7 Best Things to Do in South India with Friends

South India is an abode of tourist destinations. Rich with culture and traditions South India is also famous for its scenic beauty. South India is an incredible land full of various beautiful places to visit. Owing to its beautiful landscape, exotic wildlife species, mind-boggling flora and fauna, amazing waterfalls, millions of people travel every now and then.

India is the seventh-largest country in terms of the area and the second-most populous democracy in the world. A beautiful canvas of colors and beauty beginning from its unique culture. While these ever so beautiful Southern Indian beauties can be visited all year round, however the months of monsoons, especially August, add a certain charm to all of these destinations and bring them alive.

You may have experienced monsoons elsewhere, but monsoons in the South show you some of the most perfect, precious views that are not just rare, but extremely difficult to experience in other parts of India.

Rains make the lush green south look even more beautiful and magnificent. The smooth highways in the south will give you an unforgettable driving experience and not to forget the quaint and the fairy-tale hill towns of the south with stunning views will help you relax and rejuvenate in the lap of nature with its purest touch. Head to these places in South India during the month of August to experience the paradise on earth.

Best Things to Do in South India

Here are some of the best things to do in South India with friends.

1. Sunrise at Pulicat Lake

Pulicat lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in India located in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. Pulicat Lake forms the largest part of the Pulicat wetland in Nellore district, making up an area of 1000 square kilometres. Tucked between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Pulicat Lake is a must visit place when you are in Chennai.

Located quite closer to the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Lake is believed to be a heaven for birds. This glimmering lake is the second largest saline water lake in the country that attracts a huge number of tourists especially bird watchers. As this place is bestowed with exotic flora and fauna species, the lake is popularly called as Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.

Located on the border of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh Pulicat Lake is the second biggest brackish water lake in India. The lake is spread across an area of 15 square kilometres.

The lake has a large floating population of flamingos, an endangered species known as "the walking pink" due to their habitually walking instead of waddling like most birds do. These birds are found only here and at Bharatpur in India. The flamingos have been declared a non-flight bird and also Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

The lake’s shallow waters host a great number of migratory birds like flamingoes, kingfishers and curlews who visit all the way from Siberia between November and February.

2. Discover the Monuments of Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is an ancient city of Tamil Nadu that is famous for its historically spectacular temples and forts. Built during the Pallava dynasty Mahabalipuram is known for attracting tourists especially those who love visiting historical places. Along with the numerous palaces in Tamilnadu, Mahabalipuram is one of the best places to visit in India.

Mahabalipuram, one of the most appropriate sources of the great cultural heritage of India is an ancient town established in the year 1827 and since then it has held huge significance in Tamil Nadu. This little yet commendable town is home to several ancient temples of archaeological and historical significance. It is quite fair to say that your Tamil Nadu tour is incomplete if you don’t visit these century old shrines.

The city of Seven Pagodas and the Coromandel coast located 60 kilometers south of Chennai offers beautiful sandy beaches and promises an exotic shopping experience to tourists. From the architecture to the serenity, the relaxing atmosphere and the impressive surroundings, this city makes a traveling experience unlike others.

The five Rathas offer a quiet environment and are a very well-informed place to be. Covelong (Kovalam) and Sadras are fishing villages that have become exotic beach resorts and an absolute must visit in Mahabalipuram. Places to visit in Mahabalipuram are Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas, Sea Shore Temple, Krishna's Butter Ball, Descent of the Ganges, India Seashell Museum, Varaha Cave Temple etc.

Mahabalipuram is the right place to visit if you are a lover of architectural splendors. Its rich heritage and past glory will sweep you off your feet. Mahabalipuram is known for its temples situated on the seashores. The eighth and ninth century structures and buildings will let you take a glance at our rich history.

Mahabalipuram is a serene place where you can leave off the burden of your life and relax as the cool breeze caresses you. One day trip in Mahabalipuram will allow you to see Sadras, an ancient Dutch port surrounded by beaches and ruins of an old Dutch port. It is an extremely peaceful location away from the hustle of the city.

3. Kathakali Performance at Kochi

Kochi, the always bustling port city that echoes the centuries-old history of trade. Kochi has been a hospitable city that welcomed all the ships that anchored in its shore. Today also every tourist visits Kochi where cultures have amalgamated blurring the narrow boundaries. Enchanted histories of royal legacy still reverberate inside the royal households of the Cochin Royal Family.

Among places to visit in Kochi you should visit Fort Kochi, Mattancherry Palace, Cherai Beach, Paradesi Synagogue, Hill Palace Museum, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, Willingdon Island, Bolgatty Palace, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, and Veeranpuzha lake and backwaters.

4. Gazing the tea plantations from Munnar

Perched at an elevation of 5,200 feet, Munnar is one of the most beautiful hill stations in the state of Kerala. Nestled along the asymmetric slopes of the Nilgiri hills, this picturesque place is a must-visit during the rainy season. While Munnar is a beauty all throughout the year, but the first spells of rains enhance the exotic beauty of this beautiful destination.

An epitome of natural beauty, Munnar is preferred by honeymooners and nature lovers who love to spend a week amidst the serenity of nature, and with the rains, it just gets better.

Being among the best tourist places in India during the summer, Munnar is considered as the heavenly abode inside Kerala. It is an idyllic hill station that is surrounded by tea plantations and exotic greenery, located in the Western Ghats of Kerala. Eravikulam National Park, Mattupetty Dam, Anamudi, Pothamedu View Point, Attukad Waterfalls and Tea Museum are some of the best places to see in Munnar.

Munnar is one of the most unique hill stations in South India and an ideal honeymoon pleasure spot. Known as the land of the three rivers, due to the convergence of the Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers here, Munnar is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The atmosphere is a romantic and dreamy, with fresh air and green to add to it.

Although there are many activities to do in Munnar, strolling in tea plantations and lush green forests will definitely get in touch with your inner being in the midst of nature. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in the surrounding forests, where you can go and spot exotic animals such as the Nilgiri Tahr, Gaur, Greylag Giant Squirrel and Nilgiri Langur, as well as the elephants.

The most unique thing about this hill station is that every 12 years the blue hills with Neelakurinji flower in full bloom. This phenomenon is the reason why these hills are known as Nilgiris. While it's cold here all the time, the best time to visit Munnar is during the summers from March to May, to beat the heat of the city.

Munnar has tea gardens and colonial heritage, and is also a popular destination for travelers from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. You can explore this hill town and savor its irresistible scenic treats.

This is one of the most famous honeymoon destinations of Kerala which is a must-visit place to include in Kerala trip plan for 2 days from Chennai. Adventure, nature, charming landscapes, hills, forests – Munnar is yet another place loaded with natural beauty.

Best places to visit in Munnar:

Mattupetty Dam, Top Station, Lockhart Tea Park, Periyankal Waterfalls, Signal Point Viewpoint, Anamudi peak, Muniyara, Pothamedu View Point, Cheeyappara Waterfalls, Lakkam Waterfalls and Kundala Dam are the most notable attractions.

Best accommodation in Munnar:

Nature Resorts

5. Binge on Chettinad Cuisine in Karaikudi

Karaikudi is the largest city in the Sivaganga district of India. It is also known as the capital of Chettinad, mainly because of the predominance of Nattukottai Chettiars. Karaikudi owes its popularity to the type of constructions it has, are houses built with limestone called Karai Veedu and also due to a plant called Karai, which is widely distributed on the surface.

The Chettiars built a financial and commercial empire in Sri Lanka, Burma and Southeast Asia. Their original towns in Chettinad still show mansions, now abandoned, full of teak furniture, Chinese porcelain and overseas treasures. Stroll through the nostalgia of this region of Tamil Nadu where you can relax in the shadow of the magnificent buildings like the kanadukathan palace.

Until a few years ago, Keezhadi was a small, indefinite village in Tamil Nadu that courted few visitors. But Keezhadi's excavation led to the discovery of the enormous archaeological importance of this site and established it as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the decade with valuable artifacts dating back almost 3,000 years.

Another thing Karaikudi is known for is its food. A new cooking genre is named after the region known as Chettinad and the type of cooking is also known as Aachi Samayal. In olden days, in Karaikudi, people worked tirelessly in fields and wanted to lighten the non-vegetarian dishes with spices, hence masala was added to the chicken dishes such as Chettinad Chicken Masala.

Kal dosai does not go well with usual sambar and chutney. It needs side dishes that have good soaking coefficients that is gravies that go deep inside the dosai and kindle its inner soul. The texture of kal dosai is such that it requires a deserving gravy to do justice. Some of the best combos with kal dosai - mutton paya, spicy chicken gravy and of course nice and thick fish gravy and vadacurry.

Kal Dosa is the normal dosa with extra thickness which gives its name i.e., the kal dosa is prepared in a dosa pan made out of stone. Kari Dosa is a spicy meat masala dosa stuffed with the meat of your choice. Mostly it comes in Mutton and Chicken. It has a mouth-watering taste with a strong aroma of the spices. You can have it as a breakfast, lunch, brunch.

Meen kuzhambu is awesome. No coconut is used, but a touch of tamarind which gives the dish a sweet and tangy note, with the savoury flavour coming from the onions and tomatoes. The onion tomato masala and the spice powder added thicken the curry as well infusing it with tanginess. Seeyam is made from channa dal and sugar balls coated with rice and urad dal batter and fried in oil. Best bet is to check for seeyam in boli stalls at Chennai.

Adhirasam made using jaggery and coarsely ground rice flour is similar to a Vadai in shape but its sweet. It’s a typical Diwali sweet in Tamil Nadu and also served in many of the temples sweet stalls. Thattai is another Diwali snack, made using urad dal flour and rice flour with spices. It is also available at all snack shops. Ingredients may vary except for rice flour.

Available around Madurai and neighboring places mostly south Tamil Nadu, Paal Bun is a delicious snack sold at tea stalls. It’s the equivalent of glazed donuts, that are available in the US, but somewhat harder than the Donuts.

There is a sweet named seerani which is available in and around Sattur. They come in two flavors depending on the type of sugar used. It’s either white cane sugar or brown palm sugar. It’s similar to jalebi but tastes little different.

Another Diwali snack, Seeval is made using chickpeas and rice flour and spices and is easy to make. Generally, Arupukottai is famous for seeval, though you get them in every sweet shops. Ingredients may vary except for rice flour.

Koozh vadaam and Arisi Vathal are popular snacks as well as a side for meals. They are sun-dried at summer and served for the winter season at most households at Tamil Nadu. It’s a more tedious process to prepare the batter, dry them, store them and at last fry them to turn them into the snacks.

Thaen Mittai is a traditional sweet of Tamil Nadu which was very famous before few decades. This sweet is popularly known as thaen mittai or thenaaru or thaen unda or thennilavu etc. It is almost forgotten now, which was sold in Petti shops earlier.

Pongal is a festival as well as a famous sweet dish that can be eaten as a food. Its mostly prepared during festival days during Pongal and also available as Prasadam in temples.

Suyyam (originally Suzhiyam in Tamil) is a lovely sweet dish. It is the prodigious cousin of Kolukkattai. Unlike other sweets, it doesn’t get cooked even in Tamil houses a lot. But it tastes lovely. It is prepared by stuffing Thenga Pooranam (made with coconut and jaggery) inside Channa dal paste. In short, it is a sweet bonda.

Vengaaya Thaazh Keerai Sambaar roughly translates to Spring onion Green Sambaar. This is also a rare dish. Spring onion is not usually considered as keerai (greens). But when sambar is prepared giving vasantha onion the status of Keerai, vasantha kaalam thaan! It tastes the best of all keerai sambaars.

Preparing vazhaipoo usili is a tedious task. Separating the edible part of the banana flower from the non-edible parts and cutting it into small slices is laborious. But, the end product is worthy of it. Ashoka is a low profile cousin of Kesari. It is made with Moong dal. Whenever someone plans to cook a sweet in Tamil Nadu, they think of Kesari and make it with Rava. Ashoka is a lovely sweet.

It is very popular in Thiruvaiyaru, which is also popular for Carnatic Music. Mango is king of fruits. Avakkai Urugaai is king of Urugaais. But podi maangai urugaai is the queen of Urugaais. Lemon oorugai gets Raajamatha status. But never ever try that maagali kizhangu urugai.

6. Enjoy some laid back time in Sirumalai

About 39 km from Madurai, Sirumalai is a dense forest area with moderate temperatures throughout the year.

Sitting at an altitude of 1,600 feet above the sea level, this place is a favorable choice to get away from the cities and enjoy some laid back time among the freshness of rich flora. It is a dense forest area and has a moderate weather throughout the year. It is home to many unique flora and fauna. There are a total of 18 narrow turns and on the last turn tourists can see a serene church and a panoramic view of Dindigul city.

Sirumalai also boasts of a small waterfall and an artificial lake named Sirumalai Lake with boating facilities. Finds mention in Hindu mythology too. It is believed that when Hanuman was carrying the Sanjeevani, a chunk of it fell here. Another highlight is the 500 year old Shiv Linga located in Agastya Puram.

7. Enjoy stunning viewpoints in Theni

A major market for Chilli, Cardamom, Garlic, Grapes and Cotton, Theni is rightly called the hidden paradise. This place looks absolutely divine during monsoons. Other major tourist attractions around Theni are Vellimalai and Meghamallai Hill stations. They are quite popular for the stunning viewpoints they offer. The untouched, unhindered presence of nature in its purest form is what makes Theni a must-visit destination for getting away from the concrete jungle.

A visit to South India can give you the best holidays to discover the best. Have the best time here and enjoy the cultural bounty of south India.
Kalyan Panja