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10 Best Places Visit to South India by delighted journey

In this new article, I present to you my 10 Best Places Visit to South India by delighted journey that you absolutely must visit! But before going any further, it is important to define what South India is. South India includes the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Pondicherry & Andaman Nicobar Island & Lakshadweep Island. Some include Goa, others do not. This region of India is also defined as the country of the Dravidians (those who occupy southern India).

They are non-Aryan and non-Himalayan people who speak Dravidian languages. Generally, Dravidian people also have a darker skin color than the people of North India. Also note that the Dravidian languages do not have at all the same root as Hindi or the northern languages and that there is more proximity between French and Hindi than between Hindi and Tamil!

​My discovery of India began in 2008 with a one-month trip to South India between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Since then, I have returned many times and each time this region of India welcomed me with open arms and provided beautiful moments. South India is the region of India that I know best, the one where I have spent the most of my time and which enchants me the most. In this article, I reveal my 10 favorite places in South India, list out of order and always subjective.

1- HAMPI

Hampi is an ancient city in the state of Karnataka not far from Goa. By 1500, Hampi was the second largest city in medieval times after Beijing and probably the richest in India at that time, attracting Persian and Portuguese traders. It was conquered and destroyed in the middle of the 16th century by a Muslim coalition from the North. After this defeat, Hampi was abandoned and left in ruins. Today there are many ruins, but fortunately there are also sumptuous temples and sculptures that spread over thousands of hectares all around. Today this city is part of the UNESCO world heritage. I advise you to take at least 3 days in Hampi and stay at Hampi Village on the other side of the river. You will find a very soothing atmosphere and a certain softness in one of its many small guesthouses.

2- FORT KOCHI

Located in the state of Kerala in the southwest of India, Fort Kochi was in turn Portuguese, Dutch, English and finally Indian. It was a very important commercial crossroads at the time when the many spices (notably cardamom, pepper, cinnamon) from Kerala were sold at high prices and left by boat for the rest of the world. Today all that has disappeared and there remains a calm and peaceful little town where I love to ride my bike. There you will find nice little restaurants, cafes and some trendy boutiques but also churches and even the oldest synagogue in India which is still in operation! Visit our page for more information on this city and my good addresses.

3. VARKALA

Varkala is known for its beautiful beaches along a cliff under coconut trees in Kerala (1 hour drive from Trivandrum International Airport). It is a welcome stop to rest and recharge your batteries. Between yoga, swimming, good restaurants, pretty cafes and relaxing, the days pass very quickly…and in the evening around 6 p.m., you will witness the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Varkala has a very special meaning for me because it is there that I was introduced to hatha yoga by Shankaran in 2008. And it is still a place I enjoy returning to. In 12 years, Varkala Beach has not changed much. It’s truly a place to let yourself be. Don’t hesitate to go for a walk in the city, also in contact with the locals. The city is small but still with what makes India charming: horns, colors, smiles, smells of spices all in a disorderly but graceful movement.

4. AMRITAPURI

Amritapuri is an ashram, probably the largest in India. This is where Amma (Mātā Amritānandamayī Devi) was born and lives. Amma is the Mother, and since she was little she has held people in her arms, it is devotion and unconditional love. To date, she has “kissed” more than 40 million people! In the ashram, time passes gently. You are the one who manages your time and your activities. There are no obligations strictly speaking. I have spent many stays there and each time it has been wonderful moments of sharing and wonderful meetings with people from all over the world. I recommend that you stay there for more than two days… to give yourself time to live a different and more mystical experience. In addition, the ashram is located by the ocean. And with a bit of luck you might also spot dolphins along the Malabar coast.

5. PONDICHERRY

This former French trading post has managed to keep all its colonial charm between its white city (French part) and its black city (Tamil part). I really like Pondi, its streets flowered with bougainvillea, its different atmospheres depending on the neighborhood, its architecture mixing French and Indian influence, its tasty South Indian cuisine… it’s good to stay there for 2-3 days and wander around on foot in his city between Hindu temples and old churches. You will also find beautiful shops and cafes where it is good to linger mid-afternoon.

6. MINAKSHI TEMPLE IN MADURAI

One of the most fascinating Hindu temples in all of India. For Jean-Claude Carrière, if I had to choose a temple to visit in India it would undoubtedly be this one! Madurai is located in the state of Tamil Nadu, inland. The first particularity of this temple is that it is dedicated to a goddess, Minakshi, the name under which Parvati, the wife of Siva, hides. The temple, built in the center, dominates, possesses and swallows the city which seems to be there only to serve it. Before you even see it, there is a very special atmosphere in its adjacent streets. It’s buzzing with people, between pilgrims, traders and residents. And once we arrive at the front, we can only be amazed by its multicolored towers, its gopurams piled up with sculpted figures. Inside, hundreds or even thousands of people come to pray and discuss, mixing the social and sacred dimensions. Indeed, the Hindu temple is also a social place and not just a place of contemplation like our churches can be. There is bustling, uninterrupted life from sunrise to sunset, the best time to visit the temple. First walk around the temple and admire it from the outside and then enter and let your senses carry you away. You will also observe different rituals, even the strangest (rubbing your ears in front of Ganesha).

7. MAHABALIPURAM

This small fishing village has a very special meaning for me. This is where I spent my first days during my very first trip to India. This small village has developed well and is full of ancient treasures. The major work is the “descent of the Ganges” or “Arjuna’s penance”, an extraordinary bas relief 27m long and 9m high. But this ancient city has many other treasures such as the Shore Temple, the five Rathas and the butter ball of Krishna which is magically balanced on a small hill. My recommendation when traveling to South India is to start with two or three days in Mahabalipuram. And if you are a fan of stone sculptures, this is the best place in India to bring home a sculpture of a Hindu deity.

8. CHETTINAD

Chettinad is a small territory in the south of Tamil Nadu which had its hour of glory in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Chettiars (locals) made their fortunes in business and banking and many emigrated to Southeast Asia, as far as Vietnam and Sri Lanka. With their money, this community built sumptuous and incredible baroque or art-deco style palaces with materials from Europe (Italian marble) and all over Asia. Today all this splendor has disappeared and there are just hundreds of more or less abandoned palaces and others renovated. It is very pleasant to spend 2 days in this region, preferably cycling through its small towns and villages and meeting the locals who will welcome you with kindness. If you are a little lucky, some will even open their homes to you for an unforgettable visit. For the stay, I recommend either staying in Karaikudi, preferably at the Bangala Hotel where the cuisine is sublime or in Kothamangalam at the Saratha Vilas.

9. GOA – ARAMBOL

North Goa towards Arambol beach was hippie territory in the 70s. Today there is a quiet atmosphere with a mix of backpackers, Indian and Western tourists all surrounded by nice cafes, small restaurants and a very long beach where everyone meets at the end of the day for the sunset. You will also find plenty of yoga classes, ecstatic dance and other “trendy” activities.

10. MUNNAR

This small town is located at an altitude of more than 1600m in the mountains known as the Western Ghats. Munnar is worth it because the road going up from the sea is long and winding. In 2008, I did it by bus, but I advise you to take a car with a driver, especially if there are two of you.What is striking when arriving in Munnar is of course its freshness. We are far from the humid and hot atmosphere of the south. Munnar is surrounded by green hills of tea plantations where it is very pleasant to walk. In the Munnar region you can also observe wild elephants and visit the tea plantations and spice gardens that you will find on your way.

I could also have talked about Mysore, the backwaters, the fabulous temples of Tamil Nadu and so many other places, without forgetting the food found in the south, much better in my opinion than that of South India. But I will perhaps tell you about this in a future article.

​And you, what are your favorite places in South India?

If you also dream of discovering the beauties and wonders of South India, I invite you to join me by mail or WhatsApp.

10 Best Places Visit to South India by Delighted Journey

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