From the tranquil backwaters of Alleppey to the historic city of Mysore, visiting South India will be an experience you’ll never forget!
So, the first and foremost thing is to pick a season, summers might be too hot and winters are too cold, especially in the hill stations. So the ideal time to visit would be around October or Feb. I’d say you’d need atleast 14 days for a good and complete South India tour. All the four states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are special and unique in their own way. There’s not one you should miss. And the best part is, you don’t need to spend a lot to experience the best of South India tourist destinations.
From the highest peak in South India, Ooty, to the Southern most tip of India, Kanyakumari, all the places are bucket-list worthy. With the diversity of cultures, friendly locals, mouth-watering cuisines, alluring beaches and heavenly hill stations, visiting South India will certainly be an experience you’ll cherish for life.
So let’s take a look at the best holiday destinations you need to consider when visiting South India.
Visiting South India: The Best Destinations
Pondicherry is hands down my favorite place on this list of holiday destinations in south India. And my ultimate weekend getaway with friends. I’ve been here about 11 times now and I doubt I’ll ever get sick of it! It’s got the most beautiful and serene beaches you’ll find in India. Serenity beach and paradise beach (my all-time favorite!) are must-sees.
And don’t leave Pondicherry without seeing the french colony. Soak in the essence of France as you take a walk along the picturesque french quarters and use the colonial french architecture as backdrops for pretty Instagram-worthy photos! Also, don’t forget to grab a bite at the quaint little cafes (namely, polka cafe and Le cafe)! The small street shops along the beaches are great for souvenirs and little bits and bobs. I could honestly go on and on about this beautiful city but I’ll stop right here by saying that this place is the best tourist spot in Southern India.
Need an escape from the everyday hectic life? Auroville is the place to be! Just 10 minutes from Pondicherry is this experimental township that was established to create unity in humanity. It’s totes gorgeous and you’ll find people from all over the world who come here to find nothing but peace and help the community. There’s something about this south India tourist destination that brings a strange sense of peace to my mind.
At the heart of the city is an enormous golden globe called the Matrimandir. Make sure to make a reservation atleast five days prior to your visit. Or you won’t be allowed inside. A day is all you would need in this quiet and secluded city.
Spend your morning taking in all the positive vibes at the Matrimandir, have lunch at one of the many cafes in the area and take a blissful stroll on the sandy Auroville beach as the sun starts to set! For all those who are in need of some soul-searching, Auroville is your answer! You have to go there if you’re visiting south India! Also try Tanto’s pizza and the local silk dresses.
You can’t go to Karnataka and not visit Mysore, a city known for it’s rich and royal heritage. Just 150 kms from the capital, Bangalore, this south India vacation spot is still culturally deep-rooted. No matter how many times I visit, there’s always something I haven’t seen yet!
From magnificent palaces and ancient temples to historic museums and spectacular zoological gardens, the sightseeing places in Mysore are endless! And don’t take cabs while in this city. Instead, ride in the famous horse-drawn carriages that can be spotted everywhere like auto rickshaws to feel like royalty! Also, check out the silk saris and wooden handicrafts that this south India tourist destination is famous for. (my mom loves ’em)
Visit Mysore during Dussehra and you won’t regret it. During this time of the year, the Ambavilas Palace is entirely lit up and the whole city comes to life! It’s something everyone needs to experience atleast once in their lifetime. For an extra royal treatment, I recommend staying at the Lalitha Mahal Palace, the second largest palace in Mysore. It’s so beautiful in itself, you’re not going to wanna leave your room and explore the city!
Just 18 kms from this city is the Ranganathitu Bird Sanctuary which will leave you wanting more. You get to see the most exotic birds of all sizes and colors all while on a leisure boat ride in a lake filled with crocodiles!! Don’t put your hand in the water!
Bandipur National Park
For all wildlife and nature lovers out there, Bandipur will not disappoint you! You’ll see the Indian wildlife in all its glory!! Unlike other forests, you don’t need to go on a safari deep into the jungle to spot wild animals. So don’t be alarmed if you see a cheetah walking leisurely on the roads, a bear climbing up the trees or an elephant blocking your way! One thing you wanna make sure is to always have your camera ready. You never know what to expect when!
I recommend staying at The Serai, a magnificent resort overlooking the wild, to experience luxury in the midst of a jungle. Damn, writing all this is giving me immense nostalgia.
I can’t be the only person who wanted to see this unrealistically gorgeous place after watching Jiya Jale from Dil Se! This south India tourist destination is a tiny city situated in Kerala. It is also called as the Venice of the East and rightfully so! From the relaxing boat rides to the mesmerizing scenery, this south India tourist spot is one place that always makes me want to keep re-visiting.
Enjoy the tranquility of the place as you take a boathouse tour along the glistening backwaters lined with lush palm trees on either side. Stop by at the local shops for some fresh and scrumptious seafood. You can even stay overnight in the boats for the full becoming-one-with-nature experience!
Coorg, also known as Kodagu is a small hill station in Karnataka. As much as I love the greenery and coffee plantations here, the most memorable for me is the Namdroling monastery. Situated in Kushalnagar, this peaceful place is the closest thing to actually being in Tibet. It’s unquestionably beautiful. With brightly colored walls that depict ancient stories and a magnificent 18m high gold plated Buddha, this monastery is a sight to behold from the outside as well as the inside.
You’ll also find monks of all ages going about their daily routines. Do stop and talk to one, it’s very insightful and thought-provoking! And if you’re someone that’s into zen Buddhist home decor, don’t forget to check out the shops surrounding the Tibetan monastery.
For those on the lookout for some fun and adventure, visit the Dubbare Elephant Camp where you can do everything from feeding an elephant to giving it a bath! They’re so adorable and friendly! It’s a heart-warming and unforgettable experience. There’s also river rafting which is seasonal, so do check before you go.
In all my years of living in this city, if there’s one thing I admired about it, it’s the climate. It’s the same all year round – cool and pleasant. So, it doesn’t matter when you decide to visit Bangalore. Drive around leisurely and you’ll know why it’s also called as the Garden City.
The best tourist attractions in Bangalore are Cubbon Park and the Bangalore Palace. It’s a huge monument resembling a medieval castle with stone walls covered with ivy. You won’t know how beautiful it is until you see it with your own eyes. Other than that, you can’t have a Bangalore trip without enjoying it’s nightlife! The locals love fun and beer. And brunch! Check out Sky Bar in UB City for a good time.
Have an evening out at the Black Pearl (a Pirates of the Caribbean-themed bistro!). Commercial Street and Brigade Road are a must for shopaholics. Street shopping has never been better! And do not leave the city without trying the local delicacies like Neer Dosa, Khara bath and Bise Bele Bath!
When visiting south India, this breathtaking hill station with idyllic and scenic views is a must-visit. Enjoy nature at it’s finest at the Avalanche Lake. With it’s crystal clear water surrounded by greenery, this lake is one of the best places to visit in Ooty.
Also, visit the Doddabetta Peak, which is the highest point in South India, and feel like you’re on top of the entire world (literally)! The woody pine forest is another place you don’t wanna miss and the various lakes and botanical gardens here are also worth a visit.
Ooty’s cold all year round but best to visit in summer when it’s not too foggy that you aren’t even visible in any of the pictures! Winters also hard for whoever’s driving, so summer or spring is ideal.
And what better way to deal with the chilly weather than munching on some steaming hot momos from the street vendors. The souvenirs you should most definitely bring back are the homemade chocolates of all sorts of flavours and varieties that you can find pretty much anywhere in Ooty.
If you’re visiting South India, Chennai isn’t exactly one of the best places to visit. Although Chennai isn’t big on sightseeing, it’s really great to visit here to start experiencing the best of South India. And of course, this South Indian tourist spot has the best idlis, dosas and utthapams! Head over to the Mylapore temples for a traditional experience. Go to DakshinaChitra, a historic museum, to see the best of South Indian heritage. The most happening place in the city, Khader Nawaz Khan road (You’d be crazy not to try out the cafes here) has the best eateries and hit the secluded beaches along ECR for a tranquil and relaxing end to the day.
At 55 kms from the city, is Mahabalipuram, a town known for it’s shore temple, beautiful beaches and ornate monuments.
Another one of the best tourist spots in Tamil Nadu is Kanyakumari, a small coastal town at the southern tip of India. The beaches in this town are unreal. Not only is the sea clean and clear but also the shore has the most beautiful looking seashells scattered all over it. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending half the day collecting them.
This beach is also the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. The waves lapping at the shore from all three sides is a magnificent sight. And the Valluvar Statue, a 133 ft tall stone sculpture in the middle of the ocean is reason enough for visiting South India.
This south India tourist destination has been on my bucket list for a while now ’cause it’s truly one of the best holiday spots in south India. Anusha says that Arakku Valley, which is a 2 hour drive from Vizag is a gorgeous place to visit. And the Rishikonda beach, which I’ve heard a lot about from friends, is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in South India.
Another one of the best tourist destinations in Kerala is Kottayam. And yes, it’s just as lush and exuberant as Alleppey. However, this is yet another place on my must-visit list. Illikkal rock, Vembanad Lake and the Kumarakom Bird sanctuary are the best tourist spots in Kottayam. Apart from those, there’s also the Poonjar Palace and Kodimatha are some other vacation spots in Kerala. With so many places to see, this should definitely be a place to consider while visiting South India. Plus, Shilpa recommends staying at a nature spa resort for a totally relaxing experience. Get a back or head massage and spend a full day listening to the chirping of birds in the tropical greens to forget all your worries.
So those were our top picks for the must-see holiday destinations while visiting south India. Which one’s next on your bucket-list? Let us know by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja! 😀
Nishita is a Staff Writer/ Journalist at ShilpaAhuja.com. She is a graduate of National Institute of Fashion Technology and has a degree in leather design. A lover of all things fashion, she writes about everything from beauty, hair and lifestyle to fashion trends and how-to’s. Her area of expertise is outfit ideas but being fresh out of college, she also loves writing about college fashion. Her new found love of baking is currently taking over her life, making her write about all things chocolate and easy recipes. With a flair for sketching and a great eye for detail, she’s previously designed leather garments for brands like Diesel and Salsa. When she’s not writing, she’s busy reading extremely sappy Nicholas Spark’s novels, sewing clothes and listening to some indie rock. Also super passionate about photography, she loves portraits and wildlife photography – a habit turned love that formed with the amount of traveling she did as a teenager. As a girl who grew up with books and movies like Pride & Prejudice, her love for period fashion is huge. And being curly haired, she’s always on a constant hunt for solutions to problems that come with having ringlets and loves sharing them with people through her articles. For feedback and questions, email [email protected] or connect with her on twitter @ni95.