Travel guide: Tips to keep in mind when planning a trip to South India

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South India, the quintessential peninsular paradise of the Indian subcontinent, offers a confluence of cultures that features an incredible mix of richness and diversity ranging from landscapes, heritage to culture, and cuisine. From impressive relics of past civilizations and splendid architectural heritage of bygone empires to chic, modern cities; from myriad facades of changing hillscapes to cascading coastlines of limitless seas; South India has something for all. Many travellers to the region simply make a mad dash for the palm-fringed beaches and spice plantations of South India which are spectacular; but if you are looking for a more offbeat experience, get ready for the lesser-known charisma of this triangular tropical haven nestled by the seas. Here’s a travel itinerary that will unravel for you a scrumptious mix of culture and splendour, deliciously untasted. (Also read: Rural Tourism: 5 places to visit in India for a rich village life experience )

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Payal Satish, Chief Business Officer, BLADE India, suggested important things that you should know for a South India travel trip.

1. How to reach:

With more international airports than the rest of India combined, the southern states are well connected to every corner of the country and, indeed, the world. Traffic is a major concern across all major metropolises, hence it is only natural to look for alternatives. For example, For a quick getaway to the Coorg Coffee plantations or to the wilderness of Kabini, you can skip the 7-hour road journey for a quick helicopter flight.

Once you land in Bangalore, you can helicopter to either Coorg or Kabini within an hour. For other destinations, You could also choose to travel by fully air-conditioned train, Rajdhani Express trains cover several hundred kilometres within an hour. Some states also have local trains for shorter routes.

2. When to visit:

The best time to visit South India is between December to February, when the region experiences less humidity, and the temperatures are milder, ranging between 22-30 degree Celsius. Some places in the southern part of India do remain cool through a large part of the year, such as Munnar in Kerala, making them an ideal choice if you want to beat peak season rushes. Monsoons extend from May to October and have their own unsurpassed charm. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, running from Ooty to Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, a classic remnant of colonial times, is one of the best ways to enjoy the Western Ghats in all their lush splendour.

3. What to eat:

South India is a haven for foodies. The region is quite literally peppered with places that can whip up a meal to suit all palettes. The cuisine has subtly brilliant flavours infused with coconut, cardamom, banana and fresh mangoes, and a plethora of tangy spices that make Southern Indian food stand deliciously apart from the rest of India.

To revel in a multiplicity of delicious Kodava cuisine, you can visit Coorg. Their cuisine relies heavily on locally-sourced ingredients and regional flavours including Bamboo shoot curry, Kaad Mange curry, Koovale Puttu and the iconic ‘Pandi Curry’ or ‘Pork Curry’. Tender, light and succulent the dish offers a mix of flavours that are both easy on the tongue and can jolt the senses, with its spice. This must-try dish is a true reflection of the diversity of the region.

4. What to do:

There are so many rich and varied aspects of scenic beauty in South India that it is hard to pick one that appeals the most. It is home to various archaeological and architectural wonders from across all faiths. From grand temples in Hampi and Thanjavur to the Jewish Synagogue in Kochi, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, and the Namdroling Nyingmapa Tibetan Monastery in Karnataka there is a lot to choose from. Wildlife enthusiasts can cherish the largest population of elephants and tigers in Bandipur, Mudumalai and Periyar National Parks.

Hampi is known for its ancient temples, forts and monuments of the Vijayanagar empire. But there is more than one way to explore the heritage city. If you are the outdoorsy type, explore the ruins of Hampi, on a non-gear cycle and opt to go bouldering on its undulating rock surfaces or just climbing on top of Hemakuta Hill for the most scenic sunset of a lifetime.

5. What to pack:

  • If you are planning to travel during the monsoon season then an umbrella and a raincoat should be packed.
  • Carry trekking shoes, sunglasses, a cap and sunscreen and easy breezy clothes.
  • Carry at least one traditional attire, especially if you plan to visit the temples.

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