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Pranam Paryatan Desk

Surrounded by the ocean and populated by the diversity of the Ghats, it is hard to shortlist places to visit in South India. Every turn reveals something new in this natural wonderland. Marvel at the backwaters of Alleppey, party your heart out in North Goa, explore the tea plantations of Munnar, indulge in the scenic beauty of Coorg, or be mystified by the clouds that roll across Kodaikanal. One can spend hours just describing the tourist places of South India, and weeks trying to visit all of them.

1. Hampi

One of India’s top historical destinations, the laid-back village of Hampi was once the last capital of Vijayanagar, one of the greatest Hindu empires in India’s history. It has some extremely captivating ruins, intriguingly intermingled with large boulders that rear up all over the landscape. The ruins, which date back to the 14th century, stretch for just over 25 kilometers (10 miles) and comprise more than 500 monuments. An incredible energy can be felt at this ancient place. Hampi is commonly visited from Goa, as there are a number of transport options from there.

2. Coorg

If you are a nature lover and looking for a place filled with stunning scenic beauty then Coorg is where you need to plan your trip. Nestled amidst the imposing mountains the place is a popular coffee production hill station in the western ghats with the view of beautiful green hills and streams cutting through them. Ever tried waterfall rappelling? If not, now is the time where you can relish an exciting challenge by rappelling through the waterfalls and cascading from a height to get a lifetime experience at Chelavara. Also if you happen to visit Coorg with family then visit the Golden Temple, Talakaveri Temple and watch sunrise and sunset at the Raja’s Seat.

3. Gandikota

Gandikota is one of the beautiful villages in Andhra Pradesh and is arguably the one that has a unique appeal. Sure, each place in South India has something special to offer, but how many of them have a Grand Canyon? Labelled as ‘India’s Hidden Grand Canyon’, Gandikota is carved by the Penna River that flows through Erramala hills in Andhra. The best way to explore this scenic spot is via a hike, which isn’t an easy one, but the unbeatable views and scenery that await top are worth the effort. It is surely one place that you’ll never forget.

4. Wayanad

Wayanad is a quaint rural district in the South Indian state of Kerala. This beautiful land of paddy fields is one of the top tourist destinations in South India. The green paradise of Wayanad is nestled in the Western Ghats and is known for its beautiful culture and heritage. This rural hill station holds a plethora of flora and fauna. Have a great time exploring this green land.

5. Mysore

Known for its royal heritage, and the fine silk sarees, Mysore is one of the best places to visit in south India during October. With the petrichor feels and the onset of winters, Mysore serves as a perfect escapade for a rejuvenating holiday.

6. Kodaikanal

The cool breeze of Kodaikanal, a hill town in Tamil Nadu, is a welcome respite from the humidity typically associated with southern India. Nestled amidst the misty clouds, this hill station is rightly called the Princess of Hill Stations. There are rambling paths for trekkers, lakes to spend an afternoon by, waterfalls to bathe in and plenty more. Even the trees and plants here are unique. If you time your visit right, you may be able to see the Kurunji shrubs in bloom. At night, a trip to the observatory takes you to a whole new world.

7. Ooty

The Queen of Hill Stations, Ooty is definitely one of the most popular tourist places in South India. Blessed with pleasant weather, it is an ideal choice for summer holidays. Located in the Nilgiri range of Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, Ooty enjoys spectacular scenery. Explore the beautiful trekking trails, gardens, and lookouts. Boating and picnics by the lakes are equally amazing. Also, heck out the colonial relics of the British Raj. Do not miss to indulge in home-made chocolates, it’s a local pleasure. Ooty is a rejuvenating getaway from the crazy urban hustle bustle.

8. Gokarna

If someone told you about a destination, which is surrounded by hills on one side and sea on another then you probably won’t believe it. But Gokarna is exactly that way. The lovely, serene paradise nestled in the lap of Western Ghats will make you fall in love with this beach town. Travellers, who wish to experience the charms of Goa without crowd and party scenes, prefer visiting Gokarna which is one of the best places in South India. It is at an accessible distance from both Mumbai and Bangalore and regular trains and buses ply to and from here.

9. Pondicherry

Pondicherry, also popularly known as “French Riviera of the East” is an enchanting seaside town located 160 km South of Chennai. It is known for its breathtaking beauty and relaxed and peaceful setting. It is preferred not for its tourist attractions but for its unique atmosphere due to its French colonial past and location. This town is perfect for cyclists and those who are fond of going on walks.

10. Chikmagalur

If you are looking to step back in time and take a break from t bustling city life, Chikmagalur should be the place for your next destination. Home to serene coffee plantations and stunning hills, outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring Chikmagalur. Make sure to hike up to the Hebbe Falls or Mullayanagiri. Camp at Ballalarayana Durga or enjoy long walks in the coffee plantations.

11. Alleppey

The crystalline backwaters of Alleppey quench the thirst of nature lovers. Relax at the luxurious houseboats of Alleppey to wake up to the rippling sounds of water and witness a colourful end of the day. As you pass the beautiful water lilies, green paddy fields and villages, the spotless beauty of the God’s Own Country rejuvenates you. Witness the distinguishing Kerala architecture with multiple mural paintings at the Krishnapuram Palace or get to know the rituals of worship at the Krishna Temple of Ambalappuzha.

12 . Araku valley
A coffee enthusiast would know the importance of Araku valley. Famous for its coffee plantations, India’s first tribal growers’ organic coffee brand was launched in the Araku Valley in 2007. The premium organic “Araku Emerald” brand of coffee sells globally. Inhabited by different tribes, Araku is a hill station in the Vishakapatnam district. A perfect getaway from the hustle-bustle of the city, this valley is surrounded by mountains like Galikonda, Raktakonda, Sunkarimetta and Chitamogondi.

13. Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary

Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary is a rare wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka that offers a unique experience to visitors. If you are looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and want to explore an offbeat tourist destination this winter, choose Kabini.

14. Idukki

Idukki is the brightest jewel in the crown of the Western Ghats. The most famous hill station in the Idukki district is Munnar. The queen of hills is known for its impeccable beauty, the unending vistas of tea estates, the rolling hills, the perennial waterfalls, and crystal-clear lakes. But there are many places around Munnar within the Idukki district which are equally breathtaking. You can go Kayaking at the Anayirangal dam and watch the wild elephants in groups walking at the banks. You can also visit the Eravikulam national park to walk in the mystic mountains and spot the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. Visiting with children? Take a cruise in the Periyar lake of Thekkady to watch the wildlife, birds and if lucky, even the carnivores.

15. Munnar

Munnar is a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. The hill station enjoys a favorable and pleasant climate all year round and is famous for its lush green hills and tea plantations. The best part of Munnar is, the sprawling tea gardens everywhere and anywhere you see and more than 90% of this hill station is under tea plantation. The view they offer is stunning which makes Munnar a must-visit place in South India.

16. Thekkady

Home to the enormous Periyar National Park, the old-world village of Thekkady is sure to capture your heart with its candid charm and profusion of natural beauty. Spot tigers, as well as other wild animals frolic at the country’s largest tiger reserve, enjoy the adventurous sport of Bamboo rafting or marvel at the astonishing ecology of the Periyar Lake and its adjacent greenery.

17. Varkala

The fairy-tale setting of Varkala beach is enough to take your breath away, with a long winding stretch of cliff and views that extend over the Arabian Sea. A paved footpath runs along the length of the cliff, bordered by coconut palms, quaint shops, beach shacks, hotels, and guest houses. Nestled at the bottom of the cliff is a sparkling beach, reached by steps leading down from the cliff top. It’s not surprising that Varkala is one of India’s best beaches.

18. Maravanthe

The village is situated near Kundapura in Karnataka and is most visited because of the Maravanthe Beach. The quest for peace, tranquility and the mesmerising view of sunset make Maravanthe a must visit destination for the ones looking for a relaxing holiday. So if you are looking for best places to travel in Karnataka, then Maravanthe is one of them where you can plan your trip. Even though there are places where you can stay on the highway but I would suggest you to book your stay in Kundapura.

19. Madurai

Known as the hub of Tamil culture and learning, Madurai is an ancient city that is over 4,000 years old. It is worth visiting this place for one reason, and one reason alone – the Meenakshi temple that is as old as the city. Dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (an incarnation of Parvati), the temple stands out with its stunning Dravidian architecture, complete with intricately designed 14 gopurams (gateway towers), sculpted pillared halls and colourful sculptures depicting the mythological tales and scenes from Hindu texts. The 17th-century Tirumalai Nayak Palace, the 19th-century Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Vilachery Pottery Village and Gandhi Memorial Museum are other highlights.

20. Kumarakom

This is a small village in the backwaters of Kerala on the Vembanad Lake. It is dotted with canals which have pretty houseboats to stay in. If you are a birdwatcher, then you will really enjoy your summer here, as the area is home to cuckoos and Siberian storks. Pathiramanal Island is another spot where one can enjoy watching the migratory birds. Spend time in a houseboat with your loved one this summer.

21. Coonoor

Perched amid the verdant greenery of Nilgiris, Coonoor is a picturesque hill town in Tamil Nadu. The popular tourist hotspot offers breathtaking views. Summer makes the town all the more pleasing. Go trekking to Dolphin’s Nose, Droog Fort, Hidden Valley and Ketty etc. The Wellington Golf Course offers golf therapy. St. Georges Church and Sim’s Park are the two remarkable destinations where tourists should step in. Spend time here and you will return with fond memories of the popular summer destination in South India.

22. Mahabalipuram

Visiting Mahabalipuram is like a live history lesson. In this historical town, tourists can get to see ancient Hindu temples and figurines from mythology. The most famous temple in Mahabalipuram is Shore. Another great site to see is Krishna’s Butter Ball, a huge rock – resting on a hill.

23. Kochi

Located at the shores of the Arabian Sea, Kochi offers you a soothing atmosphere. Witness the unique fishing technique of Chinese nets here or just walk along the soft sandy beaches with your loved ones. The Kochi Fort with a Portuguese air is the landmark of the city. While the Dutch cemetery narrates the story of several Europeans, the Hill Bungalow and the David Hall represent the colonial India. Kochi is home to the oldest European Church in India, the St. Francis Church where Vasco-de Gama was buried. The sea food delicacies and coconut water of Vasco-de Gama Square is a popular hangout zone.

24. Kanyakumari

Dubbed as the tip of India, Kanyakumari is known for its beautiful beaches, Vivekananda Memorial and the ever-so-perfect sunset. It is a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu on India’s southern tip. Jutting into the Laccadive Sea, the town was known as Cape Comorin during British rule and is popular for watching sunrise and sunset over the ocean. The town lays at the confluence of three bodies of water namely the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal and is thus considered an important pilgrimage site in the south of India.

The temples here are built in a Dravidian style of architecture. The various south Indian delicacies served here are great and light on the stomach and include some of the south Indian classics like Sambhar, Idli, and Dosa, etc. a trip to this town is sure to refresh your senses. Also, chilling at seashores like Sanguthurai Beach, Sothavilai Beach amongst plenty of others is simply exotic.