SOUTH INDIA TOURIST PLACES

MADURAI
 

Madurai on the banks of the Vaigai river is a city that gives us a glimpse of South India we’ve never seen. Known as the ’’Athens of the East’’, Madurai is so vivacious it infuses life in inanimate structures. The culturally diverse Madurai is a city one cannot leave South India without visiting.

Shree Meenakshi Temple Its colourful and intricately carved towers make Shree Meenakshi Temple the most lofty and majestic display of Dravidian architecture. The temple covers an area of 6 hectares and has 12 gopurams each measuring about 50 metres in length. If devotion isn’t your cup of tea, walk into the temple to be a part of architectural marvels created at a time when the Kings still ruled. The Ayiramkaal Mandapam is a room that has 1000 pillars running across and it doesn’t matter how you view them; they’re always in a straight line. As you stroll towards the outer rooms, do tap the pillars, they produce melodious musical notes.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Gandhi Museum, Alagar Koil, etc. 
KODAIKANAL

 

Kodaikanal or Kodai is a lush green summer retreat hidden in the southern crest of the Pallani knolls. Its beauty lies in rich meadows and narrow walking paths, the cool weather and calm breeze and finally jutting rocks which are perfect for a hike. In Kodai you don’t need to do much; just walk down a path while you hear Mother Nature weave her most harmonious melody..

The Lake to life by Sir Lavigne, Kodai Lake is one of South India’s most loved holiday spots. Surrounded by green landscapes on all sides, the serenity you enjoy here is incomparable. If the calm bores you, there are always horse rides and cycling trips you can go for. For the fishing enthusiasts, there’s always a way to angle. Permission can be obtained from the Fisheries department to try your hand at a fishing rod.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Kurinji Andavar temple, The Chettiar Park , Coakers Walk ,Solar Physical Observatory, etc. 
MUNNAR
 

Munnar the erstwhile retreat of the British is now one of India’s most loved hill stations. Its green flowing hills and silent brooks always compete with the verdant tea gardens to grab your attention. Imagine waking up with the aroma of fresh tea leaves, imagine a driving through a fluffy cloud, imagine boating in clear lakes; imagine Munnar.

Eravikulam National Park known more often as Rajamali is a Wildlife Sanctuary with romance in its heart and folklore in its trails. When you walk idly in the National Park you see the nearly extinct Niligiri Tahr looking around for food and just when you think you couldn’t get luckier, a flower blossom catches your eye. This extra ordinary sight unfortunately only takes place once every 12 years when the Neelakurinji flower blossoms.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Mattupetti Dam , Echo Point , Munnar Top Station , Kundala Lake , Devikulam ,etc. 
RAMESHWARAM
 

Rameshwaram is a small and simple fishing village, ideal for serenity seekers. The village though small is always lively and welcoming. Take a stroll and watch the simple folk perform their daily chores or simply gaze at the fishing boats that make their way back to the shore. Rameswaram will definitely take you back to your roots while you unknowingly fall in love with village ways. It even has its own folklore. It is here that Rama prayed to Lord Shiva after rescuing his beloved Sita and assassinating the demon King Ravana.

Rameshwaram is home to some of the most majestic temples with vivid Ramayana folklore attached to each. The Sri Ramnathaswamy temple is where Lord Rama decided to worship the demigod Shiva with a massive lingam. Unfortunately the flying monkey he sent couldn’t return with the largest lingam in the world. At this point Lord Rama’s devoted wife made a lingam her husband could pray to, using only sand. Legend has it that this lingam still adorns the centre of the temple. However the temple is more than just another mythical structure, its architecture is as captivating and metaphorical. The intricately constructed corridor is 1,220 metres long adorned with the most detailed pillars and ceilings. Once you do cross the corridor you enter the hall of a thousand pillars, each of which when struck produce their own sweet music. Finally, on the outside are 22 Theerthams to represent the 22 arrows that the majestic Lord Rama always carried. The Kothandarmaswamy temple on the other hand was born out of Lord Rama’s guilt once he assassinated the demon king Ravana. The Satchi temple stands to mark the auspicious piece of land where Sita’s whereabouts were reported by Hanuman. Besides these temples there are two more gorgeous shrines, the divine Badrakaliamman Temple dedicated to Goddess Durga and the beautifully built Theertham temple.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Dhanushkodi and Adam’s Bridge , Agnitheertham , Gandamadana Parvatham , Water Bird Sanctuaries , etc. 
KANYAKUMARI
 

Kanyakumari is at the southernmost tip of India; gifted by nature with only the most exotic sights, Kanyakumari is a marvel during the full moon. On such a night one can see a starry skied phenomenon where both the sun and the moon are lined exactly adjacent to each other. Even on a normal day Kanyakumari has the most exquisite dusks where the sun and moon rise and set in a matter of seconds, throwing a bright hue in the sky, colouring it with only the most godly colours.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial The beautiful Vivekanada Memorial sits on the Vivekananda Rock where the enigmatic Swami Vivekananda finally achieved enlightenment. The enigma of the rock doesn’t end here; its builders instead of using a single style have created an architectural example with its mixed styles so seamlessly merging into each other. The Swami Vivekanada Rock coupled with the Sripada Parai is the place one should stand and see the rolling waves of the massive ocean from land’s end

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Kumariamman Temple , Gandhi Memorial , Government Museum , Suchindram Temple , etc. 
OOTY
 

Ooty her ornate blue hills shimmer in the sunlight, green lawns and lush meadows drape her while the divine clouds above crown her head making Ooty the true Queen of hill stations. Blessed with pine trees and narrow trails it becomes the perfect destination amidst nature. Not a blade of grass is out of place in the misty valley that leaves you motionless as a calm breeze brushes your hair.

Government Botanical Gardens Established as early as 1848, the Government Botanical gardens are a picnic for your eyes. Breathe in the fresh fragrance of plants brought here from Italy and Japan and rest your eyes on some of the most exotic flowers. When your eyes do want to stray, do pay homage to the fossilised tree trunk dating back 20 million years.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Rose Garden , Ooty Lake , Deer Park , Government Museum , Thread Garden , etc. 
TANJAVUR
 

Tanjavur rose to prominence during the Chola period and its art forms kindled during the Nayak and Maratha dynasties, with new artistic horizons being explored. Till date Thanjavur is loved for its most intricate raised surface painting. The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu is a cultural hotspot waiting to soak you in.

Shee Brihadeeswara Temple Built by King Raja in 1010, Shree Brahadeeswar Temple is the most beautiful example of Chola architecture. So humongous is the temple the locals have lovingly nicknamed it ’’the big temple’’. The tower over the sanctum sanctorum stands resolute, in all its majesty overlooking a magnificent monolithic sculpture of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s loyal steed, while age old frescos still line the insides of the temple.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

The Palace , Art Gallery , Saraswati Mahal Library , Royal Museum and Serfoji Memorial Hall , etc. 
TRICHY
 

Trichy also known as Tiruchirappalli, is a beautifully landscaped town with fresh air and cultural extravaganzas all around. So enchanting was this city that the Cholas made it their citadel until the Nayakkas overpowered them, finally making way for the Pallavas under whom Trichy achieved artistic excellence one can only imagine. Its pristine environment and natural beauty are Trichy’s most treasured qualities.

Rock Fort Temple Once you start climbing to the Rock Fort Temple, the cool breeze and the romance in it are so mesmerizing you forget that it was carved from a single large rock, 83 metres above the ground; a rock so old it was present before the Himalayas. When you finally do convince yourself to move on, you come across a simple yet enchanting temple called Sri Thayumanaswamy dedicated to the mighty Shiva. A climb right to the top might be a little tiring, but the temple that welcomes you there leaves you in sheer awe at the will of the devoted workers who toiled hard day and night to build the Vinayaka Temple in memory of Lord Ganesha.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Srirangam , Thirunvanaikkaval or Jambukeswar Temple , Lourdes Church , etc.
YERCAUD
 

Yercaud quiet little hill station on the Shevaroy hills of the Eastern ghats is the only one of its kind in northern Tamil Nadu. While the rest of this region is generally dry, including the predominantly short and rocky hills of the Eastern ghats, Yercaud presents a welcome contrast with its cool climate

Yercaud Lake The first thing that attracts a visitor is the lake. It is a picturesque pool surrounded by gardens and well wooded trees. Boating in the cold water of the lake is enchanting as well as refreshing.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Lady's Seat , Killiyur Falls , Pagoda Point , Arthur's Seat , Kaveri Peak , The Shevaroyan temple , etc. 
KUTRALAM
 

Kutralam is a well-known bathing place and tourist attraction. Some of its magnificent waterfalls (there are as many as seven) of the Chittar river are said to have mineral properties. Bathing in these waterfalls is considered good for both mind and body. The best time to visit this health resort is during June-September.

Thirukuttralanatha Swamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Thirukuttralanathar (Shiva). This temple contains many inscriptions about Chola and Pandya Kings. Less than a furlong from here is a small temple called Chitra Sabha (Hall of Pictures) dedicated to Lord Nataraja and decorated with paintings of rural deities and devotees,puranic stories and religious events. The sabha is one of the five Sabhas where Lord Nataraja performed the cosmic dance.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Peraruvi(Main Falls) , Chitraruvi(Small Falls) , Shenbaga devi Falls , Thenaruvi(Honey Falls) , Anitharuvi(Five Falls) , Pazhathotta Aruvi , puli Aruvi(tiger Falls) , Pazhaya Courtallam(old Falls) , etc. 
CHENNAI
 

Chennai if South India was a nation by itself, Chennai would be its premier city. Amongst the most vibrant cities of India, Chennai is warm at heart and young at soul. The people are friendly and treat one like family, the food simply leaves you asking for more and the bustling sights and sounds enthral your senses and rekindle your very being. It’s all this and much more that has made Chennai the gateway to South India in a matter of 350 years.

The Marina Beach Being the second largest beach in India is not what makes it interesting to visit this beach. The Marina Beach is much more; in fact it is an experience in itself. From the moment you enter its approach road, you will be left speechless as you pass modern marvels of architecture. The State House, Ice House, Chepauk Palace and the ever famous Presidency College greet you through your journey. Once at the beach, the local talent is ever ready to entertain you with their juggling acts and magic tricks. Once you’ve had enough of the sights you can choose a relaxing spot and rest away in its clean sands.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Fort St. George ,Santhome Cathedral Basilica , Vivekananda House and Museum , Kapaleeshwara Temple ,Fort Museum , etc. 
MAHABALIPURAM
 

Mahabalipuram has retained its fame in stone, thanks to the great contribution of Pallava artisans. It is among the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture and a jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu. In a land that is liberally strewn with some of the best in temple art, Mamallapuram holds its own, and stands as a silent yet eloquent witness to the glory of its creators.Unfortunately most of the work was left incomplete, and time and nature have also eroded the remains of this once great port.

Five Rathas These rock-cut temples are rated as excellent examples of Pallava art. Shaped in different styles, the five structures are named after the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharatha and Draupadi. These are monolithic temples, each created in a different style. They are also known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas, and the four of the rathas are supposed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

The Shore Temple , Krishna Mandapam , Arjuna's Penance ,Varaha Cave , Krishna's Butter Ball , Open Air Museum , etc.
KANCHIPURAM
 

Kanchipuram is one of the seven holy cities in the country, and a visit is believed to bestow salvation. Kanchipuram once had over a thousand temples. Today, there are more than a hundred extant, and all are worth a visit. Kanchipuram also has some notable churches and mosques.

Kailasanathar Temple Raja Simha, the father of Mahendravarman built this ancient temple in 81th Century A.D and later completed it. It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower, a pillared hall and vestibule, enclosed by a wall. The temple is famous for exquisite carvings and attracts devotees and tourists alike. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine, as a compound wall. Fresco style paintings adorn the inner walls of the temple.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Kamakshi Amman Temple , Varadaraja Perumal Temple , Vaikunta Perumal Temple , Ulagalanda Perumal Temple , Ashtabuja Perumal Temple , etc. 
TIRUVANNAMALAI
 

Tiruvannamalai located at the foot of a hill is 185 kms from Chennai. It is one of the major pilgrim centers in India. Five different temples were dedicated to lord Siva for worshipping Him in the form of five elements of nature, namely, earth, water, wind, ire and ether. The Arunachaleshwara Temple in Thiruvannamalai is one of them and Siva is worshipped in the form of fire.

Arunachaleshwara Temple This gigantic temple is located at the foot of the sacred ArunachaleshwaraTempleAnnamalai or Arunachala Hill Nine lofty towers of the Arunachaleshwara Temple, the numerous stucco figures and the neatly and intricately carved stone sculptures stand as admirable testimony to the Dravidian Architecture and skills of the master craftsmen of the yesteryears. The temple is located on a sprawling 25 acre land, encompassing several shrines, mandapams, corridors and other such enclosures each adorned with massive pillars with sculptures minutely and aesthetically carved. A huge hall here has a thousand pillars, each elegantly carved, neatly and orderly installed bearing testimony to the planning skills of the engineers of those times. Numerous inscriptions dating back as early as to the 10th century and as a late as 16th century are found on the walls of this temple, recording the liberal contributions of kings and rich to this temple.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Sathanur Dam , Padaveedu , Javadu Hills , Beema Falls ,Komutteri lake , Kavalur Observatory , etc. 
VELANKANNI
 

Velankanni is one of the most visited pilgrim centres in India. It is a town situated on the shores of Bay of Bengal, fourteen kilometers from Nagapattinam. This renowned Basilica of Our Lady of Health draws pilgrims from all over the world. Not only Christians but also the people of other faiths come to this church to pray at the shrine of ’’Our Lady of Health.’’

The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health church can be traced to the mid-16th century and its founding is attributed to three miracles: the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the survival of Portuguese sailors assaulted by a violent sea storm. It is built in the Gothic style, was modified by Portuguese and then further expanded later on due to the influx of pilgrimages.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Vedaranyam , Kodikkarai (Pt. Calimere) , Thirunallar , etc. 
PONDICHERRY
 

Pondicherry is a South Indian town with a French heart. The boulevards, long winding roads and virgin beaches ensure Pondicherry is free from unwanted sights and sounds. It is most definitely the best relaxation destination of South India. The peace and calm of the city has even led to the rise of the Aurobindo Ashram. This Ashram is frequented by countless people in search of Nirvana.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and a French woman known as The Mother, this Ashram propounds spiritual beliefs that are a symbiosis of yoga and modern life. After Aurobindo’s death spiritual authority passed on to the Mother, who passed away in 1973. Located on Rue de la Marine, it is one of the most well-known and beautiful ashrams you will find to communicate with the universal energy within you. A constant flow of visitors file through the main ashram building which has the flower-festooned Samadhi (a tomb venerated as a shrine) of Aurobindo and The Mother in the central courtyard, where devotees gather and try to find the answers to peace. Opposite the main building, one can attend the enlightening lectures and philosophical talks that promise to enrich your life.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Auroville , Pondicherry Museum , Beaches , Churches and Temples , etc. 
THEKKADY
 

Thekkady set snugly in the hills of Kerala, Thekkady is not a typical and lazy hill station. Home to the Periyar National Park, Thekkady has a host of adrenaline pumping experiences to offer. It is also one of the only places in India where you can observe magnificent elephants spraying water on the boat you ride in. Thekkady rightly said is a hill station which surprises you always.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary On the banks of the Periyar River lies a Sanctuary that comes right out of a story book. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctaury is best visited in a boat. The ride here is an experience one can only imagine. As it winds down the river, the boat passes by many unsuspecting wild elephants and other animals bathing merely a few feet away from you.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Mangala Devi Temple , Murikaddy , Pandikuzhi, Pullumedu , Kumily, etc. 
ALLEPPEY
 

Alleppey or Allapuzha as the warm villagers call it is a small, green town dotted so perfectly with canals and clear ponds, you can feel God’s craftsmanship. As you roam the tiny streets and venture out the environment of the backwater town envelopes one with the serenity of a dream. Once on the backwater cruise you’ll almost forget that Alleppey is the heart of Kerala’s coir industry. Water of course is Allepey’s most coveted feature, in fact you can opt skip a hotel and stay on a primitive yet luxurious houseboat.

House boat Cruises When you hear about the Kettuvelloms or the house boats of Kerala you imagine yourself in a primitive wooden boats floating along the backwaters. But, think again; the house boat cruises are not primitive anymore. Standing at 80 feet in length and housing a crew of 3, these are no less than a star hotel. Some of the modern Kettuvelloms are complete with a blue swimming pool, an intriguing angling lounge and a gourmet kitchen. But of course you must step aboard this Godly abode to experience it first hand.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Kuttanad , Vijaya Beach Park , Ambalapuzzha Sree Krishna Temple ,Sea View Park , etc. 
COCHIN
 

Cochin Kochi is Kerala’s premier city. A city filled with glamour and endowed with tradition, it is also Kerala’s financial capital. Moreover, it is the perfect city to visit by day or by night. If the fact that it was the first city to have Arabian and Chinese ties doesn’t impress you; then you must visit the Chinese fishing nets; these fishing nets have withstood history itself and are still the major fishing tools. All in all Cochin has something to offer to everybody. The young and restless can experience the vivid nightlife; the newly married can simply admire the Portuguese romance still left over and if you’ve seen all life has to offer simply enter the city to relive.

The Jewish Synagogue ever the complete cultural extravaganza of a city was to be incorporated in a single beautiful monument, it is this. The Jewish Synagogue is not just a peaceful prayer place, it also houses some of the most intricately exquisite Chinese hand painted tiles and polished metallic frames with donor’s names. What makes this Synagogue most special is the benevolence showered upon it by rulers. The Synagogue was brought to the ground during the European invasion but the Dutch helped finance its construction as it stands today. If you happen to be in Cochin you defiantly cannot miss its best slice of tradition.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

The Dutch Palace , The Santa Cruz Basilica , Hill Palace Museum , St. Francis Church , Chinese Fishing Nets , etc. 
TRIVANDRUM
 

Trivandrum is considered the most precious jewel in the crown of Kerala and is rightly its capital. Thiruvanathapuram is the only town that so elegantly summarizes the Kerala experience; a visit there becomes a must. Dotted with ayurvedic spas, the holiest temples and museums this town is a pot pouri of culture and experiences.

Padmanabha Swamy Temple is built in a typical South Indian architectural style with a slight yet elegant hint of Dravidian influence. Unfortunately only Hindu devotees are allowed to enter the premises of this marvellous structure that houses a deity so magnificent, it makes the temple come to life. The deity of Lord Vishnu leaning on a serpent is so life like it fills the visitors with awe. If faith is a gift you are yet to receive, Padmanabha Swamy is where you’ll find it.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Napier Musuem , Kowdiar Palace , Shree Chitra Art Gallery , The Zoological Park , Shanghumugham Beach , etc. 


GURUVAYUR
 

Guruvayur is located in the Thrissur district of Kerala and is well-known for having one of Kerala’s most famous temples. The temple was built centuries ago and houses the deity Guruvayuappan in the form of Balgopalan (Krishna in the form of a child).

Guruvayurappan Temple Legend has it that the Guruvayurappan Temple was built 5000 years ago! Fact or not, it is still one of Kerala’s most adored temples and has a majestic deity of the mighty Guruvayurappan. Magnificently built completely in stone it reminds one that sometimes, legends are true.

Other Notable Tourist Places :

Guruvayur Museum , Krishnattam Kalari , Mural Museum , Punnathur Kotta , etc.