India is an intriguing yet overwhelming place. It is a melting pot of several religions, several hundred languages, and several million people. Due to its staggering size, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip there. Luckily a helping hand isn’t far away. We’ve stripped India back to basics, compiling a list of India’s highlights and more importantly, how, where and when to see them. Exploring the nooks and crannies of its cities, discovering its ancient charm, experiencing its age old rituals, and falling under the spell of India’s irrepressible charm makes for an adventure you will never forget.
Southern India offers an extraordinary variety of things to do and fascinating places to see – from the impressive forts and temples in Chennai and Madurai, to the stunning plantations of Paradisa and the tranquil canals of the backwaters. Imagine India can design your tailor-made luxury holiday to Southern India to fit around your exact requirements.
There is nothing more tranquil than an exploration of Kerala’s Backwaters, made up of winding canals, rivers and huge lakes. The best way to travel this region and to be truly immersed in its way of life is by spending time on a kettuvallam (houseboat). From the moment you get on board you are transported to India’s very own Venice, where the atmosphere is serene and the landscape enchanting.
Enjoy a sneak peek into daily life in India by staying at a haveli or in a homestay. If only for a few nights, you will be shoehorned into a family, enjoying traditional Indian hospitality, sampling home cooked food and exploring the path less travelled. Staying at one of these unique lodgings will give you an incredible insight into real India, and you will be welcomed with open arms by hosts whose wealth of local knowledge knows no bounds. Coming in all shapes and sizes, from plantation bungalows to historic houses, majestic forts and charming cottages, a short stay in one of these unique properties allows you to immerse yourself in India rather than simply visit it.
Kerala and the South
The southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are home to exquisite temple towns, tranquil backwaters, sandy beaches, colourful cities, tea plantations, green rolling hills and a rich cultural heritage. Scenically diverse and brimming with colonial and historic treasures, Kerala and the South is a delight the explore, where the pace of life is slowed to a leisurely stroll.
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Located in India’s Deep South, coastal Kerala is famous for its vast network of backwaters, linking lakes and lagoons just shy of the coastline. There is much to explore, with over 900km of waterways combining to form this exceptional system. A slow-paced cruise in a traditional houseboat is an indulgent immersion into life in Kerala, and a must for anyone visiting the region.
Kerala’s vast coastline is speckled with gorgeous warm water bays. Marari is a lovely beach retreat and our recommendation if you’re looking for solitude and tranquillity. Kovalam is slightly more frequented, but have some lovely beaches, great water-sport facilities and the option of early morning yoga. Escape to cooler climes at Munnar hill station and trek Anamudi, the highest peak in Southern India, or explore the picturesque landscaped charm of Ooty.
Despite its relaxed feel, there is much to do and see in this region that would keep even the most restless traveller occupied. A city many consider to be the jewel of Kerala, Cochin has a unique colonial history, with a culture shaped by Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Arab and Japanese influences. Continue on this south India cultural exploration to the Tamil Nadu temple town of Madurai, home to the internationally acclaimed Meenkashi temple.
Karnataka’s cities of Mysore and Bangalore are great for exploring, the former boasting an array of historic temples and colourful markets, and the latter a cosmopolitan city bursting with restaurants and shops.
Away from India’s mainland, lie the Andaman Islands, an archipelago consisting of 300 idyllic and pristine islands. With white sandy beaches, colourful corals and bountiful sea life, the islands offer the perfect beach retreat in the azure waters of the Bay of Bengal.
We recently sent our travel specialist Cherylle out to southern India, to experience the laid-back atmosphere of this part of the country. Here, she tells us all about her trip…
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Did you know?
The Keralan backwaters are an interconnected labyrinth of canals, lakes, inlets which are estimated to be about 900km long in total.
Did you know?
The name Kerala is said to derive from the word Keram which means coconut tree in Malayalam, it is therefore known as "The Land of the Coconuts."