South India has many tourist destinations and religious places to visit. Tirupati Balaji, rameshwaramand Kanyakumari are religious places, others are tourist attraction places. I am dividing the south India visit in two part in this article. Part -I- Tirupati, Bangalore, Mysore, Ooty, Hyderabad, Bidar, Gulgarga, and Part-II-Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry,Madurai, Rameshwaram,Kodaiknal, kanyakumari for visiting convenience.
How to plan a journeyIf you want to visit south India, plan for this 2-3 months in advance. Get your ticket done. South India is hot through out the year except Ooty and Kodaiknal. Accordingly take the clothes with you. Take some emergency medicine with you. Do not carry much cash and jewelry. Take your photo identity (voter card/ pan card) for hotel booking and to show to TT in train. Take some dry fruits, biscuits, water bottles, umbrella, scarf etc.
How to reachTirupati, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad, Chennai, all are well connected by air,rail and road. Somecone can come to these places by any means and can visit near by places.Madurai ,Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram, Kodaiknal, are connected by road and rail.
South India Part-I
HyderabadI lived here for 5 years and found the city best for living. Recently Hyderabad was on the top of livable cities in India. It has good weather and low cost of living. It has become an education and IT hub. Here is some places to visit such as NTR garden, Nehru zoological park, Birla temple, chilkur balaji temple, yadagiri gutta , chowmahalla palace, Nizam museum, Puri Jagannath temple road no.12 banjara hills, Golkunda fort, charminar,Buddha statue, Peddama temple, iskcon Hyderabad,snow world,GVK one mall, jalvihar, sundrapuri, Indira park, botanical garden, Hussain Sagar lake, KBR national park, lumbani park, shilparamam near hitech city, Mecca Masjid, salarjung museum one of the largest mesuem Ramoji film city. Places near Hyderabad-Warrangal, Hampi, Bidar, Gulbarga, Srisalam, Nagarjuna dam,
TirupatiIt is in AP and near Chennai. Here is Bhagwan Tirupati Balaji temple.This place is so famous that people from all over the India comes for Balaji Darshan. It is 20 km up on the hill from Tirupati city. Lockers, hotels are available here for tourist.It is one of the richest temple in India.South Indian people go every year for balaji darshan and offers their hairs to God. Train and air service is available to reach here.
BangaloreBangalore-Mysore-Ooty is a good tourism triangle. Bangalore has some good place such as iskon temple, majestic, lalbagh, Tipu sultan palace, Bangalore fort, Bangalore palace, Kempegoda museum, government museum, HAL aerospace museum, JL Nehru planetarium etc. Bangalore has many defense installations, PSUs, IT companies.
MysoreMysore is very nice city. It has many attractions such as Mysore palace, chamunda Devi temple, musical fountains Brindavan garden, Jaganmohan palace, Mysore zoo, zoological garden, Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastry, Mysore sand sculpture museum, Mysore dussera is very famous. It is worth to see Mysore Dussera.
OotyOoty is a hill station in Tamilnadu. It is near Coimbatore. There is toy train from Coimbatore to Ooty (Utakmandlam). It takes 3 hours to reach Ooty by toy-train and the journey is very pleasant. In Ooty there are many things to see such as botanical garden, rose garden, Doda-beta peak Ooty Lake, ketti valley view, tea and coffee gardens, wax world museum, Elk hill, Murugan temple, Holi Trinity church, Lake Park. There is city darshan bus service, you should take the bus. Pykara River, emerald lake, Mudumalai national park, deer park, tribal museum, St. Stephen church.
South India Part-II
ChennaiI was here for 7 years. During my stay here I visited the whole city and its surroundings. In Chennai there are many attractions such as Marina beach, Golden beach, Vend lure zoo, T nagar shopping malls (such as Sarvana, Jayachandran). Madras University and Presidency College both are at marina beach. I had done my MA in Pub-Admn from here. Mount road is the best area. Triplicane books market is near Marina beach. Some places around the Chennai are Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram (famous for silk sari)
MaduraiMadurai is 500 km from Chennai. It is known for Meenakshi temple. Meenakshi temple is very beautiful and require half day to visit. You can see the rath yatra of Devi Meenakshi at 8 pm in the temple. Madurai has many other places such as Gandhi museum, Subba laxmi music academy, Madurai Kamraj University , and maharaja palace.
KodaiknalIt is 120 Km from Madurai by road. Only road link is there.You can stay in Madurai and go by tourist bus from Madurai to Kodaiknal. You will be back by evening at madurai. It is a hill station and weather is cold. You must carry warm clothes. Hotel facelity is also there, you can lodge there. Some of the tourist place in Kodaiknal are suicide point, observatory, steep rock etc. clouds are just above of you. Some times visibility is very poor.
RameshwaramRameshwaram is 80 km from Madurai. Madurai is the center point for visiting these four places. You must stay in Madurai and plan for each destination separate day. Four days is requires to see this circuit. Rameshwaram is holy place for Hindus. Ram chander ji fought the war against Ravana from here. There are many things to see such as Jyotirling temple, beach, Vibhishan rajyabhishek sthal, stones that float on the water, Laxman kund etc.
Kanyakumari Kanyakumari is 240 km from Madurai and is the southernmost point of Indian plateau. Three sea, Arabian sea,bey of bengal, hind mahasagar meets at kanyakumari.You can identify the three different water colours.Vivekanand Rock is inside the sea around 500 m. Boats are there to reach the rock and come back. There are many temples and sites to see in Kanyakumari.
Hyderabad indeed is a beautiful city. There are a few more attractions that are worth a visit.
1. Qutb Shahi tombs are on the way to Golconda Fort. These are tombs from the Qutb Shahi dynasty.
2. Golconda Fort has sound and light shows after sunset. It’s interesting to get a close feel of Indian history through the dramatic presentation. The commentary is in the voice of Amitabh Bachchan.
3. Paigah tombs are a little away from the city, but worth a visit for the architecture and piece of history that is preserved there.
4. Other places of interest are Jalavihar water park, Osman Sagar, Himayat Sagar, Nizam’s museum, Bio-diversity park etc.
A visit to Hyderabad is incomplete without tasting the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani. The best place to savour this dish is in Paradise (the hotel has many outlets) and Hotel Shadab. There are other restaurants too where biryani and other local food is served. Pista House is famous for Haleem. Try out the different varieties of Indian breads and kormas etc, to get the real feel of nawabs.
Karachi Bakery is a fine place for a choice of baked goodies, savoury treats and confectioneries to take home from your visit. The goodies come neatly packed in gift boxes.
When in Hyderabad, you must shop for fresh-water pearls and lac bangles. Lac bangles can be bought in the Char Minar area and Sri Jagdamba Pearls and Mangatrai are famous for pearl, semi-precious, precious and gold jewelry.
Other things to take home as souvenirs from Hyderabad include -
1. ‘bidri’ work artifcats – bowls, boxes, vases, plates etc
2. Locally made ‘Ittar’ or perfume
3. Handloom sarees, like Venkatgiri, Gadhwal, Pochampalli, Narayanpet and Mangalgiri to name a few
4. Kalmakari products – sarees, bedsheets, wall-hangings etc
5. Kondapally toys and lacquer toys
6. Tribal art – wall hangings, cushion covers, bags etc
No holiday is complete without tasting local delicacies and shopping.
I am adding a list of things the author has missed out, which are a must see when visiting Kanyakumari. I am also including a small list of things to buy.
Kanyakumari is uniquely located, making it possible to view beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the sea, from the same spot. Apart from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Thiruvalluvar Statue and the various temples, tourists here must visit a few other places of interest, like the –
1. Vattakottai Fort dating back to the 18th century this fort can be visited on foot along the coast of Kanyakumari,
2. Our Lady of Ransom Church is a Catholic place of worship. The Church has beautiful architecture and is a pilgrimage centre.
3. Padmanabhapuram palace is located on the foothills of the Western Ghats, close to Nagarcoil. The palace belonged to the kings of Travancore and stands inside a fortress.
Kanyakumari is also a great place to shop for local handicraft items made of sea-shells. You can pick up decorative screens for doors and windows, lampshades and chandeliers, mirrors encased in sea-shells and other items. A variety of huge seashells can also be bought in the small shops, lining the roads. You will also find local vendors selling semi-precious stones like corals and pearls. Buy them at your own risk, because sometimes what is sold is not an actual stone/pearl, but resin.
Woollen clothing can also be shopped for here. There are a number of temporary stalls, owned by Tibetian migrants who sell sweaters, caps and shawls etc. Remember to bargain, you can bring down the price by almost 50%.
If you are going to Kanyakumari by road make sure you have enough daylight hours - because as you approach the southernmost tip of mainland India you will cross Aralvaimozhi, a place famous for winds farms. You’ll be able to see huge windmills spreading out to as far as your eyes can see. Some windmills are installed right on the highway. It is a spectacular site – remember to keep your camera handy.