South India is nature’s gift to the country. The few states in the southern part of India are rich in their distinct culture and heritage. They have their unique cuisines. But one thing that is common to all these states is their natural beauty. The lush greenery and calmness of this place will heal you spiritually and mentally. There are so many places to visit here, but I’m going to list down only the highlights that are most visited by tourists.
1. Mysore Palace, Karnataka
Located in the city of Mysore, the Mysore Palace is the epitome of royalty. It was the former residence of the royal family. The kings of the Wodeyar dynasty along with their families had been living here for centuries. Before 1897, this palace was made of wood. But during an unfortunate accident, it got burnt and destroyed. The palace as we see it today was then remade by a British architect.
The palace is a fusion of the Indian and British style. The architecture of the palace is unlike anything you have ever seen. The larger-than-life ceilings and pillars made of glass and tiles are just breathtakingly beautiful.
Since it was the home of the royal family, there are hundreds of rooms in the palace. Many of these rooms are now converted into museums adorned with items and weapons of the ancient times. Some rooms like the Kalyana Mantap (pavilion for royal marriages) are still preserved and kept intact in all their glory. The massive domes adorning the roof of the palace, the impressive architecture within and a glimpse of the royal life makes this the best palace in India.
The compound containing the palace is enormous. Within the compound, there are some beautiful temples and the royal family also resides here to this day. On public holidays, the palace is lit up at night, and it is a delight to watch.
2. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is no clue as to when this temple was built, but it is mentioned in many ancient scriptures. The most famous idol in the temple is that of Lord Vishnu sitting over his five-headed serpent. The king’s residence which is in the compound is very palatial. There are rumours of buried treasures within the temple. Many small rooms within the temple have remained locked since centuries, and no one knows why. People believe that it must have some significance and therefore, no one has ever tried to open them.
3. Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Thousands of visitors come here every day to watch the infamous Kanyakumari sunrise and sunset which is a breathtakingly beautiful sight, and I have witnessed it myself. It is the southernmost end of our country. All the three seas that surround India meet here.
There are an uncountable number of small stalls spanning the beach where shells of all sizes and shapes, shell bracelets, necklaces, etc. are sold. Also, when you come here, don’t forget to visit the Vivekananda Memorial Rock.
4. Kumarakom, Kerala
Kumarakom is a small village located in the backwaters of Kerala. Kerala is most famous for its backwaters and Kumarakom is one place where you can enjoy the beauty of the site.
Surrounded by coconut groves and many cottages, it is an ideal location for a relaxing getaway. There is a bird sanctuary here which is a hub of many indigenous as well as foreign species. But the most famous thing here isn’t any of this stuff.
Kumarakom is very famous for its houseboats. Various holiday packages will provide you 1 or 2 days’ stay in a houseboat equipped with all the essential facilities while you can enjoy the local cuisine and spend some relaxing time in the middle of the backwaters. It is truly a memorable experience.
Also, when you come to Kerala, don’t forget to get an Ayurvedic spa and massage because many believe that the ingredients they use during the treatment have healing properties. So give yourself some much-needed pampering as well.
5. Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Ooty is a mesmerising hill station in Tamil Nadu. It’s more like on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. When you mention South India, Ooty is the prime tourist destination.
It is an unpolluted heaven in the midst of everything. It is situated in the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains). A notable fact about Ooty is that after every 12 years, Kurunji flowers bloom in this area, covering the entire slope. The view of the hills during that time will make you speechless.
All you see around you in Ooty are hills with lush greenery, agriculture (because Ooty is still an agriculture base) and beautiful lakes. Regarding agriculture, Ooty is famous for tea and chocolate.
Regarding attractions, there are many lakes in Ooty. There are also many gardens, the most famous among them being the Rose Garden. It is assumed that the garden has more than 3500 varieties of roses.
6. Coorg, Karnataka
Both Coorg and Mysore are located in the Kodagu district of Karnataka, and therefore, people usually address them together as Mysore-Coorg.
Just like Ooty, Coorg is a piece of paradise. Full of valleys, agriculture, rivers and high hills, Coorg is the ideal tourist destination. The best thing about Coorg is that all kinds of people will find something of interest here. There are many sports that you can take part in while at the same time, Coorg is full of places for you to relax and enjoy. Coorg offers you a tranquillity which is seldom found anywhere else these days.
Coorg is also famous for its coffee estates that stretch over hectares of land. If you are someone who loves monsoon, then do visit Coorg and go to these coffee farms. Some other places for you to visit are Tibetan Colony in Kushalnagar, Talacauvery (the area which is believed to be the origin of river Kaveri) and Raja’s Seat. There are plenty of other places as well apart from the above mentioned.
7. Rameshwaram Temple. Tamil Nadu
The Rameshwaram Temple is located in the small city of Rameshwaram. The complex is gigantic, and it’s made up of white sandstone. It is built in the typical architectural style that most temples in South India are built. The temple also has a small river near it with clear water.
Just like all the other temples, this temple also has many legends. But the reason that it has acquired the position of a holy Dham is that of one of Vishnu’s famous incarnation, Lord Ram. After killing Ravan, Lord Ram and his wife Sita stopped at Rameshwaram, right at the place where the temple stands today. Since Ravan was a Brahmin and killing a Brahmin is the greatest sin in Hindu religion, Lord Ram decided to ask for penance to Lord Shiv. He asked Hanuman to bring an idol of Shiv from Mount Kailash, and Sita herself made a Shiv Ling. Both the Shiv Ling are in the temple today. It is because of Lord Ram’s descent here that this place became holy.
8. Fort Kochi, Kerala
Fort Kochi is a small part of Kochi which is a huge city in Kerala. Fort Kochi is so small that you can walk through all the places that are worth seeing there.
Full of churches and old ruined buildings, it feels like a blast from the past. Fort Kochi speaks majorly about the Portuguese, European, Dutch and Indian history of this place. Many of the churches that are found here like the Santa Cruz Basilica are infamous. Visit the Vasco Da Gama complex to see the huge fishing nets spread near the docks of the water bodies here.