South India is a feast for the traveler’s senses. Comprising the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this region is blessed with natural beauty, exceptional cuisine, and rich cultural traditions. Whether you want to unwind on a palm-fringed beach, soak in the grandeur of royal palaces or discover ancient temples, South India offers something for every kind of traveler.
Our team of dedicated travel experts are intimately familiar with South India. From kayaking down the backwaters of Kerala to gazing awestruck at the Mysore Palace at night, our experts have rounded up some of the most immersive experiences across the region.
1Cycle down the lanes of Fort Kochi
Saint Francis Church in Kochi, one of the oldest European churches in India
Fort Kochi is at its best at sunrise. Known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Kochi in Kerala, along the country’s western coast, was one of India’s first European settlements. Pedal through the quiet streets at dawn, past colonial architecture and modern street art as part of our cycling tour of Fort Kochi. Enjoy a cup of tea and watch as fishermen nimbly haul in their nets.
Fort Kochi is a melting pot of culture. You’ll find the oldest synagogue in the country, Paradesi Synagogue, in the Jewish quarter in the city. The historic neighborhood is an art lover’s delight, as it is lined with several quaint shops selling antiques, art, spices and more. Stop by for a quick bite at one of many eclectic cafes and restaurants in the area.
As you cycle along, you’ll come across Chinese fishing nets by the sea. These nets propped on teak wood and bamboo poles trace their origins to the 14th century, and are believed to have been introduced by Zheng He, a Chinese mariner and explorer. Head to the fish market where fresh catch of the day is sold. You’ll also get an opportunity to understand what the daily lives of these fishermen look like, and experience the sense of camaraderie among them. Wrap up the tour with a delicious local breakfast.
Chinese fishing nets
2Go kayaking in the backwaters
Enchanting Travels’ team member Rachit, kayaking on Lake Vembanad
Coconut Lagoon is a stunning backwater resort in a protected cove on Lake Vembanad in Kumarakom, Kerala. Go on a private sunset cruise, enjoy a soothing Ayurvedic massage at the extraordinary spa, or feast on sumptuous dishes at any of the resort’s three restaurants. There’s never a dull moment here!
We recommend kayaking in the backwaters of Lake Vembanad. While paddling through the calm waters, look to the skies for colorful kingfishers, the lake for leaping fish, and the shore for resting turtles and playing otters. The tranquility of these canals and still waters is best experienced as the captain of your own ship.
Visit the Butterfly Garden along with the resident naturalist or sign up for a meditation or Kalaripayattu (ancient martial art) session with an expert. There’s plenty of scope for fun, relaxation and adventure at this picturesque resort.
3Enjoy a houseboat cruise
Imagine falling asleep to the sound of gently lapping water, and waking up to a breathtaking sunrise. A shock of color, brightest pinks and brilliant oranges, bathes your private deck in warm light. A chorus of birds greets the new day, while the mouthwatering aroma of your freshly prepared breakfast fills the air. Sailing along the backwaters on a traditional Kettuvallam (a traditional houseboat) is an experience you’ll cherish for a long time.
Powered by solar energy, these houseboats on Lake Vembanad in Kerala also offer a sustainable stay option. With a spacious living area and a bedroom or two, the houseboat lets you soak in the scenery as it glides along the lake past traditional villages. Slow down and embrace the unhurried pace of life in these parts.
4Explore the temples of Hampi
Hampi, the ancient temple town and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Karnataka
Surrounded by massive granite boulders, perched on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, Hampi is full of surprises. The UNESCO Heritage Site in Karnataka, dating back to the 14th-15th century, was the historical seat of the Vijayanagara Empire that ruled much of present-day South India.
There are over 1,600 structures still standing, from royal complexes, to temples and forts. Discover the musical pillars of Vitthal Temple, admire the sheer scale and intricacy of the large stone chariot and bask in sweeping views of the boulder-strewn landscape and sprawling paddy fields from vantage points.
5Learn the fine art of South Indian cooking
Flavorful and complex, South Indian cuisine is marked by the use of coconut and seafood, particularly along the coastal regions. Each of the South Indian states has its own distinct culinary heritage, and you can unlock the secrets to some of the most popular dishes at a cooking class, when you travel with us.
At Spice Tree Munnar, a boutique stay in the tea plantations of Munnar in Kerala, you can learn to cook some traditional dishes such as fish curry and coconut rice. You could also sign up for a tea tasting session under the guidance of an expert. Tour the plantations, learn about the production and different varieties of tea available in Munnar, and wrap up the experience with a delectable high tea.
6Discover Mysore Palace at night
Mysore Palace, also known as Amba Vilas
A nighttime visit to Mysore Palace is a rare treat, and one of our absolute favorite things to do in South India. From the 14th century all the way through the 1950s, the palace was home to generations of Maharajas belonging to the Wodeyar Dynasty. The three-storied stone edifice sits in the heart of Mysore city, with the best views of Chamundi Hills.
On Sunday evenings, the palace is lit up in spectacular fashion. Bright lights play upon its pale granite face, its red-topped towers standing out in brilliant contrast with the dark night sky. Marvel at the sight, before going up the hills to visit temples and soak in panoramic views of the city.
Good to know before you go
Make a note of the seasons. Much of South India experiences a bulk of its annual rainfall during the monsoon months of June to September. The best time to travel would ideally be between November and March.If you plan to visit or stay at tea plantations, please note that the terrain can be rough. Those with mobility issues are requested to speak to our destination experts in advance about their options.Make sure you carry insect repellent, especially on houseboat rides or plantation stays.South Indian cuisine is a hearty mix of seafood, rice and an assortment of meat and vegetables. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available, so make sure you communicate any food preferences and allergies.If you are visiting temples, some of them have strict dress codes. Make sure to check beforehand, and dress accordingly. Footwear is not permitted on the temple premises, and there’s usually a place reserved outside of the temple where you can store them securely. If you don’t prefer walking barefoot, you could have a pair of socks handy.
South India draws you in with its jaw-dropping scenery, tranquil backwaters and lagoons, lush plantations, sumptuous food, and most of all, the generosity of its people. When you travel to South India with us, you will enjoy exclusive experiences tailored to match your preferences. Whether you’re seeking a cultural tour or a safari, our experts will help turn your travel dreams into reality. Speak to us today, and let’s get started!
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