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The mesmerising south of India

Spend your winter in winsome Southern India

Vibrant, colourful, exotic and ethnic, with attractions as diverse as the mind can visualise- this is Southern India. Allow it to lure you this winter.

The fine art of forest bathing in South India

Vibrant, colourful, exotic and ethnic, with attractions as diverse as the mind can visualise- this is Southern India. Allow it to lure you this winter.

Beautiful vistas along the quaint hilly roads of Munnar

Southern India offers rich diversity to its visitors all through the year including the winter months of December and January. With its salubrious climate and breathtaking locales, one needs to look no further for an exclusive holiday. Undoubtedly, a lot is there in store for the eager traveller.

Scenic drive along Munnar Thekkady
Scenic drive along Munnar Thekkady

Scenic drives

Rated among the top 10 drives in the world, the drive from Munnar to Thekkady is a journey that wholly justifies its rating. This drive, roughly around 90 km, is to be experienced to believe. The sheer beauty of nature that travels alongside you as you eat up the miles is sure to compel you to stop ever so often to soak in the scenes.

Tea plantations in Munnar
Tea plantations in Munnar

From tea plantations and cardamom estates to beautiful hills and waterfalls, there’s indeed a lot to enchant you. Another beautiful drive is from Bangalore in Karnataka to Masinagudi, stretching over 225 km. With the forest areas of Mudumalai and Bandipur on the route, you have a good chance to encounter wild elephants on the way. It does not matter if you do not have a destination in mind; it is the journey that will enchant you all through. Feasting your eyes on the greenery along the way, taking in the splendour of nature, savouring the occasional glimpses of wildlife as you traverse the route, these are drives that will rejuvenate you inside out.

Sarovaram Ayurvedic Health Center
Sarovaram Ayurvedic Health Center

Ayurveda

A relaxing massage, oil bath, therapeutic massage, and the likes are the hallmark of Kerala and to a large extent in Karnataka as well. Some of the most exclusive ayurvedic retreats are to be found in this part of Southern India. To have your daily stresses and worries eased out in the hands of trained staff and having oil massages tailored to your needs is the ultimate lure for your winter holiday in South India.

Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy in Kerala
Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy in Kerala

Some of the most luxurious and prominent resorts are located along the seas and their sole objective is to pamper your senses with various medicinal as well as relaxing massages and packs. Experience the sublime and retreat to a world of utter indulgence while having the cares of daily life expunged from your system.

Padmanabhapuram Palace
Padmanabhapuram Palace

Unusual temples and palaces

South India is characterised by a typical architectural style for its temples known as gopurams. All major temples are built on this pattern. There are, however, some offbeat and exemplary architectural instances that stand out for their unique styles. Away from the humdrum, standing in their own majestic splendour are some of the lesser known but more exquisite temples and palaces in this region of India.

The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one such in Kerala. It is famous for its intricate woodwork and breathtaking finesse and detail. Halebidu and Pattadakal temples vie for attention in Karnataka, steeped in history and reflecting the cultural richness of a bygone era.

Padmanabhapuram Palace's ornated gate
Padmanabhapuram Palace’s ornate gate

These temples will appeal to your aesthetics for the sheer artistry and carvings on display, more than perhaps the accent on the religious aspect.

Beautiful and serene backwaters of Kerala
Beautiful and serene backwaters of Kerala

Exotic beaches and backwaters

Rippling seawaters in every imaginable shade of blue and green, sun-kissed and adorned by generous groves of coconut palms, lapping waves and the serene calm of backwaters, a lazy dusk colouring the same waters a vivid red as you savour a sundowner by the waters while coconut fronds provide a beautiful backdrop- could there be anything more idyllic? Known for backwaters that rival the best in the world, Valiyaparamba and Kumarakom in Kerala beckon with their pristine beauty.

Its the simple life at its best on a boathouse in Alleppey
Its the simple life at its best on a boathouse in Alleppey

You need just to reach these places and let go, sit back and relax in a setting that has all the ingredients to pamper every one of your senses to the maximum.  Complementing the calm backwaters are the countless number of beaches dotting the coastline of Kerala and Karnataka that can give you the luxury of exotica.

By far the best way to explore the backwaters is on a House Boat
By far the best way to explore the backwaters is on a House Boat

It is worth travelling to some of the lesser-known virgin beaches and let the sheer beauty of the surroundings take over.  Gokarna and Kanwatheertha are two such beaches that make for a luxuriant but quiet getaway.

A haven for wildlife in Thekkady
A haven for wildlife in Thekkady

Going wild

Kerala and Karnataka are known for their abundant and varied wildlife, although the majestic elephant dominates in almost all the national parks and reserve forests.

Wild elephants in Munnar
Wild elephants in Munnar

The parks have beautiful resorts in the lap of the forest where one can chance upon herds of blackbuck while sipping on the morning tea, hear the cautionary call of the langur to signal a big cat on the prowl nearby, and invariably wake up to a cacophony of bird calls. You can trek within these parks or laze around and enjoy the sights and sounds. Kudremukh and Periyar sanctuaries need special mention here.

Kori Gassi (Mangalorean chicken curry)
Kori Gassi (Mangalorean chicken curry)

Kerala Kalamandalam

Kerala Kalamandalam is a one-stop destination for every traveller who wishes for a quick immersion into the culture and heritage of this ancient land that traces its traditions back to 3rd century BC. This is, in fact, a deemed University for performing arts of different types that abound in this state. One can experience a rare Mizhavu recital here, a single major percussion instrument that forms part of the Sanskrit theatre, as well as come across various martial art forms indigenous to Kerala. The campus in itself is worth a visit with every pillar, every thatched roof, every wall being an ode to the rich cultural heritage of this state.

South indian thali colourful as ever
South Indian thali colourful as ever

Pamper your palate

The quintessential cuisine of Kerala and Karnataka is as full-flavoured and colourful as are the locals. Subject your palate to an explosion of tastes, go for the regional cuisine apart from the ever-famous dosa; although it must be said that the sheer variety of dosas across these states is enough to stump you. Indulge in various coconut dishes in sweet and savoury tastes, such as Korri Gassi and Obbattu. The Udupi cuisine of Karnataka and Malabar cuisine of Kerala are outstanding examples of local foods that bring out the masterchef amongst all. Make sure you taste the unique red banana of Kerala and various dishes built around it.

It is in the subcontinent’s peninsula that one comes to experience the exquisite. Unexplored vistas await you this winter in Southern India! ◼

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© This article was first published online in Nov 2018 edition – World Travel Magazine.

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