of the most visited temples in India and also one of the holiest Hindu sites. This popular pilgrimage spot is located in Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh. A stunning example of Dravidian architecture, the Tirupati temple, is believed to be constructed over a period starting from 300 AD. It is even believed that when a devotee shaves or cuts his/her hair at the temple, all their wishes come true. The temple’s perpetual lit lamps, the idol of the deity, which always remains moist despite the priests trying to keep it dry or the very jubilant Tirumala Brahmostavam festival, an annual fete celebrated in the temple, interest travellers from far and wide.
South India is full of historical places in almost every city and town. From the metropolitan city of Bengaluru to the 500-year-old city of Nizams - Hyderabad, from the colonial influence of Chennai to ancient towns of Hampi and Mysore; each place stands as a testimony to glorious historical past of India’s southern region.
Heritage charms of Hyderabad :
The former capital of Andhra Pradesh and now of Telangana state, Hyderabad is noted for its landmark historical monuments around the city. It was the Qutub Shahi Dynasty and Nizams that established the city. Heritage buildings such as mosques, palaces, forts and museums exude the beauty and glorious past of the city. You will love visiting the historical places such as the Charminar with its four ornate minarets and arches inspired from Persian and Indo-Islamic architecture, the grand Italian-Tudor styled Falaknuma, and the hilltop located fortified citadel - Golconda Fort.
Group of Monuments in Hampi :
Scattered with towering piles of boulders in every nook and corner that look straight out of a Flintstones’ episode, and surrounded with streams and hills, Hampi is a riverside village in east-central Karnataka, which used to be the capital of Vijayanagara Empire. Even in its ruined state, the hundreds of fascinating historical monuments of Hampi attracts the end number of backpackers and tourists from across the world. Vitthala Temple Complex and Garuda Stone Chariot, Virupaksha Temple and Lotus Mahal, House of Victory and riverside ruins are some of the places to look out in Hampi on your South India tour
French Heritage in Pondicherry :
The charming colonial township on the southern Indian riviera, Pondicherry was a French colony for nearly three hundred years. History meets modernity in this quaint coastal town on the shores of the Bay of Bengal where French culture has infused harmoniously with the Tamil culture. From cafes to street signs, from villas to the language and even kepis worn by the police you’ll see, live, listen to every French detail. Typical Pondicherry scenes are vintage bicycles perched up against bright yellow walls with oil lamps, bougainvillaea blooms and French doors and windows, which reminds you of streets in Paris.
Cochin’s colonial heritage :
The port city Kerala - Cochin or Kochi has a rich history dating back to 12th century when the city acted as a prominent spice trading centre for Portuguese, Greeks, Romans Arabs, Jews and Chinese. Reigned by a number of foreign colonial powers spanning different periods in the bygone eras, this culture as well as the state capital of Kerala is a treasure trove of architectural monuments, heritage sites, and forts and palaces. The city has a lot to offer with its historical places like Fort Cochin, Portuguese influenced Mattancherry Palace popularly known as Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, and Old Churches such as St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica.
Some of the places and things one cannot miss while in South India
Ayurveda, spice and backwaters of Kerala :
Kerala’s blessed landscapes, backwaters, palm trees, and the beach is what the state is known for around the world. Take a ride on a traditional Kerala houseboat or ‘kettuvalam’ down the backwater channels of Alleppey, Kollam and Kumarakom and soak in the views of palm groves and villages. Thekkady, Munnar and Wayanad are the three destinations in the state where you will find sprawling spice plantations. Of many reasons that India is renowned for, Ayurveda is one of the most important reasons why travellers from across the world visit this country. Kerala’s good climate and an abundance of herbs makes it one of the best places to enjoy Ayurveda therapies.
Hill stations in Coorg and Ooty :
Producer of some of the best quality coffee in the world, Coorg is a place where you would love to pick coffee berries from endless green plantations in Coorg. Besides, explore Abbey falls surrounded by aromatic plantations of coffee and spices, enjoy a quiet picnic at the base of the Iruppu falls or unwind with elephant herds at the Dubbare Elephant Camp. In Ooty, tour the lush tea estates or ride the famous Nilgiri Toy Train (a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) through the scenic mountain landscapes.
Snake boat race in Kerala :
Boat races or ‘Vallam Kali’ is the grandest traditions still alive and thriving in Kerala. This traditional form of canoe race uses paddled longboats. The snake boats also called ‘chundanvallam’ are up to 100-120 feet long. These races are held in and around Alleppey, the hub of backwater channels in the state where boats go head in head with hundred or more paddlers aboard rowing in fast rhythm vying for the trophy. Each year dozens of major and minor snake boat races are organised mostly from July to September. An excellent opportunity for photography, you will love attending the spectacular Nehru Trophy Boat Race held on Allepey’s Punnamada Lake on the second Saturday of August every year or the Aranmula Boat Race held in August or September along the Pampa River at Aranmula, around 50 km south of Alleppey.
Touch the tip of India at Kanyakumari :
The southernmost tip and the last point of the country, Kanyakumari is also known as Cape Comorin and is all about romantic sunsets, leisurely walk by the sea and the thrill of being in a geographical wonder where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet. The iconic landmark in the city, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial about 500 metres from the shore on a rocky island is an important visit. A ferry ride will take you to the rock memorial. Not to forget, the city is also a pilgrimage destination and Kanyakumari Devi Temple its most visited shrine.
The cuisine of the south
South Indian cuisine - think steamed, spiced and coconut-flavoured. It is food at its simple best using fresh local ingredients. Each state has its own variants of common dishes and regional specialities. While South Indians celebrate dosa, vada and idlis each day, there are plenty of seafood and meat lovers too. South India is truly rewarding for its sheer range of diversity plus the food satisfies all palates and budgets. You will delight in everything from sensational street food to thalis, fusion masterpieces to family-run stalls and canteens. There’s nothing quite like a steaming cup of South India coffee or better known as ‘kaapi’ served in a traditional steel tumbler to kick start your day. Coffee produced from the beans from coffee-growing regions such as Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, the Malabar region in Kerala and the hills of Karnataka are sought-after. One can also taste different cultural influences on the cuisine of South India. Hyderabad’s rich Islamic history has left behind its culinary heritage in the form of Hyderabadi biryani, Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad region is known for its use of variety of spices influenced by different Asian cultures that traded in the bygone era while the distinct Malabar cuisine of Kerala evolved from varied cultures like Arab and other South Indian culture that traded and settled in the area.
Best time to visit South India
The best time to visit South India
depends really on your travel plans. South India is all things tropical from moderate to high temperature all year round. November to March is a more pleasant time with warm days and reasonably cool nights. It is also the peak tourist season, hotel prices shoot up. It also is a season of many festivals across the region. Hill stations such as Ooty in Tamil Nadu and Coorg in Karnataka can get very cold between October and February, getting as low as 5 degree Celsius. And similarly humid in April to June. Hottest months are May to June, with average temperature at 32 degree Celsius. But you will also land competitive hotel prices. If you want to go out and visit monuments and historical buildings then avoid the hottest months. For hiking in the mountains come just after the monsoons when everything turns fresh and green. The monsoon lasts from June to September and South India typically receives more rainfall (especially southern Kerala) as compared to North India. Ayurveda considers monsoon as the best season for rejuvenation therapies because during this time the pores of the body open up allowing them to fully absorb the oils and therapeutic treatments.
How to Reach South India
Travelling to the southern part of India is pretty easy by any means of transport whether it is by air, road, train or even water.
By Air :
With a host of airports and number of airlines operating in the South, air travel to South India is an easy affair. There are several domestic and International airports in each state. Some of the most important ones are Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchirapalli international airports in Tamil Nadu, Cochin International Airport and Trivandrum International Airport in Kerala, Kempegowda International Airport, Mysore airport in Bengaluru, Vijayawada and Tirupati airports in Andhra Pradesh, and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Telangana. A string of major Indian airlines connect South India with the rest of the country. Some of the frequently plying airlines include Air Asia India
, Air India, IndiGo
, SpiceJet, TruJet, SpiceXpress, etc.
By Train :
The South Indian states enjoy smooth railway connectivity from almost all parts of India. Major junctions in the south include Bengaluru Mysore (or Mysuru) and Hampi in Karnataka, Kozhikode and Alleppey in Kerala, Chennai, Madurai and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. Direct trains to southern cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin can be availed from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other important cities. You can even explore South India in luxury trains such as the Golden Chariot, Maharajas’ Express, Deccan Odyssey; all these trains cover almost all important tourist destinations and attractions in South India.
By Road :
If you want to travel by road to South India, it has an extensive network of national highways with excellent road connectivity. National Highway 42 through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, NH 44 with routes in Kerala along with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and NH 66 winding through Kerala, Karnataka and Goa, and National Highway 32 are some of the most convenient routes for a road journey to the region. There are several state-run buses that ply to most destinations. The KSRTC
of Kerala, BMTC of Bengaluru and surrounding areas, TNSTC
operating all over Tamil Nadu are some of the most famous public buses. Private AC buses like Volvo and Super Deluxe are also available from Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, etc.
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