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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.

Best Things to Do in South India

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

1. Sunrise at Chennai

Chennai, located on the coromandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, is the merging point of culture. It is vibrant and bright, full of artistic delights and vividly painted temples. The food here is inspired by the religious roots of the city and it has a unique place in the south.

Officially known as the gateway to South, Chennai is also the gateway to the unbound cultural extravaganza of India. Chennai, one of the most bustling cities in Tamilnadu which has all modes of transportation facilities but if you want to travel through the length and breadth of the city, then the most reliable option is to rent a car in Chennai.

By picking a rental car provides you with that ideal autonomy and flexibility to drive through its various neighbourhoods on your own. The beauty of the sea, serenity of tradition, the glamour of city life, and commercial streets are the highlights of Chennai.

Chennai is accessible in all transport Marina Beach, Mahabalipuram, Mylapore, Birla Planetarium, Velankanni, St. George Fort, Thousand Lights Mosque, Royapuram Fishing Harbour, DakshinaChitra, Ashtalakshmi temple, Guindy National Park, Semmozhi Poonga, Murudeshwara Temple are some of the must-visit places if you want to know about the plentiful bosom of Chennai.

Chennai (formerly called Madras) is a city younger than its image along the Bay of Bengal. More than any other city in India, it is a true reflection of the diversity of this country. This floating metropolis is a mixture of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. Chennai is more like a hidden mystery.

Chennai is one of the biggest metropolitan city. There are many common places which are in common, but here I’ll pick those places which only a Chennaite knows. It is a city worth all your time and money, for the experience would be unforgettable. Depending on the duration of your trip and budget there are several combinations of places you could visit to have an amazing time.

Here’s a schedule you could tweak as per convenience to plan a trip to Chennai.

Senmozhi Poonga: It is the first botanical garden set up by the Government in the city. It is home to numerous species of flora and has a special butterfly garden.

Marina Beach: Located at a distance of about 4 kms from Chennai Central Railway Station, the famous Marina beach is the second longest beach in the world with a coastline of about 15 Km. The best time to visit this beach is during morning and late evening when the beach is all lively with food stalls and other entertainment.

Sri Parthasarathy Temple: Dedicated to Lord Krishna, Sri Parthasarathy Temple is one of the oldest temples in Chennai. The temple was built by Pallavas in the 8th century and is of high religious importance.

The National Art Gallery: Situated inside the Government Museum Complex, National Art Complex is one of the oldest art galleries in India and among the most visited attractions. The National Art Gallery consists of four different sections, including Tanjore Painting Gallery, Decorative Art Gallery, Indian Traditional Art Gallery and Raja Ravi Varma Painting Gallery.

Kapaleeswarar Temple: Kapaleeswarar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built in the 8th Century by Pallavas and was later rebuilt by the Vijayanagara rulers in the 16th century. The 37 meters tall and grand gopuram of this temple is made in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture and is a major attraction.

Chepauk Palace: Here the Chepauk Palace was the official residence of the Nawab of Arcot from 1768 to 1855. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. By the end of the Carnatic Wars, the independent kingdom before the Carnatic had become practically a protectorate of the British East India Company.

The Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah was a close friend and ally of the British and was dependent on the company's troops for their protection. Thus, in 1764, he thought of building a palace for himself within the walls of Fort St George. However, due to space limitations, Wallajah was forced to abandon his plans and instead built a palace in Chepauk, a few kilometers south of the fort.

Some other places in Chennai that must not be left unexplored are Elliots beach, V.G.P Golden Beach, MGR Memorial, Snake Park and Ripon Building.

2. Discover the Monuments of Mahabalipuram

Along with numerous palaces in Tamilnadu, Mahabalipuram is one of the best place visit in India. 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

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.

5. Binge on Chettinad Cuisine in Madurai

Madurai is not only the city of temples but also a perfect sphere for delicious food! If you tend to walk into the roads of Madurai even after midnight, you will still be able to find the tastiest of foods, so don't worry of having a tummy full feast.

In olden days, in Karaikudi - municipality in Sivaganga district, 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.

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.

Madurai Jigarthanda is the best of the best dessert one can ever taste which goes without saying. Famous Jigarthanda has become a household name in the city. Jigarthanda is a combination of pure milk ice cream and other ingredients without any chemicals. You can also taste the Ilaneer sarbath and Rosemilk at Periyar Bus Stand.

Anywhere in Tamilnadu one could find relishing Idli-Sambar and Madurai has the best of the idlis and it is soft! Idli is a south Indian snack which is a steamed version of Urad Dal and rice fermented dough. Idli is just 55 calories and Sambhar is made of pulses which provide protein to your body. Protein doesn't make you hungry for long time.

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.

Taste Kothu Parotta anywhere at Madurai, you’ll find your stomach asking for more! Parotaa stalls are a part and parcel of Madurai. Mutton kola urundai are meat balls that are more than perfect for your lunch. Also, do try the Aiyira Meen Kolambu along with the roasted Nei Meen variety. Also, the Prawn biriyani is a must to eat dish.

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

6. The Biryani Pilgrimage in Hyderabad

The Old City of Hyderabad is the true face of the India of yesteryear. Cows roam the busy narrow streets, market hawkers loudly praise their wares and the smell of chai and hot Hyderabadi Biryani with goat meat fills the air.

Hyderabad has awesome tourist attractions like Golconda fort, Birla mandir, Lumbini park, Snow world, Charminar, Falaknuma palace, Salar Jung museum, Moazzam Jahi Market, KBR park, Shilpa Ramam etc. You can also visit Ramoji Film City and spend an entire day in colorful world. This place is known for Swanky Charminar, IT hub, and Snow World to beat the scorching heat.

Fantastic shopping places like Koti, Abids, Laad bazaar, Begum bazaar, Book bazaar and numerous shopping centers are together an icing on the cake for your already overwhelming list of things city has to offer. It will take many months to try out all varieties of amazing food. Start with Irani chai and Mirchi Bajji. Try out delicious street food Hyderabad is famous for. And of course, you can binge your Biryani very often.

The fusion specialty rice dish - Hyderabadi Biryani is believed to have its origin in historic Hyderabad. The blend of Mughlai and Persian cuisine resulted in one of the most delicious ways rice is cooked. The appearance of Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, its texture, and the aroma make it unique and drool-worthy.

The Mughals enjoyed the dum biryani and back in those days, the Shahi Khansama would use different types of meat. In today’s world, only limited types of meat are available for cooking biryani. The saffron flavored long-grain rice and the succulent pieces of chicken make this biryani the star of the show. In a nutshell, yes it is worth the hype and you MUST try it.

Kachchi Biryani version is prepared with kachchi gosht (raw meat) marinated with spices overnight and then soaked in curd (dahi) before cooking. The meat is sandwiched between layers of fragrant basmati rice and cooked in dum style after sealing the handi (vessel) with dough - how flavourful is that.

The iconic Charminar monument and ancient mosques like Mecca Masjid loom over the otherwise insignificant streets, as silent witnesses to the city’s rich past. This is also a city of extremes: head west to Cyberabad and you’ll wonder if you’ve suddenly ended up in high-tech Japan. However, if you don’t have too much time, focus on the historic heart of the city and its magnificent architecture.

7. The special Irani Chai in Hyderabad

You've probably had tea in the most exquisite locations but you've never had Irani Chai with Osmania Biscuits while staring at Char Minar. Irani chai is a Persian brand of Tea. It is a unique form of tea unlike any other version of Indian chai, made by the addition of mawa or khoya to black tea. Now, there are around 25 Irani Chai cafeterias in the city including Nimrah Cafe, Hotel Iqbal, Farasha Cafe, Sarvi Bakers, etc.

Late night drives are super fun — eating dosa and drinking Irani Chai at 3 am after wandering the whole city, yeah, you wouldn't ever wanna leave.

8. Sunrise at Kanyakumari

Don’t miss the sunset at Kanyakumari, even if it means spoiling your sweet sleep. Trust me, it is one of the best sunrises you will ever see. Go to the sunrise point at least 45 minutes before and secure a spot, as it gets crowded later on. Apart from the Kanyakumari Sunrise point, you can also watch the sunrise from the pier. It’s such a nice feeling to watch the sunset from the edge of the pier with water all around you.

In fact, it is one of the most exotic places to visit in India. One can find destinations here that can never cease to amaze. There are temples, churches, religious pillars and statues everywhere. The perfect blend of the culture of the place is reflected in the art, architecture and even in the local cuisine of Kanyakumari.

Those who enjoy history can take an excursion to Kumari Amman Temple or Vattakottai Fort. The Chilling on the coasts such as Sanguthurai Beach, Sothavilai Beach and many others is simply exotic. The Wax Museum is a different place but equally attractive for tourists and should be seen in the city.

Chitharal is a small village located at a distance of 7 km from Marthandam and 55 kms from Kanyakumari. It is famous for the Jain Monuments also known as Chitharal Malai Kovil or Chitharal Cave Temple carved into the rock containing sculptures of Tirthankaras and carved deities inside and outside dating from the ninth century.

Rock memorial is a calm and beautiful place, if you want to know more about the history of Vivekananda and the Vivekananda Rock itself. You have to take the ferry ride if you want to visit. But its totally worth the visit.

The Sree Padmanabhapuram Palace is the erstwhile official seat of Travancore Royalty. Many think this as a Palace, but its primarily a fort called Kalkulam Fort designed in very indigenous Malayalee architecture style. However, the fort was constructed to house the Palace and eventually it became more like a Palace as the fort walls also got integrated into Palace structures.

9. Exploring the Sacred Temples of Hampi

Capital of the erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom, Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. The UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site is known for its architectural splendour epitomised in Queen’s Bath, Lakshmi Narasimha Statue, Virupaksha Temple and many more.

Ruins of palaces, temples with carvings depicting the powerful story of the erstwhile kingdom, a huge stone chariot will take you back to the time of kings and queens. Situated amidst three hills, Hampi is the ideal place for tourists as it gives you scope for adventures, trekking and also a place to unload the pressures of the material world.

10. Exploring The French Colony In Puducherry

Also known as Pondicherry, it is one of the best places to visit in South India if you are planning a trip with your friends. Being a former French colony, you will see the perfect blend of traditional Indian and French architecture.

Walking through the French Quarter known as the White Town, you will get to see exquisite colonial bungalows, and also a chain of cafes and restaurants where you can savour the delicious French cuisine and beverages. Pondicherry is the ideal place if you and your friends are on a shopping spree. And of course, the beaches to complete the weekend trip to Pondicherry.

Enjoy the waves that curl around your feet and also try your hand at scuba diving. The place is known for its beaches making it the travelers' paradise.

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 Kalyan Panja Author

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