There are 5 states and 3 union territories in the southern part of the Deccan plateau and this forms the region known as South India. The charm of this region lies in the variety of cultural, historical and natural tourist destinations it offers.
If you’re visiting India for the first time and are feeling jittery about the experience; relaxed and laid back South India is the perfect introduction to the country.
The Highlights of Southern India:
The most important parts to cover while travelling across South India are Telangana, Mysore, Kochi, Puducherry and Hampi.
Here’s what to look forward to when visiting:
1. Historical Monuments
2. Temples and Other Spiritual Places
3. Small Hill Stations
4. Shopping Streets
5. River Cruising
Important Monuments to Explore:
1. Charminar, Hyderabad, Telangana: This structure was built in 1591 AD by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shahi. Situated on the east bank of the River Musi, the mosque is an iconic spot for Hyderabad’s beauty. There are various stories behind the construction of this monument. The most famous one is that there was widespread plague in the city and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shahi pledged to make a mosque at the same spot where he prayed for its end.
2. Aayi Mandap, Puducherry: Pondicherry is a sea port and used to be a very active trading city during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya. When he first came across the beautiful Aayi Mandap building, he discovered it was being used as a brothel, a practice he decided to put an end to at once. Later when the city became the French capital of the country, the king and the government decided to declare this building as a monument.
3. Mattancherry Palace, Kochi, Kerala: It is popularly known as the Dutch Palace. This palace was built by the Portuguese and gifted to the king and is built in the traditional style. It has wooden carvings, ornate marbles and coconut shells used in its construction. Various murals and paintings which narrate the stories of Hindu religion adorn its wall.
4. Palace of Mysore, Mysuru, Karnataka: Ambavillas is popularly known as the Palace of Mysore. It is the royal residence of the Wadiyar dynasty. A breathtaking example of the saracenic style of architecture, the palace is a pride of India’s historic heritage. A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with 98,260 bulbs, shimmering against an inky black night is one of the most enduring images of the city.
One of the highlights of Southern India is a visit to Hampi, Karnataka the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is popularly known as ‘the city of ruins’ and has numerous folk tales and historical references attached to it. It is a completely magnificent experience. To know more about Hampi, click here.
Temples to visit:
- Birla Mandir, Hyderabad, Telangana: This temple is the center of Hindu spirituality in Hyderabad. Built on a 280 feet high hillock (called Naubadh Pahar or Kala Pahad), it is made out of completely white marble. It looks the most beautiful during the time of various celebrations.
- Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka: Virupaksha is a temple dedicated to ‘Lord Shiva.’ It is the oldest and one of the principle functioning temples of Hampi. The temple is majestic and captures the attention of many tourists and locals during the festivities of Virupaksha and Pampa’s (the daughter of Lord Brahma) wedding celebrations.
- Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu: This temple is located on the southern banks of River Vaigai and is the oldest and most important temple in the entire South India. Meenakshi temple’s iconic colourful and painstakingly detailed facade grabs the attention of visitors immediately.
To know more about the temple and the experience, click here.
- Ranganatha Temple, Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu: It is a Hindu temple which is famous for its statue of a reclining Lord Vishnu. It is located in the river island town of Srirangapatna.
The other must visit place in South India is Fort Kochi – a waterbound region adjacent to the mainland Kochi, Kerala. This place is popularly called ‘the fishing village’.
Shopping Streets and What to Shop For:
- Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad, Telangana: It is a popular shopping street in Hyderabad near Charminar. It is known for its beautiful and vibrant coloured glass bangles. You can also shop for various semi-precious pearls and Indian textiles.
- Hampi Bazaar, Hampi, Karnataka: It is the most famous bazaar of Hampi & a huge point of commerce for the city. Walk through this street to soak in the true cultural spirit of the city and to shop for various handicrafts, pottery and antique coins.
- Chalai Bazaar, Trivandrum, Kerala: It is the oldest and the busiest shopping street in Kerala. One can possibly shop for everything that Kerala has to offer from this market. It is famous for its jewellery made from coconut wood, silver and cotton lungis (a wraparound used by men in South India – very comfortable for hot weather!).
River Cruises and Other Experiences Await:
- Backwaters: The network of backwaters in South India is the connection of five large canals. Gear yourself for picturesque views of coconut trees, local life and stunning landscapes. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature on private houseboats. To know more about the houseboats we recommend, click here for a romantic or a small family getaway and here for a group getaway.
- Food: Food is a different and sacred religion in India. It is a splatter of colours and flavours on the plate everytime. The cuisine in South India is downright divine and varies from state to state. Some of the most popular dishes include Idli-Sambhar, Dosa, Fish Curry, Uttapam, Appam and Malabari Curry.
- Nature Walks: Other than the cultural and historical aspects of South India one can explore the lush green plantations, national parks and wildlife reserves in the region. South India has a huge variety of exotic flora and fauna.
There are many carnivals and festivals that are celebrated with joy and fervour across South India. To know more about them, click here.
The beauty of South India other than visiting these iconic tourist spots lies in the interaction with the locals, watching classical and folk music and traditional dance performances.
If you’d like your holiday to be an immersive journey through the living cultures of India – we’re here to help you plan the most memorable getaway.
Plan this journey independently or click here to contact us.